Abstracting: CPD and experience
Thread poster: Kirsty Walter

Kirsty Walter
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:30
Italian to English
+ ...
Aug 7, 2017

Hi all

I recently attended a webinar on developing one's career as a freelance translator.

One CV addition the host recommended was abstracting... sounds like something I would enjoy and would be good at, but how would I get started on this?

Does anyone know of any courses on abstracting? If they include editing, reviewing, anything similar or anything unusual that is something I consider a plus point.

All suggestions appreciated, thank you!

Kirsty


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:30
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
This sort of abstracting? Aug 8, 2017

I imagine you mean as in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indexing_and_abstracting_service

Sorry, I know nothing at all about it.


 

Kirsty Walter
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:30
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Clearer explanation Aug 8, 2017

Hi Shiela

Thanks for your reply - I should have provided more of an explanation!

My understanding was that, abstracting, I would effectively provide a TL summary of a text in the SL.

For example, if there is a journal article on x topic in Italian, my task would be to read it thoroughly, pull out the most important information and write it up into, say, a 250-word paragraph. This could be used by a non-native Italian speaker to decide whether they need to read the article for their purposes, whether it needs to be translated in full, etc.

I feel there's probably fairly limited demand for this into English as the TL, but I figure it is worth finding out more!


 

Barbara Bonatti Divers  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:30
English to Italian
something like this? Aug 8, 2017

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=C8y_MuQekPYC&pg=PA7&lpg=PA7&dq=abstracting%20course&source=bl&ots=-1_w22AfAp&sig=XRQE0_HP4idbB4D5u7lFsp5ADd0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi4z6Lm7cfVAhXDIlAKHUF0BIwQ6AEINTAD#v=onepage&q=abstracting%20course&f=false

 

Kirsty Walter
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:30
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Perhaps Aug 8, 2017

Looks about that kind of thing, but perhaps something a little more recent.

It would be great if there was something aimed specifically at translators, for example I spotted they mention it on the Interpreting and Translating, MSc at Heriot-Watt but I have never seen it anywhere else! https://www.hw.ac.uk/study/uk/postgraduate/interpreting-translating.htm?shortTitle=msc-interpreting-translating

(And, as much as I'd love to, I don't think I'll be doing another masters just for experience in this!)


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:30
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
There doesn't seem to be a lot of demand Aug 9, 2017

I did it in a previous life - mostly as a monolingual exercise, but the odd German paper did crop up at a time when I could read enough technical German to cope with it.
As my boss gleefully used to say, 'You don't have to understand it all in detail - that's why I always get beginners to do it.'
Looking back, I am not sure that was a wise approach, but true, you could see what a text was about, even if you were not able to go into all the advanced technical details.

I only have one client who regularly needs abstracts or summaries - the Friends' association of a museum. They publish a quarterly magazine in Danish, and I produce a summary in English. It's quite a mixed bag, sometimes just listing the agenda of the AGM or artists in an exhibition, where the pictures say it all or I can refer to a website, but usually with at least one solid academic article per issue. It can be a real challenge to put all the essentials across in the space, and it is very useful to have more than a passing knowledge of what the writer is getting at!

It is barely quicker than translating, so it should not be a lot cheaper! (I don't charge for that job, as it is a non-profit organisation, and I register 6 hours a time for planning purposes, but it barely enough.) I reduce 3000 - 4500 words to about 1200, which is what space allows.


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:30
German to English
Non-profits have budgets, too. Aug 9, 2017

Christine Andersen wrote:

(I don't charge for that job, as it is a non-profit organisation, and I register 6 hours a time for planning purposes, but it barely enough.)



I'll be brief, because I'm hijacking the thread:

Christine, I always enjoy your comments, but I have seen you write something along these lines several times and felt like I should speak up. Non-profits have budgets for this kind of thing and artists often invest significant sums in publicizing themselves, so I don't think you should be doing this for free unless you are making a conscious decision each time to donate several hundred euros to a specific institution that you want to support.


 

Kirsty Walter
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:30
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Surely you need to understand in depth? Aug 9, 2017

Even - or perhaps even more so - in a summary, misunderstanding a small technical detail could lead to total misrepresentation of the facts.. I would have thought. Although I suppose it depends how you interpret your old boss's words... It could mean not understanding the issue at all, or it could mean you don't necessarily understand all the ins and outs of, say, a specific experiment. I suppose.

Christine, it sounds like you "fell" into this task through an existing client. Out of interest, slightly related to Michael's salient point - and don't feel you need to answer this - do you do any paid work for this client?

At the risk of falling into your trap(!), Michael, do you disagree with pro bono work for NGOs entirely or just this quantity?


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:30
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I have done a fair amount of paid work for this client Aug 10, 2017

@ Michael: I take your point about pro-bono work, and in most cases I do prefer to send an invoice and then support the cause with cash.

I have done quite a lot of paid work for the museum client. Of course, they have a budget, but they depend heavily on volunteers, sponsors, gifts and donations - most of the collection has been donated or lent by invited artists. I prefer abstracting to helping in the shop, and there are not many others who can actually do the abstracting job.

It gets my name into print and has brought the odd client my way. I often wonder why abstracts and summaries are not used more, for instance on websites where not all the material is relevant outside a company's homeland. A good summary would make a far better impression than shoving the whole thing through Google Translate...

The reason may be that summarising does not always save a lot of time, and is therefore not a much cheaper option in these days when space is not a problem. It saves the reader's time, however, and may make it easier to see the wood for the trees in some cases!

With regard to understanding in depth - you do need to understand the source text fairly thoroughly. However, you can form an overview of what it is about without understanding all the details precisely enough to translate them correctly.

Back in the 1970s I could tell you in 250 words that an article described models of dams and tests of different flip buckets, comparing flow patterns and erosion, and I could even recognise the gist of it in German, but I would never have been able to translate all the details...
Or that another article was about currents and dredging in a particular estuary, and discussed what might be the optimal way of keeping navigation channels clear, but I was an information officer and librarian, not an engineer!!!


 


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