Translating The Heartless Translator into Italian, the Language of Love!

Il traduttore senza cuore (Un piccolo esercizio di traduzione)

When Tiziana Raffa volunteered to translate The heartless translator, a short story, into Italian and Chiara Bartolozzi agreed to edit/proofread her translation, I was far from imagining how fulfilling and joyful the experience would be. They are both the nicest people to work with, and I think these two lovely translators enjoyed working together and exchanging views and opinions.

You can see the Italian team’s work below (in green font), following the English source (in Italics), and the Spanish translation (in blue font).

I hope you enjoy the reading and look forward to seeing this piece translated into other languages as well!

 

The Heartless Translator | El traductor sin corazón | Il traduttore senza cuore

Once upon a time, there was this poor translator with a worn-out heart.

Había una vez un pobre traductor con el corazón maltrecho.

C’era una volta un povero traduttore dal cuore malconcio.

 

After living a thousand loaned lives and riding the frantic roller coaster of getting into and out of the skin of a myriad of characters penned and fleshed out by others, after spending a thousand sleepless nights and dreaming of unsolvable ambiguities and impossible deadlines when he did get some sleep, the fibers of his heart had gotten threadbare.

Después de vivir mil vidas ajenas y de subirse innumerables veces a la frenética montaña rusa que supone meterse debajo de la piel de incontables personajes creados y narrados por otros, después de pasar mil y una noches en vela y de soñar con ambigüedades insalvables y plazos de entrega imposibles cuando —por fin— conseguía dormir un poco, las fibras de su corazón estaban deshechas.

Dopo aver vissuto migliaia di vite prese in prestito e aver più volte montato sulle frenetiche montagne russe indossando e togliendo i panni di una miriade di personaggi creati e illustrati da altri, dopo aver trascorso migliaia di notti insonni e aver avuto gli incubi a causa di irrisolvibili ambiguità e impossibili scadenze, quando finalmente riusciva a prendere un po’ di sonno, le fibre del suo cuore erano ridotte allo stremo.

 

Doctors were helpless at fixing such a life-threatening problem, until one of them came up with the idea of the clockwork machine.

Los médicos no habían podido remediar esta afección que estaba poniendo fin a su vida hasta que a uno de ellos se le ocurrió la idea de recurrir a un mecanismo de relojería.

Nessun medico era in grado di risolvere questo problema che stava mettendo a repentaglio la sua vita, finché uno di loro ebbe l’idea di ricorrere a un meccanismo di orologeria.

 

It was implanted right inside the hollow space that used to hold his heart, and it started working right away—tick, tack; tick, tack.

Se lo implantaron directamente en el hueco que solía ocupar el corazón, y el aparato comenzó a funcionar de inmediato con su rítmico tic-tac, tic-tac.

Glielo impiantò direttamente nello spazio vuoto dove un tempo era situato il cuore e il meccanismo iniziò immediatamente a funzionare: tic, tac; tic, tac.

 

The translator soon recovered his health, but never got his magic back.

El traductor pronto recuperó la salud, pero sus palabras nunca recuperaron la magia.

Il traduttore riacquistò subito la salute, ma non recuperò più la magia delle sue parole.

 

He was still able to translate to the best of his mind, but he was missing a heart.

Seguía poniendo toda su inteligencia al servicio de su trabajo… pero, ahora, le faltaba corazón.

Era ancora in grado di tradurre dando il meglio di sé con la mente, ma si ritrovava senza più un cuore.

 

And a heart is not something a translator can do without.

Y corazón es algo que a un traductor no puede faltarle.

E il cuore è qualcosa di cui un traduttore non può fare a meno.

 

Meet the Italian Translator: Tiziana Raffa

Picture_Tiziana Raffa

Tiziana has worked as a freelance translator and interpreter EN/ES>IT since 2012. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation and Interpreting and a Master’s Degree in Modern Languages for International Communication. She has also earned a 1st Level Master’s Degree in Translation and Interpreting at the SSML “Gregorio VII” (Advanced School of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators) in Rome and a Master’s Degree in Audiovisual Translation: Localisation, Subtitling and Dubbing at the Instituto Superior de Estudios Lingüísticos y Traducción in Seville. As an interpreter, she has taken part in various conferences in Rome. She is currently working as a freelance audiovisual translator and proofreader for Studio Asci in Crema, a small town in the north of Italy, and for Grupo Mediapro and P4 Traducciones, two audiovisual translation agencies in Seville. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

And the Italian Proofreader: Chiara Bartolozzi

Picture_Chiara

Chiara is a freelance professional translator, interpreter and a copywriter-to-be owner of One Sec Translations. She translates from English, Spanish and (Simplified) Chinese into Italian. Although her specialisations are fashion, journalism, tourism and advertising, she also currently translates technical and legal documents from English and Spanish. Cinema and TV series addict, music lover, she deeply loves the English language and its culture as much as the Eastern one.

You can find her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.
Her Website: www.onesec-translations.com

 

 

 

Advertisements

El traductor sin corazón (Un pequeño ejercicio de traducción)

En 2012, escribí The heartless translator. Se trata de un minicuento de ficción científica, escrito en inglés, acerca de la necesidad que tenemos los traductores de poner el corazón en lo que hacemos.

Pensé que sería una buena idea hacer el ejercicio de traducirlo al español, ¡y me encantó hacerlo! Me tomé algunas libertades, lo cual supongo me está permitido. Debajo pueden leer el original (en letra cursiva) y la traducción (en redonda de color azul). Acepto críticas, sugerencias y, por supuesto, si a alguien le interesa traducirlo a otro idioma, ¡pues bienvenido/a! Lo publicaríamos con el debido crédito.

The heartless translator

El traductor sin corazón

Once upon a time, there was this poor translator with a worn-out heart.

Había una vez un pobre traductor con el corazón maltrecho.

After living a thousand loaned lives and riding the frantic roller coaster of getting into and out of the skin of a myriad of characters penned and fleshed out by others, after spending a thousand sleepless nights and dreaming of unsolvable ambiguities and impossible deadlines when he did get some sleep, the fibers of his heart had gotten threadbare.

Después de vivir mil vidas ajenas y de subirse innumerables veces a la frenética montaña rusa que supone meterse debajo de la piel de incontables personajes creados y narrados por otros, después de pasar mil y una noches en vela y de soñar con ambigüedades insalvables y plazos de entrega imposibles cuando —por fin— conseguía dormir un poco, las fibras de su corazón estaban deshechas.

Doctors were helpless at fixing such a life-threatening problem, until one of them came up with the idea of the clockwork machine.

Los médicos no habían podido remediar esta afección que estaba poniendo fin a su vida hasta que a uno de ellos se le ocurrió la idea de recurrir a un mecanismo de relojería.

It was implanted right inside the hollow space that used to hold his heart, and it started working right away—tick, tack; tick, tack.

Se lo implantaron directamente en el hueco que solía ocupar el corazón, y el aparato comenzó a funcionar de inmediato con su rítmico tic-tac, tic-tac.

The translator soon recovered his health, but never got his magic back.

El traductor pronto recuperó la salud, pero sus palabras nunca recuperaron la magia.

He was still able to translate to the best of his mind, but he was missing a heart.

Seguía poniendo toda su inteligencia al servicio de su trabajo… pero, ahora, le faltaba corazón.

And a heart is not something a translator can do without.

Y corazón es algo que a un traductor no puede faltarle.

 

Texto original de Nora Torres © 2012 Todos los derechos reservados

Traducido por Nora Torres © 2018 Todos los derechos reservados

Embarking on the translation of clinical trial documents? Make sure to bring the right gear! (Revised and expanded)

When I translate clinical trial documents, I may be helping a patient start a clinical trial, I may be helping a patient understand his or her laboratory test results, or I may be helping a physician understand a patient’s medical history. My work counts. My work is important. I’m driven to work hard. Responsibly.

Translating clinical trial documents

Now, there’s no denying that translating clinical trial documents can be a tough nut to crack. Actually very hard if you don’t have access to the right tools and resources. So if you intend to dive into the depths of this mighty river, make sure to bring the right gear.

Below you’ll find a handful of helpful resources that can help you assemble a powerful English-Spanish translation/writing kit:

•  Access to the Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities (MedDRA) through Tremédica (International Association of Translators and Editors of Medicine and Allied Sciences).

If you need help getting started with the MedDRA, you may want to check An introduction to MedDRA for medical translators by Emma Goldsmith on her blog, Signs and Symptoms of Translation.

•  A subscription to Cosnautas, including:

•  Fernando Navarro’s authoritative Libro rojo (the Red Book);

•  Siglas médicas en español, a repertoire of initialisms, acronyms, contractions and symbols used in Spanish medical texts, also compiled by Fernando A. Navarro;

•  Árbol de Cos,  a collection of links to Internet resources for medical translators and writers, compiled by Laura Munoa, with the assistance of Fernando Campos Leza, and María J. Hernández Weigand); and

•  Alergología e inmunología, an English-Spanish dictionary of allergology and clinical immunology, by Juan Manuel Igea Aznar.

•  Pablo Mugüerza’s Manual de traducción inglés-español de protocolos de ensayos clínicos (English/Spanish Clinical Trial Protocol Translation Handbook), a Fundación Dr. Antonio Esteve publication.

•  Glosario EN-ES de ensayos clínicos (Glossary of clinical trials, ENG-SPA), by María Verónica Saladrigas, Fernando A. Navarro, Laura Munoa, Pablo Mugüerza, and Álvaro Villegas, a Tremédica publication.

•  Clinical Research Glossary, a publication of the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium.

•  A Spanish-English statistics glossary for clinical trials, by Emma Goldsmith on Signs and Symptoms of Translation.

•  Diccionario de términos médicos, Real Academia Nacional de Medicina.

•  Stedman Bilingual: Medical Science Dictionary, English-Spanish, Thomas Lathrop Stedman, Editorial Panamericana.

•  MediLexicon online database of pharmaceutical and medical abbreviations.

•  Diccionario de anatomía e histología, by Francisco Speroni, Editorial de la Universidad de La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

•  Glossary of Pharmaceutical Terms, English-Spanish, WHO Collaborating Center for Pharmaceutical Pricing and Reimbursement Policies.

•  A Spanish-English glossary of genetics, by Emma Goldsmith on Signs and Symptoms of Translation.

•  Vocabulario inglés-español de bioquímica y biología molecular (English/Spanish Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Glossary), by María Verónica Saladrigas, M. Gonzalo Claros Díaz, and Diego González Halphen, a Tremédica publication.

•  Medical Translation Step by Step: Learning by Drafting, by Vicent Montalt and Maria González-Davies, Routledge.

•  Cómo traducir y redactar textos científicos en español, Reglas, ideas y consejos, by M. Gonzalo Claros Díaz, a Fundación Dr. Antonio Esteve publication.

•  SEQC’s Manual de estilo para la redacción de textos científicos y profesionales (Style Guide for Scientific and Professional Writing).

Please note this style guide does not incorporate the latest changes introduced to the Spanish grammar by the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, which you can find here.

You can also refer to Spelling and Typographic Standards of the new Ortografía de la lengua española (2010) as Applied to Biomedical Publications in Spanish: An Overview, by Manuel José Aguilar Ruiz, a Tremédica publication.

•  5000 frases precocinadas para textos científicos, by Pedro Margolles García, a NeoScientia publication.

•  A Practical Guide to Self-Reviewing Your Translation Work, an e-book intended for new translators and others interested in implementing a systematic self-review process.

I hope this will serve as a starting point for building your own resource portfolio. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section of this post. And, of course, happy translating!

A Practical Guide to Self-Reviewing Your Translation Work

ACE Your Post-Translation Process and Pre-Delivery SAFE Checks

This e-book is the first in a series of summarized publications that are part of the Skill Building for Translators (SBT) Program. It is intended for new translators and others interested in implementing a systematic self-review process.

Hopefully, after reading this guide you will have a better understanding of the steps needed to self-review your translation work thoroughly, and an orderly method to do so methodically.

I am acutely aware of the fact that this guide can be greatly improved and supplemented, and it will probably grow and develop over time. Your feedback is most welcome!

 

El traductor y la palabra perfecta (Un cuento corto)

 

alarm-clock-2132264_1920

Se sirvió otra taza de café y siguió tratando de traer a la memoria la palabra que lo había tenido en vilo toda la noche. Sabía que la había visto… ¿en un diccionario? ¿en un libro de medicina? La recordaba pequeña, escrita a mano, en letra apretada sobre un margen ajado.

También sabía que se le estaba acabando el tiempo, que el plazo de entrega se acercaba peligrosamente, pero no podía dejar de buscarla alocadamente entre sus libros y papeles viejos ni de escudriñar los complejos laberintos de su mente, acostumbrada ya a esas lides.

Cuando ya se estaba haciendo de día y casi sin esperarlo, la halló en un cuaderno de notas, tal como la recordaba. Se reclinó en la silla, sonriendo, y se dejó invadir por esa rara felicidad que tan bien conocemos los que nos dedicamos a este oficio.

Nora Torres

(Reescrito y adaptado del original, inspirado en recuerdos de la era preinternética)

© 2017

Todos los derechos reservados

The heartless translator (A short story)

workshop-2104445_1280

Once upon a time, there was this poor translator with a worn-out heart. After living a thousand loaned lives and riding the frantic roller coaster of getting into and out of the skin of a myriad of characters penned and fleshed out by others, after spending a thousand sleepless nights and dreaming of unsolvable ambiguities and impossible deadlines when he did get some sleep, the fibers of his heart had gotten threadbare.

Doctors were helpless at fixing such a life-threatening problem, until one of them came up with the idea of the clockwork machine. It was implanted right inside the hollow space that used to hold his heart, and it started working right away—tick, tack; tick, tack. The translator soon recovered his health, but never got his magic back. He was still able to translate to the best of his mind, but he was missing a heart. And a heart is not something a translator can do without.

Nora Torres © 2012 All Rights Reserved

El traductor feliz (un cuento corto)

 

boat-2180203_1280.jpg

Había una vez un experimentado pescador que se hacía a la mar cada mañana, con la misma frescura y el mismo entusiasmo que un novato. Navegaba diestramente, recorriendo el agua oscura y densa de las palabras en busca de aquellas que necesitaba, como si en ello le fuera la vida.

Con el tiempo, había dejado de usar las toscas redes de sus comienzos para empezar a pescar con señuelo, desarrollando una técnica minuciosa, sistemática, que llegó a dominar con suma destreza. En ocasiones, se dejaba llevar por la corriente, indolente, y esos ratos de ocio le permitían descubrir matices, tonos, luces y sombras que enriquecían su escritura y encendían su creatividad.

Regresaba por la tarde a la costa, con el fruto del trabajo realizado en las complejidades del océano lingüístico: los sustantivos más adecuados, los adjetivos más acertados, los verbos más convenientes y los adverbios más felices, que iba hilvanando con preposiciones, conjunciones e interjecciones especialmente elegidas aquí y allá.

Trasnochaba sentado a la mesa de la cocina, poniendo la carga en orden, limpiando cada pieza y asegurándose de que todo estuviera en su sitio, en perfecta armonía y absoluto equilibrio. Entregaba su trabajo y se sentía el ser más feliz de la Tierra.

A la mañana siguiente, después de tomar una taza de café caliente y de comer uno o dos bollos, abría la puerta de la cabaña y, con el sol bañándole la cara, volvía a tomar la barca y a arrastrarla hasta la orilla de la mar, donde las palabras se rompían en blanca espuma y lo invitaban, una vez más, a comenzar otra jornada de trabajo.

Nora Torres

Traductora

© 2017 Todos los derechos reservados

Freelance Lifehacking for Translators: Are you battling or fixing?

pexels-photo-131616

What is battle-mode

Battle: 1250-1300; Middle English bataile < Old French < Vulgar Latin *battālia for Late Latin battuālia (neuter plural) gladiatorial exercises, equivalent to battu (ere) to strike + -ālia, neuter plural of -ālis.

Battle-mode is a state of mind whereby a freelancer undertakes gladiatorial exercises.

You might recognize this mode. When you’ve got a tight deadline on a nightmarish project, you might shift into battle-mode in order to finish your project on time. In general, battle-mode happens when you really need to fight through something.

Sometimes, there’s no other option than to fight through a problem, but other times we could solve the problem instead of fighting through it. I think we go through cycles of battling and big picture solutions, which is probably why vacations are crucial to performance.

Freelancers in particular have this problem

There are many benefits to being a freelancer. Everyone knows somebody who’s tearing it up on their freelancer lifestyle.

Yet, freelancers often have the battle-mode problem, because as a freelancer, you’re responsible for a whole lot of things: your computer, your budget, your house, your office, your chair, your desk, your health—in fact, you’re responsible for everything in your life, personally and professionally, plus your actual work.

As you work toward solving issues one by one, sometimes you can get into battle-mode and then forget that there was a solution to your problem in the first place. Freelancers can sometimes get stuck in battle-mode for several years, whether it’s an inadequately furnished home office, issues with late payments and rates, or stuff to do with the computer.

In fact, right now I’m sitting with awful posture on a kitchen chair, and I’m thinking back one year when I was sitting on this same chair thinking, “I’ll buy a fancy office chair this summer.” A few international trips and big expenses later and I still don’t have my new fancy chair. But why am I sitting on a kitchen chair? Because I’ve been in battle-mode.

Big battles and little battles

Freelancers can get into some huge battles. At the end of the day, the complete tilt toward self-reliance combined with the lack of guarantees and being the last one on the food chain (when the customer gets squeezed, who will they pay first?) makes many freelancers vulnerable to perfect storm scenarios.

If you have some financial difficulties, get paid late, lose a customer, incur some medical bills, etc. all at the same time, you could end up in serious battle-mode that goes beyond the office chair.

Regardless of the size of you battle, the solution is almost always to create some distance between yourself and the problem. Meditation is becoming a very popular thing to do, and I’ve noticed that freelance people in particular recognize the benefits.

Fixing vs. fighting

When you are in battle-mode, you can do very well at individual tasks, so it’s not a total failure. However, you can also lose track of the big picture and fail to make choices that would help you.

Case in point: I had been in battle-mode with my email client (Thunderbird) for months. It was working slowly and crashing. When I entered into my email, it was like I was a pirate raiding an 17th century clipper. “I’m going in! Aaaarrrrrgggghhhhhh!” And I would slay 10 second email loading times, crashes, and the archive button not working, all sorts of foes. My prize? Sending and receiving emails.

Why didn’t I fix it sooner? Because my customers were calling, the easy solutions didn’t work, so after fifteen minutes of “fixing,” I would inevitably go back to “work.”

So yesterday I fixed my email client, finally. It only took 4 hours, but now that my email is working, I realize just how bad my email client was! Why didn’t I fix it sooner? Because I was fighting! I would’ve been so much happier if I had fixed it months ago.

The solution: You deserve it.

Your customers are calling… But take adequate time to fix your problems anyway.

Ask yourself, What am I battling right now? When am I fighting and not fixing?

For freelance translators, aside from personal/business matters, this often means fighting with tools that you use and the types of jobs that you take. If your software setup is slowing you down considerably, maybe it’s time for a change. As with my email software, these are often the hardest to fix, not because they’re literally hard to fix, but because it feels like you’ve already invested so much in a way of doing things that it would simply be too hard to change. With many problems/solutions, what we often don’t realize is just how good things can be after fixing the problem.

Another good idea is to look at intermediate steps, rather than waiting for big solutions. If you’re saving money to get a new office chair, maybe you can go get an old one somewhere in the meantime.

Tackle those fixes as if they were little investments that will pay you back over time. I think you’ll be glad that you did!

Who wrote this guest post?

Robert Rogge (Thank you, Robert! You rock!)

Robert is CEO of Zingword, launching soon… A place where translators get great jobs and businesses can find them easily. Launching a startup is not easy, so he’s been trying to stay healthy and take care of himself while also building Zing.

 

robert

Robert digs literature, cooking, travel, music, running, swimming, and basketball, and is hosting a podcast for translators, Translator City Radio, which recently added a cha-ching sound effect to the mix. Lately, he’s been listening to Vaporwave.

document112.eps

Photo Acknowledgment

Kick Chess Piece Standing photo used under Creative Commons (CC0) License

Keep yourself from losing your memory to the Internet

Unplug. Slow down. Search your brain.

2. Traduzco, luego olvido_photo

Introduction

The development of the Internet may have been the most significant technological innovation since the invention of the printing press. It has simplified and speeded up the search for information in ways that were unimaginable until a few decades ago. However, its harmful effects on the attention, concentration and memory capacity of those who make an intensive use of Internet search tools are starting to become evident. In this respect, we, translators, are not the exception— Both for those who were born in the digital era and for the ones, like me, who have followed information technology advancements in awe, the use of the Internet in our profession is a bare necessity, and we can no longer picture ourselves doing without it. What is more, we cannot imagine ourselves doing without the Internet in our personal lives either. But we will need to find ways to prevent this from interfering with basic functions of our brains.

A translator’s work, in figures

Typically, we translate about 3,000 words per day, which means that, on average, the number of words we translate per hour is about 300, and the number of words we translate per minute is about 5. Thus, we usually make at least two terminology-related “micro-decisions” per minute while at work, and the number of such micro-decisions we make on any given day is about 1,200. One thousand two hundred times a day we face the challenge of finding a mother-tongue equivalent to a term in a foreign language, or vice versa. If the text we are translating is not completely familiar to us, or if it has not been written in a clear, consistent manner, the size of the challenge can increase exponentially.

It is at this point where the resource that has most deeply transformed our research work, i.e., the use of the Internet, comes into play. Today, it would be unthinkable for us to work without a high-speed, uninterrupted access to the Internet. In fact, many of us have signed up with more than one Internet service provider as part of our contingency plans.

For experienced translators working in a narrow field of specialization, it is relatively simple to find reliable sources of information to achieve higher levels of accuracy and speed. Today, the use of the Internet is vital, e.g., in the development of specialized linguistic corpora, a common tool of our trade in the present state of things.

But many of us never imagined that the 1,200 micro-decisions we usually make during the 10 hours we connect ourselves to the Internet every day, sometimes 7 days a week, would end up changing how our brains work, our capacity to quickly remember basic data, and our ability to focus on fairly short pieces of reading.

Negative effects of the ease of access to information

Since time immemorial, humans have relied not only on the information stored in their own brains, but also on specific data for the preservation of which other members of their social groups are “responsible.” At home, for example, it may be the mother who usually remembers birthdays, while it may be the father who knows which soccer team came in third in the World Championship ten years ago.

This distribution of memory tasks avoids the unnecessary duplication of efforts and helps expand the group’s collective memory capacity. By off-loading responsibility for certain types of information, we free up cognitive resources that would otherwise be required to remember such information; instead, we use them to increase the depth of our knowledge in the areas we consider ourselves to be in charge of.

As helpful as this approach may be, though, it needs to be used with care. Socrates already regretted how detrimental writing would be to human memory in the long run, as individuals, rather than recalling things on their own, had started to depend on the written word. At present, for all practical purposes, it seems to be no longer efficient for us to use our brains to store information. But we must acknowledge that near-constant use of the Internet has formidable effects on our lives. Some people compare the Internet to an “outboard brain” or an external hard drive, with a memory capacity much larger than that a human brain has —or needs, for that matter. Researchers are concerned that the use of the Internet may be as addictive as alcohol or tobacco, encouraging the same kind of compulsive behaviors.

The ease of access to information, one of the primary benefits of Internet use, is having profound effects on our ability to retain the information acquired. Currently completed studies suggest that it can alter the mechanisms our brains use to build long-term memory. According to Elias Aboujaoude, M.D., psychiatrist and investigator at Stanford University, “Why bother to remember when all information is at our fingertips […]. Memorizing has become a lost art as we have moved from cramming our brains to cramming our hard drives and virtual stores.”

Nowadays, we can instantly access the entire contents of human memory through a straightforward, quick search on the Internet. It is held by many that, as a result of this immediacy, Internet use is impairing our cognitive abilities, undermining our impulse to store information in our own biological memory banks, which has come to be labeled as the “Google Effect.”

In his controversial article Is Google Making Us Stupid?, American writer Nicholas Carr, expert in the new communication technologies, states: “Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping my neural circuitry, reprogramming my memory. My mind isn’t going—as far as I can tell—but it’s changing.”

Two plagues of the Information Age: the feeling of knowing (FOK) and the tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) experiences

Two of the most significant phenomena caused by the continuous use of technology to access information are the uncomfortable feeling of knowing (i.e., the certainty that you have knowledge of some piece of information in spite of being unable to retrieve it from your memory at a given time), and the tip-of-the-tongue state, or presque vu (French for “almost seen”), a state similar to the feeling of knowing, but in which retrieval is perceived as actually imminent).

These days, we do not make so much of an effort to remember data, as we do to remember how and where to locate them. If we are asked, e.g., to translate the name of a specific bone in the human body, our first reaction will most likely not be to think about human anatomy at all, but to try and figure out how to resolve the query using the Internet. Additionally, there are studies showing that, once we find the piece of data we are looking for, we tend to memorize not the data itself, but rather how and where we have found it so we can tackle the difficulty more easily if faced with it again later.

How adjusting to the excess of information is changing our behaviors

The vastness of the information available on the WWW utterly beats our ability to take it in, at least within a reasonable amount of time. As discussed above, more often than not, we nearly mechanically perform a search on the Internet before probing our own memories, and we tend to use, many times without being fully aware of it, a series of techniques that allow us to adjust to such an overload of data. These include:

  • Skimming, or reading a piece of writing quickly and actively, while focusing on identifying the main idea; this involves using strategies such as locating key words and anchoring our attention to typographical markers (e.g., underlined, bold, italicized, or highlighted words; headings and subheadings; diagrams, charts, tables; etc.).
  • Scanning, i.e., sweeping our eyes over chunks of text in search for specific pieces of information (e.g., proper or common nouns, numbers, dates, or other specific data), while ignoring the rest of the contents.
  • Previewing, to help determine whether the material can be helpful to us. The strategies we use in this case include examining the title, determining the name of the author, the date of the publication, etc.; reading the abstract or introduction, if any, or the first sentence of each paragraph, in search for relevant information; or checking the table of contents to get a general idea of what the material is about.

These reading methods enable us to access a large amount of information in a much shorter period of time, but it is thought that, once these methods become a habit, they can prevent us from concentrating on reading for long, and make us more prone to distraction.

Even though this does not largely affect the translation process —usually an active task—, it does become evident when proofreading or editing, which are, by their own nature, more passive activities. When doing so, we may mechanically tend to use the reading methods discussed above, with the unfortunate consequences that can be readily inferred. We may find ourselves sweeping our eyes over a piece of translated text, instead of reading it slowly, carefully, one word at a time, paying attention to punctuation marks and errors that may have escaped the spell checker.

It is also becoming apparent that these routines, which we may find so helpful at work, are little by little pervading our personal lives as well. In this context, we may grow increasingly reluctant to read lengthy articles or pieces of news and even books, or become impatient when having to listen to someone who does not quickly get to the point. Our pressing need for “mining” relevant information without much ado may turn into somewhat of an obsession for us. The same technology that allows us to be increasingly dynamic is, at the same time, leading us to display more and more rigid behaviors.

How to counteract, at least in part, the Google Effect

The good news is that we can reverse, even if only to some extent, these effects.

The most helpful approach seems to be avoiding quick, absent-minded reading, focusing on engaging in deep, careful reading, and making a conscious effort to consolidate the information acquired. In other words, the best thing we can do is build our concentration and nourish our long-term memory[1], the two aspects most severely affected by intensive, mechanical use of Internet search engines.

In addition to being pleasurable, deep reading stimulates the storage of information in the human memory. In her essay Traduction-interaction  : Lectures interactives et interactionnelles comme préparation à la traduction, Jeanne Dancette underlines the usefulness of “summarizing, stopping at obstacles and going back to verify or clarify an issue, and making anticipations and projections based on what we are reading.” These can be good starting points to [re]develop our reading ability, and, perhaps, to recover our old pleasure for reading.

Now, let’s see how to implement this in our translation practice by increasing our attention when reading, consolidating information in our long-term memory, and tapping our own internal resources.

  • Although time pressures are a common feature of most translation-related jobs, reading the text carefully and stopping at any difficulties or obscurities it may present (preferably before starting the translation task itself) could be an excellent way of approaching a new job. Many of us already do this as part of our routines, which helps us get a thorough understanding of the source text before we try to accurately convey it in our target language.
  • And while we are translating, it could also be extremely helpful for us to spend a few minutes, or even just a few seconds, trying to remember terms or expressions we are certain to have seen before —or to attempt to make some kind of anticipation or prediction about them— before performing a search on the Internet.

The mere fact of making the effort to memorize will help reeducate our brains, rewiring our brain synapses to help us learn new ideas and skills, not only at the present time, but also in the future.

Storing information in our long-term memory requires going through a process known as consolidation. If the information is not consolidated, it is forgotten. Storing pieces of data and establishing connections between them requires a large degree of concentration and intellectual or emotional commitment. It is also important to note that, given the way in which the human brain works, long-term memory processing requires several hours and occurs primarily during resting time. Sleeping well is therefore key in order not to forget what we have learned.

Conclusion

If we consistently use the Internet as an immediate resource, neglecting our own memory banks and bypassing our internal consolidation processes, it will not take long for us to see the consequences on our long-term memory.

The more we use the Internet, letting ourselves be swiftly carried from one site to another via search engines and hyperlinks, the more we are training our brains for distraction, for processing information in a quick and efficient way, but without sustained attention. We need to take action fast if we want to keep this from affecting us permanently. And we should not underestimate the power of the human brain, for which —unlike a computer, no matter how sophisticated— the sky is the limit.

 

[1] We can distinguish between three types of memory, i.e., sensory memory, which can last just a few seconds (it becomes evident, e.g., when retrieving from our memories something we have just heard, after apparently having missed it); short-term memory, which can last from a few minutes to a few hours; and long-term memory, which can last years.

 

This article has been adapted to English from: Traduzco, luego olvido

 

Acknowledgment:

Photo used with permission from the author, photographer Salvatore Dore. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmind2_0

All rights reserved.

 

Bibliography

American Psychological Association, APA, 2010. APA. Diccionario conciso de psicología. 1st ed. Colombia: Editorial El Manual Moderno.

Carles Soriano Mas, 2007. Fundamentos de Neurociencia/ Fundamentals of Neuroscience (Manuales/ Psicología) (Spanish Edition). Edition. EDIUOC.

Greenblatt, A., 2010. Impact of the Internet on Thinking: Is the Web Changing the Way We Think? CQ Researcher, [Online], Volume 30, Number 33, 773-796. Available at: http://www.sagepub.com/ritzerintro/study/materials/cqresearcher/77708_interthink.pdf [Accessed 18 May 2015].

Lecto-comprensión de la lengua inglesa. 2012. Textos en inglés y en español: elementos en común. [ONLINE] Available at: http://monterofabiana.blogspot.com.ar/2012/10/teoria-y-actividades.html?view=magazine. [Accessed 18 May 15].

Nicholas Carr. 2008. Is Google Making Us Stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/. [Accessed 17 May 15].

Nicholas Carr, 2011. Superficiales (The Shallows) (Spanish Edition). Edition. Taurus.

Rodríguez, E. (2003). La lectura. Cali (Valle, Colombia): Programa Editorial Universidad del Valle.

Wegner, Daniel M. et al, 2013. The Internet Has Become the External Hard Drive for Our Memories. Scientific American, [Online], Volume 309, Issue 6, N/A. Available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-internet-has-become-the-external-hard-drive-for-our-memories/?page=1 [Accessed 18 May 2015].

Stuck? A walk in the park may be all you need

A walk in the park_Aina Photography

Every time you do a translation, you are creating a unique piece of work. Quoting David Bellos, “Give a hundred competent translators a page to translate, and the chances of any two versions being identical are close to zero.” This is because each of us contributes a unique combination of knowledge, experience, and technique. This post focuses on improving the technique-side of the job by letting the right hemisphere of our brain (and thus valuable inner resources) go on stage.

Left Brain, Right Brain

Most people agree that their best creative ideas strike them while they are in one of the so-called “Three Bs” (bus, bed, bath). Only about 3% of all creative ideas occur at work, with the remaining 97% developing while walking, on the street, hanging around with friends.

The reason why creative ideas sparkle when we are relaxed or engaged in other, most often totally unrelated activities, appears to be that, in those situations, we are using the right hemisphere of our brains more actively. Even when recent research has made groundbreaking discoveries in this respect, and has definitely debunked the myth of “right-brained” and “left-brained” personality types, it has shown that this division of labor allows each hemisphere to work semi-independently and take different approaches to the same problem. While the left hemisphere is more focused on details, the right hemisphere is better at perceiving overall patterns. The left hemisphere is logical, sequential, rational, analytical, and looks at parts, with the right one behaving more randomly, intuitively, holistically, synthesizing, and looking at wholes.

Translating is, after all, more of a creative process than many would think

You definitely need your left hemisphere when translating; grasping exact meanings, finding the right words, arranging them in the correct order are all left-brain tasks. Occasionally, however, even for these tasks, you need to allow your creative side to run free because dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other resources do not always readily provide you with the solution you are looking for. You cannot do an essentially creative job using your left brain only.

For your left brain, everything needs to be black and white. But you know that, when you are writing, trying to give your text a natural flavor, or restructuring a phrase in a more freely fashion so that it will not sound foreign to a reader, you can have a full range of rainbow colors. This drives your left brain absolutely crazy, as it desperately tries to pigeon-hole what you do into black and white. And, of course, it fails. In those instances, your right hemisphere is required to step in.

Has it ever happened to you that you get so caught up in looking for a specific word that you miss the big picture until you take a break and go walk your dog? Or that you wake up right in the middle of the night, and suddenly come to understand what that seemingly inarticulate phrase meant? At those times, you have pushed your left hemisphere into the background, and let the right one step up. Translating involves a lot of thinking, mulling over, and weighing up, and you’ve probably noticed just how much clearer your mind is after a break of some sort, esp. one in which you do not think about work at all. A break appears to be particularly important in improving our ability to have insights (the ‘aha’ moment, when something that did not make sense suddenly becomes clear). It is non-linear problem solving, and that is the way we solve many complex problems.

Unleashing the creative potential of your brain

If what you are doing is driving you nuts, stop the (bullying) left side of your brain and invite your (shy) right hemisphere to work. This will allow you to see the big picture, the connections between isolated pieces of information. You need to find the path to your right brain in order to tackle the same job in a totally different way.

Take a break, if only a small one. Get some rest, you can just lie on the floor and relax your back for a few minutes; it may make a big difference. Alternatively, you can get out of the house for a walk. Go jogging. Jump, run, or otherwise put your body on the move. Do some gardening (this works wonders for me). Or, you can listen to music, or better yet, play it! Or use humor! Laughter sets you free from the tyrannical rule of logic and linearity. You will soon find out what works best for you.

Doing this will allow you to:

  • Keep a rested mind, so as not to get stuck with the wrong answers.
  • Keep a quiet mind, to be able to notice the subtle brain signals occurring when you are close to solving a problem by insight (the ‘aha’ moment).
  • Keep a happy mind, an open mind, which will trigger a broader awareness of internal information, allowing access to the signals immediately preceding the ‘aha’ moment.
  • Take critical distance— the farther away from an idea, the fewer details you hold in your mind, and the more context you can perceive.

We definitely need both sides of our brain at work. The trick consists in knowing how to easily shift from one to the other.

 

References:

The Truth About The Left Brain / Right Brain Relationship, by Tania Lombrozo, December 02, 2013, http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2013/12/02/248089436/the-truth-about-the-left-brain-right-brain-relationship, Accessed 05 April 2014.

Una mente, dos cerebros, by Proyéctate ahora, 21 March 2011, http://www.proyectateahora.com/12/, Accessed 03 April 2014.

Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques, by Michael Michalko, December 2010, Random House LLC

Brain and Realities, by Jay Alfred, 2006, Trafford Publishing

Back From a Vacation? Don’t Waste Your Clear Mind, Published 29 May 2012 by David Rock in Your Brain at Work, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-work/201205/back-vacation-dont-waste-your-clear-mind, Accessed 05 April 2014

How To Stop Your Left Brain From Thinking, by Sean D’Souza, http://www.psychotactics.com/blog/left-brain-thinking/, Accessed 07 April 2014

 

Photo by courtesy of Aina Photography, http://bit.ly/1WiKtJ7. All rights reserved.

 

This article was originally posted on Lingua Greca Translations Blog under the title of Tips for Translators: Shift to Right-Brain Mode to Improve Your Productivity at Work, on May 19, 2014:

Tips for Translators: Shift to Right-Brain Mode to Improve Your Productivity at Work