Only Human Translators

Learning and spreading the word

Learning and spreading the word

Lessons from a client event The new monthly rhythm of this blog takes some getting used to. It’s now a month since I went to the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC to its friends) near Catania, Sicily, in the impressive shadow of Mount Etna, and time was when I would have already written about it and moved on to two or three more topics. Instead I’ve had four weeks to think about what I want to say, and plenty of time to forget it all again. Anyway, here are ten things I can remember that I learned or relearned at my first real client event: It’s not about selling. As I said in my previous blog on the subject, my aim in going to the conference was not to find clients, it was to talk, and above all to listen, to people in the business of wine and tourism. That I managed to do. You never get as much work as you intend to done when travelling. I took work with me to the conference, but between planes, airports and chatty fellow passengers, I didn’t get anything like what I expected achieved on either journey. That meant quite a bit of evening working after conference events. If you can’t get a room at the conference hotel, stay as near as possible. The conference was in a small town called Viagrande but I booked too late to get a room in the main hotel. I specifically looked for the nearest possible alternative and ended up in a small apartment five minutes’ walk away. And I was glad of it when there were...
Removing the suit of armour

Removing the suit of armour

…and turning down the sales fever A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I’d suffered a bit of a setback with my marketing activities and the time has come to explain what happened. Some time ago I discovered that an international conference on wine tourism is held every spring. It seemed like an ideal opportunity for me, combining as it does two of my specialist translation areas. Perhaps I should go in 2017, I thought. I did some investigation, talked to the organisers, and made up my mind to go to Sicily for the event. Then, another idea came to me. Why not take things a step further and present a talk at the conference? I spoke to a colleague and we decided to present a joint proposal. It seemed obvious to present something on the need for good translations and well-written English to promote wine tourism. We could explain the need, show some examples of getting it wrong and getting it right, and finish with some gentle self-promotion. How could they turn us down? But turn us down they did. It should have come as no surprise. Had I only listened to the various illustrious voices who have given advice on such matters at various times, I would have realised we were getting it all wrong. But I was naive and suffering from the peculiar affliction that comes, I think, to all those of us who are not natural salespeople. To cope with the discomfort of being forced into a situation where we have to get out there and sell, we put on the salesman’s suit as if it were armour and...
How much?

How much?

A few thoughts on pricing Many people, when they first start thinking about pricing, are affected by the idea that everything has a “fair price” – what should be charged for particular goods or services. We can learn as much economics as we like (in my case very little) but the idea’s quite hard to shift. It’s not necessarily good for business, though. If you bend over backwards trying to be “fair” to your clients, you may not be quite “fair” to yourself. And you may even deny yourself the opportunity to look for other clients who would find a higher price just as fair. After all, you have to be fair to those existing clients, don’t you? In fact, prices have very little to do with fairness, and a great deal to do with all sorts of other factors. This was brought home to me recently when I spent a few days in Switzerland. For those who don’t live there, everything seems a little expensive in Switzerland, but there’s nothing more expensive than eating in restaurants. In Switzerland, the price of a three-course meal in neighbouring France or Germany will buy you just a plate of pasta or a pizza. And you won’t save much by just drinking water, a medium-sized bottle of which costs about the same as a glass of the ludicrously priced wine. It all came as a bit of a shock. Prices It got me thinking about what makes the price of something like a meal in a restaurant. There are the raw materials, of course, but those will hardly be different from the...
Here’s to the cooperative spirit!

Here’s to the cooperative spirit!

Exploring the past and future in the vineyards Some came for the day out, some to investigate an interesting new specialisation and others were mainly there for the wine when I joined a party of just over a dozen translators for a vineyard tour at the weekend. We were in rural Barberà de la Conca, if you’re talking about the village, or Conca de Barberà if you’re referring to the designation of origin, which is not the easiest place to get to if, like me, you don’t have a car. But if two of the professional associations I belong to (MET and APTIC) were going to organise an event like this, I wasn’t about to miss it, and my colleague Justine Sherwood kindly came to the rescue and offered me a lift. Getting down to Barberà, over an hour’s drive south of Barcelona, for breakfast meant rather an early start, which proved to be too early for the other intended occupant of Justine’s car, who unfortunately overslept and had to come by train later on. The two of us who did make it arrived in plenty of time to join a vineyard walk and winetasting before breakfast, as our guide, Ramon, insisted that we shouldn’t eat until we’d first sampled his wine. What makes Conca de Barberà special is the Trepat grape, a black variety used to make rosé, red and even white wine, as well as rosé cava. Its unusual flavour, with spicy touches and musky vegetable notes meant it wasn’t to everyone’s taste but I enjoyed its interesting and distinctive wines, one of which certainly helped wash...
Drinking to a different kind of CPD

Drinking to a different kind of CPD

Specialist courses improve subject knowledge I’ve been talking quite a lot on this blog lately about CPD – or Continuing Professional Development for the uninitiated. Recently, rather than translation itself or what are known as the “soft skills” of marketing and business, I’ve been wanting to focus on training that would improve my knowledge of my specialist areas, and for the last three Mondays I’ve been doing just that, for one of them at least. Getting training in specialist areas is not the easiest thing. After all, what we’re looking for is knowledge subject; we don’t necessarily have the time, the money or the need to become fully qualified professionals in the areas where we translate. For example, I translate sport, but that doesn’t mean I need to be a sportsman or coach, it’s enough for me to be a knowledgable enthusiast, although in that respect there isn’t really any formal training available. All I can demonstrate to clients is that I’ve done a good number of published translations about football, for instance. There are other subject areas where I don’t really need training. This would apply to history, for example, as I have a degree in the subject and a good knowledge of the countries that speak the languages I translate from: Spain, particularly the history of Catalonia, and France, as well as Latin America. Nor do I need training in translating journalistic texts. I was a journalist for 15 years, I know how journalists write. The challenge here is making sure a translation comes out in my best journalistic English and not in translationese. This can only...