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on audiovisual translation, subtitling, and the French & American film industries

At the Beginning . . . Reaching the End (For Now)

With some regret but great relief, I’ve decided to set this aside blog for now, and heartily encourage my “readership” and “followers” to join me a my two new blogs, started last summer.

One covers my preoccupations with all things economic related to daily life, the other the presence and more often lack thereof, of gay men in film and TV.

In the future, I hope to bring French and/or francophile/phone film professionals here in Los Angeles for potential vlog discussions about audiovisual translation.

Filed under: French film industry, French translation, translation, US film industry, ,

Actors as Translators (and Interpreters)

Kristin Scott Thomas

Another testament that so much is knitting our world closer; this lovely article only confirms what I’ve noticed for some time.

By necessity, national film market borders are disappearing faster than polar ice floes.  But as formats get smaller and more personalized, and guaranteeing revenue trickier, consolidation is even more critical, all in a search for more “green.”

And along the way to all of that, I’m really happy to see Kristin Scott-Thomas getting much deserved critical attention for the wonderful work she does and has done.

Filed under: audiovisual translation, divers, French film industry, French translation, US film industry, , ,

To Err

still from the film "Inception"Translation is hard work, requiring sharp organizational skills, linguistic dexterity, and stimulants.  And for anyone who does it professionally, the latter can be a big part of the job, as penetrating below the surface of language and really messing around linguistic sub-basements, under often unruly time constraints, can make the film Inception seem like an inspirational human interest tale.  (And I’m not even going into the whole human v. MT conundrum here.)

It was then with embarassing recognition and not a little shame that I read this sober yet ironic posting recently.  I liken translation to shattering some kind of object, and meticulously piecing it back together.  And getting cut up quite a bit in the process, so that our linguistic serum enters into it.

Myself, I make mistakes (something the author and I’d venture most translators are averse to admitting), strive for perfection, and learn to be humble.  But since the space between languages and cultures is never finite, always fluctuating, and extremely human, translation requires much more than good linguisitc “engineering” skills.  Rather, a greater parity between the right and left brains.

Filed under: divers, French translation, translation, , ,

Looking back . . .

Exactly a year later (mostly), my ongoing business resolutions are still works in progress.  But hey, so aren’t we all.

As carried forward from last year:

  • Investing myself in my TM tools:  2012 was a descent year for my translation business, but a major step forward came with my beginning to harvest terminology from past bumper crop years, regarding ranslation projects in my specializations (financial, legal and audiovisual).
  • Revisiting my business plan:  I peeked at it last year, and found little to adjust, but best of all I was able to attend the ATA in San Diego.
  • Working to become a “CT” (certified translator):  Progress firmly, in that I took a practice test with . . . unflattering results.  But knowing the hurdle is kept high on this, I feel encouraged to persist.
  • Revising and updating my website:  More progress here from last, and I hope to move ahead with an reintro soon.

Wishing all of my followers, readers, clients, and anyone simply looking for a solid translation out of or into French from English, a joyous 2013!

Filed under: divers, French translation, translation, ,

Five Minutes with Three LSPs

Another highlight from the 53rd annual ATA Conference was my conversations with several LSPs on the state of translation, business-wise and in its evolution technologically.  Christine Muller and Kevin Hudson, from LanguageWorks; Marina Mintz from Paragon Language Services; and Virginia Anderson of Oregon Translation (not included here alas due to technical problems) spoke to me separately on their companies, how they think the business of translation is evolving, and what impact social media is having on translation professionally.

Virginia made an excellent point on something that’s familiar to anyone involved in the translation industry.  Contradictory forces pushing for “more and faster” versus “better with care” don’t always fall into simplistic paradigms, but are rather motivated by the business necessity driving the work.  Something that everyone–peer translators, LSPs, and clients–would wisely keep top of mind in the midst of their next translation project.

Filed under: divers, French translation, translation, , , , , , , , ,

The Impossibility of Translation

The strangest thing about translation is how out of nowhere it can illuminate.  Nicholas Froeliger‘s talk at last week’s ATA‘s 53rd annual conference packed exactly that kind of intellectual firepower.

A dialectic jutuxposing the logical tools privy to translators with their ever-expanding cyberscape, his session if nothing else scored an ironic coup arguing “for” the primacy of the human “analog” over anything digital at a conference dominated not only by incessant hawking of any and all avatar translation methods and means, but also by a categorical privledging of the virtual over the real in networking, hiring and socializing.  (Lest anyone think I’ve gone all Luddite, hey, I’m blogging about it.)

In the tradition of great French thinkers, his thesis made easy fodder of the professional shotgun marriage the majority of us either endure or risk persishing into obscurity.   But sans rancor, he wittily made his argument, recasting translators (in my mind anyway) as silent masters collaboratively dueling with their avatars.

Filed under: divers, French translation, , , , , , ,

Quality Pulp Fiction

Since late May, this white hot thriller–set entirely in the US though written in French–has dominated the top of Amazon France‘s e-book best sellers list.  Its author is a top flight French filmmaker, packing solid stateside credentials.  Hopefully American readers will soon enough enjoy what all the fuss is about.

Filed under: divers, French film industry, French translation, ,

‘The Artist’ and Hollywood: What’s It All About, Uggie?

Before the internet, tweeting, and instant messaging, Oscar season sometimes lasted till . . . April!  By way of explaining my consideration of The Artist‘s sweep at last February’s awards.

Consistent with previous observations, this only confirms Hollywood’s coming out à la française not merely as an international marketplace, but more critically a berth for foreign product.  As heinous and Darwinistic Thomas Friedman’s thesis is, the world relentlessly continues to flatten as if in some Ayn Rand/L. Ron Hubbard nightmare scenario.

But instead of the nostalgic look back as most observers have framed it, I think Academy members and perhaps Hollywood generally is in the midst of a ‘media-forward’ conversion.  With the internet tolling the end of so very much–scheduled television, celluloid prints, the preciousness of audiovisual production itself–all at once, no wonder in waving an utterly unsentimental goodbye to a kind of Hollywood that’s increasingly hard to justify, it would seem as if the industry is not only recognizing the rest of the world in ways it rarely has before, but embracing it.

Filed under: audiovisual translation, French film industry, French translation, US film industry, , , , ,

Looking ahead . . .

It’s (still) that time of year again, as evidenced  by my gym, where throngs who’d just as well do just about anything else are . . . at the gym, because . . . of their New Year’s Resolutions!

Carrying forward last year’s:

  • Investing myself in my TM tools:  2011 was my best year thus far in my translation business.  I would like to have taken more time this past fall to revisit numerous financial projects translated earlier last year, and hope to do so through the remainder of the winter as annual report season starts.
  • Revisiting my business plan:  I reached out in a new way to potential ideal clients, and while business was strong, I’m still eager to find a greater direct to indirect ratio this coming year.
  • Working to become a “CT” (certified translator):  Of everything, this is the one that has been on hold, and I hope to move more aggressively into this in the coming months.
  • Revising and updating my website:  Of all last year’s goals, I’m proud to say I made the greatest headway here, but am not quite finished yet.  Stay tuned for a formal reintro of my site.

Wishing all of my followers, readers, clients, and anyone simply looking for a solid translation out of or into French from English, a splendid 2012!

Filed under: French translation,

Truth in advertising

Translators have much in common with actors, passing themselves off as someone other than who they really are:  channels, conduits, from one linguistic shore to another.

As I mulled over my next post during the past month (blissfully distracted by business), I was considered for a large translation project, and contacted by a Francophone peer seeking work.  In the former case, as I have learned the hard way that if a new client puts a premium on bargaining, then ultimately our collaboration was not meant to be, and this one was not.  In the latter instance a peer contacted me seeking work into English, despite the fact that they are French.

Yet who’s to say if someone can or can’t translate?  The final product is an excellent gauge, of course it can vary wildly.  And given American English’s  intrinsic unruliness, perhaps it’s logical, even understandable translation and translators are not as well understood, respected or regulated here as in other cultures.

Credentials and training are always important, no matter what the profession, but as with actors, relationships more than matter.  And in translation, certainly the business of it, one of the first things I learned is that relationships are critical.

Filed under: French translation, translation