Dealing with shades of grey at BP18 in Vienna (April 20)

On April 20 I’ll be speaking in at Csaba Bán’s endlessly enticing BP18 event in Vienna, zeroing in on revision. “An exercise in sado-masochism?” asks one attendee.
Not necessarily.

From my shades-of-grey blurb:

Most experienced translators have been called in at least once to give their opinion of an existing translation. The requester may be earnestly curious, mildly suspicious, or actively seeking expert help to turn a bad situation around.  Enter “quality”, “subjectivity” and, say some, “nitpicking”. Or possibly indignation.

How, precisely, should a serious and ethical professional translator respond to the client’s request, judge the first effort, explain her assessment to the customer, and, if necessary, deliver the (revamped) goods? This presentation looks at the process, the questions, and the obligations on all  sides—including the client and the original translator.

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For experienced translators only: Business Acceleration Masterclass in Cambridge (Mass.) on April 29

While in Boston for the New England Translators Association’s 22nd annual conference, I’ll present a masterclass for experienced translators intent on taking their business up a notch. Note that this is not for beginners or part-timers.
Registration is now open, including a two-for-one offer until February 16.
Full details here.
(And be sure to contact me directly if you have any questions:

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April 28: Filthy lucre in Boston at NETA’s 22nd annual conference

I’ll be discussing translators’ fraught relationship with money in the endnote session of NETA’s 22nd annual conference, to be held on April 28 in collaboration with and at UMass Boston.

From the blurb: How much should translators charge? What is “fair”—or is that even relevant? When does pricing (up or down) get arrogant or (gasp) abusive? And does the mere act of bargaining devalue our status as intellectual service providers? (So tacky! So… capitalist.) All this when most translators are simply looking for a way to make the case for the value they create with ease, grace—and success. Why is that so hard?

Note: I referred to an early version of this talk in my presentation on working with direct clients at a language conference in Washington, DC in October 2017, commenting that my proposal had been refused by a (nervous) association. That association was obviously not NETA (go NETA go!).

Experienced translators interested in taking the discussion a step further (and ramping up their own practice along the way) may be interested in a new session of my Business Acceleration Masterclass for Translators & Interpreters the next day, hosted by the Cambridge Center for Adult Education near Harvard Square.

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XISU (Xi’an) in winter

From 23 December to 5 January, I visited XISU in Xi’an (PRC) to give two lectures and teach a class of motivated undergraduates. The talks addressed translation, censorship & power, then specialization. Teaching focused on the dynamics of real-life jobs performed for a demanding client base in France—introducing students to some of the issues they will have to deal with if they enter the premium end of the market. Much food for thought; more on this fascinating experience in a future post.

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Nov. 25 at OMT’s San Jerónimo 2017

Reporting late on this (for me) voyage of discovery: on November 25, I gave a pre-conference workshop at “San Jerónimo 2017”, the 21st International Translation and Interpretation Conference of the Mexican Translators Association (OMT), followed by a talk on the importance of asking questions at the conference itself. And returned home impressed by the impeccable organization, including the OMT team’s savvy decision to hitch its wagon to the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL), the world’s second largest book publishing event. Year after year, OMT attracts a large, highly motivated group of professionals to its parallel sessions—hats off.


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Daring to be bold with Ottiaq in Montreal on November 17

With the conference’s l’audace de voir grand theme very much in mind, I’ll be in Montreal on Friday, November 17 to celebrate Ottiaq’s 25-year commitment to raising the bar for translators and interpreters in Quebec.

My own contribution will be one talk in two languages, focusing on clients: Constituer sa clientèle—a vous de jouer in the morning, and a reprise in English in mid-afternoon as Building a (Good) Client Portfolio.

You’ll find the full program and info here

and here


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Talks in Washington, DC on Oct. 25 & Oct. 27

On Wednesday, October 25, I spoke at the IMF on emerging trends in today’s translation industry, then moved on to the ATA conference to present “Working with Direct Clients. For Real” on Friday.

A common theme: markets with priorities other than fast-faster-fastest and cheap-cheaper-cheapest exist, despite the clamor from bulk vendors and commodity pushers. And they hold enormous potential for genuinely skilled translators and interpreters. (Q: why and how are so many earnest potential suppliers missing the boat?)

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Homing in on specialization at VZV symposium in Amersfoort on Nov. 11, followed by Business Acceleration Masterclass in Utrecht on Nov. 12

On November 11, I’m honored to be speaking in the Netherlands at VZV’s symposium in Amersfoort. The theme is specialization, a word on virtually all observers’ and practitioners’ lips—and increasingly important as the split between bulk and premium markets widens.

On the following day—Sunday, November 12—I’ll be in Utrecht for a Business Acceleration Masterclass. This event is now fully booked. To be added to the waiting list or receive news of future masterclasses, please contact me directly. (

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September 30: celebrating International Translation Day with ALTI in Mersch (Luxembourg)

I’m looking forward to ALTI’s event tomorrow, where I’ll be speaking at the end of the day on venturing out of TranslatorLand. (Why do so many translators find it so hard to get out from behind their screens?).

Traverser l’écran : voyage (non virtuel) au pays des clients

Que d’avantages à rencontrer ses auteurs et clients ! Des échanges plus riches, bien sûr, mais surtout une meilleure compréhension de leur monde, de leur discours, de leurs angoisses. Sans parler des enjeux commerciaux. Car un client auquel vous avez parlé en personne, serré la main, avec qui, peut-être même, vous avez pris un café, est forcément plus fidèle. Or, la fidélité a son importance dans un monde en mouvement, où les budgets apparaissent et disparaissent toujours plus vite.

Pourquoi, alors, tant de traducteurs restent-ils cloitrés chez eux ? Prenons un moment pour réfléchir ensemble à ces histoires que nous nous racontons, nous autres linguistes, pour rester confortablement installés à l’abri de notre écran. Nous analyserons les conséquences négatives de notre « abonnement » au confort de TranslatorLand, avant d’envisager d’autres orientations concrètes, à mettre en pratique de suite.

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January 28: Specialization in the spotlight at SFT’s Matinale in Paris this Saturday

I’m delighted to be taking part in SFT’s monthly translators’ café in Paris this Saturday morning (January 28).
The event—which includes breakfast, a stimulating theme with lively speakers and networking with 50-70 translators and interpreters—is open to one and all, but it’s helpful for the organizing team if you sign up in advance.
This month we’ll be zeroing in on specialization—the genuine and the wishful thinking varieties, identifying hot areas, developing your skillset and letting clients know. See below.

Matinales IDF : La spécialisation en traduction, histoire de cœur ou de raison

En ce jour de Nouvel An chinois, les Matinales IDF (organisées par la délégation francilienne de la SFT) vous invitent à cesser de picorer : profitez des bons auspices du Coq de feu et de sa promesse de plénitude aux projets mis en œuvre pendant l’année pour miser sur la spécialisation. Pourquoi se spécialiser ? Comment choisir ? Comment se former ? Comment communiquer ?

Chris Durban vous aidera à trier le grain de l’ivraie pour reconnaître le vrai spécialiste du généraliste déguisé. Pour vous encourager à prendre votre envol, des professionnels tels que Gaëlle Gagné (aéronautique), Laurence Cuzzolin (B2B, communication d’entreprise), Mar Fernandez (océanographie) et Jack Przbilzki (juridique) viendront étayer ses propos en exposant ce qui les a conduits à leurs spécialités respectives, comment ils les consolident et les mettent en avant.

Pour plus d’infos et pour s’inscrire :

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