Correct these mistakes for Christmas

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and there’s nothing jollier than knowing your vocabulary. Therefore, today we’re learning about two Catalan words that foreigners tend to get wrong.

Now that the tió tradition has gone properly international thanks to Kate McKinnon (see video below), it’s time to debunk the belief that tió means uncle. ‘If you know basic Spanish’ some people say and even write on their blogs ‘you’ll know that tío means uncle’. Well, yes; but we’re talking about a Catalan tradition, hence a Catalan word. Tió—not tío—means log, as Kate explains. And isn’t it obvious? I mean, just look at the bloody thing.

What Kate doesn’t get so right is calling it cagatió. However, there is currently a debate among natives about this issue (trending topic included: #EsDiuTió). As the song to make the tió poo presents starts with ‘Caga tió’, which literally translates to ‘poo [imperative] log’, some use this as the log name and that’s wrong. Conversely, cagatió is indeed a word that means the act of making the tió poo, the event. So you’ll say: On the evening of the 24th we’re doing the cagatió and the tió will poo lots of sweets and presents for us.

It's only Barcelona, BCN or Barna

It’s only Barcelona, BCN or Barna

A not-so-festive issue, but relevant any time a foreigner mentions Barcelona, is what you can call the Catalan capital. Barcelona is the official name, that’s easy. BCN is a well-known and correct abbreviation. There is only one more alternative: Barna, from Bar(celo)na. Barça (pronounced ‘barsa’) is just a name for the football team. So calling the city Barça or Barsa is utterly wrong. Mispronouncing the wrong term and calling it Barca (‘barka’) is even worse, as barca means boat.

So you finally know it and you can sound a bit wiser this Christmas. Now go, deck the halls and don your gay apparel, unless you live in an extremely religious country. Ah, the irony!

Legislation on translation and interpreting (3 of 3): professional college

The emergence of translation and interpreting schools at universities lead to the creation of TRIAC (pro-college translators and interpreters associated), which aims for a professional college, in Catalonia in 1995.

As seen before, the lack of awareness of the need of training and proper work conditions beyond speaking a couple of languages keeps recognition and wages low. Moreover, translators and interpreters tens to work alone, isolated from their colleagues, which diminishes their capacity to influence administration. A college would put an end to these problems.

A professional college is a legal group of pressure recognised by the law that consolidates the profession. A college would fight for the interests of the collective and would define who is a professional and who isn’t, and would be legally able to publish reference wages, which is forbidden to other associations.

Apart from the important task of defending the interests regarding regulation of the professions, a college would also guide inexperienced translators, who now have to face endless administrative forms and conditions on their own and find their way into a confusing market.

On the other side, conditions of admission to the college should be discussed. In Finland, a recommendation is needed; in Norway, a tribunal analyses some translations by the applicant. Conditions of admission should be the fairest and most objective in order to accept the actual professionals, regardless their training or experience, and filter those who are not.

Considering the territorial reach of the college; a regional college would be more viable and easier to manage. The lager the reach, the more heterogeneity and the harder to set it up from scratch. Thus, the creation of regional colleges would be advisable before a state one. The latter should be created in the future supported by the experience of the former.

Years go by, nevertheless, and neither do TRIAC’s efforts seem to success nor is the awareness of the different agents raising enough to improve the situation of the profession.

Views from Saint Paul's cathedral in London [Vicente Villamón]

Views from Saint Paul’s cathedral in London [Vicente Villamón]

BAKER, Mona. Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. Routledge: London, 1998.

PUJOL, Marta. «Hacia un colegio profesional» in La traducción y la interpretación en España hoy: perspectivas profesionales (p. 225-231). Granada, 2000.

Legislation on translation and interpreting (2 of 3): currently in Spain

The only regulated profession that requires a degree in Spain is the court interpreter. The other professions can be practised by anyone.

It’s obvious that the different specialities are not valued the same way. In Denmark, for instance, literary translator’s wages are less than a third of other specialised translators. And there are some prejudices even within the translators and interpreters’ community; therefore internal respect should be addressed before tackling the outer world.

On the other side, regulation one only speciality—as in Spain—or none—as in most countries—pushes professional intrusion into the background as a merely ethical concept. If that’s the case, quality is the only way to ensure good conditions in a tough market.

Quality depends on client satisfaction, organisation of the process, results and constant improvement. The objective quality of a translation depends on fidelity to the original content and message and the lack of mistakes, inconsistency or nonsense. To ensure this quality, translators must negotiate wages, deadlines and conditions with the clients. When an original is received, it has to be analysed thoroughly in order to provide a translation that’s correct in every aspect (language, content, style, format…), which should also be revised and corrected. Translators should keep a copy of their work and use all the contents and data derived from it for future projects.

Lay people surely ignore the complexity and even the existence of these factors and, of course, don’t have the knowledge to optimize them. However, clients might ignore them as much as non-professional translators and interpreters; fact that enhances the spiral of poorly delivered product and bad conditions that ravages the profession.

Views from Saint Paul's cathedral in London [Vicente Villamón]

Views from Saint Paul’s cathedral in London [Vicente Villamón]

BAKER, Mona. Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. Routledge: London, 1998.

Asociación Aragonesa de Traductores e Intérpretes. Guía de calidad en la traducción. 2009. [consulted: October 2013]

Legislation on translation and interpreting (1 of 3): around the world

Due to the need of communication during colonisation, Latin American laws regulated some aspects of interpretation at the beginning of the 16th century. Ontario’s legislation recognised translators, interpreters and terminologists in 1989 and allowed them to use certified titles. In Venezuela, a university degree and membership in the National College of Translators are needed to practise.

Translation and interpreting training can be obtained in Germany; nonetheless, the lack of an established curriculum makes the quality of the studies variable and anyone with a title can practise. The French Society of Translators aims to limit the practice of court interpreting to qualified interpreters. The French Ministry of Culture also works to create a favourable legal situation. In other countries, recognition of the aforementioned professions isn’t even taken into account.

The image of these professions is noticeably different around the world. One of the main issues of translation and interpreting is that they’re often regarded as simple activities that require nothing but an average level of two languages. Given this reputation, it’s no wonder that author rights are not granted.

Author rights have been recognised by law in Finland and France since 1829 and 1957, respectively; as were they in Poland in the past, but not anymore. Danish literary translators and Norwegian translators receive a state payment for use of their work in libraries; while Italy hopes for an agreement about translator rights at European Union level.

However, international regulation is hard to achieve due to the fragmentation of the market and the client ends up paying low wages for a low quality product the translator has to provide in bad conditions. This situation is possible because, in countries with no restrictions, non-professional or non-trained translators accept those conditions and not only do they prevent the improvements of the sector, but they also contribute to its degeneration.

Views from Saint Paul's cathedral in London [Vicente Villamón]

Views from Saint Paul’s cathedral in London [Vicente Villamón]

Automatic Trans. «El mercado de la traducción». 2010. [consulted: October 2013]

BAKER, Mona. Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. Routledge: London, 1998.

Ley del Ejercicio de la Traducción y la Interpretación. Venezuela. [consulted: October 2013]

SUÁREZ, Guillermo R. «Mito o realidad: ¿Es posible aplicar tarifas internacionales de traducción en el Perú?». 2010. [consulted: October 2013]

Have you heard about the Catalan Way? — International news

The 11th of September is the Catalan national day — the day when the Spanish forces defeated the Catalan resistance in Barcelona in 1714 — and things have been happening the last years on this date. But don’t read my biased opinion, read the international news — probably also biased.

– The Wall Street Journal, Catalan Separatists Pull Off Protest But Referendum Is Harder (1000 words)
The New York Times, Linking Hands, Catalans Press Case for Secession (800 words)
Reuters, Catalans form human chain to press for independence from Spain (750 words)
– ARA, Demonstrationg The Catalan Way (650 words, article in English in a Catalan newspaper)
CNN, Catalans to link up in human chain today in their call for secession from Spain (600 words)
The Washington Post, More than 1 million Catalans form human chain to promote their bid to break away from Spain (550 words)
BBC, Catalans form human chain for independence from Spain (400 words + video)
Al Jazeera, Catalans join hands to demand independence (350 words + video)
The Guardian, Catalans join hands in huge human chain for independence from Spain (300 words)
The Telegraph, 400,000 person human chain stretching 250 miles for Catalan independence (300 words)

Route of the human chain [image: El Punt Avui]

Route of the human chain [image: El Punt Avui]

TED – Ideas worth spreading

TED is an organisation with its roots in a conference on technology, entertainment and design and which got its name from their initials. However, every possible subject is considered in current conferences.

Technology, entertainment, design and a lot more.

Technology, entertainment, design and a lot more.

Now two annual four-day conferences are held. TED Conference is the original one and it takes place in California in spring. On the other hand, TEDGlobal was organised for the first time in 2005 with a more international approach. Nowadays it’s held in Edinburgh in summer, although it’s been held in Oxford and Tanzania before. TED speakers deliver dynamic, witty, brisk, moving or surprising 3-to-18-minute talks.

TED Talks was created to share the talks online. There are more than 1,500 videos now. All of them are provided with subtitles in English and lots of other languages thanks to the TED Open Translation Project. Selected volunteers around the globe translate the English transcripts of the talks into their languages. As a Catalan, let me point out that over 15 % of the videos are already subtitled into my language.

You should check TED’s website; you’ll surely find something interesting.