Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
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Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2004 10:44:19 +0300 From: Irmeli Helin Subject: A Practical Guide for Translators, 4th ed.
AUTHOR: Samuelsson-Brown, Geoffrey TITLE: A Practical Guide for Translators (Fourth revised edition) SERIES: Topics in Translation 25 PUBLISHER: Multilingual Matters Ltd YEAR: 2004
Irmeli Helin, Department of Translation Studies, University of Helsinki.
The book is the fourth edition of ''A Practical Guide for Translators'' first published in 1993 and now revised and updated by the author. It is intended for students as an introduction to the world of professional translation, but also for practicing translators and especially for buyers of translation services. It is a gold mine of advice for students wishing to go freelance but also useful for staff translators. It gives advice about becoming a translator and about running a translation business, arranging the working environment and purchasing right and relevant initial equipment. An important point is finding clients and serving them well, but the client's viewpoint is not forgotten, either. Even advice about practical text production is given as well as suggestions how to avoid shortcomings as being late or taking a task outside your own competence or not getting paid in time. For British translators it is also a source of professional organizations and awards and grants, some of them useful for foreign translators as well. The instructions for marking up texts when proof- reading and editing are also international and so useful for many readers. The foreword to the fourth edition has been written by Gunilla Anderman, professor of Translation Studies at the University of Surrey.
I was very pleased to be able to review this book since last year the project of Multilingual Communications of our university published a book on Finnish translators running a translation business of their own (Helin 2003). The book was authored by lecturers of a corresponding series of guest lectures at our university and edited by myself. So I was very interested to compare the situation in Britain and Finland and to see which points are considered as important for the translation business in each of the countries. It was also nice to see that this book, with some localization, could be translated into different languages to help students to make decisions about their career and about starting a translation business.
Comparing the contents I could say that in both books there is much information about working as translator and running a translation business. Bilingualism has not been handled in the Finnish book and sources of reference have only been mentioned. Professional organizations for translators have not been listed in the Finnish book, nor the awards or grants available for translators. Contrary to that, Finnish authors write about copyrights of translators, forms of translation business and taxation problems as well as about social insurances to be taken out when starting to run translation business. Otherwise the highlights and problems seem to be the same.
The author starts by pointing out the importance of a revised edition of the book due to the fast development of the trade, especially of the computational technology and electronic communication and data processing and searching during the past ten years. Then he starts explaining how to become a translator and gives quite a lot of relevant information about the ''everyday life'' of a translator. He also gives advice to help students to decide, whether they want to work as a staff translator or as a freelance recommending a start at a large translation company and then moving on towards an own business. In this way new translators can collect both experience of the practical work and a starting capital to be able to buy initial equipment, about which he gives good and profound information in chapter 4. Before that he contemplates the immaterial capital of translators, knowledge of several languages and especially the myths and the truth about bilingualism from the translators' point of view. This is naturally very important if we think about the position of source and target language in the work load of translators of ''exotic'' languages, as well as about the wish and claim that translators should translate into their mother tongue only.
In chapter 3 the author takes up translation activities from the client's viewpoint. A translator should be able to ''teach'' prospective buyers of his/her services but also to understand why clients easily forget the preliminary measures and research work needed for a successful and satisfactory translation and have difficulties to accept a relevant price for the total of the work done.
In chapters 4 and 5 the author goes into practical details about running a translation business at home or at an office elsewhere, not forgetting invoicing and price quotations to cover cost of advertising and marketing but also that of regular working times and holidays. It is important that a translator working at home still keeps in mind that he/she cannot work without enough breaks. The book also gives good advice about purchasing right equipment to start with and even about ergonomics of a good working environment.
In the next chapters the author speaks about dictionaries, glossaries and other sources of reference and data as well as about compiling own glossaries and collecting an own translation library, both in electronic and paper form. Then he takes up the problem of quality control from different viewpoints, such as source text difficulties, urgency and production capacity of the translator compared with the usage aim of the end product (publication, internal information, advertising etc.). He points out that ''quality takes time and costs money'' and that splitting an urgent translation between several translators is not always an optimal solution because of problems of terms and style.
In chapter 8 the presentation and delivery of translations are dealt with, and even if these may seem well known for every translator I think that the decision to speak about elementary things is a good one, since during the courses on translation they are often ignored. Attention should also be given to the appearance of translations forwarded to clients, since nowadays it is quite normal that translators provide texts ready to be published, electronically or in paper form, not only as to the quality of language but as to settings and appearance as well. The knowledge of different computer programs and CAT systems is also necessary together with managing the electronic mailing of data.
In chapter 9 the author contemplates measures to prevent things from going wrong and gives advice what to do in case of a dispute with a client about the quality or late arrival of the translation or about late payments. In the next chapter he then gives a list of professional organizations for translators which may be able to assist members in such cases. This is naturally very important for British translators, but useful for foreigners, too, as is the information in appendix, of which I especially prefer the instructions of marking up texts when proof-reading or editing. This is also a field which is too often ignored during studies because of the large amount of other important material to be taught and learned.
As a teacher of translation studies I also found the glossary of terms very useful for my students.
To conclude my review I am pleased to be able to confirm the opinion of the writer of the foreword that the book ''will be of benefit to anyone with an interest in translation, on course to become an even more highly skilled profession in the years to come.'' For me personally it was a pleasure to read the Swedish examples given by the author, since he has been working several years in Sweden and is a translator of Scandinavian languages.
REFERENCE Helin, Irmeli (2003 ed.) Kääntäjä yrittäjänä. Itsenäisen kääntäjän opas. (Translator as runner of business. A guide for an independent translator.) Publications of the Multilingual Communication Programme (MonAKO) of the University of Helsinki. Helsinki University Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER Irmeli Helin is Professor of Translation Studies and Head of the Department of Translation Studies at the University of Helsinki. She teaches German translation and interpretation and is a docent of terminology and German translation. Further she is the owner of a translation company running since early 1980s and has translated a large number of documents and about 270 different books from English, German, Italian, French and Scandinavian languages into Finnish.