MET medley of talks

Spotlight on specialization: a three-part medley

Simon Berrill

Language professionals must specialize, we are often told. But why do we need to? And if we do, how can we go about it? This medley of talks is intended to provide some of the answers. After a general introduction to specialization, exploring its potential and floating some ideas for getting started, we will hear from five professionals specializing in three different areas: beauty, sport and food. They will tell us about their own paths to specialization and will field questions from the floor.

The language of lipstick: making beauty your business
Ruth Simpson

On fleek, maskne, skinimalism: beauty buzzwords can sometimes seem to be from a mysterious unknown language! And if you’re translating into English your ideas might appear dull in comparison to the inventive copy that has been crafted by native English marketing teams. How can you ensure that your translation makes the grade? 
   Specializing in beauty means keeping up with trends and fads that move at breakneck speed while tuning in to brand voices, tailoring your text to specific markets, and flexing your creative muscles. A rudimentary knowledge of chemistry and biology will help guide you through potential scientific minefields as well. 
   Ruth will talk about how she got into cosmetics, which brands she translates for and why, and how she keeps a tight grasp on the slippery world of skincare and beauty. 

Hitting the back of the net with sport translation
Laura Bennett, Sarah Bowyer and Timothy Barton

Laura, Sarah and Timothy all include sport translation among their specializations and have worked on various types of texts, from biographies and legal documents to sports science papers and event reports. In this three-handed session, they will each explain how they got into the field, the kinds of clients they work for, and the day-to-day challenges they face. With a heavy emphasis on football – plus a nod to sailing, tennis and Greco-Roman wrestling – it will soon become clear that sport translation is not necessarily a generalist area but one that requires an in-depth knowledge of a vocabulary specific to each sport and ideally a non-professional interest in all things sporting.   

Cooking up the right words 
Michael Farrell

It is hard to imagine two things more intimately tied than language and food. Not just because they both require our mouths and tongues and involve our emotions, but because they are two fundamental, defining aspects of the culture of a people. Translating food therefore poses some particularly demanding challenges that call for highly transcreative, outside-the-box thinking. Michael will give some practical examples of how to tackle this task on the menu and in the cookbook.

Simon Berrill is a British freelance translator working from Spanish, Catalan and French into English. He groups his various specializations under the heading “cultural tourism”. Simon came to translation late, having been a journalist in England for many years, and he keeps his hand in as a writer by producing a regular blog. He lives near Barcelona with his wife and 14-year-old son.

Ruth Simpson specializes in useless luxuries: beauty and wine. After teaching English for several years at L’Oréal’s Luxury Division in Paris she became a full-time translator in 2008. She works regularly with brands from all segments of the beauty world, including skincare, fragrance and makeup. Ruth is a French network mentor and qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI). She is also a musician and directs the choir at MET’s annual conference. 

Laura Bennett has been a freelance translator from French and Italian into English for 11 years. Her specialist areas are art history, travel & tourism and sport. She works for a number of major museums in London and has recently developed a sideline in the translation of football biographies. When not at her desk, she can be found (pandemic notwithstanding) on the tennis court, pounding the pavements on a run, or at an exhibition.

Sarah Bowyer translates from French and Spanish into English. A qualified solicitor, she specializes in legal translation and is also carving a particular niche in sport and sports law. Her clients include international sport governing bodies and she has worked on translations for top competitions such as the 2019 Women's World Cup in France and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. She was awarded the ITI's Best Newcomer (Freelance) Award 2020.

Timothy Barton’s first major project in sports translation was in the bowels of the Stade de France, translating reports for an athletics meeting almost on the fly. Since then he has lent his pen to a number of sports, notably sailing, motorsport and handball. He has also worked with several academics at the University of Castile-La Mancha's Faculty of Sports Science, translating papers about swimming, judo and Greco-Roman wrestling.

Michael Farrell is a freelance translator and transcreator, and a keen amateur cook. Over the years he has acquired a great deal of experience in the food and cultural tourism fields. Besides this, he is an untenured lecturer in computer tools for translators at the International University of Languages and Media (IULM), Milan, Italy. Michael is MET's current webmaster and a qualified member of the Italian Association of Translators and Interpreters (AITI).