On Saturday, November 7th, I attended the ITI East Midlands' Regional Group's CPD workshop in Nottingham. It was a very well in organised event and was a great opportunity to meet fellow translators and interpreters from across the East Midlands.
The first session was led by Jon Olds, who spoke about Machine Translation, and how it could be used by freelancers to increase productivity. I have some experience with Machine Translation, and I must admit that I find it an incredibly frustrating process. Jon, however, was able to enlighten me in how Machine Translation could transform our industry for the good in future. He was very clear, though, that freelancers need to take back control and build their own Machine Translation engines to be able to produce better results.
I found it particularly interesting to learn about Bleu scores. A Bleu score of 30 and above is generally considered to be usable and a score of 40 and above is seen as very good. According to Jon's statistics, French to English Machine Translation yields a Bleu score of 33.1 which explains why French to English is generally usable. However, German to English Machine Translation yields a Bleu score of 24.9. I assume that this must explain why German to English Machine Translation projects turn me into a somewhat frustrated translator!
The second session was led by Sarah Gatford, a BSL interpreter. Her talk was engaging, humorous and highlighted my ignorance of the struggles faced by the deaf community in the UK. Sarah was very keen to explain to us that the terms "deaf-mute" and "hearing-impaired" are incredibly negative terms. People who are deaf are not mute; they are still passionate communicators. The term "hearing-impaired" suggests that hearing is the norm and that people who are unable to hear are therefore abnormal. This is of course utter rubbish and I will do my utmost in future to use the preferred terms: "deaf" and "hard of hearing".
It was also interesting to learn that not all deaf people can read English. They have not been able to access English from birth and therefore BSL is often their first language. I assumed that many people relied on lip reading, but Sarah explained that only approximately 30% of the message is understood when lip reading alone. She was also keen to spread the message that access is not just about wheelchairs. Deaf people have no access to environmental sounds, such as when the kettle has boiled or microwave has pinged in the office, and Sarah is therefore keen to help spread deaf awareness. The session was fascinating and I really hope that I get to hear her speak again in the future.
The final session was led by Margaret Hiley, and she spoke about proofreading for perfect texts. She offered her top tips and things to look out for. These include numerals, dates, numbers, typos, punctuation, and errors in vocabulary. She was also keen to highlight the use of a style guide because this way you can explain to a client why you made a particular choice. I was always encouraged to use The Economist's style guide but now tend to use the style guide published by The Guardian as I find it a bit more accessible.
After three very different and engaging sessions, a few of us stayed for lunch and were able to network a bit further. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I would like to thank the ITI East Midlands Regional Group for organising it. Here's to the next one!