Twittering Translators

While today’s post perhaps represents a departure from my usual blog articles which revolve around exploring a certain part of the translation act with accompanying examples, it is probably a more conventional use of a blogging space in that it more closely resembles the form of an opinion piece.

That said, however, it is something that still ties in very closely with the translation profession and helps to give a more well-rounded view of what it takes to be a translator. The topic of address for today is the use of Twitter as part of the professional translator’s working life.

In what was the biggest coincidence of my Monday, while I was thinking this post over I discovered that our friends over at Inbox Translation had actually covered the exact same topic in their latest blog and, while initially considering dropping the post all together, upon reading the post and seeing the different approach they had adopted as well as the different opinions held, I decided that it would actually be even more interesting to write this post in order for it to be read in tandem with the views of another fairly recently initiated twitterer. (Their article – ‘A Few Thoughts on Twitter’ – obviously shares some common ground but tackles interesting issues surrounding followers rather than the points I want to address)

Initially, despite the many recommendations I was given to create a professional twitter account, I was skeptical about what value it could offer – I was happily getting on with translation tasks without the aid of social media and (largely thanks to Facebook) I thought that it would perhaps prove more of a distraction than anything else. I was completely wrong.

While the translation act is obviously key for a professional translator, one cannot underestimate the importance of the translator as a human being and the importance of their mentality in a profession which can often leave members feeling lost in what can be a daunting and isolated role. Of course being alone, especially while working, is not a synonym for being lonely or isolated and for many people the benefits of being their own boss and not having to deal with annoying colleagues on a daily basis far outweighs this negative aspects, but it is important to get the balance right and this is where Twitter plays one of its trump cards.

Upon getting started you quickly discover a ready-made network of welcoming, professional and knowledgeable translators working in any number of language pairs who are going through or have dealt with the problems that you will undoubtedly face. While I am still fairly new to the freelancing game, it is now hard to imagine a time when I wasn’t involved in this network and the use of Twitter has greatly eased the transition into this new mode of working.

Yet beyond just a way of gathering reassurances while finding your way into an often unforgiving profession and fighting potential solitude, Twitter represents a site of opportunity for continual development for the already-established translator – I could honestly fill an entire day reading the fascinating articles shared on translation, linguistics and languages every day, and the discovery of many excellent translation blogs has opened up a new world of translation resources that I otherwise would have completely missed. Add to this an endless stream of humourous posts and pictures and the constant sharing of more traditional resources (tutorials, glossaries, termbanks etc.) and you really have a great tool.

While I am not going to address questions of how to use twitter or social media (many excellent articles are out there such as this ‘Practical Guide to Social Media for Translators’ or ‘Getting started with Twitter – A Translator’s Journey’) as I feel that it is a very personal topic based upon an individual’s desire to seek out additional information or connect with other like-minded professionals and their amount time free to invest, I personally feel that regular interaction within the professional group has greatly developed my understanding of the profession as well as providing a base to recharge when a five-minute break is sorely needed.

And what about it doing nothing more than adding yet another distraction to your working day? There is certainly the potential for this to be the case with the array of bits and pieces on offer, but this is true with just about everything on the internet – it just offers the same challenges of self-discipline as anything else and I have not found it to be a problem so far…

On a final note, I realise that a fair chunk of my blog traffic does indeed come from Twitter and as such I am preaching to the choir in many cases, but I would love to hear some different takes on this issue – whether sharing my opinions or in total opposition – and hopefully my views will convince a few of you out there to either take the Twitter plunge or dust off that hashtag key and give it another shot.

Before I head off here are ten of my favourite translation-based twitter accounts posting in a variety of languages; I have gained so much useful information from these guys over the course of the last few months, with regular blog updates and a constant stream of interesting articles being shared, and this is the least I can do to thank them. Here’s to you!

(edit – I have to add that there were so many other accounts that I could’ve easily included in this list and keeping it down to just ten was a real trial. In the end I pretty much went for the ten accounts that I seem to retweet most often)

@LinguaGreca                                                                      @InboxTranslate

@Smart_Translate                                                                 @qctranslator

@translartisan                                                                       @ALTA_USA

@sc_translations                                                                   @earthlang

@Scheherezade_SL                                                              @estrans

And finally, you definitely can’t go wrong in checking out each and every one of the Top 25 Language Twitterers 2013 if you’re looking for a few new faces to follow. Happy tweeting!