At the end of October, I went to the 10th annual MET (Mediterranean Editors & Translators) meeting in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, just to the north of Madrid. Last year’s MET meeting was my first one and it set a high bar in terms of quality content and relevance for me. I’m happy to say that my expectations for this year’s conference were amply met.
Conferences are a good way of improving subject-specific knowledge, language skills, business know-how and technology proficiency. Here’s what I learnt at METM14:
Philip Bazire gave a three-hour pre-conference workshop on neuroanatomy. I benefited from this recapitulation of the nervous system, because Philip not only explained the basics of the subject, but also warned us of traps that we might fall into as translators. Some specific tips were:
- When referring to the meninges, you can drop the word mater from dura and arachnoid and use them as standalone terms, but pia mater must always be used in full.
- Subdural and subarachnoid are both valid adjectives, but make sure you use intraparenchymal rather than subpial.
- The plural of plexus is plexuses.
- Coning: a synonym for herniation when referring to the foramen magnum.
In a panel session on news from the world of biomedical editors, Mary Ellen Kerans gave a summary of recent changes relevant to editors and translators. Here are a couple of points she mentioned:
- The Declaration of Helsinki 2013 has broadened the obligation for researchers to register all studies in human subjects (not just randomised clinical trials) in point 35. Bear in mind that journals may reject articles that report the results of unregistered studies.
- The latest ICMJE authorship guidelines now explicitly recommend that all authors should be “accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.”
In the same panel, Elke Bartholomäus discussed the sustainability of bilingual journals from her viewpoint as production editor and translations project manager at the Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, the German Medical Association’s bilingual journal. I work with a bilingual journal in Spain and so it was interesting to hear Elke’s report on the growth of some of these journals and the demise of others.
Mary Ellen Kerans gave a very useful three-hour, hands-on workshop on corpus-guided decision-making. After making sure that attendees were familiar with the basics of AntConc and other online tools, she explained how to use corpora to formulate queries and interpret the findings. We looked at:
- the difference between nonetheless and nevertheless
- what preposition follows associated
- whether consulted is used in the same way in English as it is in Spanish
I enjoyed Sarah Griffin-Mason’s talk on her experience running a mentoring scheme in the ITI Spanish Network. She found that setting up a defined framework, strictly limited to translation technique and subject expertise, helped mentors and mentees complete the six-month arrangement successfully. By chance, I was sitting beside my own mentee at this presentation, with whom I have a much more informal relationship (unrelated to the ITI scheme). We were both interested to hear Sarah’s advice on this subject.
Kevin Lossner gave a talk on translation environment interoperability for teams. He stressed the importance of doing a “dry run” at the start of every translation project, i.e., making sure that a file saves correctly in the target format, rather than waiting until the very end, when disaster might strike. I was surprised to hear Kevin confess that he still sometimes resorts to pen and paper, despite all the software and tools he has mastered over the years!
I took part in a panel on practical ideas and tools, together with Andrew Steel (who talked about speech recognition), Mary Fons (Google N-gram Viewer) and Alan Lounds (Google Custom Search Engine). For more details about my talk on Windows 8.1, here’s my Prezi presentation.
Off-METM activities are a good way to meet new people, make work contacts and engage face-to-face with hitherto virtual friends. I signed up for three subject-specific dinner groups:
- The Pomodoro technique, led by Oliver Shaw
- Mentoring models, led by Sarah Griffin-Mason
- Pros and cons of blogging, led by me and ably supported by Rob Lunn and Simon Berrill. By the way, do check out Simon’s report of METM14.
But the best Off-METM activity, in my opinion, was the two-hour mountain hike on the Sunday morning after the conference. Some 30 attendees joined in, but we soon broke up into smaller groups, skilfully herded by Tom O’Boyle. It was a great opportunity to chat with people I’d hardly spoken to over the weekend. Networking across noisy dinner tables simply doesn’t compare with a sunny Spanish mountainside.
If all this makes you wish you’d been there too, make a date in your diary for METM15, to be held in Coimbra, Portugal, on 29-31 October.
And if you went to METM14, do add a comment to say what you learnt/enjoyed most!