Say What?


on audiovisual and literary 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, ,

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, ,

The Trouble with “Globish”

Perhaps because I’m a) a French translator, b) getting older, and/or c) ever less culturally pliable, non-native English speakers professing linguistic skill or expertise they don’t have neutralize my patience like no one else.  Anyone who’s spent any time on a customer service line lately will understand perfectly.

Accordingly, my curiosity was piqued by an article in the current ATA Chronicle by Jeana Clark and Esma A. Gregor on “Globish,” or “Global English.”  Most Chronicle articles seesaw/skew between the academic and the technical, and while their logic only jumps one shark (whose household familarity with Globish?), the authors have made a thorough presentation of something native speakers often experience as a linguistic APM.

Unfortunately, being messengers (like me) in the endless skirmish that is language, Clark and Gregor pussy foot around taking stakes for either “side” linguistically.   For instance , is this the death knell for the English we know and (love? hate? despise? tolerate? endlessly mangle?)  (Happily I’m not the first person to rhyme Globish with rubbish.)  Is it a linguistic mutation more zombie than real?

Professionally, when clients and editors alike resort to it through ignorance or inexperience, I find Euro English the most exasperating manifestation.  At the end of the day (the business one, anyway), this all reminds me (and hopefully my clients!) that it’s essential to pay a professional when an amateur only creates more confusion.

Filed under: divers, 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 Olympics in Translation

The Oscars of infotainment are upon us, and it’s striking how already translation and interpretation are needed – and that’s just from the other side of the pond to this one!

While I’m sure language there is the last thing on anyone’s mind, seamless communication is the backbone of any international event.  Lucky for the UK they have government sponsored language skill and learning entities that will ensure the games and how they are remembered will be clear to all globally–whatever their language.

Filed under: divers, translation, , ,

Tintin vient!

I was vaguely aware of this series in high school, but like most Americans oblivious to it for most of my life.  Until now (or at least in theaters come December.)

The film, thanks to Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, has already hit Europe, and the reaction, certainly in France, has been understandably qualified.

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

When a Professional is Needed

In our so-called “new new” economy, jobs are guarded with care formerly reserved for jewels, crops, and small children.  Automation and technology have outstripped humans’ necessity, along with the ability to monetize almost anything that was exclusively sold in real stores and can now be either digitized or executed through computer algorithms.  Unlike previous economic downturns (in my lifetime at least), there’s no turning back if for no other reason that “sides” have arisen, at least in the U.S., and essentially declared war over who will lead “us” back to either a better future, soothing normalcy, or both.

I’m stating what to some might be obvious, because as a professional translator, besides bridging multiple linguistic worlds, I am also a businessperson.  The current stature of anyone with specific skills, accrued in and on human time and terms and not technological ones, is becoming rapidly irrelevant and eroded.

Translators, like utilities, big box stores, licensed health professionals, and a host of other “old” economy entities, provide a service that has real costs which we price accordingly.  To seek out someone who is a specialist in a particular field, versus DIY computerized fudging, might not always be cost-effective, but consider how many decisions you make daily prejudicing quality over the bottom line, and in the end what you really get for what you’ve paid.

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

TIFF Upcoming

Toronto is just around the corner, and the following three films caught my eye:

Monsieur Lazhar:  From the producers of the Oscar-nominated Incendies comes a classroom story similar to the docu-drama The Class from a few years back, full of social conflict in Québec.

Elles:  Juliette Binoche plays a journalist for Elle magazine researching prostitution, and whose worldview is altered by her subjects.

Monster in Paris:  Animated terror in the City of Lights, circa 1910, in which a creature unleashed from a greenhouse may not be entirely menacing, inciting hilarity and (adult) bad guys.

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

Mid-stream glance back at my resolutions

At this point in the year, most people can’t remember their New Year’s resolutions, much less have any foresight about upcoming ones.  That said, here is my review, measuring where I stand and how far yet I have to go:

I will revisit my business plan and examine how I’m targeting my ideal clients and niche market.  I have made the most progress here, discovering that my ideal client isn’t who I thought they were.

I’d like to really invest myself into my TM tools (Trados and Wordfast), and organize the vocabularies I’ve developed through my output.  I’ve had a very productive summer, and now that I have some downtime, will commit to making inroads here before September.

I’m going to work on becoming a “CT” (ATA-certified professional translator) in my language pair.   I will take a practice test I’ve purchased before the end of this month.

I’m revising my website, and would like to blog more this year, especially about what I love about my current and planned language pairs.  My website revision is almost complete, and I will be promoting it this fall.  Blogging still feels like I chore that I never fully “own”, i.e. trying to be “personal” as I discuss my business.  This reminds me though about the last point, which I do look forward to blogging about soon.

Maybe the ridiculously insatiability of crowd-sourced media and platforms, as bashfully “a-promotional” as a Versailles courtier, can be useful in simple, human terms after all:  accountability and goals.

Filed under: divers, translation, , , ,