Monday, September 30, 2013

Beautiful Translations in San Antonio

The American Translators Association will hold its Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas November 6–9, 2013. It is our goal here at the SciTech blog to provide a preview of some of the sessions that will be of interest to scientific and technical translators. The ST track looks very promising!

Karen Tkaczyk will be presenting Beautiful Translations:Foundations for the Personal Care and Cosmetics Industry (ST-11, Friday, 4:00pm–5:00pm). The brief description from the conference website reads:

“This session will provide an overview of essential areas to understand in order to translate for the cosmetics, toiletries, soap, and detergent industry successfully. The speaker will introduce attendees to the regulatory affairs and key concepts behind the industry. A list of useful resources and reference material will also be provided.”

I asked Karen to provide us with a little more information. She started with a personal observation.

“There are areas that non-specialized translators readily refuse work in. Cosmetics and personal care products doesn’t seem to be one of those. Presumably by virtue of personal experience, and due to the ever-present consumer-oriented marketing and advertising we are exposed to, many translators feel they understand this business well enough to work in it, without really having the requisite background knowledge of the field. My goal in this session is to provide that necessary background so that people actually know what’s going on and, I hope, produce much better translations. I have spoken and written on this topic before for ATA (At the 2007–2008 conferences and in The Chronicle, September 2008), but that was long enough ago that it seemed timely to offer a session again, with updates for what has changed in the interim. For instance, the EU has made regulatory changes for cosmetics that came into effect this year.”

When asked who will benefit from his session, she replied:

“My audience is someone who does not already know the global cosmetics industry inside out, or who perhaps knows how it works in a certain product category or country but wants a better understanding of the worldwide picture or the nature of the process from beginning to end: from raw materials to shopping cart. It will be particularly helpful to people who usually translate commercial or marketing texts and don’t intend to translate heavily technical texts but want to understand the background more to make any little technical portions that crop up easier to grasp. This session will also be helpful to people who want to pick up vocabulary commonly used in this field. I’ll do my best to throw in as many typical terms and phrasings as I can.

I will break down the content into four areas:
  • regulatory framework (let’s understand  the rules)
  • scientific and technical assessment (let’s understand the technical fields)
  • ingredients (let’s understand the chemistry and engineering)
  • marketing (let’s understand the hype)

This will be a high level review, given the time available, but I will provide an extensive resource list that should allow anyone who wants to target more clients in this area or become heavily specialized after the conference to do so efficiently, as they’ll have important links readily available."

Coincidentally, someone told me years ago that translation constitutes a roughly two billion dollar market in the U.S.—about the same size as the cosmetics industry. Karen Tkaczyk is a PhD chemist with years of experience as a successful translator specializing in the cosmetics and personal care market, so this is a perfect opportunity to learn about a potential new specialization from an expert.

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