by Jessica Trevitt
I recently undertook a German>English collaborative translation with Dr Madeleine Bieg, and a prominent part of the experience was the opportunity it afforded me to learn some basic German. We translated 155 items proposed for a survey in the field of educational psychology, and with each item we took it in turns to read the German aloud. When Madeleine read I listened carefully to her pronunciation, and when I read I would emulate her and she would correct me where necessary. She would then explain roughly in English what the item meant, while I typed out a suggested revision of her translation on a shared screen. We would then negotiate a final version by clarifying for each other the nuances of the source and target items to ensure we were both satisfied. Over time, this process helped me learn some basic elements of German grammar, such as the capitalisation of nouns, and I began to recognise repeated vocabulary and sentence structures. Toward the end of the four months I found I was able to start suggesting rough English translations myself.