The Versatile Blogger Award

Okay, I’ll admit it: when I first came across this Versatile Blogger business, I thought it was one of those self-perpetuating scams, like those chain letters that people used to get in the mail, where they were instructed to photocopy and resend the letter to 100 of their closest friends or a piano would fall on them (yes, spam existed before the internet era).

Upon closer inspection, however, I realized that the Versatile Blogger Awards are actually a useful tool for helping bloggers share their favourite bits of the blogosphere – much like the A ♥ for Language Blogs initiative by Translation Times, the results of which can be found here. Also, there was no menacing clause in the small print warning me that I had to produce my post within 24 hours or I would suffer the same fate as George Clooney. So that decided it!

And now that I have been nominated not  once, not twice, but three times, I guess it’s high time that I made my own contribution to the blog curation effort. So here goes …

The Rules

Life is full of rules and regulations, and the Versatile Blogger Award is no different. So let’s get that out of the way first:

1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading.
4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

In my case I have to thank three bloggers for nominating me: Catherine Christaki (@LinguaGreca), Aida González (@aidagda) and Cristina Lozano (@crislocrispis). I enjoy their blogs, so I am pleased to see the feeling is mutual. Next …

Seven things you didn’t know about me

1. I was born to a Dutch father and French-Canadian mother (which explains the name). Despite my multicultural background, my upbringing was mainly monolingual, in English – foreign language learning not being a priority in 1970s small-town Western Canada. All that changed when I turned 17 and decided that languages were actually kind of neat. I think one day I will write a post about that.

2. My hero is my Oma, who recently turned 100 years old, and until last year lived on her own and still cooked and cleaned with only a little outside help. Truly an inspiration.

3. I got my first grey hair at age 22, and it has been all downhill since then. But even if I make it to 100 like Oma, I will never dye my hair.

4. I am left-handed. My right hand is a useless appendage – so much so, that I even shampoo the right side of my head with my left hand. It’s not easy – try it some time and see for yourself!

5. I am an ovo-lacto vegetarian. This means that my life in Spain is full of restaurant meals consisting of tortilla española and ensalada mixta (“sin atún, ¡por favor!”). Arroz a la cubana (“¡sin salchicha!”) is also a good option.

6. I have the messiest desk this side of the Western Sahara. People who are used to me sending them instant replies to their emails (thank you, BlackBerry) are often surprised to find out that I can leave snail mail heaped on my desk, unopened, for months on end. If you don’t believe me, I will post a photo on my Facebook page to prove it.

7. I recently started doing yoga again, after many years away from my practice. When I signed up, I was given the option of doing yoga dinámico (which sounded scary) or yoga integral (which turned out to be a euphemism for “yoga for old biddies”). I immediately knew which one was for me – and now I spend every Tuesday morning doing yoga in the company of two lovely old German ladies (both of whom are named Renate, as it turns out).

Now comes the fun part…

I am not going to use this post to tell you about the interpreting blogs that I read, since I’ve already done that in my A ♥ for Language Blogs post. Instead, I’ll share with you some of the other blogs I enjoy checking out from time to time.

1. Not Exactly Rocket Science – My number one all-time favourite blog. I love everything about it. I particularly like the Friday posts entitled “I’ve got your missing links right here“. It is part of the Discovery science blog network.

2. Lessons From Sherlock Holmes – One of the many regular guest blogs that make up the Scientific American blog network, it offers psychology lessons from the greatest detective in literature.

3. Project Syndicate – Another major blog network, with a politics/economics slant. With regular contributors like Joschka Fischer (The Rebel Realist), Joseph Stiglitz (Unconventional Economic Wisdom) and Jeffrey Sachs (Economics and Justice), it could fill a 15-item list of its own.

4. Grantland – This is going to make you think I’m weird (assuming you don’t already), but from time to time this sports/pop culture blog network actually produces some entertaining stuff. I must have read their article on cricket at least three times – and I laughed louder each time.

5. Alexander Technique, Creativity and Health – Written by my friend, the AT expert and author Pedro de Alcantara. Full of interesting tips for musicians and writers, or anyone curious to know more about AT.

6. O Retrovisor – This blog has recently morphed from an antique photo blog into a collection of literary quotes from different sources.

7. 300 Words – refreshingly short posts (in German). Very well-crafted and always insightful.

8. roughly translated – The posts by dk provoke a ROTFL reaction in me. Every. Single. Time.

9. Diary of a Mad Patent Translator – Let’s face it, this blog is good. And well-written. And the author knows what he’s talking about. What more can you ask of a blog?

10. Daniel Greene’s Blog-o-Rama – I recently discovered this blog by an ASL interpreter when the author used a post of mine as inspiration. Very interesting.

11. Field Notes – This blog by conference interpreter Ewandro Magalhaes has been dormant for a while. However, the other day a post came out that I took straight to my Portuguese class, since I couldn’t understand a word of it. As it turns out, it’s full of Brazilian slang that even my teacher couldn’t decipher in some cases!

12. Language Hat – This is a very recent discovery. The author apparently speaks many languages and owns several hats (13 and 9 respectively, by his own count). This blog still makes me feel a bit dizzy when I read it. I can’t believe this man posts daily.

13. 1000 Lives in 100 Words – This community blogging project is worth checking out. If you look closely enough, you may see a couple of familiar faces among the 100-odd contributors to the project so far.

14. Mox’s Blog – I need a laugh from time to time, and this is where I get it (when there’s nothing new on roughly translated).

15. Chemistry 335 – This is my brother’s blog (no, I’m not the only blogger in the family!). In this blog, he replies to comments and queries from his senior chemistry students. I have to admit I don’t actually read this one, since I haven’t a clue what my brother is on about 99% of the time (scratch that: 100%).

So there you have it, that’s my list! All that is left to do now is notify the lucky winners that they have been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award. I can’t wait to hear back from Joschka, Jeff, Joe and company (not to mention my dear brother…).

Off mic with Phil Smith: A Compendium

I am currently on my summer holidays, but that doesn’t mean that followers of The Interpreter Diaries shouldn’t have something to read, so I’ve decided to share with you a series of articles by another interpreter-writer.

“Off mic with Phil Smith” is a column written for Communicate!, the AIIC webzine. Phil Smith is a freelance conference interpreter and fellow AIIC member. In this column, he writes about just about anything, not only what he does for a living – although interpreting always manages to find its way into his articles somehow.

Phil’s articles aren’t written in the form of a blog, so unfortunately they are not all available in one place – until today, that is. After undertaking some extensive and painstaking research (actually, I just Googled “Off mic with Phil Smith”), I have put together this compendium of Phil’s articles for your enjoyment, all of which have been published in Communicate! over the last several years.

Happy reading!

Work life imbalance (summer 2005)

Relay race (September/October 2005)

Communication breakdown (November/December 2005)

Diary of a technologically novel assembly (February/March 2006)

Breakfast (May/June 2006)

A sense of loss (Summer 2006)

Looking the part (October/November 2006)

Booths (December 2006)

Private market forces (September 2007)

Little triggers (spring 2008)

Skin deep (Summer 2009)

Respect (fall 2009)

Ordem e Progresso (summer 2010)

Food for thought (fall 2010)

A ♥ for Language Blogs

A great idea came down from Translation Times earlier this week: why not have language bloggers share their favorite blogs with readers? With ideas like this, it’s easy to understand why Translation Times were ranked #1 on Lexiophiles’ 2011 list of Language Professionals Blogs. They even came up with a special name for the posts (see above) and are offering a free book for one lucky participating blogger (something tells me Judy’s MBA in Marketing had something to do with that last feature).

My contribution to this awareness-raising effort will focus on blogs that deal exclusively with conference interpreting. There are dozens that touch upon different aspects of interpreting from various angles, but I’m going to see if I can come up with a list of favorites that includes conference interpreting blogs only. Here goes …

1) BOOTHEANDO – This blog ranked #13 on Lexiophiles’ 2011 list and was the only conference interpreting blog to make the top 25. It is undoubtedly the standard-setter in the field. Its author, a staff interpreter at the CIHEAM, offers professionally-written, insightful, impeccably-researched contributions on all aspects of the field. What’s better, she’s a great communicator and born networker, as anyone who follows her on Facebook and Twitter (@blogbootheando) will know.

2) IN MY WORDS – This blog is written by a Brussels-based freelance interpreter for the EU institutions and a fellow AIIC member. She also happens to be doing her PhD in interpreting studies – a fact which can easily be seen in her posts, which show a depth not many can offer. The author’s take-no-prisoners attitude to the key questions affecting interpreters today, such as professional ethics, practice and standards, are of great use to anyone who wants to know more about these issues. I also find it personally enlightening to see how she manages to cover in a single post what it would probably take me dozens to address! (I am going to make “less is more” my new mantra). The Twitter handle for this blogger is @tulkur.

3) AVENTURAS DE UNA TRADUCTORA-INTERPRETE EN MADRID – This blog delivers exactly what its title promises: a personal, informally-written account of the life and times of a Madrid-based interpreter. Full of entertaining anecdotes and personal photos and videos, it’s always a good read. I only wonder about the “traductora” part, since I have yet to see any posts on translation… Twitter handle for this one is @aidagda.

4) COSAS DE DOS PALABRAS – This blog is the joint effort of two authors, one sworn interpreter and one conference interpreter. The latter is an assiduous reader of my own blog – which confuses me a bit, since as a former student of mine, she should know it all already! The posts on conference interpreting are complete and well-written. My only quibble would be that they are very few and far between! I would like to hear more from this blog. Twitter handle is @2paraules.

5) LE BLOG DE TIINA – Time to branch out a bit language-wise. This French-language blog is by another fellow AIIC member, this time Geneva-based, who is also a freelance interpreter at the UN and EU institutions. Although the author insists that her blog is “not just about interpreting”, it includes a series of informative and entertaining posts on the profession, complete with videos and photos. The posts, which I am told are also published in ASTTI‘s quarterly journal Hieronymous (although for the life of me I can’t find it online), are well worth the three-month wait in between.

6) DOLMETSCHER-BERLIN – This is the one blog I wish I followed more. It looks interesting and well-written, but since it doesn’t appear to have an email subscription function, and is also not on Twitter, it’s a bit off my radar. In my world, if it doesn’t show up in my inbox or Twitter feed, then it might as well not exist. RSS feeds just don’t do it for me. Must change that… Please, don’t make the same mistake as me and give this blog the attention it deserves!

7) TOLK FRANS – To round off my own language combination, I have to include a  blog in Dutch. So here it is! Funnily enough, it’s written by a Frenchman. Go figure. Anyway, it’s so well done that you would swear the author is a native. I understand he has a Dutch girlfriend – that might have something to do with it. The blog addresses a number of interesting issues for interpreters, such as passing the EU exams (which the author did just recently), learning new languages, Eurojargon… Again, I just wish the posts came more regularly. The author has just joined Twitter at @LeTolk.

8 ) DON DE LENGUAS – This is a radio blog that offers regular podcasts, many of which are on interpreting, so I think I can safely include it here. It’s produced by the Department of Translation and Interpretation of the University of Salamanca. I particularly like the interview with the author of Bootheando that they did as a surprise birthday present for her earlier this year! Twitter handle is @DonDeLenguas.

9) LOURDESAIB on YOUTUBE – This YouTube channel could almost be called a video blog. It offers a series of interesting, informative videos on conference interpreting as seen from every possible angle. New videos are added regularly, and are organized in playlists (on the European Parliament, the UN,  the European Commission, Interpreter Training, and more) to facilitate exploring. As a colleague of its producer through the professional association AIB, I know that the videos are extremely well-received among the interpreting community, which is why I would like to share them with readers here. The videos are disseminated via AIB’s Facebook page and Twitter feed at @AIBInterpretes. (In the interest of full disclosure, let me add here that I am the adminstrator of AIB’s Twitter feed and co-adminstrator of their Facebook page.)

10) And finally, in the “I -can’t-believe-there’s-a-blog-about-that” category, we have INTERPRETING EN POINTE, a blog about interpreting and …ballet! Apparently the author can’t decide whether to be a translator, an interpreter or a ballet dancer. I wish her the best of luck in all three as she decides!

And that’s it from me! I know I have missed some interesting blogs, but I have to stop somewhere. If you know of any more conference interpreting blogs that you would like to add to this list, please let me know. I’m always looking out for something new to read! And many thanks once again to Translation Times for spearheading this initiative.

Happy reading!