What do digital technologies and grammar have in common?

Today’s exponential rate of technological change no longer affects our economy and society in a linear manner, digital technologies are now more pervasive and inter-connected. We struggle to keep up with the limitless array of technologies and how best to use them. There don’t seem to be any limits and “even if our devices are switched off, cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when our smartphone is within reach” – Ward et al. (2017) Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity.

James Hewitt, Head of Science & Innovation at Hintsa Performance has suggested that we need to impose limits to our use of technology, a bit like grammar, structure and punctuation impose limits on our use of language and thereby allowing language to maximise its creativity and usefulness. He argues that unless we choose to create limits on our use of technology “our attention will continue to be harvested to the point of exhaustion.”

As translators, we are constantly keeping up with technology – changes in software, the advances of neural machine translation, artificial intelligence, constant emails and more. Thinking about applying “grammar” rules to limit our use digital technologies resonated with me as a language professional as this framework may be a helpful way of thinking for professional translators as they seek to understand and adapt to technology in a manner that supports their work flows and productivity.

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How to focus on the sparkle of success

Women in Business Lunch with Dr Sally Cockburn

Having moved house recently, I had not yet been to any events organised by my new local council until I had the opportunity to attend a business lunch for women last Friday. As a translator who mostly works from home, these kinds of networking and business events are important for you and your business. They allow you to combat the loneliness of working as a freelancer and you may just even make some great local friends through going to networking events. Think about it – these are people who more than likely also work from home, run their own business and understand the same pressures and challenges you face. You probably share a lot of interests. And it’s only for a couple of hours!

The guest speaker at this event was Dr Sally Cockburn. Sally is a GP and health advocate with a twist. She is known as “Dr Feelgood”, capable of demystifying medicine, the human body and relationships. She asked us what success meant to us and went on to present on how to be successful and still have a life in her candid, informative, funny and knowledgeable style. She emphasised that women often look after everyone else before themselves, and that risking your health is not a good way to be able to ensure that you can enjoy your future.

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”

From a medical perspective and drawing on her own experience as a GP yet ignoring her symptoms of diabetes, she encouraged women to get their check-ups, breast screens and for those over 50 their bowel cancer screening and reminded us that 1 in 5 Australians will experience depression in their adult life. You need your health. From a mindset perspective she compared women to a plate juggling act, urging us to rationalise our plates, to take a step back and decide what is really important. She told the story of her friend who has a family ritual of eating dinner together and talking about the “sparkle in your day” – one thing that made you feel good. It may have been a small gesture by someone else or a major achievement at work, or just being with your family and listening to what is important to them. The point is to think about how you felt not how much you did. In the words of Tigger, our life is about resilience in the face of stress and change,

“Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb but how well you bounce.”


Business resilience

Challenging change

Embrace change as a challenge not a threat and protect your stress levels and your health.

The end of the financial year is upon us once again and when you look back you can probably identify some things that have stayed the same since last year but also many changes. You have probably experienced more change than you think, from software upgrades on your computer or phone, to working with new clients or even changing business models. Change is the only constant in our world so we also need to manage it in a positive way. In terms of translation, from both a client and translator perspective, translation needs are also constantly changing. A business report may need to be translated for shareholders in another country with an emphasis on accuracy whereas a PowerPoint presentation may need to be adapted and localised to train staff in another country with different cultural norms, or perhaps a complete translation of another document is not necessary when it is just the gist of what the content is that is required. All these kinds of things keep translators on their toes and having to ask the right questions of clients.

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5 ways translators can take time out (and why it’s important)

Translators need to take time out!

Translators can easily fall into the trap of sitting at the computer for ten hours a day or more! This is detrimental to our health and well-being. Putting in place habits to make time for yourself will allow you to experience greater gratitude, happiness and meaningful interactions in both your professional and personal life.

Here are five ways that translators can take time out to look after themselves.

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