Mentoring and professional development – part 2

‘Industry Panel Days’ are often organised for MA Translation Studies students

 

Written by MA Translation Studies graduate Rebecca Ellerker

The previous blog post concentrated on the culture of mentoring between academic staff and students. In this post I would like to highlight the many opportunities for students to work with leading industry professionals, in addition to the many different ways in which the MA in Translation Studies programme has been designed to ensure that graduates have rigorous professional training.

At the very heart of the programme there is an emphasis on providing students with the industry’s required knowledge, understanding and skills. In fact, the quality and standard of the MA in Translation Studies at Exeter is recognised by the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL). The university is rightly proud to be one of the CIOL’s preferred education providers, meaning that successful students (following external verification and moderation) are awarded exemption from one of the units in the Diploma in Translation (the CIOL’s gold standard professional qualification). In addition, the Institute of Translating and Interpreting (ITI) recognise the standard of the MA programme and offer the prestigious MITI status to high achieving graduates (those with a translation dissertation and a distinction overall and or those with a merit overall, but having gained a distinction grade in their translation dissertation), who have demonstrated sufficient professional experience.  Students are eligible (and encouraged) to join both organisations as student members, allowing them to experience the professionally high standards of the industry and the many benefits of belonging to these organisations.

Focusing on the academic content of the programme, the course has been developed to ensure that students have wide exposure to as many different areas of the translation industry as possible. Such is the emphasis on professional development that many of the assignments have been devised to provide students with opportunities to hone the skills required not only to work as a translator, but also to secure work and understand the professional role and responsibilities of a translator. Students can experience industry-standard activities such as a mock-pitch to a potential publisher, subtitling a short clip and acting as an interpreter at a conference. In fact, interpreting proved to be such a popular experience that a new module, ‘Introduction to Interpreting,’ was launched in September 2018. Alongside modules in translation theory and the practice of translation, module choices  are available to allow students to concentrate their professional development in areas that interest them most, be it specialist or literary translation. There is also the option of embarking on a work placement/project, or a module that focuses specifically on the translation profession and the use of CAT tools (computer-assisted translation).

Alongside this very thorough academic programme, the course tutors have worked tirelessly to use their networks, contacts and alumni to provide an enriching programme of events and experiences designed to boost students’ professional development and their exposure to the professional industry. There are many opportunities to meet and engage with leading industry experts, many of whom work in local translation companies, are freelance translators, or have close links with the professional bodies. There are special guest lectures on offer where professionals share their experiences and mentor students on topics ranging from setting up a freelance business, to working in particular translation fields, such as academic or technical translation.

Other professional-training events have included an ‘Industry Panel Day’ organised for Translation Studies students, at which a panel of five industry experts agreed to share their experience and top tips for working in the translation industry, as well as answer any questions posed by the students. The inspirational mentoring the students received at this event was invaluable and provided an insight into first-hand experiences of how to make a successful career in translation. Perhaps the most profitable part was the opportunity to informally network and make lasting contacts over lunch.

Translation Studies students may also take field trips, such as the one I went on to London to visit one of the top Language Service Providers (LSP) in the country. Students were given a presentation by the company and were then invited to complete a mock-project management exercise. As before, the students were able to gain a real understanding of how the industry operates in practice and were able to add to their list of potential contacts.

This wide range of enriching experiences highlight Exeter’s commitment to ensuring their graduates are well-equipped in order to succeed and compete as professionals in the translation industry. It is clear that professional development and mentoring during the MA in Translation Studies go hand-in-hand; students are privileged to benefit from high quality input from the academic staff, as well as a diverse range of opportunities to profit from professional industry experts.

Mentoring and professional development – part 1

Written by MA Translation Studies graduate Rebecca Ellerker

Mentoring plays a key role in the Translation Studies MA programme at Exeter. The Translation Studies department is built around a team of highly-qualified and skilled staff. Their knowledge and expertise with all that relates to translation, its theory and history, as well as the practical and specialist side of translation is second to none. The staff are at the core of Exeter’s carefully crafted syllabus; they are skilled mentors and have designed a programme that meets the needs of the students and provides ample opportunity for them to grow and develop their practice and theoretical thinking. The result of this mentoring is that students are enriched with the knowledge and skills they require to pursue their chosen careers in translation-related fields.

However, the staff, as mentors, are not there simply to provide students with ‘the answers’ but rather to guide them towards finding ‘their own answers.’ At the very core of this mentoring is the relationship between the mentor and the mentee: most often (but not exclusively) the tutor and the student. As a recent Translation Studies graduate I am certain that the course’s greatest strength is the fundamental emphasis placed on the relationship between staff and students and how this enables students (and perhaps even staff too) to reach their greatest potential.

At Masters level many of those enrolled on the programme bring with them vast and varied life-experiences that are both welcomed and valued. Part of the mentoring process that is so integral to the programme is that students are encouraged to contribute to the content of the course, allowing themselves to develop the skills required to succeed, whilst contributing also to the mentoring of their peers. There is a very genuine sense that staff and students alike are valued for the knowledge and experience that they bring to the course.

So, what does this look like in practice? The programme is delivered through a series of lectures, seminars and workshops (amongst other activities – see part 2) – all of which require active participation not only from the staff, but from the students as well:

  • During lectures, tutors deliver content, but also take time to ask probing questions, designed to develop and deepen students’ thinking and understanding;
  • During language specific practical workshops, students are encouraged to take the lead in sharing and discussing their own translation strategies and solutions. Tutors then carefully structure their input in order that students can reflect and improve upon their own practice;
  • In seminars students are asked to take turns in preparing and delivering presentations. The tutors join the remaining students as active listeners and use their own knowledge to further challenge and develop the group.

Underpinning this entire process are, of course, the strong relationships that are fostered between the staff and the students. These relationships are developed from the very beginning of the programme, when staff treat students as fellow professionals from the outset. The Translation Studies students have a dedicated Translation Studies laboratory, equipped with dual-monitor computer stations and up-to-date translation software; there is also a Translation Studies study room and lounge where students can relax with a coffee and the latest translation journals from the professional institutions, or benefit from a quiet environment in which to work on their latest assignments. Tutors take time during one-to-one sessions to get to know the students. One-to-one sessions are offered at several points during the programme to allow students to discuss arising issues, assignment feedback and to seek further guidance and assistance if required. Students also have sessions scheduled during assignment writing periods to enable in-depth discussion with their tutors relating specifically to their own ideas. The mentoring received really comes into focus in this environment as students are able to reflect on the these conversations and improve upon their practice and academic writing.

Post-graduation, I am now working as a freelance translator and I feel extremely privileged to have completed the MA in Translation Studies at Exeter and to have worked alongside such a dedicated and committed team of tutors. I am absolutely certain that I have the confidence, skills and knowledge to pursue this career path largely thanks to the mentoring and lasting-relationships that I developed during the course. In part 2 of this blog I will explore the many professional development opportunities that the MA in Translation Studies offers.

The benefits of an MA in Translation Studies for professional translators

Written by MA Translation Studies student Rebecca Ellerker

Firstly, let’s state the most obvious benefit: MA in Translation Studies graduates are awarded a qualification that is recognised by employers, clients and professional bodies. In a competitive industry, translators who have successfully gained an MA in Translation Studies stand out from those who haven’t committed to a higher-level qualification. When bidding and competing for work, this could be the key to securing contracts. In addition, professional bodies in the industry offer student membership options, providing access to a wealth of resources and support. These can be converted to a full membership upon graduating and entering the industry in a professional capacity.

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has published ISO 17100:2015 relating to Language Service Providers (LSPs). It states that all translators employed by LSPs must have either a degree in translation (or related subject) or several years of experience. For the novice translator without a degree in translation, this represents a problem and the most effective solution is to embark on a programme of postgraduate study.

It must be said that having an MA is not in itself a guarantee of a quality translator; however, the programme at Exeter is structured to build rapidly students’ skills with a carefully balanced mix of practice and theory. Successful students engage critically with the course content and develop the required knowledge and abilities to succeed as professional translators. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits the course offers:

  • Throughout the core practical modules, students work with a range of texts that have been chosen specifically for their level of challenge. The opportunity to work alongside teaching staff and peers, and to discuss the translations in depth, is invaluable. It allows students to build their own translation processes and methods as they develop in confidence and ability.
  • The MA in Translation Studies can be tailored to cater for individual interests. Students benefit from a wide exposure to different areas of translation, such as specialist translation, literary translation and professional training in the use of CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) tools.
  • The course places a great deal of emphasis on building professional skills and preparing graduates to work in industry. Students who engage fully with the summative and formative assessments are able to hone many of the required skills: how to effectively use CAT tools to increase productivity; how to pitch effectively to a publisher; or strategies for translating technical terminology.
  • The summative translation assignments completed during the programme form the beginnings of a professional portfolio. The University of Exeter has links with the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL), allowing students who reach a sufficiently high standard, to have their work assessed by a CIOL moderator for exemption from one of the corresponding DipTrans exam units.
  • Students can choose to benefit from a work placement module. This provides the opportunity to work in the industry and gain experience and contacts, as well as try out and improve newly learnt translation skills.
  • The final component of the MA at Exeter is the dissertation, and for those wishing to work professionally as a translator, it is the perfect opportunity to work on a larger project of individual choosing, tailored to suit students’ preferred specialisms and/or areas of expertise. Similarly, a high level of attainment in this module allows graduates exemption from the examination to achieve the sought after MITI status (Member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting).

The MA in Translation Studies is more than a means to an end and offers successful graduates much more than a piece of paper. Arguably, the wealth of experience from the teaching staff, fellow students and alumni, the emphasis on professional preparation, along with life-long contacts and networks, are amongst the most important benefits of the course.

How to become a translator

Written by MA Translation Studies student Rebecca Ellerker

The translation industry is unregulated and as such there are no formal requirements to meet in order to be able to call yourself a translator. As you would expect, this lack of regulation leads to a wide variety of skill and quality amongst those working in the industry. However, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has published ISO 17100:2015, which relates to translation and sets out processes to follow, as well as the qualifications a translator must hold in order to be compliant with the standard. In addition, the Institute of Translators and Interpreters (ITI) recommends that all potential new translators gain a formal translation qualification prior to entering the profession.

In this blog post we will explore the skills and qualifications recommended for translators and look at different translation career options.

Skills

 The most obvious skill a translator requires is the knowledge of one or more language, in addition to their mother tongue. In order to translate effectively, translators must have an excellent understanding of their source language(s), excellent writing skills in their native language, and a solid grasp of the culture in the countries where both are spoken.

Following on from this, more general skills are required in order to succeed as a translator:

  • the ability to research and acquire the additional linguistic and specialised knowledge required;
  • resilience and strategies to continue in pursuit of ‘the perfect translation;’
  • curiosity and a willingness to learn – both in terms of translation skills and technologies as well as subject content;
  • oral and written communication skills in both the source and target language – producing clear translations is not the only aspect of this job, translators also need to liaise with project managers and clients;
  • time management skills – translators need to keep on top of work load, deadlines, and, in the case of freelance translators, all the other activities associated with running a business, such as marketing and accounting.

Qualifications

The ITI recommends that an MA in translation or translation studies, such as the MA programme at Exeter, or the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL)’s DipTrans qualification gives translators credibility and an edge in a highly competitive market. Holding such a qualification means that translators adhere to the requirements set out in the ISO and also enables them to apply for membership of the professional bodies (CIOL and ITI). Translators who boast such qualifications and accreditations are set apart from those with little or no training and experience.

An MA in translation not only gives participants the required knowledge and skills to successfully translate, but it also provides an understanding of the history and field of translation as a whole, as well as practical training in preparation for the industry. Through professional courses, translators are introduced to the translator community, the importance of which should not be underestimated; it is a great way of securing invaluable contacts, potential work and support from other translators.

Job opportunities

There are a variety of job opportunities for translators, all of which suit different individuals and personal circumstances. Prospective new translators should give some thought to how they would like their career to progress.

Different options include:

  • Working as an in-house translator or project manager for a translation agency or a Language Service Provider (LSPs); this option provides stability and security and allows translators to build up a wealth of experience.
  • Opportunities at major institutions such as the European Union (EU) or United Nations (UN); this usually requires translators to live abroad and often provides excellent career progression.
  • Working as a freelance translator, the most popular option according to the ITI; whilst this requires translators to set up their own business and secure their own work, it does afford the most flexibility and allows translators to work when and where they choose.

Five steps to becoming a translator:

  1. Assess yourself against the skills listed above; if there are shortfalls in your skill set, address them. If it is related to the technologies used in industry, take a course! If it is language related, make an effort to improve by taking every opportunity to practise your source language (listen to the radio, watch films, talk to friends, read books, etc.). In terms of your native language skills, the most important thing any translator can do is READ. Read as widely as you can to develop an awareness of style and improve your vocabulary.
  2. Gain a translation qualification. Research post-graduate study options and consider an MA in Translation Studies. The programme of study at Exeter provides a well-balanced curriculum of theory and practice (including in the use of Computer-Assisted Translation, or CAT, tools) to ensure that you graduate with the necessary skills and support to succeed in the industry.
  3. Join professional bodies: CIOL and ITI. These provide excellent support and resources for networking and development at any stage of your career. This also gives a clear message to any potential clients that you can provide a quality translation service.
  4. Gain experience. Translate as much as you can and use your contacts and networks to secure work. Use any prior skills, experience and qualifications to build your specialism. Perhaps you have a background in law or finance? Use this to your advantage.
  5. Finally, be willing to keep learning. Translation is a career in which you will never stop building your skills and gaining new knowledge. As with other careers, the best professionals are those who are willing reflect on their experiences and practice, learn from any mistakes they make, and continue to progress.

A day in the life of a freelance translator

Written by MA Translation Studies student Rebecca Ellerker

It’s 9:15am, I’m back from the school run and sitting down to start work for the day. I’m a freelance translator and I work from home in my sunny garden office (well sunny today at least!). I say, “start work for the day,” but the truth is that I have already had a quick check of my emails on my phone while the children were finishing their breakfast! I had an enquiry from a new client about a potential translation – today is going to be a good day.

I’ve got several items on my to-do-list and the first of them is to finalise and send a recent translation. I’ve finished my draft and now need to complete a line-by-line bilingual check. All done and I’m happy I can now press send. Before my career change (I used to be a teacher), I thought translation was a simple act of transferring one language into another. Just like that – quick and easy if you understand both languages, right? Wrong. Actually, a large part of my day is spent reading, researching and thinking. Am I sure I’ve understood exactly what this sentence means? Am I certain that this expression is used, in this way, in this particular context? What precisely do we call that *insert random item* in English? Google search is a translator’s best friend!

So, having submitted my translation, I need to produce and send my invoice, particularly important if I want to get paid. I love this aspect of working for myself and I know that there is much more to my working day than translating. I’ve sent my invoice and before I move on to the next task, I need to reply to my new client enquiry. Getting back to clients promptly is important; I take a look at the potential translation, run my analysis and produce and send off my quote…fingers crossed they’ll get back to me to confirm the job. Getting used to not knowing when my next project will arrive and learning to trust that it always does (with a lot of marketing I might add), has been one of the greatest challenges to date.

This week I have a large translation to complete by Friday, so I’ve set myself daily targets to ensure I get there; planning my workload in realistic daily quotas is helpful. I’ve found that clients especially love it if I deliver a translation early and happy clients means repeat business – in fact most of my work comes from repeat business (the very best kind of feedback).

Like many freelance industries, starting out can be tough and I’ve spent a lot of time working to secure new clients. I’m amazed at the power of networking. Every freelance translator I’ve met has been so friendly and helpful; there is a real sense of community and I’ve had several clients passed to me from other translators. Of course, they also come in handy when there’s that one word that I just can’t find the perfect solution for – translator friends to the rescue!

After grabbing a quick bite of lunch at my desk (I don’t do this every day but today I want to pick the children up from school), the rest of my afternoon is spent ensuring I meet my word count for the day. If I don’t, I have been known to finish off in the evening. As a teacher I used to work almost every evening and it was something I wanted to get away from. Now, however, I feel totally differently about it. The flexibility of my work is one of the biggest perks and I know that if I need to work in the evening or at the weekend it is because I’ve gained some time elsewhere. More often than not it’s because I’ve been able to fit my job around my family and not the other way around. I feel very lucky to finally be able to say that.

What’s the difference between a translator and an interpreter?

Written by MA Translation Studies student Rebecca Ellerker

The answer to this question is not as complex as it might appear. The terms ‘translator’ and ‘interpreter’ are often used interchangeably by those who are none the wiser and many people are not aware that they are in fact two different professions.

Translators work with written texts and transfer meaning from one language into another. Not only do they require excellent skills in terms of both their source language(s) and their native language (the target language), but translators also need to have a solid understanding of the culture systems in the countries where both are spoken. Virtually all professional translators only translate into their mother tongue, and above all, they need excellent writing skills and an eye for absolute accuracy. A good translator uses all of their knowledge and skills, alongside thorough research and extensive use of reference materials, including monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, in order to produce accurate translations.

Interpreters, on the other hand, work with spoken words, facilitating communication between people across different languages. Like translation, interpreting also requires outstanding language skills, and the similarities between the two do not end there. Interpreters also need an in-depth knowledge of the culture and conventions of both the source and target language countries and, importantly, confidence in their linguistic abilities. However, due to the oral nature of interpreting, interpreters are required to work in both directions between the two languages. They must be able to transfer the meaning of the original message, paraphrasing where necessary, on the spot, and without the use of reference materials.

There is a wide variety of situations, industries and sectors that require the services of translators and interpreters. The different text types that translators work with is equally diverse and as such translators often specialise within a particular subject area or a certain industry. In the case of interpreting, however, there are three main areas: conference, business and public service. Within these sectors the most appropriate type of interpreting also varies and includes: simultaneous interpreting, where the interpreter transfers the spoken message as the speaker is talking (usually via microphones and headphones from an interpreter’s booth); consecutive interpreting, where the interpreter listens to the whole speech, makes notes, and then relays the content to the participants in their own language once the speaker has finished; and liaison interpreting, where the interpreter relays the message several phrases at a time.

The Institute of Translating and Interpreting (ITI) has offered the simplest and clearest answer to the original question: ‘Translators write. Interpreters speak.’ So, if you are a French company wishing to launch a new product in the UK and the sales brochure has been written in French, you need a translator. If you are an English-speaking academic presenting at a conference in Spain, you need the services of an interpreter.

How Much Do Translators Earn?

Introduction

The job site Indeed reported in April 2018 that UK translators earned an average £24,115 per year over the past 36 months.

As the graph above suggests: translation salaries vary considerably. They depend on a number of factors including the country of employment, language pair, language direction, specialisation and whether the translator works as a freelancer or in-house employee.

Earning Variables:

  • Language Pair and Direction Language pair refers to the language being translated to and from. For example, a translator may convert Chinese into English, French into German, or Vietnamese into Spanish. The direction of translation between two languages is also an earning variable. Translating Chinese to English is more valuable than English to Chinese because there is a lower supply of English speakers proficient in Chinese than there are Chinese speakers proficient in English.  Language pair and direction influence the earning potential of a translator because of supply and demand. Languages like French and German are in high demand but there are also lots of professionals that can translate them. For languages where demand exceeds supply, such as Vietnamese, translators tend to earn more.
  • Evening and Weekend Work It is possible for translators to charge more when they work evenings and weekends. A freelancer may choose, for example, to add a 25% surcharge to their normal rate. In reality, not everybody does, nor is it necessarily a good idea.
  • Speed The length of a project depends on its specific requirements, but as a general rule, a faster translator can get more work done in less time, and thus has the potential to earn more money. This isn’t always true. Quantity without quality is a sure-fire way for a translator to lose clients and earn less in the long term.

In-House Translator Salary

On average, translators in the UK earn a starting salary of £18,000 to £21,000 per year. They may earn over £30,000 in more experienced roles. In the US, the average salary for a translator is $40,000 per year (Sources: Glassdoor, Totaljobs, LinkedIn — via Translate Media). Translators for the European Union and United Nations tend to earn the most. As a result, these positions are extremely competitive.

Freelance Translator Salary

The salary of a freelance translator is much harder to determine than that of an in-house translator because they have more control over the type, quantity, and price of the work that they do.

As a translator, freelancing has its financial advantages and disadvantages. A highly skilled and experienced translator could earn over £40,000 per year as a company employee. As a freelance translator, they could earn as little as £10,000 per year or as much as £100,000 per year. Simply, freelance translators must have the ability and skills to run their own business.

Freelance Earning Variables:

  • Clients Freelancers can work directly with clients or through an agency. An agency is responsible for finding and communicating with clients. They then ask a freelancer, or a team of translators, to work on the client’s project. Working with an agency is perhaps the less risky employment type, but it may mean lower pay, as the agency earns a proportion of the client’s budget. Working directly with clients has its advantages and disadvantages. It could mean working on higher value projects, but to do so requires better sales, marketing, and communication skills.  Without these, the salary could easily be much lower than working with an agency or as an employee.
  • Business Skills Freelance translators are essentially self-employed business owners. They are responsible for finding their own work, marketing themselves, and selling their services — directly to clients or through an agency. As previously discussed, this has its financial pros and cons when compared to working as an in-house translator. Ultimately, the better one’s business acumen, the more likely they are to earn a high salary. Some freelance translators need a job on top of their translation work, others earn hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.

Conclusion

There is a massive gap between the lowest and highest paid translators, which may be explained by the fact that the majority of translators are freelancers. By nature, the income of freelancers varies considerably. In the UK, in-house translators earn between £18,000 and £30,000 per year. Average income in the US is $40,000. Freelancers can earn a lot less or a lot more. They need business skills like sales, marketing, management, and communication.  Overall, translators can anywhere between £18,000 per year and £100,000 + per year.

Translation Careers

There are various career pathways available to graduates with a degree in translation, whether as professional translators or in the language services industry. Translation graduates often work in the field of translation, either as freelance translators or as employees of a translation company: as an in-house translator or project manager, for example. Others work in the language services industry, working with businesses expanding their international operations. Others pursue a Masters degree or PhD in fields related to translation, or work as a researcher or university lecturer. Translation careers can be grouped into the following categories: professional translation, international marketing, academia, teaching, and project management.

Professional Translation

Professional translation is the most common career pathway. The role varies considerably — you can work as a self-employed freelancer, own a translation company, or work as an in-house translator for an array of employers in the public and private industries. You might, for example, work for the United Nations, local government, or global sporting organizations like FIFA.

Many professional translators work as freelancers. They can be contracted directly by public or private organizations, or by translation agencies that act as a middleman between freelancers and employers. In the UK, many public sector organizations outsource translation work to local and national translation companie

Academia

Another popular translation career pathway is academia. There are various Masters programmes available, such as the MA Translation Studies at the University of Exeter, which enable students to develop specialist language and research skills. The advanced skills and credentials of the MA make it easier to land roles in translation, teaching, international business, and media.

There are also opportunities to embark on a PhD in Translation Studies or in related disciplines, such as comparative literature, cultural studies, and history. Doctoral graduates often work as research assistants, researchers, or university lecturers.

Teaching

It is also possible to enter the teaching profession as a graduate of translation studies. You may choose to teach languages subjects in a school, college or as a university lecturer, a role that often combines research and teaching.

Project Management

Translation graduates develop the management and strategic skills that enable them to work effectively as project managers for translation and media companies. This role typically involves liaising with clients and translation colleagues to deliver projects effectively and efficiently. It may also involve tasks like formatting, proofreading, and editing documents in various languages.

Language Services Industry

The ability to effectively communicate between languages and cultures is becoming more and more valuable as physical communication barriers continue to disappear in line with advances in technology. This makes careers in the language services industry extremely diverse in nature. Any company or organization that operates across cultural and lingual borders is likely to need translation skills in some capacity. Here are some examples of translation employers:

The Importance of Translation Studies

Introduction

Translation Studies is a field of study that deals with the theory, description, and application of translation. Because it examines translation both as an interlingual transfer, and as an intercultural communication, Translation Studies can also be described as an inter-discipline which touches on other diverse fields of knowledge, including comparative literature, cultural studies, gender studies, computer science, history, linguistics, philosophy, rhetoric, and semiotics.

The skills of translation are becoming ever more important and desirable. Today’s multicultural and multilingual society demands effective, efficient, and empathetic communication between languages and cultures. That’s important for various reasons, which we’ll now explore.

Not Everybody Speaks English

English is the most prominent language in the world. As a result, one might question the importance of translation, and ask, why doesn’t everybody just speak English?

The reality, however, is that not everybody can speak English, fewer still are able to speak it well enough to communicate effectively, and perhaps even more importantly: language is much more than the communication of words. It is also an expression of culture, society, and belief. Promoting a universal language, therefore, would likely lead to a loss of the culture and heritage communicated through native languages.

It Enables A Global Economy

As communication and travel advance, geography is becoming less and less of a barrier to doing business. Companies benefit from working overseas. They can take advantage of the lower cost of products and services in some countries, the professional and industrial expertise of others, and additional markets to trade in.

When they trade in countries with a different native language, they need high-quality translation to communicate effectively. When there’s a demand for translation there are opportunities for translators. When there’s a demand for translators, there’s a demand for Translation Studies. They need to learn the skills to practice at a high level, and perhaps even contribute to advancing the field even further.

Looking ahead, whilst English is the world’s most prominent language at the moment, it may not always be. When a market emerges and grows rapidly, like the Chinese market has in recent years, the demand for translation to and from its native language is also likely to increase.

The Spread of Information and Ideas

Translation is necessary for the spread of information, knowledge, and ideas. It is absolutely necessary for effective and empathetic communication between different cultures. Translation, therefore, is critical for social harmony and peace.

Translation is also the only medium through which people come to know different works that expand their knowledge. For example:

  • Arabic translators were able to keep the ideas of ancient Greek philosophers alive throughout the Middle Ages
  • The Bible has been translated into at least 531 languages
  • Translation is helping sports teams and organisations overcome language barriers and transcend international boundaries
  • TED Talks run open translation projects that allow people around the world to understand their talks, offering non-English speakers to learn from some of the best educators in the world.

The Role of Translation Studies

Effective, efficient, and empathetic translation requires highly skilled practitioners. Courses in Translation Studies are a great way for linguists, language graduates, and translators to develop a deep understanding of the academic field, and the skills to practice as a translation professional.

Translation enables effective communication between people around the world. It is a courier for the transmission of knowledge, a protector of cultural heritage, and essential to the development of a global economy. Highly skilled translators are key. Translation Studies helps practitioners develop those skills.

Further Reading

Translation Studies trip to Codex Global

Written by current student Lizzie Harvey-Backhouse

Last week, a group of students from Exeter’s Translation Studies MA braved London’s heatwave for a workshop with the translation company Codex Global. As the name suggests, Codex is an international company that works with brands worldwide from Ralph Lauren to Visa and even the BBC. We met at the company’s office, based in the heart of London’s Oxford Street; their top-floor office space was a cool and inviting reprieve from the busy afternoon shoppers many floors below.

In the office, we met production manager Ksenia Ivanova who led our session. She went into detail about Codex, the different in-house roles and the services they offer to clients, while interspersing entertaining anecdotes from her time at Codex and how she got her start in the translation industry. In-house, Codex employs project managers, vendor managers and sales roles; the translating itself is outsourced to their large pool of freelancers, all of whom have their own specialism. One thing Ksenia emphasised is how important it is for freelance translators to specialise early – this way you can devote time to becoming as knowledgeable as possible about your specialism. This means that you (and your employer) know that you’re translating a text as accurately as possible for the client, using the correct jargon or genre conventions. It’s no good translating an important medical document if your specialism is marketing and you have no idea what ‘atherosclerosis’ means in English, let alone how to translate it from your source language!

We had some knowledge of the role that project managers play in the translation process from SMLM153 (The Translation Profession module on the MA), but not vendor managers and localisation engineers. Ksenia’s presentation covered these in detail and the kind of personalities that may be suited to them. Vendor management is the headhunting of freelancers and dealing with client feedback or performance monitoring, while localisation engineers ensure that all technology and IT systems are up to date. They are also responsible for the maintenance and development of CAT tools (Computer Assisted Translation software). These roles are pretty standard in most LSPs (language service providers), so Ksenia’s presentation gave us an insight into the industry itself, not just life at Codex.

Ksenia also gave us a taster of the project management role and the decisions that go into putting together a translation project. Project managers must be able to deal with last minute requests from clients and then work quickly to analyse the project and find translators with the right specialisms for the project. Ksenia gave us a scenario that project managers are frequently faced with: a company has contacted you on Friday afternoon with an urgent project that they need translated by Monday morning. How do you deal with this? She gave us basic information about the project and in pairs, we chose our hypothetical translators (Translation Studies director Professor Michelle Bolduc and I chose ‘Ironman’, a hypothetical marketing and transcreation specialist) and worked out quotes for the client and the profit margins. This was easier said than done, as Michelle and I had apparently temporarily lost our ability to calculate percentages!

Following the group feedback, we spoke to a recent graduate of the Exeter MA, who is currently an intern at Codex, about his experiences as a PM and the transition from the MA programme to his internship. Following this Q and A, we ventured back out into the sweltering heat of Oxford Street, our minds reeling with a whole realm of new career possibilities opened to us.

We would like to thank Michelle for organising such an insightful trip, and to Ksenia and everyone at Codex Global for the opportunity to gain such an invaluable look into the world of LSPs!

Visit our webpages to read more about the MA Translation Studies programme.