Specialists in oral translation services

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Terminology on Social Media: An Interview with Licia Corbolante

by Edwina Mumbrú, AIB

I met Licia Corbolante in Manchester many years ago when she was working in the Italian Department at Salford University. Rendering humour into other languages is almost an obsession of hers. It´s a skill that ensures any conversation with her is peppered with anecdotes of weird translations spotted by her keen eye of the absurd.

An excellent public speaker, she focused her career on localization and IT terminology and for almost 20 years was an Italian Language Specialist and then Senior Terminologist at Microsoft. She now works as an independent terminologist and cultural specialist.

Licia is very active in the web with her blog Terminologia etc. and in Twitter as @terminologia : She comments on terminology, translation, localization and anything language-related that attracts her attention especially from the press and current affairs (check her posts on Theresa May´s “dementia tax” and Trump, Comey e le richieste di “lealtà” .   

Although her focus is on English to Italian terminology and on the increasing interference of English into the Italian language, her analysis is always relevant for anyone with English as a working language.

Q- Your blog does not cover only terminology but also other subjects. How do you choose your topics?

I have always loved languages, not only as a fantastic form of communication but also as a mirror of our cultures, which I am sure is a shared attitude among language professionals. Additionally, I always had a very keen interest in linguistics as I believe the more you know about the “mechanics” of a language, the better you are as a language professional, and this is what I try to convey with my blog. I take inspiration from language quirks, peculiarities, idiosyncrasies and unusual errors, but also from whatever is trending or makes one laugh as this creates interest more easily. In particular, I like to focus on different aspects of terminology work, not only because I am a terminologist but also because in Italy there is hardly any “terminological culture” to speak of, unlike in Catalunya, one of the most active terminological hotspots in Europe.  Italian institutions, industries and media pay hardly any attention to terminology, which results into inconsistencies, inaccuracies, lack of definitions and ultimately unsatisfactory user experience. It also means excessive reliance on anglicisms as whoever adopts them often ignores that Italian offers plenty of options for naming new concepts. 

Overall, my posts aim at creating better linguistic awareness and I believe the most effective way to do so is to analyse the language mechanisms involved, in a light-hearted yet rigorous manner. 

My contribution is possibly only a drop in the ocean, yet I am rewarded by the considerable number of followers, who keep on growing year by year, by the interactions I have with them, and by other types of recognition I get for my blog.

Q- For several years, your blog has featured in the international Top 100 Language Professional Blogs competition.
Can you tell us more about what blogging means for you as a language professional?

It’s always quite flattering to get good scores and to know that my blog has a good reputation. The downside is that I regularly find chunks of my posts recycled elsewhere, quite often with no mention of the source, a form of plagiarism which I find very annoying.

Anyway, the blog has given me considerable visibility, which resulted in a number of interviews, also on national radio, and above all in excellent professional opportunities. Being a regular blogger requires quite some dedication and takes time, but the more you write, the easier it becomes and after almost ten years of blogging I still find it very rewarding and enjoyable. I would recommend it to any language professional: a blog provides you with a very personal, unique platform which is a showcase for your expertise and professional skills. 

Q- So being present online is an absolute must for language professionals? Even for Interpreters? What do you recommend?

Indeed, I believe that nowadays all language professionals, especially freelancers, should have an online presence –it is the 21st century CV! My main point of contact is my blog, but ideally one should have profiles on all main platforms. Unfortunately, the day only has 24 hours, so I think each one of us should prioritize according to one’s own preferences, interests and goals.

I believe most language professionals have a profile on LinkedIn, whose Pulse functionality can also serve as an alternative to a personal blog where you can get a taste of what it is like to publish posts. It’s a useful form of training if you are planning a more ambitious personal blog or maybe a shared blog with a few colleagues –the very format of the AIB blog! 

As an alternative, medium or similar platforms offer more flexibility as you don’t have to restrict yourself only to professional topics, as you would be expected to do in LinkedIn. I love Twitter and its dynamics – just keep away from politics and other charged topics and you’ll find it’s a very civilized place! On Twitter, you can really learn a lot from the information that is shared on your timeline and from other serendipitous discoveries you can make by using hashtags and checking trending topics. There is a very vibrant community of English-speaking linguists and other language professionals that keep you up-to-date with what is going on with the English language, from many different angles: neology, grammar, pragmatics, sociolinguistics and of course translation and terminology, just to name a few. On the Italian front, I enjoy the interactions with the numerous translators and with quite a few language lovers. Overall, I find Twitter a great place for language insights, for exchanging information and, if needed, for getting quick yet relevant answers to any query you might have. I am quite active on Twitter so it could come as a surprise that I am not on Facebook, for several different reasons, but mainly because I don’t like the Facebook concept. I am fully aware it cuts me off from a lot of information, opportunities and above all networking, but I stand by my choice not to open a profile.