Wednesday, 15 June 2016


Visiting Coventry Cathedral

 On 27 June 2018, a good dozen of us came together for a tour of Coventry Cathedral, followed by coffee and cake. More pictures can be found here.

Winter Walk 2018

Some pictures of this year's winter walk you can look at here. It was cold, rainy, snowy and most of all muddy.

Photos and videos from the workshop "Translation in Opera, Music Theatre and Pop", held at the Birmingham Conservatoire on 9 June 2016

Here are some photos and videos from the day:

The choir worked wonders with our translations, from Italian:



 From French:



 And from German (ufortunately, the other German video files were too big to upload.):

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Quality and Success in Interpreting

A report on our June workshop by Jacinta Kal

On the 11th of June, several interpreters, translators and students gathered at Aston University for an interpreting workshop. Because I exclusively translate and have no experience with interpreting, I decided to attend so I could learn more about the different modes of interpreting, and of course also to meet some colleagues!

The day started off with a talk by Eva Lohwasser on retour interpreting and its implications for CPD.
Eva Lohwasser
In her talk, Eva discussed the different points of view on retour interpreting, which is where an interpreter interprets from their A language (mother tongue) into their B language. This A>B interpreting was (and still is) frowned upon in some institutions and by some interpreters. Eva then went on to pose the question: if someone is equally at home in their A and B language, do the users of the interpreting really perceive a non-native accent as bad quality? And what IS quality anyway? It turns out that interpreters have a completely different view on quality than users do:  while the interpreter is striving for a native accent, a pleasant voice, fluent delivery, completeness and correct grammar, the user  is mainly interested in sense consistency,  logical cohesion and correct terminology. Lastly, Eva looked at CPD opportunities for interpreters, like attending workshops, listening to the radio, reading and also evaluating existing translations and keeping an idiom notebook.

After Eva’s talk, we had a short coffee break, which was a good opportunity to meet some of the other participants and find out what they do in their daily work.

The Spanish group at work
The workshop then continued with some exercises that showed us the different types of interpreting that are used. We split up into our language groups for this and because I was the only Dutch speaker, I ended up in the group with other ‘rare’ languages, like Turkish and Pashtun, if I remember correctly! For the first exercise, one of our group read out a text in English while the others took notes, and we then tried to reproduce the text in our own language (or in our case English, as we couldn’t understand each other’s languages). This turned out to be a lot trickier than it sounds!

To break up the traditional workshop setting, we watched a role play demonstrating whispering interpreting in a courtroom setting. I had the honour to be one of the magistrates. It was interesting to see this and also to hear how the recipient of the interpreting (the defendant) felt: she commented that if it had been for real, it would have been quite scary to have all these people talking and deciding things about you, when you have to trust the interpreter to give an accurate account of what’s going on.

After this demonstration, it was time to try whispering interpreting for ourselves. Having tried to do this myself for my partner a couple of times, I already knew how hard it is. Keeping up with what you hear and converting it into another language at the same time requires your brain to do two things at the same time that certainly takes a lot of practice to get right!

After a nice lunch provided by the university, we listened to the second talk of the day. Dr Yvonne
Dr. Yvonne Fowler
Fowler commented at the start of her talk that she’d got the hardest slot for a talk (right after lunch…), but she needn’t have worried. Her talk was more than interesting and she had everyone’s attention! She spoke about success in public service interpreting, and how that can be defined. Like quality, success is not a straight-forward concept, because of the question of who defines if an interpreter was successful: the service provider? The service user? Or perhaps the interpreter? They all have different needs, expectations and ideas about success and it is closely linked to quality. On top of that, there are also different interpreting models, some of which are more widely accepted than others, which can also influence the definition of success. Finally there is the problem that the only person who can know whether the interpreting was of good quality (and hence successful) is the interpreter, because he or she is usually the only one in the room that speaks both languages.

After another coffee break, we ended the day with some more exercises, the first being sight
Networking and chatting during the coffee break
translation, where the interpreter reads a text in one language and immediately interprets it into another language. Being used to having the luxury of looking up terms and doing as much research as I want for unknown terminology, I immediately ran into the problem that there is no possibility to do so during a sight translation. The text contained some references to the United Nations, which I was sure have a specific translation in Dutch that I would probably know if I heard them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of them under the pressure of having to provide an interpretation THEN AND THERE.

The last activity of the day was a demonstration of public service interpreting in a medical setting,
where an interpreter is present at a consultation and uses consecutive interpreting. We then rounded off this demonstration by discussing confidentiality and when an interpreter is allowed to break the confidentiality (for instance, when someone is in danger, when there are child safety issues or when you become aware of an act of terrorism). It was also emphasised how important it is in public service interpreting to never be alone in a room with just the service user, because this can create a problem with health and safety or confidentiality.

I would like to thank the organisers of this event for putting in their time to create a very insightful workshop that has certainly increased my admiration for a job that at times must be very hard and stressful, although I’m sure that it can also be very rewarding. I found it really interesting to see the different modes of interpreting at work and try them myself, although it has also strengthened my belief that interpreting is probably not something for me.
Our very own strong WMG voices for interpreting: Rekha Narula...

and Jakub Sacharczuk (the organizers)

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Translating & tweeting at Aston

A report by Amanda Wilson, photographs by Charlie Gobbett

Friday 20th March 2015. Not your average Friday because of the partial eclipse forecast for the UK. Everywhere people flocked outside in their droves to catch a glimpse (from behind ‘eclipse glasses’ or using pinhole projectors, naturally!) and outside the Main Building at Aston University was no different.
Thanks to Emmanuelle Jeannot who brought some glasses along, members of the West Midlands Group were able to safely view the eclipse before getting stuck into their Translation Workshop and AGM.
Who said that AGMs are dull and boring?!
For me the eclipse was overshadowed by the WMG event! The day was lively with a festive atmosphere, ‘partially’ due to the eclipse but probably more to do with the opportunity for networking with colleagues old and new.

Once everyone had made their way inside for coffee and the welcome, groups were formed for the translation workshops; French, German, Italian and even Danish this time. Colleagues had brought along texts either about solar eclipses or containing rhymes and other translation challenges. The French translation workshop I joined tackled the song Le soleil et la lune a 1930’s song by Charles Trenet. The song is about an impossible meeting of the sun with the moon and is a metaphor for romantic rendezvous between men and women on Earth. The most obvious challenge was to match our translation to the music of the song. Beyond that we also discussed how we would deal with the gender of the sun (Mr Sun?) and the moon (Lady Moon?) and discovered that translating into Polish would be even harder than into English  because the moon is a masculine noun and the Sun is neutral!

After refuelling with a sandwich lunch we moved on to the serious business of the day: the AGM.
Fortunately that was all concluded quickly and painlessly and we were soon listening to Lloyd Bingham’s talk about Twitter. Very practical, especially for those of us just starting out because we could then join in at the TweetUp organised by TweetOutWest after the workshop at Aston. 

In the afternoon translation session, I stayed with the French group as Emmanuelle Jeannot had brought along some French idioms for us to look at – some of these were really intriguing but Emmanuelle gave us print-outs of the meanings and origins to help us understand them. Who knew that cats feature in so many French idioms! “Chat échaudé craint l’eau froide”, literally a scalded cat is scared of cold water (I wonder if this is where scaredy-cat comes from?) is equivalent to the English proverb “once bitten, twice shy”. Great tip: You can sign up to and receive French idioms daily.
To finish off the day we relocated to Bacchus Bar in the Burlington Arcade to practise our new-found Twitter skills and socialise with colleagues. Bacchus is a bit of a find; on Birmingham’s oldest street, with its imposing vaulted interior, it’s like being in an abbey and surprisingly the prices weren’t sky-high! Linguist Bingo got everyone networking with questions like ‘what’s your USP?’ or ‘what’s the strangest thing you’ve translated/interpreted?’. One lucky person’s most exciting assignment was interpreting for a contestant in a treasure hunt around London for a luxury cosmetics brand. 

Sadly, they didn’t get a goody bag! And here’s a great suggestion for an ‘ideal CPD event’: Something combining wine-tasting with translation.  

Many thanks to the organisers, Juliet Hammond-Smith and Charlie Gobbett, for such an enjoyable and interesting event. The next total eclipse isn’t until 2090 in the UK but fortunately we won’t have to wait that long till the next WMG event; the 10th anniversary summer walk is on Saturday 19 July 2015! All being well, it will be in the Severn Valley near Highley, scene of the first walk in July 2005.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Translating & tweeting at Aston on 20 March

Bookings are coming in for our translation workshop on 20 March. If you've never been to a translation workshop before, please do come and try it out. They're always interesting and fun! We work in language-specific groups on short texts, attempting to produce a collaborative translation - if only of the first sentence! There will be fascinating discussions of tricky aspects (and we're hoping to have some extra-tricky ones this time, including puns and rhymes) and plenty of insights into other people's approaches.

This time the workshop is split into two halves, with an introduction to Twitter by Lloyd Binham in the middle. This means that tweeting will be permitted - and even encouraged, but not enforced - in the second half of the workshop.

At 5pm we will be relocating to the Bacchus Bar for a tweet-up (non-tweeters also welcome!) For more details and to request a booking form, please see the Events page.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Happy 10th anniversary, WMG!

There were eleven of us at the WMG committee meeting in Birmingham yesterday. Appropriately, we met in the Edwardian Tea Room of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which is where, ten years ago, four translators met for coffee and decided to revive the West Midlands Group of ITI.

It was wonderful yesterday to see that there are still so many people - from founding members to newcomers - happy to take an active part in running the group!

I'll be posting some memories of the past ten years on the new WMG history page over the next few days and weeks. Feel free to comment and add your own to this post.

Bärbel McCloskey, Jakub Sacharczuk, Liz Smith, Rekha Narula, Mike Hanson, Charlie Gobbett, Ros Mendy, Juliet Hammond-Smith, Ulrike Nichols, Shelagh Rothero and Jean Darvill

Happy 10th anniversary, everyone!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Meet and Greet/Seminar with Susan Lankfer

When: 21 October, 4-6pm
Where: Aston University, Main Building, 5th floor, room 574

In 2013 we launched our mentoring programme in collaboration with the Department of Translation Studies at Aston University. Seasoned translators and interpreters  provide practical insights to MA students into the challenges and chores of our everyday working life. The students and mentors agree on a day and time to meet either electronically or in person and the mentors share their experiences and answer the students' questions. Please join us for this informal event that is a first opportunity for students and mentors to meet and possibly set up a schedule.

What a translation agency does for you

A Seminar with Susan Lankfer, Comtec Translations

Susan is the Head of Business Development at Comtec Translations where has been working for five years.
Starting as a Project Manager and working her way to Head of Business Development, she fully understands the needs of our clients. She ensures clients receive the best possible service from the team and it’s Susan who warmly welcomes and dazzles new clients. 
In her talk she will provide insights as to how she accomplishes that clients not only choose Comtec but also stay with them - for all their translation needs.

After the seminar join in for a relaxed evening in a pub. Or two. Details: email Jakub under or just come along.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

WMG/WRG walk photos online

Photos from our walk with the WRG are now online (here) including a steam train, beautiful lunchtime views, a free-range pig and the ruins of Hailes Abbey.

Monday, 16 June 2014

WMG/WRG Joint Walk & Social Event in The Cotswolds – Saturday 6 September 2014

A chance to enjoy some tourism in the Cotswolds and to catch up with old friends and colleagues, and meet new ones from two ITI regional networks.

We start with a short steam train ride on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway (GWR) from Toddington to the attractive town of Winchcombe, followed by a walk (5 miles) which includes a long climb up a hill, rewarded by fine views and a picnic at the top. Then back down the other side, taking in the medieval ruins of Hailes Abbey (seen from the outside) with the help of an ice cream, and a last stretch back to Toddington in time for tea.
Meet 10.30 onwards for coffee at Toddington GWR station, in the Flag & Whistle refreshment room. Buy your ticket first (single to Winchcombe, adult fare £7, child £3). We’ll catch the first train of the day at 11.10 and people can also join us at Winchcombe station, setting off at 11.30, or in the town itself around 11.45.

See for more info on the railway, for more info on the town and for more info on the abbey.

Toddington station (postcode GL54 5DT) is approx 9 miles from Junction 9 of the M5. From J9, follow the A46 east (towards Evesham), through various traffic lights. At the first roundabout take the B4077 (Stow) and follow this for about 5 miles into Toddington village. At the roundabout continue forward on the B4077, and the station is about 100 yards further on, on the right. Having turned in, ignore the first car park on the right, which is for the garden centre, and carry on to the main (free) car park.

Toddington is approx 50 miles from both Birmingham and Bristol, so lift-sharing is recommended. If anyone wishes to travel there by train, Ashchurch station is on the main line from Birmingham to Bristol, close to M5 J9, and lifts can be arranged.

If the weather is really inclement, the event will still go ahead but it will be a social day with lunch in Winchcombe (we’ll cancel the walk and picnic).

The hill climb is steep in places though not precipitous, with some high steps built into the footpath, and it may be difficult for children under 10 (please contact Anna if you would like to discuss this further). An alternative route is not readily available.

NOTE: Everyone is welcome but participants must consider themselves to be on a private excursion – neither the organisers nor the ITI West Midlands or Western Regional Groups can accept any liability for accidents or injuries sustained by anyone involved.

Mike Hanson (WMG)
Anna George (WRG)

Monday, 28 April 2014

ITI West Midlands Group

AGM Friday May 9 2014 

  • Welcome to AGM – Juliet Hammond-Smith
  • Apologies for absence
  • Minutes of AGM 201
  • Finance report – Charlie Gobbett
  • Membership – Jean Darvill
  • Website, publicity contacts with ITI – Ros Mendy
  • Update on Interpreting – Rekha Narula
  • Events over the last year – Juliet Hammond Smith
  •             Shadowing with Aston students
  •             Transcultural reading project
  • Walks past and present – Winter and Summer – summary prepared by Mike Hanson
  • Talk with Keith Houston – summary prepared Ulrike Nichols
  • WMG on twitter and social media - discussion
  • Other future workshops and ideas at Aston
  • Ideas for ITI conference at Newcastle 23-25 April 2015
  • Suggestions and requests
  • Matters arising
  • AOB