Goergina CollinsPhD life

I published two articles in The Linguist magazine entitled Going it Alone and Poetry in Motion. The first piece focused on the transition from studying translation and Translation Studies to becoming a freelance translator. The second editorial looked at translating Francophone African women’s poetry, and was based on work I did for my MA and PhD as well as for my book – The Other Half of History.

Background

The Linguist is the bi-monthly publication of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (IoL) and has a wide circulation of members and non-members. The magazine has recently started posting free editions online.

Both academics and professional linguists form The Linguist Editorial Board. The Board approached me to write the first article as I had recently started working as a translator whilst doing my PhD. I then put together a proposal for the second article which was discussed and then accepted by the Board.

Approach

1. Outline – The Linguist asked for articles of 1,500 words. On both occasions I drafted a quick outline of the piece using subheadings with bullets highlighting the main issues I wished to cover.

2. Article One Content – This was an article that was based on my own experiences as a new translator, so it was relatively easy to compile. Also, I had been lucky enough to receive advice on freelance translation from a successful professional, so I included summaries of this advice for individuals in the same position as me. The editors liked this and asked the professional translator to do a follow-up article to mine

3. Article Two Content – As this was based upon my book, I had a wealth of information to include as well as examples of Francophone African women’s poetry and my translations into English.

4. Tone – I read a number of other features in the magazine before I started writing, in order to ascertain the tone of its features and so that mine would fit in well.

5. Deadline – I submitted my article well in advance of the deadline so that there was plenty of time to discuss any edits.

Key Challenges

1. Copyright – I had acquired copyright for Francophone African

2. Women’s poetry to be included in my book, however I then had to reapply for copyright to include some of those poems in the article alongside my English translations. 

3. Amendments – The editor was quite strict and had very firm ideas of how the article could sound and certain aspects of the content. For example, in the second piece she wanted less content on compiling a bilingual anthology and more on overcoming difficulties in translation.

4. References – as these weren’t academic articles, I had to write using minimal references. This was difficult when composing the second article, which had been based on academic research. I put my research to one side and wrote according to own experience.

 

What I learned

1. To work to short deadlines – Once I had submitted the proposal for the second article, I was asked to write the piece within a week. It is good to be prepared to clear time in your schedule for this.

2. To find appropriate images – At the last minute I was asked for images to brighten up my articles and I struggled to find some quickly. This is something I will consider in advance next time.

3. That original ideas are snapped up – the editors seemed really pleased to get my proposal for the article on Francophone African Women’s Poetry. I had the impression that they were always looking for fresh and unusual ideas, so it is worth looking at quality professional publications to see if you can adapt your work for a wider audience.

4. That the editing process can be tough – the editor will know his/her audience very well, so will have a strong idea of what will attract that readership and will encourage you to fit in with this. This may mean rewriting certain parts of your article to suit, but certainly not compromising on your views or the truth.

 

Next steps

Following research in Senegal, I have further ideas for articles that could be published in The Linguist and I am currently putting together proposals.

 

Contributor | Georgina Collins

Georgina Collins has a PhD in Translation Studies and recently completed an Early Career Fellowship in Warwick’s Institute of Advanced Study. She also teaches world literature for the Workers’ Educational Association and works as a freelance translator

Photo: Robin Alsdair Fredrick/CreativeCommons