Icebreaker 7, February 2012

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Welcome to the seventh issue of ‘Icebreaker’, the STP newsletter.

It’s a brand new year and it has certainly got off to a great start at STP with lots of training, new staff starting and Office 2010 being rolled out across the company.

Company news

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The Saga Continues

We have added another core language to our language offering. Over the course of 2011, we worked on a solution for translations from English into Icelandic and as a result, we are now happy to offer translation and revision in this language combination.

With only 310,000 native speakers, Icelandic is the only official language of the Republic of Iceland. Of the other Nordic languages, it is most closely related to Faroese and some West Norwegian dialects. Since the Icelandic school system has long placed heavy emphasis on the teaching of foreign languages, everyone learns English and Danish at school, but Icelanders have made it their goal to be able to speak and write about all subjects in their mother tongue. New words are continuously being formed to keep pace with developments in technology and the sciences.

If you have regular or on-going work into Icelandic, you may wish to discuss a fixed word rate with our Quality & Training Manager Raisa McNab (r…@stpnordic.com). For ad hoc projects, please contact our project managers for a quote

Staff News

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We’ve been here a while

Alison Drury completed her BSc (Econ) in European Studies with honours French at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth in 1998. She then gained a CTEFLA qualification and headed to Sweden to teach English at the Komvux school in Lund as an EU-sponsored language teaching assistant, where she simultaneously studied Swedish, taught English and practiced her new language skills working in the bar and restaurant industry.

Upon her return to the UK, Alison found a job using both her French and Swedish skills as a sales coordinator for a company in the automotive industry, before making the decision to complete an MA in Translation at the University of Surrey. She also began studying Norwegian there, resulting in her attending a residential summer course in Norwegian at the University of Bergen on the west coast of Norway, as well as translating from Norwegian into English for her MA dissertation.

Her first two years in the translation industry were spent working as a project manager for a translation company in London. Alison then left her role there in 2008 to pursue a joint project management/translation role with us at STP, moving reasonably quickly into translating full time. During her years at STP she has taken advantage of the opportunity to study Danish, and has been very glad of the recent addition of a fellow Welsh language speaker, Rhys, to the English translation team.

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Danielle Davis read for a BA (Hons) in Swedish at the University of Lampeter, graduating in 2000 with an upper second and a distinction in spoken Swedish before gaining an MA in Translation at the University of Surrey the following year. Her main areas of study were technical Swedish and Norwegian and legal Swedish. Danielle’s dissertation covered humour in translation, with examples from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.

Danielle then worked as an on-site translator at Volvo Cars in Gothenburg, Sweden, until July 2002 before enjoying a five-month placement at the European Commission in Luxembourg. This involved translating mostly Danish and Swedish legal documents. She also taught “improvers” English, as well as attending Polish and French classes held by fellow trainees. Before joining STP in June 2005, Danielle worked as a project coordinator and qualified as a teacher of English as a foreign language.

In her role as the English language lead at STP, Danielle spends a fair amount of time discussing corrections and providing feedback to other translators. Surrounded by a Nordic team, she also set herself the task of improving her knowledge of spoken Danish and attended Danish lessons for two years. As Danielle took some Finnish courses during her intercalary year in Umeå she would like the opportunity to take it up again one day. Her preferred areas of work are creative and journalistic texts, as they can be very challenging, although she enjoys translating most subjects.

Industry issues

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OPTIMALE consults employers

OPTIMALE (Optimising Professional Translator Training in a Multilingual Europe) is an Erasmus Academic Network involving 70 university partners from 32 different European countries. The network is carrying out a three-year pan-European project with four aims and objectives: 1) to produce an extensive map of ongoing translator training programmes in Europe; 2) to monitor market needs and professional requirements relevant to translator training; 3) to translate new professional competences into learning outcomes; and 4 ) to implement training the trainer sessions.

The OPTIMALE project consists of seven workpackages and a lot of the work is carried out in small workshops. There are, however, two annual conferences, and the first of these took place in Brussels on 1 December 2011, bringing together over a hundred universities, translators, industry associations, translation companies and other employers. I was pleased to participate as a translation company representative and, from this point of view, was really impressed by the keenness of the academic partners to hear about the translation industry’s needs and to keep up with our current practices. The conference focused on the main activities and outcomes of the first year of the project, mapping translator training (Workpackage 3) and consulting employers on competence requirements (Workpackage 4).

The EUATC had a crucial role in Workpackage 4, helping to research the market and reach the employer organisations. European LSPs made up the majority of the nearly 600 respondents of the employer survey, and their input was further discussed in eight regional workshops with academics and professionals. The regional workshop covering the UK, Ireland, Iceland and Norway took place at the University of Surrey in Guildford in September 2011. The reports from that and the other workshops can be viewed here. Impeccable quality of work, service-mindedness and experience were high on the agenda of most European employers, but there were also interesting regional differences in the requirements, for example regarding the translators’ ability to translate into a foreign language (their “B language”). The results of the employer consultation are available on the OPTIMALE website.

The second year of the OPTIMALE project will home in on the different aspects of training for professional practice (Workpackage 5). The work will be conducted in four parallel workshops by teams concentrating on new tools and technologies, domain specialisation, professional practices and quality assurance.

Nordic focus

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Nordic by nature

Nordic men and women have a reputation for excelling in endurance sports in the international arena, and we train hard in our back garden too. Ever heard of the “Svensk Klassiker” (The Swedish Classic), a certificate awarded to those who finish four Swedish races in four different disciplines within a 12-month period? The races are “Vasaloppet” – a 90 km cross-country ski marathon held on the first Sunday of March; “Vätternrundan” – a 300 km bicycle ride around Lake Vättern in mid-June; “Vansbrosimningen” – a 3 km open-water swimming competition in Västerdalälven in July; and finally “Lidingöloppet” – a 30 km cross-country running race in September.

So, we know how to make the most of our outdoors. And we start very young!

Outdoor kindergartens, known as forest schools, where pre-school children spend their days in the forest, originated in Sweden in the 1950s and have since spread to other Nordic countries, Canada and even the UK. In a typical forest school, children as young as three are taken into the forest for several hours a day. They take no toys with them, but instead play with only what the forest provides. There is usually a primitive hut, tent or other indoor space for when the weather is really atrocious or the temperature falls below -10°C, but over the course of the year, most of the time is spent outdoors.

Activities include such simple fun as finding small animals or stomping in puddles. With high adult to child ratios, children can safely try out activities which are often considered too dangerous, such as climbing trees or lighting fires, and by dressing the children in good protective clothing, they are able to play freely, sitting and rummaging in the mud and bushes.

A 13-month Swedish study found that children attending forest schools are far happier, healthier and more socially adept than children in ordinary kindergartens. No doubt, they are also better prepared to take on the Svensk Klassiker later in life too! Not many of us at STP attended forest schools when we were young – or completed the Svensk Klassiker, for that matter – but when nature calls, don’t be surprised to find us lacing up our hiking boots and getting out there!

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