METM22 Chronicles: Simon Berrill and Kate Major

Consequences – Spanish Translators’ Edition

Tiny confession: I’ve never played Consequences. Never heard of it, to be honest. Not that that mattered. Anyone who, like me, had read the abstract, knew what they were in for: a snappy and fast-moving snippet slam that was “a more egalitarian, less performative exercise [than a traditional slam] where everyone gets to take part”. Big ticks all round.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good traditional conference talk. Done well, they’re enthralling, insightful sessions where the knowledge simply washes over you. But I don’t want to sit and listen all day long. So, this session, like the other interactive language slots, was the perfect sprinkling of sugar in my conference coffee.

And boy was Consequences popular! While Spanish-English is the most common language combination among MET members, I like to think it was the interactive element that pulled in the crowds. Especially now, after three years apart, many of us were craving the chance to work with colleagues face-to-face again. But with so many eager, excitable translators working together in one room, things got very loud very quickly. If this session runs next year, which I hope it does, the METM23 team may want to put us on the other side of town.

But what of the activity itself? There was a twist: Simon and Kate went paperless (another pin on METM22’s sustainability lapel). Using a nifty little app called Padlet, Kate and Simon created an online board of tricky snippets for us to translate. All attendees had to do was pick up their phones, go to Padlet and, after chatting in small groups, type their solutions under the source snippet.

With one click of a button, your translation would appear onscreen. This, of course, meant we could see other groups’ solutions while working on our own. I know Simon, in particular, was concerned that the more tortoise-paced among us would be distracted by the hares racing ahead. But personally, I like seeing options before I settle on my own – and we all know how that fable played out. In short, Padlet worked a treat.

For sessions like these, the choice of snippets is key. Simon and Kate were wise to play on the classic head-scratchers that we all wrestle with (think visibilizar) and choose snippets in need of a human touch, a writer’s hand and some cultural nous. You can see some of our work below.

ES-EN snippet 2

ES-EN snippet 4

ES-EN snippet 6
(Click on the images to enlarge.)

Kate and Simon were excellent compères. After a waffle-free intro, they got us straight into groups and down to work. Timings could have easily slipped, but they made sure we kept up the pace and gave everyone a chance to speak and defend their work. It looked effortless, but I know it wasn’t.

Consequences was a riot: fun, challenging and satisfying. And the format works as the perfect dating pool for anyone looking for a translation partner. Where else, other than on a live job, can you test out colleagues’ skills and see how they work under pressure?

Like the French snippet gang that grew out of METM Revisited, there are already groups recreating Simon and Kate’s session for themselves. I hope in the future to hear tales of pairings or groups who work together commercially – or indeed to be part of one. And that’s where the real value of this type of session lies: lasting collaboration born of our association.

Thank you to Kate and Simon for leading such an uplifting, dynamic session and to the METM22 content team for having the gumption to give interactive activities a hefty chunk of prime programme real estate. More of the same next year, please.

This METM22 session was chronicled by Helen Oclee-Brown.

Featured photo by METM22 photographer Jone Karres.

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