Caroline Soteras-Scuflaire was born in Belgium and studied translation (English and Danish, with Swedish and Norwegian as additional topics) in Mons. After graduating in 1999, she started working as a translator in the French unit, translating mostly from English, but also from Danish, Swedish, Slovene, Spanish, Bulgarian and Dutch. She has been a member of the terminology team in her unit since it was set up. She is also part of the internal facilitators’ team. In 2014, she completed training in Life coaching, a topic she is passionate about. In her spare time, she likes dancing, practising Zumba (she recently trained as a Zumba instructor), reading and writing, and many other things.
- Caroline, lately you set aside your job as a translator in the French unit of the European Parliament to train as a rotating terminologist in the Terminology Coordination Unit for a short time. What made you decide to apply for this position?
I had been working for many years as a translator in the French unit and I felt the moment had come to take some distance from this main activity so that I could see it from a different perspective. Terminology was quite a natural choice as I’ve been part of the terminology team in my unit since the reorganization of terminology work in DG TRAD. I had had the occasion to meet most of the colleagues in TermCoord in various contexts (the training sessions or briefings they organize regularly for the terminologists in the units, the terminology coffees, terminology “open days”, etc.) and of course, I had contacted them by email or phone every time I had questions about terminology jobs. On these occasions, I was always impressed by the high level of knowledge and professionalism of my colleagues in TermCoord. I felt that I could certainly gain some useful experience from them that would make it easier for me to deal with my terminology work in the future.
- Can you briefly describe a workday as a rotating terminologist in TermCoord? What kind of tasks did you have to carry out and which of them were the most challenging?
In the beginning of my secondment, my main objective was to clean up IATE and try to eliminate as many duplicates as possible, so I tried to find some criteria that could be used in order to clean up more efficiently, and not one term at a time. I soon realized that it would not be easy to identify such criteria. I started with a few extractions from old collections, thinking that I would quickly be able to decide which terms we could get rid of immediately. Well, I was very naive because there was nothing obvious in these huge lists of terms, and like I said to my colleagues who were asking about my new tasks, my impression was that I was cleaning a huge building or even a whole town with a toothbrush. But it didn’t discourage me, and I thought that, anyway, I had to start somewhere and that, of course, it would not be that easy. Otherwise, it would have been done a long time ago and there would not be a single duplicate in IATE. Describing a workday is not really possible as there was no typical day. In my first days at TermCoord, I tried to observe as much as possible, get familiar with the way the team works and learn about ‘who does what and how?’ I took some time to examine more in depth the website and EurTerm, and I learned about the existence of an “Interinstitutional clean-up task force”. At an internal meeting, I mentioned this, and Rodolfo Maslias (Head of TermCoord) immediately suggested that I become a member of this working group, which soon became a reality. Then, I started to read everything that had been done in this context and, above all, it confirmed how challenging the clean-up task was going to be because every idea I had had already been explored, most often with limited success. I decided to tackle this clean-up task from several angles and starting from different types of material (thematic training material, lists of possible duplicates received from IATE users, extractions from IATE using chosen criteria, etc.). Apart from that, I was involved in a big project about a new database for EPRS and I occasionally worked with trainees on the IATE Term of the Week, neologisms, etc. Working with the trainees was very refreshing and it was probably the part that I enjoyed most. It was often in these moments of cooperation with them and other members of the team, when I took some distance from my clean-up projects, that I got new ideas about them.
- Before your visit in TermCoord, were you familiar with IATE and TermCoord’s website? How do you think they can be improved?
I knew IATE quite well because I use it in my daily work as a translator and I regularly create, update and validate entries as a terminologist in my unit. I am convinced that IATE2 will be a huge improvement and I’m actually counting the days until we can actually use it. About the website, I must admit I wasn’t really familiar with it before my secondment, not because its content or layout is not adequate, but mostly because we use countless websites in our daily work so you can easily get lost in this huge labyrinth of portals, webpages and Wikis. I don’t think that TermCoord’s website in itself needs to be improved much, but what could help us a lot would be that the webpages and tools we use the most were integrated and accessible through a single platform. I know that quite a lot of efforts are already being done in that sense, and they should definitely be encouraged.
- What is your opinion on the EU terminology resources that TermCoord provides and how often do you usually use them?
The projects on proactive terminology and terminology in specific fields are very useful because it is an excellent basis for discussion. It draws the attention of both linguists and terminologists in the units on potential difficulties and gives them the possibility of exchanging ideas, sometimes on an interinstitutional level, through the Wikis, in order to agree on the term(s) corresponding to the concept in their own language. I must admit that what I use the least are the glossary links, although they are probably very useful as well.
- Can you outline the difficulties you encountered in specialised translation before your visit in TermCoord and how do you overcome them after it?
Very often, I struggle with abbreviations, especially in languages that I do not translate very often, like Slovene and Bulgarian. Medical texts, even short ones, in those languages can be extremely time-consuming, even though I really enjoy having to use all my resources and all the tricks I can think of to solve what sometimes looks like a mysterious code.
- Do you think that terminology gets the attention it deserves within the translation sector?
I think that terminology is getting more and more attention on an international level, which is extremely positive. This was perfectly illustrated at the EAFT Terminology Summit held here in Luxembourg, in collaboration with TermCoord, in November 2016. On this occasion, terminology experts came together in Luxembourg to share their experience and discuss virtually all the aspects of terminology, among which was the role of terminology work in the multilingual legislative work of the EU. Here, at the European Parliament, the workload in translation is increasing faster and faster, it is a secret for nobody. So it really matters that translators can have immediate access to reliable terminology in the numerous fields they tackle. I would say that the less time they have to translate a text, the more solid terminology has to be. Indeed, the search for the right word for a concept can take a lot of time, so you can imagine how much time you can save when you happen to find in one click all the terminology you need.
- Sometimes it is vital to have the right term at the right moment. Could you describe a situation in which a term complicated your life?
In the context of migration terminology, the term “relocation”, for example, complicated the life of many French-speaking translators, including me. If you look at the entry in IATE, you will see that there are many cross references and that various related concepts are mentioned in the language usage section. The “term” marked as “preferred” looked a bit odd at first glance, but it was proposed by the Commission because it was necessary to make a clear distinction with other existing concepts such as “répartition” and “réinstallation”. But the meaning of “relocalisation” is not self-obvious, that’s why this choice was challenged and gave way to discussions more recently.
- What is the feedback you have received from TermCoord? Would you recommend the experience of being a rotating terminologist for 3 months and why?
I received excellent feedback from TermCoord. I felt that I was a member of the team from the very first moments. The colleagues were very interested in what I was doing and they gave me all the support and tools I needed to achieve the best results. I felt that I was fully involved in life in the unit and I also took part in some projects with the trainees, both in IATE and communication matters. For me, it has been a wonderful experience all along and I totally recommend it. From the unit’s point of view, of course, one person is absent for three months, but it is nothing compared to the benefits it will gain from it for the future. A solid terminology is absolutely priceless.
Interviewed by Georgia Nikolaidou – Terminology trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament.
Georgia was born and raised in Thessaloniki, Greece. She is a graduate of the Department of Foreign Languages, Translation and Interpreting of the Ionian University (specialization: Translation) and the Joint Postgraduate Translation Studies Programme of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in the framework of which she prepared her diploma thesis titled “IATE Terminology Project on Packaging Materials” in cooperation with Termcoord. During her undergraduate studies she spent one semester abroad, at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz in Germany. Her working languages are Greek, English and German. She has attended a number of seminars on translation and subtitling, and participated in the Team for the Voluntary Support of the National Theatre of Northern Greece, aimed at the translation of its website (press releases, summaries of plays, etc.). She is a member of the Panhellenic Association of Professional Translators Graduates of the Ionian University (PEEMPIP) and she has been working as a translator since 2014.