Promising practices in multilingual publication

Mary Ellen Kerans, organizer – freelance editor and translator, Barcelona, Spain

The last three decades have seen an increase in simultaneous or near-simultaneous bi- or multilingual publication for literary, cultural or academic purposes. The first waves of such publication came with the reorganization of the publishing industry and responded mainly to commercial interests, as multinational companies sought readers in new markets. More recently, discourse communities in locations that are ‘peripheral’ to the centers of influence for economic or linguistic reasons have initiated multilingual projects that nearly always involve English. Biomedical scientific societies have been particularly active in offering their members the chance to continue writing in a native language but publish in English at the same time — initiating a trend that has quietly been running parallel to the more talked-about switch to lingua franca journal publication in these circles.

As a result of this activity, a substantial amount of experience with both bad and good practices has been accumulating. This panel will invite discussion of this situation and recommend issues translators and editors need to bear in mind when planning, budgeting and carrying out multilingual projects. In particular, we will discuss lessons we have learned about cost-effective ways to handle document quality assurance. We think recent experiences in academic publishing can be extrapolated to other multilingual projects in which institutions or companies produce informative or business documents, often without the help of traditional publishing houses.

  • Motivation, logistics, timing and budgeting of trilingual online scientific journal publicationJoan Cuxart, Editor in Chief, Tethys, Catalonia, Spain

    In 2006 Tethys entered a new stage of publication through the use of peer-review prior to acceptance, along with the online, simultaneous publication of the papers in Catalan, Spanish and English. The logistics of the journal will be presented, with special emphasis on the linguistic issues. [Read more about the project and the speaker.]

  • Timing and feedback loops in bilingual publicationMary Ellen Kerans, freelance, Spain

    Publishers, journal editors, authors, readers – and translators too – have all asked why so much bad translation is getting into print and what to do about it. In this portion of the panel discussion the argument will be that translators can alleviate the problem through astute timing of feedback loops, which must be cost-effective for translators and all other players in the process of producing a bilingual journal.

    Mary Ellen Kerans has been working with authors and scientific publishers for some time, but became involved with designing complex feedback loops between authors, translators and publishers when she began to supervise the simultaneous translation of Archivos de Bronconeumología in 2003. She has advised on similar projects.

  • Process-flow design in multilingual publishing does matterGeorge Witherington, freelance, UK

    Unsatisfactory experiences due to poorly conceived process flows can deter decision-makers from further multilingual publishing initiatives. An acknowledged benchmark process-flow model would help establish a translation “best practice” in multilingual publishing.

    In 2004, George Witherington stepped down after 17 years as head of French to English equity research translation in a London investment bank. Since then he has written and lectured on translation, taught economics and finance to translation students at Westminster University and freelanced in financial translation. Publications include “Translation for Publication vs Translation for Information” in Multilingual (July 2006) and “A benchmark bilingual publishing system?” in the Proceedings of Bath University “Big Forty” Translation and Interpreting Symposium (due out in October).

  • Involving authors in the translation review process: practices and resultsClaudia Buchweitz, Scientific Linguagem/SciBooks and Executive editor, Jornal de Pediatria, Brazil

    Involving authors at the quality assurance stage in multilingual publication is controversial among translators and a problem for publishers who must stick to a timetable. Authors can be hard to reach and multiply employed, their knowledge of an English may help or hinder – or simply complicate and slow the process. Their input must be respected, yet it may have to be questioned and alternatives explained. Jornal de Pediatria, where Claudia Buchweitz has led the translation process since the beginning in 2004 has been able to make it work, even with strict deadlines.

    Claudia’s team—at first involved mainly as translators and revisers—also took on the multilingual online production process. This has allowed them to streamline processes further and keep quality high.

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