Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Translators, Market Yourselves

Glendon's Translation Alumni Night was Friday, March 30 at the Glendon Manor. It was a night of interesting speeches, delicious hors d’oeuvres and a roomful of people just as obsessed with languages as me. Can anyone say #wishfulfillment?

There were four speakers:

1.     Donna Achimov, CEO of the Government of Canada's Translation Bureau
2.     Alana Chalmers, a Glendon Translation graduate working as an editor for an online magazine
3.     Gina Létourneau, legislative translator with the Government of Ontario
4.     James McLennan, founder of translation company Gaston Murdock

It was informative, interesting and practical.  The main point that stood out was that translators need to start marketing themselves. Which makes perfect sense. Translators sometimes don’t get the credit or attention they deserve. But, half the fault lies with us. We have to make people see how important and relevant our profession is, and that requires getting actively involved in promoting the profession.

Let's think about it for a second. When was the last time you heard anyone say “translators are the coolest thing since sliced bread”? Me? Never. But we ARE the coolest thing since sliced bread (after ice cream, OREO Cakesters and modern plumbing).

So, how do we get the word out there that we’re needed and important?

Well, Donna Achimov and James McLenna both mentioned the positive benefits that come from taking advantage of tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN. Even YouTube can be used to further our “cause”. Traduction NB Translation, a non-profit organization committed to promoting the translation industry, started a campaign called “In New Brunswick, translators mean a lot!” The campaign included a video featuring a translator at work and the many awesome, cool tasks she accomplishes on a  day-to-day basis. Check out their website for more information.

I’ll admit it, back in Grade 11 when I read The Hunchbank of Notre Dame [in English], you can bet that the first thing on my mind was not “wow, this translation is super awesome. Kudos to whoever translated this masterpiece of literary genius.” (BTW, I think it was Lowell Bair but I can’t even say that with absolute certainty) It’s getting better, I think, and I don’t have much to compare it to. But in many of my Glendon Translation classes, the issue of the translator’s invisibility was addressed.It is a genuine concern and a topic of heated debate. I say, let’s step out from behind the curtain. I’m not trying to start a war here, but what’s wrong with being acknowledged for the important work we do? And, why not make use of the social media tools we have to do just that?

P.S., for pictures from Glendon School of Translation Alumni Night, check out the Glendon School of Translation facebook page.