What I did last weekend — METM11

Here’s a quick run-down of my first MET meeting, METM11:

Thursday afternoon:

  • “Getting started in financial translation” by Stephen Waller. A practical workshop with some good tips. We looked at typical documents and some problematic terms. We also saw Stephen in action using a target-text corpus and how useful it can be—one day I’ll get around to making one!

Friday morning:

  • Off-MET on legal texts organised by Paula James. Paula, John, Joanna and I had a nice chat over breakfast about some things related to legal translation and many others that weren’t. Very enjoyable.

Friday afternoon:

  • “Establishing a dialogue between research and practice: a look at the potential benefits”. Sally Burgess, Theresa Lillis, Valerie Matarese and Mary Ellen Kerans. Basically an invitation to us as practitioners to get what we can out of the research, whether that be in applying it or conducting it. I agree with the message but also with the point raised by some attendees that the research is largely inaccessible for practitioners, either physically (or virtually), unless we study or work at universities, or because it’s buried in acronyms.
  • “Corpus perspectives on legal English: analysis of the use of evaluative adjectives and adverbs.” Ruth Breeze. This was right up my alley. It was about Ruth’s research on the more frequently occurring adjectives and adverbs in legal texts, which turned out to be our faithful friends “reasonable/ly”, “clear/ly”, “important/ly”, “correct/ly”, “proper/ly” and “appropriate/ly”. This type of research is really useful for legal translators.
  • “Translators: the human element in machine translation” Dorothy Kenny. Excellent talk on MT covering everything from its history, where it’s at today and where it might be going. And the good news for the usually slightly paranoid translators when it comes to this matter, freelancers anyway, is that it might not be going anywhere without us. An objective insight into a sensitive issue.
  • “Twitter for language professionals” Oliver Shaw. A dynamic and very entertaining talk on Twitter. We had fun and learnt something—what more could you ask for?

Saturday morning:

  • “Practical ideas for getting the most out of your working environment: part II” Anne Murray, Ann King and Jason Willis-Lee. I haven’t seen part I, but I will if I get the chance as there was a lot of good stuff in this talk. Little—and sometimes bigger—tools, programs and apps that can help make our lives that little bit easier and let us get on with translating, as long as we don’t get distracted by our smartphones.
  • “Becoming more competitive through cooperation: peer revision and mentoring” Helen Casas. Guidelines on how to organise and get the most out of peer-reviewing and mentoring. This talk really opened my eyes up to the potential of these types of arrangements and the broad scope for applying them.
  • “Translating audio guides for art exhibitions: some practical hints” Joanna Martinez. As the theme of this talk was in no way related to what I do, the idea was to go to the other session that was being held. But, having talked to Joanna a little bit over METM11, I really wanted to hear what she had to say—whatever that was going to be about. And I wasn’t disappointed. I enjoyed the talk and also learnt something, which may even be applicable to my work.
  • “Making silk purses” Ros Schwartz. This talk was the highlight of METM11 for me. Very inspirational. Although it probably wasn’t the main point, what I took away from it was the confirmation of the idea that as translators we are first and foremost writers, which is something that is often overlooked, with the focus usually being on the need, albeit an essential one, for having second/source-language skills, which in some respects is really only a way of distinguishing us from other writers.

Saturday afternoon

  • “Computer-assisted translation tools: Which one and why?” David Cullen, Kelly Dickeson, Sarah Griffin-Mason and Rob Lunn. Great session apart from the speaker who rambled on too much at the beginning. Sorry, I didn’t mean to do that. It must have been tough, especially straight after lunch. Thankfully, David, Kelly and Sarah did a great job and woke everyone up!
  • MET General Assembly. METM12 is going to in Venice.
  • Closing supper. Good food in good company. Lots of people went.

As I said here, this was my chance to find out what MET was all about. Well, I don’t know if I found that much out, but I did discover that the meetings are well worth going to. I had fun and learnt a lot, so it was a positive experience all around.

Written by Rob Lunn

Rob Lunn is a freelance translator based in Spain. He translates from Spanish and Catalan into English and specialises in legal translation.

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