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Workshop Two: Best practice

In keeping with the Research Network’s remit of facilitating the multi-way flow of knowledge and expertise, the second workshop brought together researchers, heritage professionals and translators to explore, first, a range of issues related to best practice across the integration and use of computer-assisted translation tools and translation briefs in translation processes. Our attention then turned to questions of Scots and Gaelic in and as heritage translation. Once again, the participatory spirit of the event opened up rich and action-focussed discussions – the key points have been summarised below, where you will also find copies of the presentations that have been made available with the kind permission of the speakers.


1. Pauline Côme (PhD student, University of Strathclyde)

The aim of this presentation was to provide insight into how translators work with computer-assisted translation tools, with a particular focus on how translation memories and glossaries might add value to interlingual heritage translation. Many thanks to Pauline for providing a copy of her slides (see below)!


Discussion points:

- Potential for creation of multilingual glossary (including dialects) with preferred terms and options for different audiences that could be shared across heritage bodies in Scotland

- Heritage bodies uncertain as to whether translation memories generated through their commissioned translations exist; and if so, how they might be re-used

- Any successful negotiation (e.g. of costings & intellectual property rights) of the re-use or new creation of translation memories and glossaries depends on the strength of the translator – client relationship

- Time and energy required for the maintenance of translation memories and glossaries; could be helpfully guided by user feedback on translation quality


2. Translation Brief Analysis

The group examined and discussed a translation brief drafted by Sally Gall (Historic Environment Scotland), highlighting its existing strengths and identifying areas where a clearer steer would be welcome. The translators agreed that the level of detail provided in the ‘Site summary’, ‘Aim’, ‘Audience’, ‘Tone’, ‘Specifications’ and ‘References’ sections was already highly beneficial and signalled an improvement in the extent of information they often have to work with. Attention was also drawn to the following areas where scope exists for the inclusion of further instructions:


- delivery timelines

- contact details for heritage professional who can respond to queries from translator or translation project manager

- sample of existing translated material to serve as a guideline for subjective qualifications such as ‘informal’

- guidance where content cuts could be made in response to space constraints

- guidance on who is responsible for e.g. final formatting and ensuring compliance with accessible documents policy and the use of gender-inclusive language


The discussion also touched on the challenges of evaluating translations, especially transcreations, in terms of accuracy (historical and linguistic) and in terms of its appropriateness for different audiences; criteria against which to measure translation quality will differ across groups, e.g. BSL users might privilege an inclusive interpretation, and international visitors a more foreignizing one. In turn, the potential for language/culture-specific style guides to be produced was also raised, along with questions as to how these materials might be stored within heritage bodies.


3. Ashley Douglas (Parliamentary reporter, researcher, writer, translator)

‘Scots: an aye-bidin kist o Scotland aforesyne’ // Scots: a living repository of Scotland's past’


Ashley has very kindly agreed to write up her presentation as an article for us, so please watch this space! In the meantime, feel free to have a look at her slides below.


4. Dr Alasdair MacCaluim (Parliamentary reporter, translator)

‘Gaelic Heritage in translation’


We’re also very grateful to Alasdair for making his talk publicly available; this can be accessed below.


The ensuing Q&A session allowed us to delve deeper into an illuminating array of points raised by our two engaging speakers. A number of parallels between Scots and Gaelic heritage translation emerged:


- no formal translation training exists for either Gaelic or Scots translators in general, let alone in the specialised domain of heritage translation where practice is premised on a combination of experience and experiment

- both Scots and Gaelic can be regarded as ‘heritage languages’ in their own right; their use as a language of translation is therefore bound up in political questions of identity, visibility and equality

- no consensus or recommendations around translation strategies have been put in place for translation into Gaelic or Scots

- the two minority languages risk alienating their respective translation users, albeit for different reasons: written (as opposed to spoken) Scots is a much less familiar mode of communication, while Gaelic texts tend to serve readers who range from native speakers to absolute beginners


At the same time, though, some points of divergence became clear:


- Gaelic has undergone a comparatively higher degree of language standardisation, whereas Scots has a higher degree of regional (e.g. Doric, Orcadian) variation that has an impact on translation decisions

- given their shared roots, it is easier to share Scots texts with English speakers; a bilingual translation in this language pair will therefore give the reader much more access to the source language than would be the case with an English-Gaelic parallel text.

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