School yourself

Did your language skills and business habits survive the summer? Between vacations, pool days, barbecues, and mind-dulling heat, it’s possible they need some refreshing. How do you get back in the grind? One trick I use is guided reading. You probably did a good bit of it back in school, when you first learned your working language(s). You do it when you have a “real” project, so why not do it when you read at other times?

Most translators I know read foreign-language newspapers regularly. Maybe they are better motivated than I, but often newspapers are either a) dull, or b) way too negative. Reading a large volume of the same-old sad, angry, war-mongering stories is just not how I want to spend my time! In order to reap the rewards without ruining my day, I assign myself homework: keep a list of new vocabulary. Slang, industry terms, and idiomatic flourishes abound in these articles. You’ll learn something new every time!

If you’re really motivated (or love technology), the best way to record these terms is in a termbase. Which is really just a fancy word for spreadsheet. My termbase has columns for the source language, target language, gender (for French), subject matter, notes on usage, and a link to the source article. For really difficult-to-translate terms, I’ll also link to the dictionary or bilingual document I used in my research. This practice makes the words very easy to sort later on for use as subject-matter glossaries. You can check the original sentence to compare context to your project. And, the spreadsheet is easily imported into a number of CAT tools!

How do you keep up with changes to your working languages? What motivates you to keep going? Share away!


One thought on “School yourself

  1. Pingback: How to gain experience without disappointing a client | translation, untangled

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