Following on from my post on The importance of CPD
for translators, I have decided to publish an annual summary of my CPD
activities as an additional way of holding myself accountable.
My CPD for 2019-2020
I decided to focus on developing my skills in legal translation as I have been receiving more and more translations with legal elements. As a Chartered Linguist registered with the French Consulate in London, I perform certified translations for the French and British authorities and work on a wide range of documents, from birth/marriage certificates to lasting power of attorneys, police records, divorce documents and diplomas/transcripts. In addition to these documents related to immigration and family law, I also translate documents that involve commercial law (e.g. terms and conditions, contracts, etc.), real estate law and civil litigation. I wanted to have a stronger understanding of the concepts and terminology in this field so I took an nine-part online course on French-English-Spanish Legal Terminology and also attended a full-day workshop on Progressing your career as a legal translator. I supplemented these courses with two books: Legal Translation Outsourced, which highlighted best practices for legal translators and the Guide pratique de la traduction juridique, which provided specific translation advice. My objective was to develop my understanding of legal practices in France and in the UK and to learn the specific terminology used in each field. Using my notes from these courses, I compiled glossaries for each area of law that I can now use as reference for future translations.
I also attended a two-day conference for translators organised by the Institute of Translation and Interpreting where I learned more about specialised translation for non-fiction and illustrated books, how to define and improve quality in specialised multilingual services, how to collaborate with colleagues to expand horizons and how to showcase our profession.
Finally, I worked on my technology skills, which I believe to be vital for any modern business, by attending a conference on Office 365 and a webinar on software to help translators be more productive.
The Institute of Translation and Interpreting recommends that its members undertake a minimum of 30 hours of CPD per year. For 2019-2020, my total was 55 hours, which I’m rather proud of!
If you are interested in seeing a specific breakdown of my CPD
activities for 2019-2020, you can access the spreadsheet here.
My CPD for 2020-2021
What will be the focus of my CPD activities for 2020-2021?
As always, I will be continuing to develop my technology and business skills,
but my specific focus for this year will be editing. I am an entry-level member
of the Chartered Institute of Editors and Proofreaders and am working towards
Intermediate membership. To do this, I will be taking courses on academic
editing, as I offer translating and editing services for researchers and would
like to further hone my skills in this specialised area. I am very interested in
the Plain English movement and plan to take a course and do some reading on the
topic. Finally, I also plan to develop my writing skills by taking a course on
What is a house style and does my organisation need one?
A house style is essentially a set of rules regarding the
writing and presentation of the documents produced within your organisation.
From a visual perspective, it can set out the font style and size, the colours
to be used and the placement of the logo, for example. This ensures that all
your documents are consistent and strengthens your brand image. Many large
organisations have their own style guide, which must be followed for all
documents produced for an external audience, such as white papers, journal and
blog articles, and publications. The style guide does not reiterate the basic
rules of grammar but provides a reference for which choices to make. This can
include topics such as British vs. American spelling, hyphens, smart capitals
in titles, abbreviations and italics.
Why are house styles useful for translators?
By providing your translator with your organisation’s style
guide, they can ensure that the translation fits in with your current
publications. By providing them with a detailed brief of what you are
expecting, through the style guide, you can cut down on the number of questions
they will need to ask you (thereby speeding up the process) and increase the quality
of the final translation.
Where can I find a template style guide?
Right here! I have put together a template style guide based
on those I use regularly in my business. It will allow you to clarify your preferences
regarding spelling, hyphenation, italics, numbers, dates, punctuation, references, acronyms
and abbreviations, currencies, bulleted lists, and titles and headings.
What if I want a style guide but don’t want to set the
You can always use an existing style manual if you don’t
want to take the time to set the individual preferences. Some of the most common
style guides for British English are the Oxford
Style Manual (formerly known as Hart’s Rules), the Guardian and
Observer style guide, the Telegraph
style book and The
Time Style Guide. For American English, have a look at the AP Stylebook, the Financial
Times style guide, the APA Style Guide
or the Chicago Manual
of Style. Or for a book that can be used for both types of English, see The
Economist Style Guide.
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Juliette Scott’s Legal Translation Outsourced serves as a bridge between practitioners of legal translation and research into language and law. It offers an analysis of the key risks and constraints for commercial legal translation and also puts forth original theoretical models to assist legal translators and other stakeholders.
Although the field of legal translation itself is quite
vast, legal translators often specialise in specific areas (such as corporate
documents, financial-legal documents, notarial documents, court-related
documents, insurance documents, legislation, certificates or patents). Legal
translators need to be familiar with the subject matter, which can be highly
technical, while also mastering information technology (such as CAT tools or
electronic corpora) and possessing intercultural competencies. Legal documents often follow codified rules
of writing and presentation, with which legal translators need to be familiar
in order to ensure that their translation meets the genre conventions that the
readers expect to see.
Scott mentions the use of electronic corpora several times
in this book. Although most translators are familiar with CAT tools
(Computer-Assisted-Translation), the use of electronic corpora is not yet
widespread. Scott argues that electronic corpora could help legal translators
solve issues such as collocations (e.g. whether to use “hold harmless from”
or “hold harmless against”), therefore making the target text more
acceptable to its intended audience.
One of the issues facing legal translation is that the
translators are often not in direct contact with the commissioners of the
translation. As a result, they are not always aware of the expectations they
need to meet. Translations should always be fit for purpose, but if the
translator is not aware of that purpose they may struggle to make certain
linguistical and textual decisions. However, if the translator has been
correctly briefed, then this brief can be used to assess the quality of the
final translation. According to the Standard Guide for Quality
Assurance in Translation published
by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the key elements a
translator must be aware of are the target audience, the purpose, the style
relevance and reference materials. Logistical constraints such as the amount of
time allocated for the translation task, the size of the budget (which may
determine the extent of revision and proofreading) and file formats must also
be taken into account.
After analysing past research on translation briefs as well
as some of the guidelines published by the British Council and the European
Union, Scott provides her own preliminary list of legal translation brief
She also suggests using the words “document for translation”
(instead of “source text”) and “translated text” (instead of “target text”) to
make things clearer to clients who are not necessarily aware of the jargon used
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17100:2015 is the internationally recognised standard for translation from
the International Organisation for Standardisation. It was created in 2015 to
replace quality standard EN
15038, which ensured the consistent quality of translation services. Unlike EN 15038, ISO 17100 sets minimum
standards and qualifications for translation professionals and defines specific
translation steps to be followed in order to achieve quality.
It is worth noting that this standard does not apply to
What does a translator need to prove in order to be ISO
The requirements for ISO 17100:2015 are divided in three
Qualifications and Experience: translators must have:
certificate of competence in translation awarded by an appropriate government
OR a graduate degree in another field and the
equivalent of 2 years full-time professional translation experience
OR five years of full-time professional
experience in translating.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD):
translators must record the courses, reading and research they undertake each
year to maintain their skills. While the ISO standard doesn’t set a minimum
requirement, many professional translators’ organisations do (e.g. the Institute of
Translation and Interpreting recommends that all its members undertake 30
hours of CPD in each membership year).
Translation: the ability to translate
texts, including addressing source and target language problems
Linguistic and textual skills in the source and
Research, information acquisition and processing
Knowledge of the source and target cultures
Knowledge of the source text domain
What is the translation process set out by ISO
Translation and check by the translator
Revision by a second linguist (also known as
Review (an optional step designed in order to
assess the suitability of the translation against the agreed purpose and domain)
Proofreading (an optional final check before
What does it mean for you if a translator (or translation
company) says they are ISO 17100:2015 Qualified?
First of all, it is proof of quality. You can be confident
that they are working to a recognised international standard. In addition, most
translators who make the effort to fulfil all the requirements and obtain the
ISO Qualifications are forward-thinking professionals who continuously try to
ensure they provide the best quality translation. You will also know that at
least two qualified professionals have worked on the translation, thus
increasing its quality.
It also makes it easier for you to find translators you can
trust. By searching for members of professional associations who have met this
standard, you can streamline your research process and easily find high-quality
professional standards for the language combination and area of specialisation
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Frédéric Houbert’s Guide pratique de la traduction juridique
is intended for university students and translation professionals. It provides
a clear overview of issues related to legal translation and includes an index,
a glossary and a detailed bibliography.
In the first part of the book, Frédéric Houbert presents the
main characteristics of legal language in English and in French and the
specificities of legal translation from English to French. In the second part,
entitled “Culture and legal translation”, he focuses on specific topics such as
the translation of culture-bound terms and the translation of film titles containing
legal expressions, . Finally, the last section of the book, is a selection of
16 legal documents translated with commentary, providing a practical illustration
of the points mentioned in the rest of the book.
I very much enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it
to all those who are interested in legal translation from English to French or
French to English. Its practical focus, with the commented translations at the
end of the book and the many examples provided for each point, makes it quite
suited to translation professionals who are starting to specialise in the field
of legal translation or who would like to refresh their knowledge on the topic.
Application exercises are provided at the end of each chapter, although unfortunately
the answers are not provided, which reduces their utility somewhat.
The author has also compiled an excellent dictionary, which is a good addition to
this volume. While the Guide pratique de la traduction juridique sheds
some light on the complexities of legal translation and culture, the Dictionnaire
de terminologie juridique works as a quick reference for legal terms and
concepts, as it provides numerous explanations with translation suggestions.
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