SDL talk & AGM in York – Claudia Rennie writes:

On 25th June 2016 YTI members old and new gathered for our annual AGM event. It was another sunny day in York, with ample time for networking (read: nattering), sandwiches, and for the sun-worshippers amongst us, catching some rays and talking translation on the lovely terrace at Friends Meeting House.

The day kicked off with registration and coffees, with perhaps a more sombre mood than usual given the previous day’s shocking political result. The planned training session for the morning opened with an introduction to SDL – a familiar name to us all in terms of software – but the talk also touched on the translation agency side and an introduction to the processes and departments found at their offices in Sheffield.

Speakers Rachel Price and Andrew White gave an excellent presentation on post-editing machine translation (PEMT). One of the newer terms in the industry, post-editing in this instance relates specifically to using machine edited translations to produce a segmented Trados file (and yes, other translation software is available). They talked about the whole spectrum of the process, from producing a ‘good enough’ rendering for gist, time-pressured translations (light post-editing) or a publishable document (full post-editing). Perhaps as translators we don’t like to think of producing a ‘good enough’ translation: we like to think our documents are always polished and ready for the real world. But as pointed out in the presentation, for documents such as tenders and surveys, or any document with a ‘needed yesterday’ deadline, it’s definitely better than a client running it through Google translate.

It was an incredibly informative presentation, as always sparking lively debate: the redundant human translator doomsday scenario and other gems, (how reliability of MT is very much dependant on the language combination and many other factors) and how wrong machines can get it – I’ll think of roosters in a factory every time I hear ‘Gallo’ from now on. We discussed the (reassuring?) fallibility of MT, and the reliance it has on sweeping accurate translations in the first place. It was interesting to learn about the training of MT engines – a process with its roots in wartime code breaking.

As to productivity gains, Andrew, who uses PEMT for much of his workload, thought it could lead to a 30-50% increase in productivity. Some on the floor thought the time checking translations generated would outweigh any gain in productivity, a subject that cropped up in questions at the end of the presentation. Whether as translators we choose to offer clients discounted rates for the use of PEMT is of course up to the individual. And whether we chose to embrace the technology now or wait until such a time as the machine has received better training, are all decisions we must make based possibly on our language combinations and subject areas. There are some certainties though: PEMT represents an ever-increasing segment of the translation market, and MT is improving at a rate we perhaps would not have thought possible some years ago. I think many translators there would agree there could be a small amount of space in our ever-burgeoning translator tool kits to stash a bit of MT at some point in the future. But it won’t be a replacement for our capable human brains any time soon.

After the morning’s training session a sandwich, cake and fruit lunch followed, with plenty of time to get to know newer members and talk about the issues that cropped up in the session.

The AGM started promptly at 2pm, ably facilitated by Raquel Madrid in the absence of AGM stalwarts Charlotte and Paul who could not attend. The agenda followed the usual format, with reports from committee members: minutes for the meeting will be available to all members in due course. All news was positive, with the YTI enjoying a healthy balance sheet enabling further CPD events, a possible mentoring scheme, and bursaries for the ITI Conference (finer details to be confirmed at a later date).

Special thanks was given to Caroline Hirst who will be standing down from the committee. A big thank you to the YTI committee for organising another lively and informative event, and to Andrew and Rachel for their presentation. With most of us working as freelancers it’s invaluable to have events where we can meet face-to-face, learn from each other, and talk about our gripes. And it’s always nice to have an excuse to eat cake too.

Sheffield Doc/Fest, 14 June 2016 – Marie-Elizabeth Bell writes:

On a wet and windy mid-June afternoon, a small, but (again) select, group of YTI members met in Sheffield to attend the annual Doc/Fest or, to give its full name, the Sheffield International Documentary Festival, which I am reliably told, is the equivalent of Cannes for documentary films. This year was the 23rd Festival and the programme was certainly impressive with no fewer than 150 films from filmmakers from ‘UK, Europe (please note, I am just quoting here), North America, Asia, Latin America, and Africa’.

Among the several possible venues, some of which were outdoors, our coordinators wisely chose a rainproof one, i.e. the new Curzon theatre, where we were treated to a most moving film, Our Last Tango (“Uno Tango Más”), by Argentinian director, German Kral. Here is the official synopsis for those who missed the show:

“The first couple of tango, Juan and Maria Nieves, have experienced their share of pain and passion in their six decades as dancing partners. Combining behind-the-scene discussions and breathtaking choreographic re-enactments directed by Maria herself, Our Last Tango (by Wim Wenders’s erstwhile protégé German Kral) is a wonderfully imaginative tribute to the Argentinian dance form.” Not only was it moving, but also beautiful to watch, leaving the audience, at least me, ‘feeling the tango’ and wishing there was a milonga to follow.

Instead of a milonga, what followed was a short but interesting Q&A session with the director.

I feel at this point I should talk a bit about the Curzon, a Grade II listed building which used to be the Sheffield Banking Company. It is now a very trendy and welcoming cinema with three screens and, I must say, extremely comfortable seats! There is also a rooftop bar, with a terrace, although, unfortunately, it was just a little too wet for us to sit there.

After the show, our little group went to a nearby and very pleasant Italian restaurant for pizza and/or pasta to end a very enjoyable outing, thanks again to our wonderful coordinators. Watch out for next year’s edition!