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.
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.
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.