Technology Hub 2018

If you follow my Facebook page, you probably already know that I visited Technology Hub 2018, which takes place in Milan from 17th to 19th May.

This event represents a chance for professionals of different fields and industries to get in touch and to propose their solutions to expand their businesses: the common denominator is technology and how it can contribute to improving companies and certain commercial and non-commercial fields in general. The exhibition is, in fact, described as “a wide cross-event that proposes technologies using integration and contamination skills to extend the application fields” and “a networking and interaction opportunity with the digital transformation’s experts in all manufacturing sectors” (

I have always thought that technology is an interesting topic, especially because it has several, diversified application fields and can be useful to streamline your business, implement new solutions and reach more customers. I decided to visit the exhibition in order to keep up with the latest trends, even though they do not strictly pertain to the industry I operate in. Of course, I have also exploited this chance to make new contacts and to build the basis for potential business relationships: after all, gaining direct knowledge of a particular industry is the best way to establish contact with companies and experts working in that field.

During my visit, I could get a glimpse of the latest news. The focus was on robotics (especially applied to the medical field), artificial intelligence and augmented and virtual reality. A lot of exhibitors presented solutions to streamline different processes in a company, from the production to the management of several areas. I was particularly intrigued by a project which aims at further developing a robot to manage physical therapy from a distance, providing the patient with instructions and feedback. I found this project really interesting, especially because I am specialising in translating for the medical field.

All in all, this exhibition managed to give me food for thought, even though it is quite small: several meetings about different topics and clusters were held, which made the event even more interesting and productive. Should you have a chance to visit Technology Hub, grab it!

Hopefully there will be another exhibition worth going in the near future!

The benefits of coffee

According to the National Coffee Association USA, there are many legends about the origins of coffee, but nobody really knows when it was actually discovered.

However, in the XVII century, coffee spread in Europe and coffee houses became the centre of social activity, where intellectuals and like-minded people used to meet and discuss. Italian coffee, especially in the form of espresso, is quite famous all around the world: coffee has become a part of the Italian culture early on and nowadays the association between Italy and this beverage is almost automatic. An espresso is a stronger and more aromatic brew, so much so that foreigners often find it too strong and prefer to add some milk to their coffee or to drink a cappuccino or an American coffee.

Personally, I love coffee and I enjoy every cup I have during my day. However, I have always been told that drinking coffee may be unhealthy, so I decided to research this topic and I have found out that, on the contrary, coffee has important properties which can positively affect one’s health. A moderate consumption (up to 5 cups a day) can help prevent liver disease, heart disease and neurological disorders, in addition to improving adults’ cognitive skills and memory, increasing athletic endurance, reducing the risk associated with type II diabetes and increasing longevity. Some studies also show that drinking coffee cannot be considered a risk factor for cancer any longer: on the contrary, it may even help prevent some types of cancer.

Medline Plus explains what caffeine is and how it works: caffeine is a bitter substance which can be found in more than 60 plants, among which coffee beans. After being ingested, caffeine reaches its peak in the blood within a time frame of one hour and its effects can be felt for four to six hours. This substance affects the body’s metabolism stimulating the nervous system (which is generally perceived as a boost of energy). It can also have negative effects, since it can interfere with the absorption of calcium and increase blood pressure and the release of acid in the stomach (which can lead to heartburn). Some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine, which is the reason why some may be able to drink coffee to their heart’s content before going to sleep whereas others may experience insomnia.

As usual, different studies show different perspectives, some of them highlighting the benefits of coffee, others stressing the side effects of caffeine. I honestly love coffee too much to give it up and I am one of those lucky people who do not suffer because of too much caffeine, so I think I will place my hopes in its positive effects and I will enjoy every single cup!

The information provided in this article was taken from the websites linked above.

The history of conference interpretation

Nowadays, conference interpretation encompasses two different techniques: consecutive and simultaneous interpretation. However, the need for interpretation was present throughout history and is linked to the first conquests. Interpreters are already mentioned in Egyptian, Greek and Latin sources: the conquerors did not bother to learn the language of the peoples they defeated and often used slaves as interpreters to communicate with them, even though they could not be fully trusted, which is why information was often inaccurate and misunderstood.

With the advent of the XX century, a new professional figure was born: the conference interpreter.

Consecutive interpretation was the first to develop, which is quite logical if one thinks that simultaneous interpretation requires complex technological equipment. During the Paris Peace Conference after World War I, consecutive interpreters were employed to make it possibile for people speaking different languages to get the same information. As a result of this multilateral conference, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the League of Nations (LN) were established, which meant an even greater need for interpreters. Conference interpreters took notes and delivered the speech in another language, but this technique caused the meetings to be excessively long, making it difficult for both participants and interpreters to stay focused; furthermore, cultural nuances often got lost.

Colonel Léon Dostert, a French-born American who acted as interpreter for General Eisenhower, was entrusted with the task to develop a technique for simultaneous interpretation and was responsible for the progress achieved in this field. During the Nuremberg Trials in 1945, which were held to prosecute Nazi leaders, an interpretation service in four languages (English, French, Russian and German) was provided: for each language, a team of six interpreters, twelve translators and nine stenographers was employed, while the whole service was coordinated by Colonel Dostert and Commander Alfred Steer. The interpreters sat right next to the accused, in order to be able to translate everything they said: the first team interpreted for 45 minutes, while the other sat in an adjacent room listening to and keeping up with the proceedings. Unfortunately, simultaneous interpretation was still a new technique and few professionals were actually trained to perform it, especially in such a specific setting like a court: nevertheless, it was a success.

As for the equipment required for simultaneous interpretation, in 1926 IBM received a patent for the technology it designed thanks to the involvement of its founder, Thomas Watson Sr., who managed to further develop Edward Filene and Alan Gordon Finlay’s revolutionary idea to use telephone equipment.

Simultaneous interpretation has obviously evolved, becoming what we know today: the interpreter sits in a soundproof boot (which needs to comply with specific International Standards) and sometimes employs portable transmitters. Aside from the progress achieved through technology, simultaneous interpretation is still based on the original concept, since it is aimed at providing the accurate and timely translation of a certain speech.

Easter traditions

I have always believed that learning a foreign language also means getting familiar with the culture that language expresses and this is the reason why I have chosen to talk about Easter traditions in Italy, in the United Kingdom and in Germany in today’s post.

Generally speaking, Easter is a very important celebration in Italy, where each city follows its own traditions. However, some rituals and customs are shared throughout the country. Children usually receive chocolate eggs with a surprise inside: strolling around and browsing the shop windows, one can find beautifully decorated chocolate eggs, some of which could be considered real culinary masterpieces. As for typical food, a world-renowned dessert is the so-called “colomba” (“dove”), a sort of cake originally born in Milan. Throughout the country, people usually take part in religious celebrations, such as the tradition Mess and various kinds of processions and parades.

In the United Kingdom, Easter is one of the most important Christian festivals too. The Easter bunny, which seems to have its origins in Germany, may actually be either a rabbit or a hare. Children believe that the Easter bunny brings them chocolate eggs, provided that they have been good. Eggs seem to be a transnational symbol, which is probably due to them being a symbol of rebirth; in England, coloured eggs are very popular and people employ different techniques to make them: King Edward I contributed to making this practice famous, since he seems to have ordered 450 eggs to be coloured in 1290.

Finally, in Germany Easter is associated as well with the resurrection of Jesus Christ as well and people celebrate it by attending religious functions, exchanging gifts and spending time with their families. Churches are usually decorated with spring flowers and some communities even hold a shared breakfast or lunch, while people usually exchange edible Easter eggs and hares as gifts. A typical tradition is the organisation of Easter egg hunts: a lot of eggs are made of chocolate, whereas boiled eggs are painted with colours and decorative eggs are made of plastic, fabrics or wood.

After this short overview exploring Easter traditions in different countries, there is only one thing for me left to do: I wish you all a happy and serene Easter!

The information for this article comes from different sources:

CAT tools

Computer Assisted Translation or Computer Aided Translation (CAT) is a form of translation where the translator uses specific softwares (CAT tools) to simplify the translation process itself. It must not be confused with Machine Translation, which indicates softwares automatically translating from a language into another.

CAT tools offer a lot of advantages to translators, especially if they work with repetitive texts or with texts pertaining to the same field. First of all, CAT tools are based on Translation Memories (TM) that store Translation Units (TU): each source text is divided into segments and the translator provides his or her translation in the target segment. A Translation Unit is made of a source segment and a target segment, which are stored in the Translation Memory and can be accessed when working on a new translation with similar contents or whenever necessary. When the CAT tool finds a suitable match in the Translation Memory, the translator needs to confirm or modify it: this is particularly useful for recurring expressions and sentences and can save a considerable amount of time, which is of paramount importance in a business where time is of essence.

CAT tools also make different possibilities available to translators for spell and grammar checking, terminology management, text and concordance search, text alignment and project management.

Translators can choose between a lot of CAT tools available on the market: they all exploit the same concepts, declining them in different ways. However, they all aim at creating a translation environment capable of meeting the requirements of the industry, making different tools available to both freelance translators and translation agencies.

Personally, I chose SDL Trados Studio, not only because it is – according to what I have read – the most used CAT tool in the world, but also because I think it is really functional and efficient. I honestly believe that such a CAT tool can make my workflow faster and consistent, also solving issues like terminology consistency: after all, I don’t need to go looking for previously translated files to see how I translated a certain term or sentence for a certain client, my CAT tool does it for me!


Post-graduate degree in Legal Translation

Last week, I wrote about the two post-graduate degrees I have recently started attending, but I focused on the one in Medical and Pharmacological Translation. Today, instead, I am going to talk about the one in Legal Translation.

First of all, the course is held jointly by a lawyer and a translator who have been working together for some time in the translation industry. This way, attendees can profit both from theoretical knowledge in the law field and from a more practical and linguistic approach to texts that need to be translated. The course focuses on English to Italian translation, but what one learns can be applied – mutatis mutandis – to other language pairs, as well.

When translating a text dealing with legal matters, it is of paramount importance to be aware of the great difference existing between distinct legal systems: the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia follow common law (as well as some former English colonies and countries influenced by the Anglo-Saxon tradition), whereas continental Europe follows civil law. These two legal traditions mainly differ because of the source of law they favour (case law and legislative decisions respectively). In addition, some mixed legal systems developed across the world. Different legal systems imply different legal institutions, which lack an equivalent in other countries and, consequently, in other languages.

Legal translators need to possess at least basic knowledge of comparative law, which is why I decided to attend this Post-graduate Degree in Legal Translation: this course is also going to provide basic principles of many branches of law (civil law, criminal law, corporate law…).

As you probably know if you have visited my website, I attained a Master’s Degree in Conference Interpreting: I graduated with a glossary thesis about the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). While examining different documents to build my glossary, I soon realised the frequent lack of an exact Italian equivalent for English terms referring to particular institutions and procedures. In addition, law is an abstract subject: across the whole world, the human body is the same and a heart is always a heart, even though different languages use different words to indicate it. On the contrary, legal terminology is based on institutions, offices, laws and statutes which are not the same in every country and which cannot be “physically seen”: criminal conducts, for instance, are identified through several elements which make them unlawful, but these elements and law principles are created by men and are, therefore, abstract.

All this must be added to the common issues faced by translators and interpreters. They are part of the reason why I chose this post-graduate course. Another reason is that I am deeply interested in the subject of law and I like translating documents pertaining to it. Last but not least, having basic knowledge of legal matters can only make one’s life easier!