‘An Introduction to Subtitling’ Workshop at Leeds University. Raquel Madrid writes;

On one of the first warm and sunny days of the year, a dedicated group of YTI members and students headed to a computer suite at the University of Leeds to learn all about the mysterious art of subtitling. Given the discussions that took place before the training started, it seems I wasn’t the only translator who made a regular habit of picking holes in the subtitles on my foreign language shows and films of choice.  What I learned on this very informative course would give me a whole new perspective on the issue however, and a very healthy respect for the professionals who toil over this tricky task. Read on to find out why.

Leading the workshop was Alina Secara, Director of Translation Studies at the University of Leeds, very ably assisted by Faustine Roux, a professional subtitler. After introducing themselves and giving us a rundown of their respective (extensive) experience in the subtitling industry, Alina proceeded to dive straight in with an in-depth explanation of the different types of subtitling a professional subtitler might encounter. The first type is intralingual pre-recorded subtitles, which are produced for the benefit of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community and for the purposes of language learning. As well as subtitling the words of the speakers, this kind of subtitling also provides a description of sounds and accents and non-verbal information. The interesting example of action films was discussed, where there is little dialogue to subtitle but instead the challenge of a huge number of sound effects to convey through the medium of text! In addition, Alina and Faustine discussed intralingual live subtitles, also intended for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community and used for the news and live events, and finally interlingual subtitles, the kind that we linguists are most used to seeing. The main challenges entailed in all three types of subtitles included a lack of time and space for the subtitle, meaning that the translation must by necessity be condensed, constraints related to the time it takes the viewer to comfortably read the subtitle and how best to deal with line breaks.

Next we were taken through the main concepts of subtitling, including reading speeds, timecodes, scene and shot changes and templates – all highly technical – and the challenges that these all pose. Challenges such as having to fit the subtitles around shots and camera angles, prioritizing certain aspects, unfinished sentences and deciding how to deal with swear words. And then once you have juggled all these constraints, you still have to make sure you can fit it all on the screen in a readable format, deciding how best to split the text between two lines. It is unsurprising in the light of all this that the end result is very different to what a translator might produce when given the written script and no word limit. After all, the purpose of subtitling is very different.

Bursting with enthusiasm, we were later given the chance to get some practical experience with WinCAPS, the subtitling software that Alina teaches at the University of Leeds. She was at pains to make clear however that it is just one of the many on the market, and that it is up to the individual subtitler to discover which software suits them best. An English-language video from Médecins Sans Frontières was provided for us to practice on, along with comprehensive instructions and plentiful assistance from the two experts. It was such an absorbing task that most attendees even worked through the final afternoon coffee break – something unheard of when a group of translators and interpreters get together!

I am certain that everyone found the workshop as informative and interesting as I did, and I would like to express my gratitude to Alina and Faustine for running such an excellent event, and to Raquel for organising. I came away with an enormous amount of respect for the work that subtitlers do, and a real appreciation of the challenges they face. Never again will I criticise professional subtitles in so offhand a manner!

Wine Tasting in Harrogate. Francesca Gatenby writes

The setting: a bustling Italian restaurant decked with large, atmospheric artwork prints and a penchant for purple. The wines: an eclectic mix of flavours and strengths. The menu: full-flavoured and filling. The company: of the best sort.

Our evening of Italian wine tasting at Sasso Enoteca Italiano in central Harrogate was a convivial and popular one. The sommelier began by pouring us all a measure of NV Prosecco Brut, an International Wine Challenge bronze medal winner, and, aware that he was addressing a group of professional translators, proceeded to apologise for his attempt at Italian pronunciation. Very light on the taste buds, this wine had a “fresh green apple nose” and served as a gentle introduction, prompting the conversation to flow with alacrity.

The Due Uve Bianco Pinot Grigio-Sauvignon IGT – as per its name a blend of two grape varieties – and the Pecorino Pasetti followed next, paired with a starter of smoked salmon terrine, marinated beetroot and horseradish crème fraîche – or asparagus with poached egg for the vegetarians. Both whites proved popular when it came to selecting a full glass to accompany the main course (pollo con salsa di funghi, zafferano e spinaci – chicken breast in a wild mushroom and saffron sauce with spinach). Lo Sbrancato Rose Il Poggione, my personal favourite from the tasting, was a fresh-flavoured rosé that also contrasted well with the richness of the main. The rosé was followed by the only red on the tasting list – Syrah Mandrarossa – with its delicious and, according to the enthusiastic menu writer, “heady perfume of hedgerow fruit and peppery spice”. Definitely a wine to sit and ruminate with.

We all enjoyed comparing the different wines and discussing their finer points over the course of the evening, whatever our level of knowledge of oenology. Some finished with dessert while others enjoyed sipping their wine; and those of us who needed to catch trains reluctantly did so.

Another interesting and enjoyable social – thank you to Charlotte for organising!

Tango Moderno at Leeds Grand. Josie Worrall writes;

YTI’s April outing to watch Tango Moderno at Leeds Grand was an entirely exclusive affair. And by exclusive, I mean we were few in number. We made up for our limited numbers however with unbounded enthusiasm for a Tuesday-night tipple in the fabulous theatre bar beforehand, and of course for the spectacle of dance, music and song that awaited us.

The stars of the show were the erstwhile Strictly Come Dancing favourites, Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, although it also featured a pair of excellent West End singers, and a troupe of very talented contemporary dancers. Billed as a ‘tango for today’, the show featured the troupe telling modern tales (including Tinder romances, millennials glued to smartphones and a strange suburban scene featuring some outdated gender stereotypes) through the medium of contemporary dance, with some tango moves thrown in for good luck. They were watched over by their fairy godparents – enter Vincent and Flavia – magically matchmaking through the power of traditional tango. The compere, the male singer, introduced the various tales through poetry, also singing a diverse mix of chart hits and power ballads alongside his female counterpart.

While entertaining, for me the overall effect of these different elements was rather eclectic. The show’s interpretation of the issues of modern life also felt rather reductive. The highlights of the evening were undoubtedly the moments when Vincent and Flavia took to the stage alone to perform the passionate, dramatic tango that viewers love them for. Considering the rapturous applause with which each of the pair’s appearances was met, it seemed as if the audience would have liked a little more sophisticated tango, and a little less modern interpretation!

Uncle Vanya at the York Theatre Royal. Oliver Richmond writes;

On 10th March a handful of fellow YTI members attended a performance of Anton Chekhov’s poignant comedy ‘Uncle Vanya’ at York Theatre Royal.

‘Uncle Vanya’ is in essence a comedy tainted by an underlying sense of tragedy. Uncle Vanya himself for example is a forlorn character, ridden with guilt over his own failures in life. But so too are the other characters, frequently enveloped by a sense of acute ennui and exhaustion.

I have never actually seen a Russian play before but I was pleasantly surprised. The acting was brilliant and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we were all enthralled by the plot.

YTI February Social – Bring & Share event. Birgit Obermueller writes;

On Sunday 11 February 2018 we gathered again at Jacob’s Well in York for this month’s social: a bring and share afternoon tea – well cake fest. We sampled sweet and savoury treats from around Yorkshire and Europe. There were Yorkshire Fat Rascals, Yorkshire Bark, cinnamon & ginger fruit loaf, French madeleines, North Italian muffins, German ‘Marmorkuchen’ (marble cake), honey cake, carrot cake, olive buns, salmon & cream cheese sandwiches, cucumber & cashew butter sandwiches, Roquefort cheese, chorizo sausage and a selection of fresh fruit.

We were able to introduce a few new and prospective YTI members to this sweet tradition, which is in its third year running now. It was a very enjoyable afternoon with lots chatting, networking, exchanging and passing on experience as well as cake eating of course. I am are already looking forward to next year’s YTI bake off!

Winter Walk around Elsecar- Stephen Dugdale writes;

On Saturday 13 January 2018, seven brave souls from all corners of Yorkshire gathered at Elsecar Heritage Centre for the eagerly-anticipated 2018 YTI Winter Ramble. Chris Thompson had kindly agreed to lead the walk and did not disappoint with a seven mile hike that was not too taxing but challenging enough to get the blood racing and burn off any festive excesses.

As with Matty Young’s 2017 walk near Ribblehead (my very first YTI social and almost 12 months ago to the day), the weather stayed dry but cold throughout although we swapped the fitting Yorkshire Dales snow for clinging mud. The first climb up a hill behind Elsecar village made it quite tricky to remain vertical, but much handholding and rib-tickling puns from young Kerry kept everyone upright. Having negotiated this climb, we were rewarded with some fine panoramic views of South Yorkshire and beyond, as well as a folly called the “Needle’s Eye” near Wentworth village. This unique 45 foot high pyramid-like arch was built by Earl Fitzwilliam as the result of a bet in which he claimed he could drive his horse and carriage through the eye of a needle (as you do). This provided chance for some amusing photos and localization (!), made funnier by a toy camel produced by Chris.

The pyramid theme continued with a visit to another unique folly known as Hoober Stand where we enjoyed a quick rest. The 100 foot monument was built between 1747 and 1748 to commemorate the defeat of the Jacobite uprising of 1745. It contains 155 stairs inside, but thankfully it the door was locked. Depending on your viewpoint, the hexagonal lantern atop the Stand makes it look like the building is about to topple over, but we were assured this is merely an optical illusion. The Stand also contained the following plaque with some cringeworthy English which, as translators and proof readers (or aspiring in my case), we were obliged to correct:

“This pyramidall building was erected by his Majestys most dutiful subject Thomas Marquess of Rockingham in grateful respect to the preserver of our religious laws and libertys King George the Second who, by the blessing of God having subdued a most unnatural rebellion in Britain anno 1746 maintains the balance of power and settles a just and honourable peace in Europe 1748.”

Both these follies were fairly weather-beaten but contained elegant graffiti from past centuries where scallies of the day had clearly put great effort in using hammers and picks to carve out their tags.

After a wander past Wentworth Woodhouse, thought to be the largest privately-owned house in Europe and twice the size of Buckingham Palace, we were tempted to pop in for Lady Grey and cucumber sandwiches and play hide-and-seek throughout the five miles of corridors and 365 rooms. The house was sold for £7m in 2017 which would take a fair bit of translation to earn that. However, we were restricted to picnic outside and then visited a forge in nearby Wentworth Village. Most of the houses in the Village are painted dark green which reflects their National Trust status.

After exploring the graveyard and ruins of a church in Wentworth and its slightly less interesting modern counterpart, we negotiated some more mud and arrived back at the Heritage Centre where there was time to visit an old pumping station and mini railway used to transport coal. The Heritage Centre is well worth a visit and free. After a spur-of-the-moment Gujarati lesson by Chris prompted by a unique sign for sale, we repaired to a posh tea room for some reviving tea and cake to reflect upon a delightful saunter and discuss the difference between colons and semi-colons and enjoy some more one liners from Kerry.

Many thanks once again go to Chris for a memorable day, and also to the other members who welcomed me to the walk. It topped off a special weekend following my MA graduation at Sheffield University the day before.

YTI Legal Translation Workshop – University of Leeds Students, Sophie Roche and Emma McNaught write:

On Saturday 18 November, the YTI and NERG members gathered at the Quaker Meeting House in York to get to grips with the world of legal translation. Some arrived early to catch up with fellow linguists over lunch and a cup of tea.

The workshop kicked off with a talk from legally qualified translator, Andrew Leigh, who gave us some top tips on translating the subject matter:

1. Do your background research – this will enable you to fully understand the ST

2. Put accuracy first – and creative flair second

3. Find parallel texts – so you know the terms in the target language

4. Know your audience – to know what to simplify or explain

5. Research international law – from institutions such as the OECD and the World Bank

With these pointers in mind, we then split off into our language groups to get some hands-on experience translating the somewhat intimidating texts. Sophie joined the French-English group who picked out problematic sections of the documents provided. Emma worked alongside the Spanish-English translators, focusing primarily on specific terminology and the expectations of the target culture.

After some insightful discussions, all language groups reconvened to share how they approached the task at hand. For example, the Italian translators proofread and assessed the quality of an official translation of their text; the German-English and English-German translators joined forces to compare notes. Whilst the overall feedback showed how different the approaches were, everyone had the same response: they all thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from the afternoon.

We wonder what the workshop will cover next year… Watch this space.

YTI November Social – International Pub Quiz, York – Alejandra Martínez Cerdán writes;

On Friday 10 November a flock of YTI members descended on the Yorkshire Terrier pub in York for our annual internationally themed pub quiz.

After getting drinks and the odd sausage roll from the bar, everybody got settled in the function room upstairs, the more resourceful/organised of our members having brought food to keep them going after the pub announced rather belatedly that no food would be available. A shame, as in previous years the rather hot chilli con carne proved very warming sustenance for the cold and dark of November. Thankfully the second part of the quiz came to the rescue. More on this below…

Once settled into five teams of 4-5 people each, the first part of the quiz got under way under the ever capable direction of quizzmistress Catherine Greensmith. The first part consisted of questions with an international flavour, some rather unusual. King Zog anyone? Turns out he was an Albanian king some for the attendees had even heard of before (do feel free to pat yourselves on the back!)

After a short break (during which £18 were raised for Translators Without Borders) came the second part, which was a flavoured water and cheese tasting session. The waters were rather unusual combinations which took some divining, while for the cheeses identifying the country of provenance, as well as the variety, gave extra points.

There were prizes for three teams –one item per person, no less, that’s YTI largesse for you– with the five-strong Quizzettes proclaiming themselves overall winners (picture of team members proudly displaying their prizes below. Clockwise from bottom left: Helena, Steve, Chris and Mark, with Alejandra on photographer’s duty).

A very enjoyable evening where a good time was had by all, and our gratitude must go to the Organising Committee for making it happen. Looking forward to next year’s already, for which some of our members suggested the inclusion of some Japanese-themed questions for variety and general broadening of horizons. Which is what it’s all about.

A Common Foe – An exhibition at the Hull Maritime Museum

The social event for September saw a good-sized group meet up in Hull to visit an exhibition at the Hull Maritime Museum charting the city’s fishing heritage through a combination of text, photography and film.

A Common Foe focused on the relationship between the fishermen of Hull and the people of Iceland. I was surprised to learn that as far back as the fifteenth century, citizens of Hull had traded goods for fish, with many Icelandic people returning to Hull along with the fishermen, seeking a new life in Britain.

The photography on display by Simon Sharp covered the lives of Hull’s fishermen and women both at sea and at home.  It also tackled some of the more unfortunate events over the years including the Cod Wars and the Triple Trawler Tragedy in the late 1960s.  A video of the brother of one of the men lost in the Triple Trawler Tragedy searching for and laying a wreath at the sight of the wreck of his brother’s boat was especially poignant.

Although A Common Foe has now finished, the rest of the Maritime Museum is well worth a visit with plenty to interest visitors both young and old.

Having spent time inside the museum it was pleasant to step out into the sunshine and wander round the rejuvenated fruit market and old town areas before finding a brand new bar with an amazing array of spirits and nibbles to finish off the afternoon.

Ilkley Literature Festival – Borders, Boundaries and Partition. Francesca Gatenby writes:

The ‘Borders, Boundaries and Partition’ event proved to be a wide-ranging and fascinating discussion of the ephemeral or concrete nature of different types of borders and boundaries. We were transported from the affluent environs of moor-shadowed Ilkley to the tension-ridden streets of Northern Ireland in the midst of the Troubles; then to 1980s London, permeated by prejudice, where Abdulrazak Gurnah told us how he was rejected for a job “a corpse could have done” the minute he gave his name; and then forward in time again to 21st century London and a new sense of post-Brexit cultural malaise.

The three panelists drew on their personal experiences of cultural otherness to offer a witty, frank and engaging discussion that ranged from Brexit, Trump and the attitude of the European political elite towards Hungary’s physical walls, built to repudiate refugees, through to more philosophical concepts of borders, their degree of usefulness and future relevance. Sadly, the discussion itself was subject to temporal borders – so there was not enough time to talk about Partition as well on this occasion.

The hour-long event was over in the blink of an eye and we all felt that we had barely dipped our collective toes in the water of this thought-provoking topic. I for one really enjoyed it and I shall be looking to attend further ILF events in future.