14th CTS Professionalisation Talk 2017-18

On 13 February, Claudia Benetello gave a talk at Leeds University on how to provide added value in language services.

On 13 February, Claudia Benetello gave a talk at Leeds University on how to provide added value in language services. Drawing on her extensive work experience as a media interpreter, journalist and copywriter, she gave budding translators and interpreters real-life examples of the situations that may occur. Before working in the language industry, Claudia was part of the music industry, promoting tours, creating promotional material, and writing journalistic articles. Operating under the tradename Dropinka, Claudia’s business covers copywriting, transcreation, translation, interpreting, and journalism. Claudia is a member of ProCopywriters (the UK’s largest membership organisation for commercial writers), a qualified member of the Associazione Italiana Traduttori e Interpreti (the Italian Translators and Interpreters’ Association), as well as a member of the Ordine dei Giornalisti(the Italian Journalists’ Association). The talk showed how media interpreting for the music industry and the transcreation of advertisements are ‘hybrid’ services where the combination of different skills contributes to providing added value. 

According to Claudia, the market for language services is becoming tougher and tougher. Machine Translation (MT) is improving and more widely used than ever. Potential clients also have better language skills, so they do not always see the need for a translator/interpreter as they feel they can do the work themselves. As evidenced below, Claudia has found that combining translation skills with skills from other professions enables her to add more value to her language services – although she does admit that this is not the only way.

As a media interpreter for the music industry, Claudia has noticed an increasing tendency towards the hybridization of interpreters’ roles to include those of journalists and showmen. Typical interpreting assignments consist of press conferences, round tables, and interviews. It is primarily at round tables that Claudia must draw on skills other than her language skills. Because she’s hired by an artist’s PR team, she feels it is her duty to make the artist sound like the most interesting act on Earth so as to ensure favourable media coverage. Therefore she tries to facilitate a fruitful exchange between artist and journalists, going so far as to ask artists to elaborate on their answers if – putting her ‘journalist hat’ on – she feels that they were not exhaustive enough. She also makes sure journalists understand the connotations of certain statements or references by making them more explicit. Finally, when potentially sensitive topics crop up, she sometimes has to serve as a gatekeeper, depending on the instructions received by the artist’s publicist. Claudia also interprets for live radio shows, which comes with its own set of issues. In her view, radio show hosts do not want to be outshone by interpreters, and at the same time they feel interpreters do not really blend in with the show because of the way they stereotypically speak. To cope with this situation, Claudia speeds up her delivery in an attempt to sound like a talk show host and she’s also ready to act as some sort of show woman, which includes being the butt of radio show hosts’ jokes. Therefore it is safe to say that radio shows are another setting where interpreters may perform tasks that are not conventionally in the job description.

Claudia then moved on to transcreation, differentiating it from ‘localisation’ and ‘adaptation’. In her experience, today’s language industry views localisation as a synonym for web localisation and software localisation, whereas she feels that adaptation is simply a catch-all term. Transcreation, according to Claudia, is “writing advertising or marketing copy for a specific market, starting from copy written in a source language, as if the target text had originated in the target language and culture.” Additionally, translation and transcreation cannot adopt the same evaluation criteria, since what could be regarded as a mistake in translation could in fact make a successful transcreation. Among other examples, Claudia mentioned the Haribo tagline ‘Haribo macht Kinder froh und Erwachsene ebenso’, which is also a jingle. A literal translation would read ‘Haribo makes children happy and grown-ups too.’ The actual version used in the English-language commercials is ‘Kids and grown-ups love it so, the happy world of Haribo.’ While the literal meaning was altered in the English version, the musicality and tone of voice of the original were retained, which is paramount in advertising and consequently in transcreation. It follows that transcreation requires more than mere language skills; it also requires copywriting skills, cultural sensitivity and local market understanding. Therefore a transcreation professional is a translator, but also a copywriter, a ‘cultural anthropologist’ of sorts, and a marketer. 

Reporters: Yi-Hsin Liu, Sze-Ying Lai, and Sarah Williams


The Professionalisation Talks series is not open just to CTS MA and research students. We are also looking forward to welcoming LCS taught and research postgraduate students, undergraduates in their final year who are keen to find out more about the Language Services Industry, as well as professional linguists members of the Yorkshire Translators and Interpreters' Network.