2008-01-02

Conference fun (CJCU)

So I got it confirmed again: Foreigners can speak their native language, but that's about it. Well, that at least was my impression when I attended this conference last weekend. I should probably mention that this conference was about interpreting and translation. So, naturally, one would expect the people there to have the one or other relation to either interpreting or translation - or both, if you want. And since this conference took place in Taiwan, one might assume that people attending there will understand Chinese. At least my logic tells me so.

When I arrived however, I was asked by someone from the organising department (translation and interpreting) where I came from. Next question:

"So you teach English there?"
"No, Interpreting."

And that was just the beginning. Right in the first session, the moderator opened by commenting (in English) that there are foreigners present and that those foreigners surely don't quite understand Chinese, so he would moderate in English. He didn't even ask if those foreigners perhaps might understand Chinese.

I could only spot two white faces (including mine) at that time, I didn't check if one of the two Japanese attending was present. But I'm pretty sure the moderator did not mean them when he spoke of "foreigners". I had seriously thought about leaving the room, mentioning in Chinese on my way out that I better don't want to cause too much inconvenience.

Btw, what sense does it make for someone who does not understand the local language and has no relation to interpreting or translation at all to come to such a conference where every presentation will be related to translating to or from Chinese? I don't see any.

During the last session of that conference, a student then asked me if I needed "this" - which was a receiver, probably UHF, with a single earphone. I declined politely (and with a grin), but later still took one to check what was happening on the airwaves.

There were (graduate?) students sitting in the back of the room, not separated from the other audience, without earphones, trying to simultaneously translate what they heard coming from the front in Chinese into English. The result was not overwhelming, but as you can see from the description, all the conditions were not quite in their favour. And some of the presenters did not help those students much with their style.

Personally, I found the last two presentations to be the most interesting. Unfortunately, most people not from CJCU had already left, probably because the presenters were "only" postgraduate students. But they were well prepared, finished on the mark, and what they spoke about was interesting too.

There was some software mentioned during this conference, and the geek in me couldn't rest before he knew a bit more about them:

- Paraconc is payware and calls itself "a bilingual or multilingual concordancer". However, you will need equivalent texts in source and target language, if you want to work with this one. And something tells me that this can be done with OSS.

- MIT OpenCourseWare is a collection of free course materials available on-line. Need something to feed you? Here you go...

- Translog is a keylogger that seems to be pretty popular in linguistic circles. Despite this fact I couldn't find a homepage for this. But you could basically use any other keylogger, they should all do the job.

Oh, one more thing: Thank you for the music! It was not punk rock, but a nice ensemble of 70's songs. (not 50's, as someone claimed) So I'm looking forward to the conferences next semester...

0 comments: