9th Mediterranean Editors & Translators Meeting

In October I went to my first MET (Mediterranean Editors & Translators) meeting. MET is an association of language professionals who work mainly into or with English. Many members live in Mediterranean countries – hence the name – and many (but not all) work in the medical field. MET’s 9th annual meeting was held from 24-26 October at the beautiful Poblet Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Catalonia, Spain. The theme was Language, Culture and Identity.

Poblet Monastery, Tarragona, Spain

Why did I go?

I heard about MET a few years ago, but only joined earlier this year. According to the MET website, the association aims to foster high-quality language support services by sharing knowledge and expertise at workshops and annual meetings. I was interested in the quality focus and the actual content offered in the conference programme. I was also looking forward to networking with other medical translators.

What did I learn?

I signed up for the Grammar Pathway triple session as the first pre-conference workshop. Mary Ellen Kerans, Thomas O’Boyle and Irwin Temkin spent three hours discussing relative clauses, subject-verb agreement and adverbial adjuncts. Clearly, it’s fine to break grammar rules if you have a sound knowledge of them in the first place.

The second pre-conference workshop I attended was on Using Wildcards in Word, given by Kathleen Lyle. Wildcards are useful for carrying out more complex find-and-replace operations. You can combine wildcards with highlighting to add or remove spaces to authors’ names, put reference numbers in superscript and change date formats. Since wildcards are a flavour of regex (regular expressions), I’ll be able to apply many of the tricks I learnt at this session to my work in Trados Studio, which uses the .NET type of regex.

I was also fascinated by Sally Burgess’ session on “Creative Writing for Professional Development”, where she talked about attending a residential writing course to overcome writer’s block. A bit far-removed from medical or technical writing, or not?

What did I enjoy?

I enjoyed the “off-METM” interest-specific meal tables. Discussing language attrition over dinner one evening gave us an excellent opportunity to air a subject of common interest while networking.


Photo by fellow MET member Virve Juhola http://www.capecontext.com

The opening speech by 90-year-old writer, translator and professor Josep Vallverdú was particularly inspiring. Josep Vallverdú explained how he learnt to translate from English before he could actually speak it and how he wrote in Catalan in the days when it was banned.

On a lighter note, Oliver Shaw gave a dynamic presentation on the Pomodoro Technique, which sparked a flurry of Tweets and Facebook comments over the following days.

What did I miss?

Inevitably, I missed some sessions that clashed with others. I would have loved to attend the workshop on “Abstracts and introductions: genre analysis”, the CPD session on “Mining for gold” and the panel on “Roles of the authors’ editor”. I would also have liked to go to Michael Farrell’s presentation on “Optimal Internet search techniques”, although I must admit I’m already a keen user of his IntelliWebSearch program.

And what didn’t I miss?

I was glad that translation rates wasn’t a hot topic. Translators’ events are sometimes plagued by people ranting about rates and agencies. We have our fill of this in the social media and it was refreshing indeed to concentrate on other, far more relevant subjects.

What did I come away with?

Sitting at my desk the day after the conference ended, I felt a contradictory combination of utter exhaustion and refreshed clarity of thought. The presentations were inspiring at a professional level. Networking was nourishing. The quality focus mentioned on the MET website was my personal take-away message from the conference itself.

What did you come away with?

If you went to METM13, please add a comment to say what you learnt/enjoyed most. I’d love to hear your view.

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14 Responses to 9th Mediterranean Editors & Translators Meeting

  1. Jason Willis-Lee says:

    Great post Emma!

    • Thanks, Jason. There wasn’t room for everything in my blog post, but I should certainly have mentioned the networking on wheels pre- and post-conference. The car-pooling from Madrid to Poblet was a great way to get to know four other MET members, with you at the helm!

  2. Laura Bennett says:

    It brings it all back! I agree with your take, Emma. Poblet was my second METM and they tend to have a different feel to other industry events, with a focus more on best practice and translation quality rather than the state of the industry. As a non-medical translator, I found plenty of interesting and useful sessions as well. MET members are a very friendly and supportive bunch. It was great to meet you in Poblet, Emma!

    • “MET members are a very friendly and supportive bunch”

      I quite agree, Laura. Many seasoned members went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I’m sorry I missed your presentation on art history translation; it would have provided an interesting insight into a completely different field for me. Still, it was great to have the chance to “devirtualise” our Twitter friendship at METM13!

  3. Anne Murray says:

    Great post Emma. It’s so nice to see different people’s takes on what they took home and what they learned and enjoyed while there. A lot of the new people this year seemed to agree on the fact that MET is “different”. One person said it was so refreshing not to go to a conference where people spent all the time selling theirselves and swapping business cards instead of actually stopping to actually chat. My most memorable moment was Josep Vallverdú’s talk. As Virve said in her post (http://www.capecontext.com/gate-opens-new-grounds/), he was the man we all wanted to take home with us.

    • Thanks for dropping by with your comment, Anne. As conference coordinator you did a fantastic job; the logistics must have been challenging with the venue being in such a remote location, but it worked brilliantly having everyone under one roof for three days.

      Thanks to your talk in the presentation on “Developing our skills as language professionals”, I subscribed to Nature journal through this special offer and look forward to learning more in the field of life sciences and the language it’s written in during the coming year…
      In case anyone else wants to take up the offer in the link, it seems that it’s still valid (as of Nov), despite the September expiry date.

  4. Kim Eddy says:

    A refreshing read Emma! And a lovely reminder of time well-spent professionally and personally. I am glad that Jason’s comment gave you the chance to add some extra information!

  5. Mary Savage says:

    I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said Emma. Apart from all the excellent presentations, workshops and speakers, and the opportunity to speak English with such interesting, like-minded people for four days solid, one of the high points for me was the MET choir, which you were also part of! Despite only a short rehearsal, and thanks to some enthusiastic coaching from Elke, we managed to put on a star performance of Wade in the Water and the Catalan song El Meu Avi. A resounding success!

    • Thanks for mentioning the singing, Mary. Yes, it was great fun.
      Another successful social event was “Stargazing”. I decided to turn in early, but a big group of translators and editors put on their astronomy hats on the Thursday night and I heard they even spotted a shooting star!

  6. Muriel Vasconcellos says:

    I enjoyed reading your report, Emma. The emphasis on how to produce quality text is often missing in dialogue among translators.

    • Thanks for your comment, Muriel. It’s great to get some input from someone who wasn’t at the conference. I agree that quality matters. Every little detail matters.

  7. Dick Edelstein says:

    ” Clearly, it’s fine to break grammar rules if you have a sound knowledge of them in the first place.” Excellent summary.

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