A tale of two translation-related residencies

Posted on January 24, 2022

You’ve probably heard of “in-residence” programs, such as artist-in-residence or executive-in-residence. The Government of Canada even has a public-servant-in-residence program.Note 1 Often, the residency is embedded in a university, but sometimes it can be in another type of institution, such as a museum or library. Residencies can last from a few months to a year or more, and the basic idea is that residents bring a type of expertise and are available to share that knowledge with the members of the institution where they are embedded.

Some residencies focus on language-related expertise, and this blog post presents experiences from two translation specialists who have recently completed two different types of residencies.

Researcher-in-residence: Lynne Bowker

My regular job is working as a professor at the School of Translation and Interpretation at the University of Ottawa, but from June to December 2019, I was the researcher-in-residence at Concordia University Library in Montreal.Note 2 The position was not aimed specifically at translation researchers but was open to all fields. Researchers were invited to pitch projects that would benefit from being embedded in an academic library, and I successfully pitched a project about helping international students to develop machine translation literacy skills.Note 3 I benefited greatly from the insights of the academic librarians, who had considerable experience with related areas such as information literacy and digital literacy instruction, and they supported me in developing machine translation literacy workshops for international students.

On the flipside, I offered my research expertise to support librarians with their own research projects. I met with a librarian interested in researching the use of artificial intelligence in libraries, a team who wanted to develop a method for evaluating the usefulness of a tutorial on library research skills, and even a librarian investigating issues related to copyright and translation.

My residency took place just prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I was able to be physically located in the library. For me, a huge benefit of the residency was being able to talk about language and translation issues with people who are not translators or language professionals. In my regular job, I mainly interact with other language professionals and trainees, so being embedded in a library and being able to explore language-related issues from other perspectives was very enriching.

Language-professional-in-residence: Veronica Cappella

I am a French-to-English translator working with the Translation Bureau, a key provider of language services (including translation, terminology and interpretation) within the Government of Canada. I participated in the Language Professionals in Residence programNote 4 between the Translation Bureau and the University of Ottawa’s School of Translation and Interpretation for the winter 2021 academic term. This program is an extension of the Translation Bureau’s vision of not only providing quality language services to government clients but also supporting the language industry in Canada and mentoring the new generation of language professionals. As the language-professional-in-residence, I met with students and professors and shared my experience and knowledge as a professional translator. These meetings are truly two-way exchanges. Not only did I talk about the sometimes “non-glamorous” tasks of being a professional translator or discuss concepts that may not always be within the scope of classroom instruction (such as the importance of networking, the translation process from receipt to delivery of a request, and working as part of a team of language professionals), but I also learned about new developments in the field, particularly relating to technology. Although I graduated from university just 12 years ago, significant developments have occurred in this area, and there has been increasing public uptake of these technologies in daily life. This exchange has expanded my horizons and allowed me to think beyond the strict silos of day-to-day translation projects; it has also allowed me to consider the impact of new technologies on translation and ways we can adapt our methods and processes to meet an ever-growing demand (for both professional and non-professional translation).

The Language Professionals in Residence program also permits translation students to explore translation as a career and to think creatively in expanding their job searches. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all discussions and exchanges were virtual this year. This shows how translation is a versatile and flexible field. It is truly possible to work from anywhere, as long as you have a good Internet connection, and teleworking fits with many translators’ more solitary personalities.

Let’s continue the cycle of knowledge sharing

Residency programs offer a valuable opportunity for language experts to share their knowledge with a wider community, but they are not the only way to spread our passion for languages. What types of language-related knowledge-sharing activities have you participated in? Share your experience by leaving a comment below or writing a blog post of your own.


The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

Get to know Lynne Bowker and Veronica Cappella

Lynne Bowker and Veronica Cappella

Lynne Bowker holds a PhD in Language Engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, in England. She is a full professor at the School of Translation and Interpretation at the University of Ottawa and a certified French-English translator with the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario.

Veronica Cappella has a BA in Translation and Hispanic studies from Glendon College, York University, in Toronto. She is a French-English translator with the Translation Bureau and a certified member of the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (C. Tran., French-English).


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