The Linguist

The Linguist 59,4 - Aug/Sept 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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32 The Linguist Vol/59 No/4 2020 INSTITUTE MATTERS even a sad film can provoke lively discussion and leave participants feeling uplifted. Following the success of our first few remote events, and drawing on knowledge and contacts within our committee, we decided to move beyond cinema with a fast-paced Zoom event on Slovenia and the Slovene language. Romana Sustar introduced the language, while literary translator Olivia Hellewell outlined her work and interests in Slovene. Together, they read an extract of Olivia's forthcoming translation of Goran Vojnovic's The Fig Tree (Istros Books). A recording of the session makes it accessible to a wider audience. There are several advantages of online events, not least that they are free of cost. It is much easier to find a suitable language expert for each topic without the geographical limitations of a face-to-face meeting. Remote events are also more inclusive of group members who might otherwise struggle to attend, such as those with young children or mobility issues. What's more, from the committee's perspective, these events take very little organisation and planning. The disadvantages are that you cannot have a social drink, limiting the networking opportunities; technical problems can interrupt people's participation in the discussion; and those who spend a lot of time staring at screens can easily feel 'Zoomed out'. W hen Covid-19 restrictions were put in place in March, the Midlands Network quickly realised we were going to have to adapt our events in order to keep up our momentum and offer members a source of professional and personal support in this turbulent time. Our committee meetings had already switched to an online format and we decided to do the same with our events. Our last face-to-face event had been a cinema trip and this seemed like something we could move online easily. Our members could watch a film at home in their own time, then join us for an online discussion using a video conferencing platform. Luckily, foreign films are widely available on various free-to- view platforms, such as Channel 4, while cultural institutions around the world, including Instituto Cervantes and the BFI, are currently offering resources online. We were keen to have expert speakers in the languages and countries depicted on screen to offer context and help us delve into any issues surrounding language and subtitling. For the documentary Diego Maradona, our special guest was Jaquelina Guardamagna, who had worked on subtitling the film. She offered a fascinating insight into filmmaking across language barriers. Our second film, the bleak Russian drama Loveless, was equally intriguing, proving that Distant? Yes. Social? Absolutely How Diego Maradona, a bleak Russian drama, the Slovene language and Zoom have helped the Midlands Network stay active during lockdown • Choose a film that is available on mainstream networks, ideally for free. • Nominate a moderator to make sure everyone has the chance to speak. Turn-taking can be difficult in an online environment; Zoom's 'raise hand' feature can be helpful. • Finding an expert in the language/ culture portrayed in the film really adds depth to the discussion. If you can't find someone among your networks, the CIOL team can often help. • Video conferencing can be draining: 60-75 minutes is usually enough. • Use the platform's functions, e.g. the chat box and screenshots, to keep a record of your event. REMOTE FILM NIGHT TIPS On balance, we think the Zoom format has merits beyond 'lockdown'. We are likely to offer future events through this medium without ever forgetting the value and pleasure of face-to-face encounters with fellow linguists, whether in the Midlands or beyond. See Written by Midlands Network Steering Group members Jane Martin, Ellie Bridgwood-Hill and Steve Doswell. © SHUTTERSTOCK

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