Member profile: Christine York

1. Why did you choose Translation Studies?

I came to translation studies in a rather roundabout way. After working in documentary film for a number of years, I started taking on freelance translation contracts for film clients when my children were small. After a while, I felt the need to acquire a more solid understanding of the profession, so I returned to Concordia to do the graduate diploma. Then I took a translation studies seminar with Sherry Simon… and I was hooked! I switched into the Master’s program and have never looked back since. This feels like my community.

2. What are you working on at the moment? What are your areas of research?

I have been specializing in audiovisual translation since I did my Master’s degree, and that continues to be my top area of interest. But recently, having taught French-to-English translation for over ten years, I’ve been thinking about Canadian English. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary has not been updated since 2004, yet it remains the standard resource for Canadian spelling and style. If translators and professional writers increasingly turn to online resources like the US-based Word Reference, will we eventually see an erasure of its distinctive features? I’d like to explore those features of Canadian English in relation to global English and translation: the influence of French as a co-official language in Canada and the sole official language in Quebec, which has led to numerous borrowings (our beloved franglais!); as well as the impact of Indigenous languages on place names, vocabulary and style. This is important to me in terms of research but also from a teaching perspective, as universities respond to the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and we examine ways of decolonizing the curriculum.

3. What book/film/band has made the biggest impression on you recently?

Over the summer, in an attempt to understand more about the COVID-19 pandemic–which to me came out of nowhere–I read The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett. It’s a 700-page doorstopper that serves as the definitive investigation of emerging diseases like AIDS and Ebola. I know now, in response to all those who said “We had no idea this could happen!” that scientists and public health advocates have been warning about the threat of a once-in-a-century infectious disease pandemic for decades and trying in vain to make their voices heard. We should have listened.

4. If you had one piece of advice to give to new Translation Studies students, what would it be?

When I was trying to decide what topic to choose for my thesis, I kept wanting to explore avenues that were far removed from my everyday life–thinking that this was my chance to look into something new and different. At the time, I was doing a lot of subtitling for the National Film Board, and anything to do with subtitling seemed like it was too connected with “work.” When I finally gave in to the obvious and started writing about version production at the NFB, everything fell into place.

So, my advice: don’t look too far afield for your thesis topic. Just think of what you’re already passionate about and the subjects you naturally gravitate to. That’s where you’ll find the seeds of your thesis.

Second piece of advice: set up a system of accountability, whether to yourself or to others. Your fellow students are your logical support group. I always cringed when colleagues passed me in the hall and asked, “So… how’s the writing going?” when I’d never done as much as I’d wanted, but having to answer the question kept me moving forward. I set up schedules and calculated how many words I would write each day and used app timers to stay focused and checked off lists and got up extra early or worked late into the night… and somehow it all worked. You, too, can do it.