Archive for October, 2011

Toastmasters International: Public Speaking and Leadership Club


Last month, I published an article about improving public speaking skills. I got many feedbacks and recommendations on Linkedin. Here is one of them: Toastmasters International. Its working system is a little bit different but professionnals on Linkedin say that it helps a lot. Here is some information that I copy from their site:



Looking to improve your speaking and leadership skills? Ignite your career? Win that job interview?

You’ve come to the right place. Since 1924, more than 4 million people around the world have become more confident speakers and leaders because of their participation in Toastmasters.

Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. Today, our membership is 270,000 strong. These members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 13,000 clubs that make up our global network of meeting locations.

Membership in Toastmasters is one of the greatest investments you can make in yourself. At $36 every six months, it is also one of the most cost-effective skill-building tools available anywhere.

How Does It Work?

A Toastmasters meeting is a learn-by-doing workshop in which participants hone their speaking and leadership skills in a no-pressure atmosphere. A typical group has 20 to 40 members who meet weekly, biweekly or monthly. A typical meeting lasts 60–90 minutes.


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After Van earthquake: Community Interpreting

Last Sunday, there was a big earthquake in the Eastern part of Turkey. The name of the city is Van and the earthquake’s magnititude was 7.2. The fact that it is already winter there makes everything harder. Many buildings collapsed and people are dying every moment (more than 500 people now). Great numbers of people and rescue teams are there but they have a problem: communication. There is a high Kurdish population in Van and most of them do not know Turkish; however, rescue teams do not know Kurdish. This is a very big problem and this is where we need community interpreters whose language pair is at least Turkish-Kurdish. I also have ‘community interpreting’ course in my university. Here is an explanatory article about community interpreting by Margareta Bowen. I have quoted the parts I find interesting. For the rest of it, you can click the link at the bottom:

” ‘The community interpreter has a very different role and responsibilities from a commercial or conference interpreter. She is responsible for enabling professional and client, with very different backgrounds and perceptions and in an unequal relationship of power and knowledge, to communicate to their mutual satisfaction.’ (Shackman, Jane. The Right to be Understood: A Handbook on Working With, Employing and Training Community Interpreters. 1984, Cambridge, England, National Extension College.)

The settings are hospitals and doctors’ offices, schools, the various offices dealing with immigrant matters, housing and social security, and police stations. Compared to conference interpreting, the range of languages needed is enormous, even when compared to what is in store for the European Union. Moreover, the language level may be quite different from that of a diplomatic conference: regional variations and dialects can be a problem.

Some languages dominate: Spanish in the US, Turkish in Germany and Austria, Italian and Greek in Australia. But the Health Care Interpreting Services office of the Heartland Alliance in Chicago at present has demand for 28 languages.

Interest in this kind of interpreting, however, has grown by leaps and bounds. Last year the International Conference on University Institutes for Translation and Interpretation (CIUTI) decided that institutes do not have to teach conference interpreting exclusively in order to become a member. They may offer any of a range of interpreter specializations, including community interpreting. Read more…

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What are the limits of “translators’ note”?

There is something wrong with the picture, right? It clearly shows that there should be some limits for the translator’s note. Although there is much to say about the translation, the footnotes should be somewhere at the end of the book, not at the bottom of the page. Many people find this kind of note-giving very distracting. I do not mean that there should never be any footnotes on the page. Of course, sometimes they are very useful especially when there are foreign words or concepts; however, the translator (or the editor) is supposed to use the words in the most effective way. The length of the footnote should not scare the reader away (like the one picture-it is half and half!).

And the second picture (from the same book) shows the optimum length for a footnote.

What do you think about the lenght of a footnote?

PS: The name of the book is “The Gift of Death” by Jacques Derrida. Translator: David Wills

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The Importance of Social Networking for Translators

Recently, I have seen many good examples showing the importance of social networking for translators.

I am a member of many groups for translation and languages on Linkedin and Facebook . We share many articles, news and all sorts of media via these groups. On Facebook there is group for Turkish Translation Students. One of the members published a post: “Do not work with X translation company because they just do not pay you back.” There were many comments about that. Everybody thanked to that member because, hereupon, the students will not trust this company.

Another importance of social networking is the exchange of opinions. This generally happens on Linkedin. If you have any questions on your mind about translation or languages, all the professional translators out there welcome you and they do their best with their comments and messages to help you. I do this very often. Here are some of my previous questions: “Should we translate city names?”, “Should we translate company names?” etc. I got very rich comments some of which I have published already.

In conclusion, if you do not want to be fooled by ‘some translation companies’, be a member of as many groups as you can. All these groups will also help you with your questions 🙂 Good luck!

Recommendations on Facebook:

Recommendations on Linkedin:

English Language Translators
Freelance Translators - Interpreters network
GlobalJobZ - (GLIT) Localization, Interpretation and Translation
International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI)
Professional Translators and Interpreters (
Trad Online - traduction, translation, traducción, traduzione, translators!

Is There an Ultimate Translation?

No. Actually I wanted to write just this: No.

In my translation class (economics), the professor sent us away with a one page translation as homework. The following week we came to class prepared and one by one we read out aloud our translations. All were different; not just slightly but sometimes completely. When there is a specific terminology (like economics), it is almost impossible to provide consistency within the class. In such cases, the professor should distribute a terminology list to the class. Anyway, after we read out aloud, the professor read the already translated version by a ‘professional translator’. It was also different from ours. So, I thought, is there an ultimate translation? If you give your translation to a freelance translator, how can you be sure that it is translated properly?

Translation is describing a sentence in another language. Every translator has a different background, different experiences and different attitude to his/her language. Some prefer to use old and established vocabulary, some others may want to use a vocabulary which is more contemporary. Some read more books and therefore can find phrases that sound more natural, some others may just translate it as it is. All these make a huge difference.

There can never be an ultimate or a right translation; however, there are of course ‘wrong’ translations (I know it sounds weird 🙂 ). Mistakes can never be perceived as different interpretations of a text.

After all this is said and done, it shows the important role that translation agencies play in the business world. A freelancer translates a document according to their own interpretation of the text, this at times can be incorrect, which is why is is important for the document to be edited by a second translator and then proofread by a third native speaker. In this way, you are guaranteed that by working with an agency who offers you these services (it is always important to ask the work process of the agency) that you will receive an accurate, professionally translated document.

Bilingual vs Monolingual Dictionaries

When I was in high school, I started studying English more intensively. I chose the department ‘Foreign Languages’ and I had English courses for almost 20 hours a week. Until that time, I had been using only bilingual dictionaries. However, at the first class of the term, my English teacher told me that I should buy a big English- English monolingual dictionary (Oxford or Cambridge). Well, I had to buy it you see 🙂 For almost one year, this dictionary was a nigtmare for me. I did not want to even look at it because I had a limited time and looking up in the dictionary was taking ages. While I was looking up a word, I was coming across another unknown word in the explanation. This was how it went, I was looking up at least three words to get the meaning of one word. After all these years, I can say that both bilingual and monolingual dictionaries are useful.

1. Monolingual Dictionaries

Those who are in a business related to languages have one of these dictionaries: Oxford, Cambridge or Collins. Monolingual dictionaries (MD) leaves you space to interpret a word in your own language. You see many different meanings and their use in English. You can understand in which contexts you can use the word you are looking up. MDs also help in improving your English. By reading the meaning, you always see the English grammer structure and syntax. Without noticing, you expose yourself to English all the time.

2. Bilingual Dictionaries

I admit that bilingual dictionaries (BD) make you a little bit lazy because you just choose one of the meanings which you think is the most suitable according to the context. However, as translators, we use them a lot. If I have difficulty while translating a sentence, I ask the opinion of my friends. Looking up a bilingual dictionary is the same thing. You check the translations of the same word and get an idea. Sometimes, even if you know the meaning of ‘X’, you look it up to confirm and see how other people interpret the meaning.

These are my humble ideas about dictionaries. When I come across an unknown word, first I look up a bilingual dictionary. If I am not satisfied with the alternatives I have, I consult a monolingual dictionary and try to come up with my own translation.

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Facebook’s New ‘Translate’ Tool

There is not a day goes by without a surprise by Facebook. First timelines and a bunch of new applications and then completely new profiles… In the meantime, I have discovered the translation tool of Facebook. According to an article on “This is different from Google’s translation tool — this opt-in service is powered by Microsoft Bing and works on individual posts on Facebook Pages, including comments. For example, if you’re an English speaker reading aFacebook public Page and encounter a comment in Spanish, you’ll see a Translate button next to it, letting you click to see it translated into a pop-out window in English.” However, it is not active for all the comments or wall posts somehow.

I tried this app in couple of Facebook pages. It, again, turned out to be useless. This app may be useful only for certain language pairs, which are similar to each other. When it comes to gramatically different languages like Turkish, it fails.

I do not know it will improve itself or not, machine translation still scares me to death!

Great Comments, Great Differences


Last week, I published a post ‘Does Every Word Have a Subtext?‘. On Linkedin, I got very rich comments and I would like to share a couple of them with you. All these different comments show that we have different approaches to a very same subject. All the comments were great; however, I do not want to make it too long. Here are the comments that I chose:

Karolina Socha-Duśko: “Outside the formal context, where the rules are laid out clearly, it is no just language we must deal with, but also all the social and personal subtleties that vary from person to person, from culture to culture, and so on.
And I also think, that in the informal contexts smileys do a great job as a (poor) substitute of the non-verbal content.

(I just deleted half of the adjectives I had previously typed).”

Dayna Lamothe: “I think that moving past the fear of misinterpretation and subtext is one of the biggest challenges facing new translators.”

Bruno Fonseca: “The video is quite funny and I believe people relate to it more or less, however I try to write as I speak, i.e without thinking, I even avoid to “proofread” my lines otherwise I’ll be spending half an hour to rewrite three sentences, and time is all we have ain’t it?…”

José Carlos G. Ribeiro: “I like a quote from an interview with one of Brazil’s greatest authors, which I translated and posted in my website:

‘Writing should be done in the same manner as the washerwomen of Alagoas practice their craft. They start with a first wash(ing), soaking the dirty clothing by the bank of the lagoon or stream; they wring the piece of clothing, soak it again, and then wring it once more. They then add indigo, soap and wring once, and then twice. Then they rinse, and soak it again, now splashing the water onto the cloth with their hands. They beat the cloth on a slab or clean stone, they wring it again and then one more time, they wring it until no water drops from the cloth anymore. Only after they have done all this do they hang the clean piece of clothing to dry, on a string or clothes line. Whoever goes into writing should do the very same thing. The word was not meant to embellish or to spark like fake gold; the word was meant to say.’ (Graciliano Ramos, during an interview, in 1948) / An author is a translator of him/herself!”

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How Google Translate Goes Beyond Itself?

In the past, I was thinking that Google Translate just analyzes the lexical meaning of each word. That’s why there are many translations that does not make sense at all. I supposed the words are not translated in a certain context; however, I learned that Google Translate uses the official papers of EU, which have been translated into many different languages for more than 50 years. In this way, the software finds similar context and translates accordingly. I still do not think that they can replace us, but we are getting close to be titled as ‘translation editors’ step by step. Here is the source that I learn all these. I wanted you to know how Google Translate works. Maybe there are still some translators who do not know the working principles exactly-like me 🙂 You can read the rest of the text by clicking link at the bottom:

“Using software originally developed in the 1980s by researchers at IBM, Google has created an automatic translation tool that is unlike all others. It is not based on the intellectual presuppositions of early machine translation efforts – it isn’t an algorithm designed only to extract the meaning of an expression from its syntax and vocabulary.


In fact, at bottom, it doesn’t deal with meaning at all. Instead of taking a linguistic expression as something that requires decoding, Google Translate (GT) takes it as something that has probably been said before.

It uses vast computing power to scour the internet in the blink of an eye, looking for the expression in some text that exists alongside its paired translation.”

For the rest of the text, click here.

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