The Rapidly Expanding Blogosphere

There’s a debate currently raging among physicists as to whether space might be digital. You will be pleased to hear that this doesn’t mean that they’re worried that Google is going to continue expanding until it swallows up the Milky Way (to find out what it does mean, read this article by Scientific American).

My own personal blogosphere, in any case, has been growing by leaps and bounds lately. Chalk it up to the observer effect, or maybe to the fact that I have had plenty of time on my hands this summer to explore what fellow bloggers are producing. One way or another, I’d like to share with you today some of the blogs that I’ve come across in recent weeks.

First on the list is Unprofessional Translation, a blog that I’ve had on the edge of my radar for some time now but which I had never found the time to read. I only just recently realized that the author is none other than Brian Harris, the man behind the Natural Translation hypothesis. You may or may not agree with Harris’ theories, but his blog certainly does make for compelling reading.

Then there’s Sideways Station, a thoroughly entertaining blog written by fellow AIIC interpreter Phillip Hill. It’s not about interpreting, but it does make a great read. (If you want to read posts by the same author about languages and interpreting, click this link).

I should point out that Phillip Hill is not to be confused with Phil Smith, another AIIC interpreter who also writes entertaining pieces on the profession, although he doesn’t have a blog of his own. This link will take you to a compilation of his posts that I put together last summer.

Next up is Translation and Interpretation in America, a blog on legal translation and interpreting written by Gladys Matthews, a US-based court interpreter and trainer. I had the opportunity to work with Gladys on a project recently (more on that in a future post) and I found her views on training very insightful. The blog is sure to be a useful resource to anyone involved in the field.

I met Julie McDonough Dolmaya, the author of a blog on translation research and teaching, through the same project. I found her views on virtual learning particularly interesting.

You won’t believe it, but there is yet another blog by a T&I trainer that you need to add to your reading list. Nekje vmes, a blog by Jana Forte (aka @tolmacka on Twitter) of the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, is by no means new to my blogosphere, but I’m adding it to this list because I had the great fortune to meet the author in person during a Training of Trainers seminar run by DG SCIC in Brussels in July. Most of Jana’s posts are in Slovene, but she writes the odd post in English as well, and these are always worth a read.

So there you have it: the most recent additions to my blogging universe. For past lists of my favourite blogs, you can click here for interpreting-related blogs, click here for blogs on other topics, or just check out the favorite blogs category in the right-hand column.

And now I am going to leave you with the tune that has been going through my head for the past hour as I’ve been writing this post:

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.

So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,
‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.

– Eric Idle

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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 Blog is Born

Angels, Devils

This is how the internal monologue went (picture the little angel on the shoulder): “You know, you really should start a blog. You’re into new media, you like communicating, you have plenty of views to share with the world – and hey, with all the time you spend waiting around in airport lounges, you have plenty of time to write!”

Then came the first objections (from the little devil this time): “Sure, I like new media and the social networks, and appreciate what they can do to spread messages and build community. But there’s a big leap from occasional tweeting and Facebook posting to becoming a bone fide blogger. And anyway, with so many illustrious, insightful bloggers such as Bootheando and In my words already on the scene, what could I possibly contribute to the debate?”

“You know,” continued the angel (or was it the devil? At this point it became a bit confusing), “Why don’t you just give it a shot? At the very worst, nobody will read your posts but your Aunt Trudy* back on the ranch. But you never know, maybe some misguided soul out there will appreciate what you have to say. And one way or another, you’ll finally be able to relieve that pent-up urge to shout your message out to the world!”

The decision to launch a blog having thus been taken, I naïvely thought the hard bit was over. But no, it had only begun! The whole blogging experience is proving reminiscent of pregnancy and childbirth: you spend nine months worrying about what those eight or so hours of childbirth will be like, and completely overlook the fact that the real work starts when that bundle of joy comes home and you suddenly realize you have a very long, very tiring eighteen years of child-raising ahead of you (or more, if you are a Spanish mother who can’t bear to kick her kids out when they come of age).

But I digress – those of you who decided to read a blog named The Interpreter Diaries almost certainly did not do so because you wanted to hear about the joys of motherhood.

What’s in a name?

Yes, the name – that was the next hard bit. What should I call my brand spanking new blog?

At this point I almost gave up again, the path already being so well-trodden by aforementioned illustrious, insightful, not to mention cleverly named blogs. And it’s not just blogs: Off Mic with Phil Smith, not officially a blog but a regular contribution to AIIC’s newsletter Communicate!, already offers entertaining insights into the world of interpreting. Interpreting has even been done in cartoons, as those who are familiar with the work of Benoît Clicquet (AKA Clic!) will know.

But no, I was stuck with it. I had decided to write a blog, and those who know me personally will be aware that once I’ve decided to do something, there is no talking me out of it. So I had to find a name and a voice for my blog and get on with it already.

That’s how The Interpreter Diaries was born.

Fine, you got your blog. So what’s it going to be about?

Good question. Interpreters tend to have many and varied interests and be involved in a wide range of professional activities, and I am no exception. This blog will reflect that.

The Interpreter Diaries will be about my conference interpreting at the European Institutions and on the private market in Spain. It will explore the ins and outs of my consultant interpreting for AIB, the Barcelona-based interpreting secretariat of which I am a partner. It will be about AIIC, the International Association of Conference Interpreters, and its core messages of quality standards and professional ethics. It will also be about my work over the years as an instructor on the Master’s in Conference Interpreting and the Post-Graduate Diploma in Public Service Interpreting at the University of La Laguna.

The Interpreter Diaries will not be about translation, although I do some of that as well – again, there are so many good translator blogs out there, and I had to draw the line somewhere. However, it will undoubtedly have its bit to say about business travel (a necessary evil in the life of any interpreter), learning languages, and possibly many more things that escape me now but which my little angel and devil, and hopefully my readers, will be sure to bring to my attention.

But I see I have exceeded the maximum word length recommended for blog posts (curse all those online how-to guides for cutting me short just when I was getting started!).

So I will end this first post, thank Aunt Trudy and anyone else who may have made it this far, and say I hope to see you again here soon!

* I really do have an Aunt Trudy, she really does live on a ranch, and she is my friend on Facebook, so she might well be reading this – Hi, Auntie!