Icebreaker 3, September 2010

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Welcome to the third issue of Icebreaker, the STP newsletter.

Autumn is a busy time both for new projects and industry events. Here in the UK, we are kicking off the season with the ATC conference in London on 23 September. STP will once again be out in force and Jesper will be chairing the technology session, so please come and chat to us if you are there. Other opportunities for catching up with us later in the year are also quite likely; one of us might visit your corner of the world or you could always come and see us in our office. We would love to show you around!

Company news

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Doctor in the House

STP might be best known for its expertise in technical subject areas and information technology, but the company also translates considerable amounts of medical material: SmPCs, PILs, protocols, trials, studies and medical device IFUs. At the end of 2009, STP made a strategic decision to launch a programme of meticulous training in healthcare and medical translation for our current in-house staff translators in order to enhance the company’s in-house quality control in this area and also guarantee affordable translation resources for medical texts in the long run.

The training kicked off in May 2010 with a workshop where we looked at conventions, templates, reference material, and the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. Over the summer months it has continued as a period of self-study, including sharing and compilation of links, online references and glossaries, and obviously delving into a few books as well.

But we felt we also needed some external expertise. Since it was not practical to free the entire staff to attend medical courses at various institutes, we opted for the solution of bringing the medical professionals to STP. In June, we had a Registrar in Paediatric Emergency Medicine come and give us two lectures on human anatomy and how to test its functions, and in September we will spend a whole day in workshops with a GP talking about specific areas of medicine: common-place procedures, tests and treatments and commonly prescribed drug types as well as some imaging devices and how they are used. This method of training has proved very popular with the staff, who ask a lot of enthusiastic questions after the lectures. We hope to continue in the same vein.

Staff News

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Norse…

Astrid Petersen hails from Trondheim, the first capital and coronation city of Norway, which these days is known as a thriving centre of technology. She went to an English-speaking school, took the International Baccalaureate examination and studied English and Literature at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. After gaining a BA and a further MA in English from Trondheim, she still wanted to complement her education and completed a BA in Translation Studies at the University of Agder.

Having spent a year in Exeter, Astrid was keen to return to the UK and when she heard about STP’s internships in her final year at Agder, she leapt at the opportunity and joined the company in July 2010. From September onwards, she will be a permanent member of our in-house translation staff, working full-time alongside the rest of the Norwegian team.

Astrid plays and teaches the flute and has performed as part of a marching band!

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..by Norsewest

Ørjan Ryeng has lived most of his life on the outskirts of Oslo, the current Norwegian capital. He considered a career as a PE teacher before opting for the Translation and Intercultural Communication course at the University of Agder. After his BA, Ørjan came to the University of Surrey in the UK to do an MA in Audiovisual Translation, and from there to STP to work as a Norwegian staff translator.

With a keen interest in English football, Ørjan is an ardent Liverpool supporter and a passionate runner.

Industry issues

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Swedish crime as a major export

There is no doubt that Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy has been a major phenomenon in the book and film worlds in the past couple of years. And it’s not alone: Scandinavian crime fiction has truly risen above cult status and become known for more than just freezing locations, bleakness and melancholy characters.
In a chart ranking the bestselling fiction writers in Europe in 2009 by British publishing trade magazine The Bookseller, the Top 10 authors included three Swedes: Stieg Larsson, Camilla Läckberg and Henning Mankell (http://www.thebookseller.com/news/110412-larsson-meyer-and-brown-were-europes-top-authors-in-2009.html).

It is easier for Scandinavian writers to get introduced to readers in mainland Europe than in the UK. In many European countries, up to 25% of the books published are translations from foreign languages – in the UK the figure is closer to 3%. Stieg Larsson’s first book is said to have been rejected by seven or eight British publishers before finally finding someone who was willing to take on the risk of publishing a thriller called “Men Who Hate Women” written by a controversial, deceased journalist.

That company now enjoys success unrivalled since the days of Harry Potter. The three Swedish language films in the Millennium trilogy have been released in Europe and the US; and it has recently been confirmed that an English-language remake of the first film will be launched with Daniel Craig in the male lead role.

Of the other bestselling Swedes, Camilla Läckberg writes about Fjällbacka in western Sweden, the scene of her childhood and of all her murders. Her books have been sold in over 30 countries worldwide. Henning Mankell’s novels featuring the angst-ridden detective Kurt Wallander are published in 33 countries and have a huge following in Germany. In the UK, the BBC series with Kenneth Branagh won British television’s top drama award in 2009.

Other Swedish crime exporters include Åsa Larsson with her dark dramas set in the far north of Sweden; Åke Edwardson whose Inspector Erik Winter solves mysteries in the author’s home town of Gothenburg; and Håkan Nesser who set his first main character Van Veeteren in a fictitious city and country but his later Inspector Barbarotti firmly in Sweden whilst the author himself currently lives in London. And the list could go on – there is plenty of evidence even in British bookstores of a renaissance in crime fiction from this peaceful corner of the world.

Earlier this year, the Department of Scandinavian Studies at University College London announced that they have two 3-year PhD studentships in the field of Swedish-English Translation Studies starting this September. These studentships form the core of a collaborative project with the Embassy of Sweden in London, designed to promote Swedish-English literary translation in the UK. One of the studentships will undertake a historical survey of the translation of Swedish literature into English, whilst the other will focus on developing strategies for the translation of contemporary literature. STP was very pleased to hear that UCL is offering this opportunity and we will follow the projects with great interest.

UCL is also planning to launch a Scandinavian crime fiction book club in spring 2011. They hope to bring together researchers, students of Scandinavian literature and language, UK translators, publishers, authors, film makers and producers to share their knowledge of and interest in crime fiction and Nordic cultures. One of the aims would be to explore what Scandinavian crime fiction has learned from the British tradition, and what makes the Nordic novels particularly Nordic. Another interesting topic for discussion might be the prevalence of violent crime fiction in these countries so well-known for their relatively harmonious welfare states.
More information about the Nordic Noir club is available at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/scandinavian-studies/scandinavian_crime

Nordic focus

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Walking down the aisle

Two of STP’s employees got married this summer, and although their UK-based ceremonies diverged somewhat from traditional Nordic weddings, they naturally triggered discussions in the office on how our Nordic customs differ from Anglo-Saxon ways.

In the Nordic countries, it is taken for granted that both parties receive an engagement ring, which is usually an unadorned, plain band, often made of gold or white gold. In contrast to the custom in Anglo-Saxon countries, the groom-to-be is thus also “marked” as being engaged. It is not uncommon for both parties to have rings that are similar or even identical; nowadays though some women may prefer a diamond engagement ring.

When it comes to wedding rings, in Anglo-Saxon cultures both the bride and groom exchange rings during the wedding ceremony; the relatively simple wedding band is added to the bride’s gemstone engagement ring. In the Nordic ceremony, only the bride receives a wedding ring, which is often studded with diamonds or other stones. Thus, the end result is the same, but the order in which the rings are received differs in these two cultures.

Another aspect of the Nordic wedding ceremony received a lot of media attention this summer, when Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden was escorted down the aisle by her father, the King, rather than walking with her husband-to-be, which is the tradition for Swedish brides.

According to Nordic custom, the couple enters the church and walks down the aisle together, either holding hands or with the bride holding onto the groom’s arm. The Anglo-Saxon custom has the father, or another male family member or family friend, walk the bride down the aisle and give her away to the groom. In Scandinavia, the former is often portrayed as an expression of the equality between the parties (an important element of Nordic culture) whilst the latter has evoked strong feelings with commentators describing it as anything from a relic of sexist coercion to a display of life-long love and affection.

Archbishop Anders Wejryd, who conducted the Swedish Royal service in Stockholm in June, rebuked the bride and groom for adopting the Anglo-Saxon custom. However, he later relented and agreed to carry out the ceremony in accordance with the bride’s wishes. Whichever way you look at it, it matters who you walk down the aisle with!

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