J-Net is the Japanese language specialist network of The Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) in the UK. There are currently around 160 members in the network, consisting of ITI members, associates and “friends” – this last category being Japanese translators and interpreters who are not affiliated to the ITI and makes up about half of the entire membership. The day-to-day activities of J-Net is centred around its mailing list, where you can pick the brains of fellow linguists on subjects ranging from obscure technical terminology to Japanese restaurant recommendations. We also organise professional development workshops twice a year, where you can put faces to the names you see on the mailing list and swap stories as well as learn the skills of the trade.
The January workshop has an unfortunate habit of clashing with a rather important event on my salsa calendar, but this year the two events were held on consecutive weekends, which allowed me to make the most of my first trip to the UK in 2013. London saw a good covering of snow the previous day, but the Saturday proved to be bright, with snow mostly cleared and causing no problem. This seemed to help boost the attendance, and over 30 members were present on the day.
The first session of the day was on the subject of business skills led by Ben Jones, a veteran of the J-Net and a Fellow of the ITI. He started his talk with a question: how would you introduce yourself in an elevator-pitch situation? Are you a business/business person? A professional? A linguist perhaps? Or a translator? The answer may seem obvious, but of course a translator who is not an employee of a company is an independent business, whether they are a freelancer (sole trader) or a company. We were split into groups and attempted a spot of SWOT analysis – evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in our business. Our group ran out of time to go beyond the first two aspects (and found it rather difficult to separate Os from Ss and Ts from Ws), but I think it would be interesting to have a proper go at this later on this blog.
The rest of this session covered different aspects of our business such as the advantages of VAT registration and incorporation, potential issues with terms and conditions (and what we can do when the client tries to impose unreasonable terms), and the late payment legislation and debt recovery. Although the fact that I live in the Netherlands rather than the UK means rules are slightly different in many areas, there were many useful tips, and the presence of the ITI’s legal expert was an added help. Ben handed out copies of the Japanese version of “Translation: Getting It Right” for everyone to give their clients – client education being another important piece of our business.
After a trek to a mexican restaurant for a huge and leisurely lunch, we reconvened for the afternoon session. Hiromi Green, who has extensive experience in bilingual lexicography, revisited her popular neologisms and buzzwords session from a few years back, with new batches of words and phrases that hit the Japanese and British media in the last two years. We were split into a group of three (two native English speakers and one Japanese) to tackle these. As the sole Japanese native in the group I am loath to admit that I only got about half of the Japanese terms, doing particularly badly with those from the worlds of politics and entertainment (Loach Cabinet?? Love injection??). It’s clear that I have some work to do to ensure a more well-rounded coverage of my Japanese media sources. This was (as always) a light-hearted and fun session, and it was unfortunate that the big and leisurely lunch ate into the already short session time.
The rest of the afternoon was set aside for the AGM of the Japanese Network, then it was time for the evening session: the Shinnenkai (New Years Party). There was a good mix of old hands and newer members staying for (and some joining) the buffet, and as is common with translators CPD events, this was the most looked-forward-to part of the programme as most of us work alone at home and opportunities to . The venue was Soho Japan, which happened to be operating from its Soho home for the last time that evening (the restaurant was relocating to the City area, near the Bank tube station. Apparently they are keeping the Soho name and not turning itself into “Bank (of) Japan” – a missed opportunity if you ask me). The food was plentiful, partly because many people decided not to stay for the party because of the snow-related transport worries. Someone persuaded the waiting staff to produce a rather nice bottle of umeshu not listed on the drinks menu. We stuffed ourselves as we networked, talked shop, swapped notes and did a lot of general catching up with everyone else until the staff kicked us out with doggy bags full of leftover goodies.
J-Net organises two workshops each year, and the next event will take place in the Midlands area in June (details TBA). At the AGM it was suggested that we could organise more events, perhaps with an emphasis on the social/networking aspect. If you are a Japanese translator or considering career in Japanese translation and are interested in joining J-Net, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.