All the amazing things

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Photo by Chris Lawton, courtesy of Unsplash

One of these days, I came across a documentary on HBO called Every Brilliant Thing, where a young boy tries to cure his mother’s depression by creating a list of the best things in the world. The list includes items such as “ice cream” and “Star Trek.” I liked the idea, especially because I have been trying (really hard) to stop focusing on bad things, complaining and gossiping; and it instead focuses on good things. I am well aware of the fact that it is easier to focus on the negativity. Take, for example, how people criticize more than praise others. Try scrolling down your Facebook page and count the positive x negative posts. Focusing on the positivity takes effort; it is not as easy and natural as being negative.

Therefore, I decided to go the extra mile and, instead of losing my time and sanity scrolling down my social media channels, taking the time to compile a list of all the good things in my life. Here it is:

  1. Sleeping.
  2. Sleeping on the couch watching TV on the weekend.
  3. Remaining on bed doing nothing for a while after naturally waking up with no alarm on the weekend.
  4. My bed.
  5. Weekends.
  6. Massage.
  7. Feet massage.
  8. Face massage.
  9. Carefully smearing moisturizer on my feet after taking a shower at the end of the day.
  10. Child smile and/or laughter.
  11. Drinking water when I am really thirsty.
  12. Taking a day off in the middle of the week to do something really nice.
  13. Taking a cold shower when it is really hot.
  14. Taking a nice shower after exercising a lot at the gym.
  15. Manicure.
  16. Pedicure.
  17. Having my hair washed at the hairdresser’s.
  18. A nice, frank in-person conversation with that dear friend you have not seen for a long time.
  19. Routine.
  20. Staying at nice hotels.
  21. Nice hotel breakfast.
  22. Sunset.
  23. Beach.
  24. The sound of the waves at the beach.
  25. Sunbathing.
  26. Fresh coconut water.
  27. The smell of a new book.
  28. The smell of new clothes.
  29. The smell of nicely clean bed sheets.
  30. Wearing new clothes for the first time.
  31. Vacation.
  32. Clouds.
  33. Sky.
  34. Flying.
  35. Dressing up.
  36. Laughing until crying.
  37. Dancing.
  38. Singing along to live music I really like.
  39. The mixed feeling of emotions that include exhaustion and mission accomplished after a hard workout. (Someone must create a word for it!)
  40. London.
  41. Guinness.
  42. Having a pint of Guinness at an English pub.
  43. Cinema.
  44. Watching a movie (at the cinema or at home) eating popcorn.
  45. Tight hugs.
  46. Some people’s smiles.
  47. My birthday.
  48. Being pampered on my birthday.
  49. Presents.
  50. Getting something I really wanted or love without expecting.
  51. Listening to a Brit talk.
  52. Reading a good book.
  53. Stretching out.
  54. Receiving a visit.
  55. Traveling.
  56. Talking about life.
  57. Receiving a handwritten letter.
  58. Writing hand-written letters.
  59. Receiving things from the postman, especially when unexpected.
  60. Eating.
  61. Visiting a new place for the first time.
  62. Watching movies that make me laugh, cry and/or reflect.
  63. The smell of coffee.
  64. Cheese.
  65. When my 3-year-old nephew/godson says “dindá” (dinda is an affectionate way of saying godmother in Portuguese, especially by children).
  66. Piano music.
  67. Eating out.
  68. Trying new things.
  69. Autumn leaves.
  70. Great views.
  71. Knowing I do not have to wake up early the next day.
  72. English scones with cream and jam.
  73. Popcorn.
  74. Having a hot drink in a cozy, warm place when it is really cold.
  75. Having a really cold beer when it is scorching hot.
  76. Friends.
  77. Family.
  78. My cousins.
  79. Friendly, smiley unknown people.
  80. Violin music.
  81. Living by myself.
  82. Silence.
  83. Chocolate and all its forms.
  84. Walking barefoot after cleaning the house.
  85. Wearing PJs.
  86. Traveling by myself.
  87. Eating out.
  88. Watching Friends.
  89. Watermelon.
  90. Finally (unexpectedly) finding something I have been looking for for a while.
  91. Prosecco.
  92. Alice in Wonderland.
  93. Freedom: being able to do whatever I want whenever I want.
  94. Christmas.
  95. New Year.
  96. My sister’s chocolate cake.
  97. Meeting new people.
  98. Learning something new.
  99. When people I love and care about are happy.
  100. My own and very company.

I could easily go on with my list, and I will certainly try to keep it growing, but you got the idea.

What do you think of my list? Is there anything that you also enjoy? Would you add anything to it? I would love to hear your thoughts. And should you feel like writing one of your own, please let me know somehow (ping back to this post, tag me and/or use the hashtag #AllAmazingThings). Sometimes we forget some amazing things in our lives, taking them for granted, so it is good to become aware of them again. 🙂

How to become the world’s most translated author

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Image provided by the author

Becoming the world’s most translated author is no easy feat. Many of those in UNESCO’s Index Translationum list of the top 20 most translated authors have held a place in the list for some years. Or decades. Or, in the case of William Shakespeare, centuries. But that doesn’t mean that the list isn’t open to new entrants. Danielle Steel and Stephen King are both within the top ten, giving hope to those still writing away in the hope of making it big enough to need to engage an army of professional translators to spread their novels around the world.

The Index Translationum reveals some interesting information about those whose works have been translated more than any other authors’ in the world. Here we drill down into the detail in search of the winning formula for becoming the world’s most translated author.

Clearly, being an incredibly talented writer is the most important element behind making it onto the Index Translationum list, but analysis of the other factors reveals some interesting results. When it comes to becoming one of the world’s most translated authors, less is definitely not more. All of those on the list are (or were) prolific writers. The most recent entrants have all written dozens of novels, with Danielle Steel being known for writing up to five novels at a time.

Language is also a key factor. Of the top 20 most translated authors, English was (or still is) the language used by nine of them. French comes next, with four authors writing in French, followed by Russian and German with two authors each.

Gender is also relevant. Of the top 20 authors, only six are female. While the literary world has become far less dominated by men – in particular over the last 50 or so years – there are still many countries where women are not encouraged not to become authors (or are forbidden from doing so altogether). Given these facts, that four of the top ten most translated authors are women is actually very encouraging. Men might still have the edge, but the ‘fairer sex’ is catching up fast.

Subject matter is the final important element when it comes to the criteria for making it onto UNCESCO’s list. Six of those in the top 20 wrote books for children, while five chose murder/mystery/suspense as their genre (including the author at the very top of the list, Agatha Christie). Other genres in the top 20 were as varied as religion, romance and politics.

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Image provided by the author

Based on these fascinating insights, it’s possible to identify the key characteristics of the winning formula for becoming the world’s most translated author. If you’re a man who’s writing dozens of murder/mystery fairy tales in English, you might just be in with a chance!

About the author
louLouise Taylor is a freelance writer who writes for the Tomedes Blog.

Guest post: On hard skills

Welcome back to our guest series! It is with a great pleasure that I introduce you to this month’s guest, Paula Arturo. I love all her writings and was thrilled when she accepted my invitation to write here.

Welcome, Paula!

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Image provided by the author.

While professional translators and interpreters know better, the painful truth is that many of us have that special clueless someone in our circle of friends, family, and acquaintances who seems to think all it takes to be a language professional is to pass a Cambridge exam or spend a summer abroad learning a second language. Though this misconception may appear to be quite widespread, it’s not a belief that is commonly held by high-end translation buyers, such as international organizations, financial institutions or high-stakes financial players; and by that, what I mean is that clients with deep pockets and experience working with translators are usually already aware of the risks of using non-professionals and the benefits of having someone with the right qualifications and experience on their team.

Many young new language professionals aspire to work for such clients, and kudos to them! If you’re a newbie and you’ve already figured out that the bulk market is essentially a race to the bottom, more power to you. The problem is, however, that you might have some misconceptions about what it takes to work for high-end clients. This is so because most workshops, conference sessions, blog posts, and CPD opportunities focus so much on soft skills that people can be misled into thinking that all you need to be a translator or interpreter is a friendly face and emotional intelligence. While soft skills can help land new clients, keeping them and making it to the top of the food chain is an entirely different story.

If you don’t have the necessary hard skills to deliver results, clients won’t be returning or recommending you to anyone else. No matter how much marketing you do or how SEO savvy you are, hard skills are essentially what marks the difference between one hit wonders and multiplatinum holders. So where to begin?

1) Get a mentor, not a guru. We all have role models, i.e. people we look up to and whose accomplishments we want to emulate. Find that person and try to get them to be your mentor. Mentors don’t just pass down knowledge and skills, they also provide professional socialization and guidance to help you get started on the right foot.

2) Work with a reviewer. We all learn from others, and having a reviewer is key to improving the way we look at, interpret, and rewrite our translations. Reviewers challenge your linguistic choices and force you to rethink them or improve the quality of your work. You can’t possibly learn and do better if nobody’s marking your errors, and becoming an exceptional translator means being open to constructive criticism and change.

3) Become an expert. Your subject-matter expertise must be on a par with that of your client. If you can’t hold a conversation with a subject-matter expert in your desired area of specialization, you’re not ready to handle high stakes work. Of course, there may be a difference in the degree of subject-matter knowledge and expertise between you and your client, especially if you come directly from the field of translation and not from your client’s field, but you should still know enough about the subject-matter to talk about it intelligently and know the right questions to ask.

4) Read, read, read, and then read some more! This should be a given. A translator who isn’t an avid reader cannot possibly acquire enough general, background, and specialist knowledge to correctly understand the subtleties and nuances in certain types of texts.

5) Never stop working on your writing skills. Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel García Marquez once said in an interview he would sometimes have to force himself to set his texts down and stop making corrections to them or he would never send anything to his publisher. Franz Kafka was constantly correcting course and was known to destroy his work out of dissatisfaction with his own writing. Translators have to be exceptionally good writers, and that is a life-long pursuit.

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list, just a start. The takeaway here is that if you aspire to sit at the cool kids’ table you’re going to have to achieve mastery in your craft. So, the next time you choose sessions at a conference, sign up for CPD, or otherwise invest in your training and education, ask yourself this: Am I maintaining a healthy balance between soft and hard skills? Or better yet, am I focusing on hard skills as much as I should be?

Great tips, Paula! I totally agree with you. It takes a combination of well-mastered hard and soft skills to be a professional translator/interpreter. Thank you so much for accepting my invitation and kindly taking the time to write such great advice to our readers! It is a pleasure to welcome you here.

About the author
paula-arturo-high-res-photo-201x180Paula Arturo is a lawyer, translator, and former law professor. She is a co-director of Translating Lawyers, a boutique firm specializing in legal translation by lawyers for lawyers. Throughout her fifteen-year career, in addition to various legal and financial documents, she has also translated several highly technical law books and publications in major international journals for high-profile authors, including several Nobel Prize Laureates and renowned jurists. She is currently a member of the American Translators Association’s Ethics Committee, the ATA Literary Division’s Leadership Council, and Member of the Public Policies Forum of the Supreme Court of Argentina.

Greatest Women in Translation: Kim Olson

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Welcome back to our interview series!

Please welcome this month’s interviewee, Kim Olson, nominated by Doris M. Schraft.


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1. What’s your connection with Brazil and Brazilian Portuguese?

The connection goes back a long way! Where I grew up, public schools began to introduce foreign languages (French or Spanish) to students in the 4th grade. I had a Spanish class a few days a week and was hooked. I had a vivacious teacher who would turn our practice of naming objects and colors into games of catch, and who stealthily prepared us to surprise our regular teacher by teaching us how to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish. In high school, I added German and was blessed to have another marvelous teacher who brought culture and language to life. During that time, I was also involved in activities that brought together a number of foreign students participating in exchange programs such as AFS and Rotary Exchange, Brazilians among them. That was my first exposure to Portuguese and Brazilians.

I knew at that time that I wanted to study languages, but wasn’t quite sure what it would lead me to afterwards (I really could have benefited from ATA’s school outreach program!). My desire to be in a more international setting led me to Georgetown University in Washington, DC where I entered as a Spanish major. A meeting with the assistant dean of the School of Languages and Linguistics the summer before college got me thinking about studying Portuguese “as a way to open up more of South America.” Portuguese had not been a language offered in my school system, but I’d gotten a notion of it from meeting Brazilian students. When it came time to register for classes, I selected both Spanish and Portuguese, making the decision to leave German for a time. By my second semester, I’d officially changed my major to Portuguese and was pursuing a minor in Latin American Area Studies. Language majors were encouraged to study abroad and I was able to do so during my junior year as an International Student Exchange Program participant to PUC/RJ. After completing studies at Georgetown, I was determined to get back to Brazil and decided the best way to do that would be to go back to PUC/RJ and obtain a degree in translation.

2. After holding two undergraduate degrees in Languages/Translation, you moved to International Business for an MBA. Why did you decide to change areas?

I saw this less as a change in area and more as an expanded scope of potential activities. When I returned to the U.S. after PUC, I looked for a job in Washington, DC, seeking a job in which I could use my language skills. I eventually took a support position in the Latin America and Caribbean Investment Department at the International Finance Corporation, the private-sector arm of the World Bank. I was very intrigued by the work performed there, but my non-business background proved to be somewhat of a barrier. That’s when I decided to pursue an MBA at nearby George Washington University. I earned my degree over a four-year period as I continued to work full-time and translate on the side. By the time I finished, the entrepreneurial side of business school had taken firm hold and before long, I set out to run my own business. That of course involved translation.

3. When asked where I could find more information about you, you provided me with your ProZ.com profile, as well as your LinkedIn profile. Do you think having a ProZ.com profile helps getting projects and clients? Have you ever landed any project/client through ProZ.com?

As a freelancer, I have to create as many possible channels as I can for obtaining potential clients. The process of setting up my profile, selecting particular ways to describe my work and sorting through sample translations for posting helped me think through how I want to be perceived. Early on, I was diligent about checking the site daily and got a few projects.  One turned out to be quite interesting – selecting snippets of audio in Portuguese to be used for language teaching purposes. That project lasted almost a year and made for a nice change of pace from straight translation.

4. I could not help but notice that you got your ATA certification in the same year I was born. That makes me feel like a baby and a complete amateur compared to your vast and rich experience in translation. What were your greatest learnings in all those years of experience that you feel are worth sharing with translation babies like myself? 🙂

In the process of learning a foreign language, we all know that you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone and risk sounding slightly ridiculous as you practice vocabulary, string together what you hope will be grammatically-correct sentences and hone your accent. That willingness over time translates(!) into taking chances in the professional realm, often in the form of assignments. I don’t mean straying from your languages or areas of expertise, but rather, keeping an open mind when potential projects present themselves to you. This willingness to take a chance can lead to some fascinating assignments that in turn help you build more confidence as you diversify your abilities and gain experience.

Along with this willingness, I’ve also learned to embrace what appear to be new directions. I’ve learned to follow what sparks my interest, investing in it intellectually and otherwise. It’s only been in the past 10 years that my focus has moved more towards the sciences, for example.

Another thing I’ve found that is also related to stepping out of the comfort zone is that I should not be shy or reluctant about engaging with colleagues. They are my greatest resources for ideas and solutions. Sometimes those solutions involve joining together to tackle a large project.

5. What have you learned so far with your experience leading a team of translators in producing the online English version of a monthly magazine published by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)?

This initial point is not new, and is reinforced as each month passes. My colleagues are incredible sources of wisdom, solutions and inspiration. I have become a better translator because of what I have learned from them.

I’ve also realized that

I truly enjoy the process involved in producing a high-quality translation product that allows the client to showcase its work.

I thrive on the attention to detail involved in project management and I love editing the pieces and helping to finesse the articles. I’ve learned, too, that I really enjoy the variety of articles that come across my desk. Many of the subjects have sparked a desire to learn even more.

The main thing I’ve learned, though, is that success can be found in many places.

A challenging request from a client might just set you on a path to something fun and rewarding.

6. ATA 57 was the first time you attended an ATA Conference as a speaker. How was the experience? What are the benefits, in your opinion, of presenting at a conference?

I attended my first ATA Conference in 1989 and remember being amazed at the level of knowledge and expertise people had and were willing to share. After many years of attending conferences, I reached a point where I finally thought I had something to offer as well. By then, I’d been leading the incredibly talented translators on the FAPESP project for nearly four years. It was a measure of success that I felt was worthy of talking about.

I found the experience itself to very rewarding (despite my more-than-anticipated nervousness). Again, the process of preparing my presentation helped me focus on key points. My session was quite well-attended and people seemed genuinely interested in my experience. That interest and eagerness to learn more from me and my experience was extremely gratifying.

7. Now it is your turn. Who do you nominate to be our next interviewee?

I would like to nominate Diane Grosklaus Whitty. I met Diane when she became part of the current project team and we have worked together on other projects as well. I’m allowed to marvel at her beautifully rendered translations and reap the benefit of her painstaking and thorough subject-matter research on a regular basis. She inspires me!


I loved reading your answers, Kim! Thank you so much for kindly accepting Doris’ nomination and my invitation! It was a pleasure e-meeting you and getting to know a bit more about you.

Why Datasheet Is Not Enough for Today’s Freelancer

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Image provided by the author.

As a freelancer or a small company, your business is closely connected with computers. You receive and fulfill various orders from different clients; your business is prosperous, it grows, and as you gain experience, the amount of orders gradually increases.

You have to find a way to keep records about your tasks, because you have to know exact sums and the currency of payments received, the client who sent it, the files to be delivered, the deadline, etc. This work can be tedious, and, what is even worse, it diverts you from performing your skilled work, as it is not directly connected with the creative/productive side of your business.

At the first stages of your business, an ordinary Excel sheet is entirely sufficient for that. But the more orders you have, the more time you need to spend on accounting. Furthermore, as everyone knows, losing time means losing money. And one day you find that you forget to issue an invoice and a client has not paid you for six months, or you miss a deadline, or you do not remember a contact’s email or phone number, or a client complains about a project you performed a year ago, but you cannot even recall what that project was about, and so on.

In this moment, you try to find a program or a service which can save you from these accounting tribulations. But the first links provided by Google may dissatisfy you, as they can lead to huge and expensive TMS’s. For you, they look like a Ferrari or an Alfa Romeo, when what you need is a Smartcar.

Here is where Protemos comes in handy. It allows you to significantly reduce the amount of time you spend on drudging accounting. It is a solution specifically designed to simplify your business.

Protemos is an online tool. To be more exact, it is a so-called ‘SaaS’ (Software as a Service). That is what determines its advantages. Since full-time internet access is a must in today’s globalized, digital world, ‘onlineness’ is its main benefit. With Protemos, you are not limited by which device or OS you use, or hindered by their file storage and retrieval. On the contrary, you can receive incoming files on your home Windows PC, create a Protemos project on your Android tablet, perform the task on your iMac and then deliver the processed files from your iPhone. All you need is a browser and an Internet connection.

Protemos does all the monotonous tasks for you. It automates the routine actions, reminds you about the assignments and deadlines, stores information about your clients (and possibly vendors) and keeps financial records about costs and revenues.

Yet, it is very simple: you do not need to take a two-week course to learn it. Its intuitive interface lets you get started in no time. All you have to do is create an account and enter data about your clients and/or vendors.

Here is how Protemos looks on a usual laptop screen:

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Image provided by the author.

And here it is on a standard 5.5″ Android smartphone screen:

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Image provided by the author.

Of course, smaller mobile screens do not provide the same seamless experience as PCs. Not all the items fit on the screen and you have to scroll the page to find the option you need. But the main actions are still possible, so you can, for example, accept or deliver urgent files on a smartphone, even when you sit on a bench in a park.

The structure of an ordinary project is straightforward:

  • Receiving files (and possibly creating a quote, if you do not use/have a set price for a client)
  • Creating a project (or converting the existing quote into a project)
  • Uploading incoming files to ‘project input’
  • Fulfilling a task (or assigning it to a vendor)
  • Uploading ready (or received from a vendor) files to ‘project output’
  • Closing a project
  • Issuing invoice(s)

At any moment you can add files, create new jobs, reopen a closed project, and much more. Protemos is highly customizable, because, from the very beginning, it has been developed with flexibility in mind.

The next benefit is pricing. Compared to other systems, Protemos’ rates are very competitive: you will not have to work for it. Also Protemos allow you to receive a referral bonus for involving new users.

And last but not least: Protemos is developing very quickly. New features appear regularly. Some enhancements introduce new features, while others are intended to simplify the interface. The developers readily respond to user’s requests and implement changes in the following builds.

Thus, the main aim of Protemos is to streamline your work processes and free you from boring, routine tasks, so you can spare more time focusing on what is more interesting and profitable for you.

Sign up to try it today!

About the author
vkOver 16-year career in translation Volodymyr Kukharenko advanced from a freelancer to CEO of translation agency and founder of software company. He managed all types of tasks associated with language production: translating and self-training as a freelancer, editing and teaching as an editor, managing the pipeline as a PM. In 2010 he co-founded Technolex Translation Studio and led the company to its current leading positions on Ukrainian market. Having the deep knowledge of the processes in the translation companies and the translation industry as a whole, in 2014 he created Protemos, a software startup to create the new tools for the translation industry which he was missing on his previous positions. By now, the company have released 3 tools: ChangeTracker, Protemos and TQAuditor, and thousands of users are already using them.

Guest post: Terminology for translators

Welcome back to our guest post series! Hope you are all having a great start of the year so far. Mine has officially started this week. I mean, I have been working non-stop, but my mind is set to a new year only after my birthday, so here I am, putting my resolutions into practice with the greatest determination possible.

Enough of me, let’s welcome our first guest of 2017, Patricia Brenes.

Welcome, Patricia!

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Source: Unsplash, by Mark Solarski

Terminology as an added value to your Resume

More and more translators are starting to realize that they just can’t keep writing job description resumes, but rather value-added resumes, which means they need to find new ways to set themselves apart from the competition.

A little over two years ago, I started writing my blog on Terminology, In My Own Terms. Since then, I have received many messages from translators who say it had not occurred to them that Terminology could be a way to advance their careers. So what is all the hype? In the past years, the four blogs that actively talk about Terminology (see list below) have ranked among the 10 top language professional blogs in bab.la’s annual competition, a clear indication of an increased interest in Terminology.

Experts agree that learning about Terminology is key to a successful translation career. During Proz’s 2015 Virtual Conference, Jim Wardell, an experienced German to English translator, indicated that “Terminology is excruciatingly important, getting it right and being fanatical about Terminology, […] is what sets you, as a translator, apart from all the others who don’t do their homework, and that’s what makes your translations shine”. Also, according to Rodolfo Maslias, Head of the Terminology Coordination Unit (TermCoord) at the European Parliament “Terminology is an excellent choice for […] a specialization for linguists.

As Terminology continues to get more and more attention, I believe new training opportunities will open up. So if you don’t know where to start, the first step is to stay informed and up-to-date. Subscribe to these blogs:  TermCoord’s blog is updated daily with the latest events and activities. WordLo by Maria Pia Montoro offers interesting insights on Terminology and a comprehensive list of terminology tools and systems. Terminologia etc by Licia Corbolante is in Italian and although I don’t know much Italian, I find her posts brilliantly written with short and sweet practical cases of terminology. In My Own Terms explains theory in easy terms for beginners and offers, among others, a collection of posts called “Basic Course on Terminology”. There is also an inactive blog which provides useful cases on terminology management that I visit regularly: BIK Terminology, by renowned terminologist Barbara Inge Karsch.

Once you get a better idea of what terminology can do for you, you have more formal options, such as TermNet’s certification for Terminology Managers. They offer a basic and an advanced online course every year, as well as the School of Terminology, a one-week workshop that also allows you to get certified in-site (usually in Germany or Vienna). The Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona offers a Master’s in Terminology in English or Spanish, with the possibility of taking the courses separately, in case you can’t sign up for the full Master’s right away. You may also want to download the Telegram app and follow TeleTermino, a channel that teaches the basic building blocks of Terminology to beginners and other interested individuals.

There are also videos that introduce Terminology in various forms presented by renowned terminologists. You can also keep up to date by following the major players of Terminology in social media. Lastly, you can learn from the experts by reading the collection of interviews by TermCoord called “Why is Terminology your Passion?”. I think this is a great way to learn about the different roles that terminologists play around the world.

Don’t underestimate the power of Terminology. Offering terminology management to your clients will put you on the right track to a successful career. As expert terminologist Michael Beijer puts it: “Translation and Terminology are inextricably intertwined. Translating is the easy part as it comes naturally to you, but it is the terminology that trips you off.” So you should not only know how to manage terminology efficiently but also get more involved in the Terminology world to keep track of the latest trends. Let the Terminology bug bite you!

Thank you so much for accepting my invitation and taking the time to write to my blog, Patricia! It was an honor hosting you! I thought it was particularly interesting to learn about the Telegram’s terminology channel. Thanks for all the amazing tips!

About the author
pbrenes-photoPatricia Brenes is the owner of the blog inmyownterms.com. Originally from Costa Rica, she moved to Washington in 2000 to work for the Inter-American Development Bank. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Specialized Translation at the Universitat de Vic in Barcelona. She also has a Terminology Manager certification (ECQA) from TermNet. Her blog collects useful information on theory and practice, as well as infographics, biographies, interviews, tools and much more.

Greatest Women in Translation: Doris M. Schraft

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Happy New Year!

Welcome back to our interview series! It is a great pleasure to start another year here on the blog and to welcome you all. May we all have great adventures together in 2017.

Now please welcome our first interviewee of the year, Doris M. Schraft, nominated by Naomi Sutcliffe de Moraes.

Welcome, Doris!


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1. How were you introduced to the world of translation and how did you start working as a translator?

I would have to say that translation actually began for me at the beginning of my language-learning experience, with Spanish in high school. The traditional grammar/translation method of instruction was used, which meant that the greatest emphasis was placed on learning Spanish grammar and writing correct sentences in that language. It built a textbook-oriented, highly visual connection with the language, with little emphasis on conversation skills. I connected very well with this method, because I had spent several years in primary school being taught English grammar and diagramming sentences. As a result, I was already well-versed in the analysis of language mechanics. When I started my university Spanish studies, I came to regard this visual language-learning method as unfortunate, as it was assumed that mid-level language students already knew how to converse in their second language!

When I added French to my language repertoire as an undergraduate student at university, the teaching method was quite the opposite. Although we had textbooks, class time was spent developing oral skills without reliance on visual aids, and grammar received secondary emphasis. But as a Master’s student, I returned to analytics, concentrating on Spanish linguistics. That focus solidified the foundation for my later work as a translator. As a PhD student, I delved into Portuguese as part of a program in Latin American studies. The instruction method there was more of a blend, and the learning came easier. Of course, it didn’t hurt that my three foreign languages were all descended from Latin roots, and just to tie things all together, I studied Latin as well. The bonus was that it opened my eyes to just how many words came to English through that classic language. Even though English is classified as a Germanic language, more than half of our words had their origin in Latin.

Ultimately, I was unable to deny my apparent calling in language analytics. In fact, I seemed to be fated to begin my professional career as a translator. My first job essentially fell into my lap when I moved to Washington, DC, when a friend alerted me to an opening for a Spanish translator in her employer’s industrial firm that made simulators for power plants, submarines and airplanes. I decided to interview with them, despite misgivings that, given my background, I was unqualified to work with such subject matter. They offered great encouragement, however, explaining that I would be able to consult with previously translated materials, consult with the engineers, and tour the simulators as needed. It was a leap of faith, but I took the position, and my two years there were a fascinating and educational experience.

2. In between your early experience as a translator (let’s face it, what is 2 years compared to 40, right?), you worked as an Administrative Manager at a development resources company. Why did you decide to have this change of ground?

When my company’s contract with the Spanish government ended and they failed to win another expected contract, I looked for another translation position in a tight job market. Although my next position — with a consulting firm that undertook socioeconomic development projects in less-developed countries — was not that of a translator per se, I did do some translation for them along with my larger administrative duties. We sent teams of agricultural engineers, agronomists, economists, and environmental consultants to countries around the world that could benefit from their expertise, funded by various international organizations. It was here that I became familiarized with those organizations’ mission of sharing knowledge and resources across borders, and met many professionals who shared that commitment and wanted to use their skills for the greater good of others. My later freelance work greatly benefited from this experience.

3. In your vast experience, you ventured as a staff translator/editor for three years, just before becoming a freelancer. How do you compare both experiences? And considering you are now a freelancer for 30 years, we can say you prefer being a freelancer. Why?

With a continuing desire to work more closely with languages, I decided to pursue that avenue after three years of working mostly as an administrator. Berlitz offered me a broad range of experience over the three years I worked there as a staff translator, able to draw on my three languages as I worked with other, more experienced translators and received their guidance and editing comments. It gave me a broader view of translation in business and legal contexts. At times I was even able to use all three of my languages in multi-language projects as a production team member, checking the page proofs of others’ reviewed English-to-foreign translations of operating manuals to check for uniformity, omissions or other irregularities.

Becoming a freelancer was a natural step beyond that valuable staff experience. Freelancing enabled me to build on it, and gave me independence in the form of the ability to choose my clients and projects, as well as set my own rates. Having a flexible schedule means you can fashion your personal life – appointments, vacations, etc. – as you need and see fit. If you want to work into the evening or on a weekend and the circumstances are amenable, you can do it, with no travel time or transportation expense involved. Over the years I have had the good fortune to be a part of many translation teams with colleagues whom I’ve come to admire and respect. I continue to learn from them on every project. In fact, I regard translation as a wonderful learning experience. And I hope that my own translations, in some small way, are helping others to reach their goals, whether they involve learning, information acquisition, communication, or commerce.

4. You work with Spanish, Portuguese and French. Is it just a coincidence or do you have a soft spot for Latin languages? How and why did they become your working languages?

I think I’ve mostly answered that question above! I certainly do have a soft spot for the Romance languages. Italian would be fun to study, too. I think I focused on Spanish in high school because I heard my older sister studying it, and my father still remembered a bit of it from his own high school days. Those initial sparks piqued my curiosity. I’ve long been a great lover of cinema, and it was through that avenue that my interest in French was awakened – Un homme et une femme, which, by the way, had a Brazilian connection. Later, my PhD program focused on Latin American studies, so of course Brazil and the Portuguese language came onto the menu as a natural extension of that interest.

5. Your areas of expertise are law, business and international development. I always think it is interesting to know how people specialized in their areas, because stories are always different. So how did you end up translating in those fields?

Those areas of concentration grew out of the potpourri of my previous experiences. Most of my work as a staff translator focused on business or legal documents, so those were areas in which I developed some familiarity and confidence. As a freelancer, I took some university law courses and, over the years, have had the pleasure of being a part of many different teams of translators working on major international legal cases, particularly involving environmental issues and patent litigation. In many instances, the teams included translators who specialized in the case-related technical fields, who could therefore provide expertise on subject-matter questions that arose. My experience with the consulting firm offered me an introduction to the major U.S.-based international development organizations, with which I was later able to connect as a freelance translator.

6. You have been a member of ATA for almost 30 years, and an active one, being the chair of its grader group for Portuguese to English certification exams. I think that speaks for itself regarding your opinion about the importance of associations, but it is never too much to emphasize it. Could you share your thoughts regarding the role associations play for the professional translator?

Translation, particularly as a freelancer, can be a rather solitary profession – a fact that anyone reading this interview no doubt already knows. As an analytical person, I’ve always been good at working on my own. But the only way to improve and really come alive as a translator is, in my opinion, to be part of a community of like-minded individuals. I’ve mentioned that I view translation as a learning experience. To be sure, I always find things to learn in the subject matter of my work, whichever field is represented. But there is much learning to be gained from editing or being edited by colleagues, and I have met most of them through ATA. And yes, even grading is a learning experience, in that it makes you focus on the meanings of words and how they are used. I’ve attended most of the ATA conferences over the past 30 years. They offer a wealth of educational sessions, a chance to investigate new topics, stay up-to-date on technological advances, meet new people, explore various cities, enjoy camaraderie, and build friendships. Those are invaluable experiences that enrich one’s life and form the building blocks of good translation.

7. Now it is your turn. I am quite curious to know whom you have in mind as the next honoree.

My nominee is Kim Olson, a long-time colleague with whom I have had the pleasure to work on many translation projects. I admire Kim for her finely-tuned translations, diligence, creativity, and professionalism. Most recently, she has been a model of good project stewardship, skillfully managing a team (of which I am a part) of several high-level translators who produce the English version of a major Brazilian scientific/technical research funding agency’s monthly publication. She presented a session about her experiences with this ongoing project at the most recent ATA conference. I am honored to count Kim as a valued and trusted colleague, and it is a joy to know and work with her.


Thank you, Doris, not only for accepting Naomi’s nomination and my invitation to be part of the interview series, but also for taking the time, during the busy holidays, to answer my questions. It was a pleasure e-meeting you and getting to know you a bit better.

2017 Resolutions for Translators

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Christmas is here. We have 11 days left in 2016 before starting a fresh new year. We will have a clean slate comprised of 365 days to do things better – learn from the mistakes we made in 2016 and improve those actions in 2017.

I am well aware that the whole “New Year, new life” mindset is actually a myth. January 1 will be just another usual day in our lives. However, I do believe in the spirit of renovation and what it can do for us. After all, change only depends on us. And if this spirit inspires us to change somehow, then anything can happen – we just need to believe and act upon it. And since change can start from every one of us, I also believe we can make the world a better place too.

In my last 2016 post – this is my fourth end-of-the-year blog post, which also something to reflect upon –, I would like to point some things we, translators, can change in the next year to become a better person and translator. Let’s start applying the change we want to see in the world to our lives?

Less negativity, more positivity

This may be the most common New Year resolution, but that is because it is valid every year. The world is full of sad news and horrible people. And that will hardly change overnight. Actually, it may never change. However, what good does it bring if we just complain about it? Quite the opposite: it only makes things even worse.

Instead of complaining about rates, agencies, clients, how about stressing the perks in translation? Stop posting about translation mistakes and start recognizing the amazing job of a fellow colleague. Stop complaining about horrible clients and start praising a client who values professional translators. Stop posting poor memes of translators working overnight, on weekends and holidays and glorifying it, and start spreading tips for a quality work-life balance. Simply stop sharing bad news and start sharing good news. If you do not have anything good to share, simply do not share anything at all. And this can be applied both online and offline.

Less complaining, more doing

When I was a university student, I used to call my mom, crying, complaining about how things were difficult. She would say, every single time, “That’s the life you chose for yourself. You wanted that, now you have it. Do you want to come back home? No? So deal with it. Do you want to quit? No? Then deal with it. You are the only person who can sort things out.” Some will think she was a hard mom. That was what I thought back then. After all, all I wanted was a shoulder to cry on. However, after hanging up the phone, I would wipe my tears off, take a deep breath and take the bull by the horns. Maybe, if she did give me what I was looking for, I would not have the courage to face my problems and would be a whiny adult waiting for things to get better on their own.

What does this have to do with what we are talking about? Complaining, whining and crying do not lead us anywhere. Having the guts to face our problems will. And this applies to anything in life.

That client does not pay well or is not worth it? Raise your rates to whatever suits you, start prospecting with the adjusted rate and fire that old client. That colleague pisses you off every time he/she posts something online? Unfollow him/her. You are tired of working non-stop, with clients contacting you at any time of the day, any day of the week? Determine your working hours, notify your clients about it, display it on your social media channels, website and e-mail signature, and try to stick to it.

How about joining the first point to this one and, whenever you feel like complaining about something, think twice and see if you can do the opposite: try to take something from it and focus on it.

Less work, more productivity

It is a funny thing how translators pride themselves at working practically non-stop – weekends, holidays, overnight; with no vacation for [fill in time here] long years; only sleeping for [fill in time here] hours. I admit I will never understand the logic behind it.

Do not get me wrong. I have already worked under those circumstances – and in all of them at once – in my early beginning. However, I never thought it was something to be proud of. So much so that I learned with my mistakes – as I usually do – and changed. And I do rarely work (but only part time) on the weekend or on a holiday or until later (but definitely not overnight), if necessary. But those are exceptions, and that is fine.

The problem is we usually procrastinate a lot and/or do other things rather than translate and then we have to work more time to deliver an assignment on time. It is possible to work less (time) and produce more. All it takes is discipline, organization and determination. Do you want to work only 6 hours per day? Do it. Yes, you can! Leave social media, personal e-mails, Skype chats, whatever non-work-related tasks for before and/or after your working hours, and set up a fixed day of the week and time for other professional tasks, such as invoicing and marketing. And translate like crazy in those 6 hours. You will see time will fly and your productivity will really increase.

Your translation quality highly depends on it. Lack of sleep, for example, interferes with your thinking capacity, as does working for long hours and multitasking. Focus is the new black.

Less anything bad, more quality of life

If you apply the tips mentioned above, you will already have a better quality of life and more time on your hands to take up on other activities to improve it even more. More positivity means you will also be more positive towards yourself and your life. More doing means you will focus on increasingly improving personally and professionally. More productivity means more quality = more translations = more clients = more reliability = increased rates = professional fulfillment – not exactly in this order. It is a vicious circle of only good things.

Use the time left to exercise, take a CPD course/webinar, meditate, go to the movies, go out for a coffee/beer with colleagues/friends, sleep, you name it – whatever you feel like doing. Do not forget to eat well and take regular breaks throughout your working hours.

What is the point in working your health off and then spending money with doctors, or being unable to work for being sick in bed because your immunity is low for working too much, or getting burned out?

I saw someone post on social media this week, asking for tips on books or anything that could help her stop procrastinating. Books, blog posts, magazine articles, friend’s advice, nothing will work if you are not willing to change. Even this blog post will be in vain if you think it, by itself, will solve all your problems. As I said at the beginning of this post: change starts with us.

So, what do you say? Let’s do this, together?

Meanwhile, I wish you all a merry and joyful Christmas, and an inspiring and happy New Year!

Tricky to master

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Although it takes years to learn a foreign language and to use it fluently in writing or communication, it is not unattainable or impossible mission. A translator knows how to do the best translation which will suit desires of the language it is translated into.

People often joke about translation fails; there are a lot of pictures and photos presenting various and funny mistakes.

The purpose of this short article is to avoid those little and horrible mistakes and to do your job in an adequate manner.

  • You have to bear in mind that when someone tells you, “Pigs might fly,” it does not mean that pigs suddenly became mythical beings or birds – it means that something is not possible. You should always choose the adequate proverb for the country in which language you are translating.
  • You have to be familiar with the right meaning of the word, with the field that you are dealing with. Think about “net,” for example, whether it is related to sport or economics.
  • Try to avoid spelling mistakes. This kind of inaccuracies are not likely to be accepted, for example:

Thank you for you’re [instead of your] time.
Are there any dinner specirals [instead of specials]?

  • Be aware of punctuation!

Incorrect: Big boy’s drive big toys!
Correct: Big boys drive big toys!

  • Your grammar has to be perfect. You need to know where nouns, verbs, adverbs, or adjectives take place in the sentence. Respect the word order and see how the adequate structure of the sentences makes you an excellent translator!

Did John cut an apple with a knife?
or
Did John cut a knife with an apple?

  • Bare in mind names of people and places. They are not likely to be translated! It is acceptable to transcribe them but it is gaffe to change them in that way.

John (Gia, Ivano – Italy, Ivo – Bulgary, Jean – France, Jock – Scotland…)

  • Your vocabulary needs to be excellent. Turn two sentences into one, or three if you please, but please, do not change their meaning! It is the worst sin in this field of dealing with language. Sentences need to sound best possible in the language they are translated and they have to be understandable and correct.

Dogging point!  (?)
(It may not mean the same thing in Germany as it does in car parks in Essex)

  • If your language does not have an adequate word for the one that needs to be translated, you can use apostrophes and leave it as is or you can describe it using the appropriate sentence or homonyms and synonyms. Try to keep it original and not “destroy” it.
  • Some jokes cannot be literally translated. So, if the joke you have to translate keeping it funny is about cheap Scots, remember who is considered miser in your country!
  • I have already mentioned that your grammar needs / has to be perfect. If not so, you can be laughed about or you can change the meaning.

Your Grammar has to be perfect.
Not: Your Grammar has to is perfect.
Nor: Your Grammar has to will perfect.

Translating and interpreting is not an easy job to do. The fact is that people work on the above-mentioned skills for years and often make mistakes. The interpreter needs to know both languages he/she is working with. If only one language is mastered, the result can be catastrophic. Grammar,  verb tenses and vocabulary are essentials in this field of work. If one of these lacks, the job will be done poorly and in an inadequate way. It is important to follow the rules and to respect them.

Stay calm, check everything a dozen times and keep it original, whether you are ordering a shirt or translating official political documents!

About the author
cristina-oliveiraCristina Oliveira is an English and German translator and works as a freelancer, mainly on the online market. At the moment she is taking a master degree in teaching English as a second language for young learners at the ISCE Douro.

 

 

This is the first sponsored post on the blog. From now on, we will occasionally host sponsored posts on the 15th of the month.

Guest post: Kirti Vashee

Welcome back to our guest post series! We are already almost halfway through December and the Holidays are just around the corner. Any big plans?

While waiting for the Holidays, why not enjoy another great reading from a dear guest? I met Kirti Vashee at the last Abrates Conference, held this year in Rio de Janeiro. Then I had the pleasure of interviewing him for my podcast, TradTalk. You can watch or listen to the interview here. You can also read the article I wrote (in Portuguese) about this interview for Metáfrase, the Abrates magazine, here. And now you can enjoy the guest post he kindly wrote to the blog.

Welcome, Kirti!

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A Machine Translation (MT) Action Plan for Translators

This is an article for those translators that have some interest in, or at least want to understand how to properly assess MT related work opportunities, or add linguistic value in large-scale MT projects. The need for translation of business content and other kinds of information on the internet continues to grow, but there are also changes that affect translators and agencies alike. The most interesting translation work is increasingly moving beyond the focus of traditional translation work and is likely to do even more so in the future. Thus, the most lucrative and interesting NEW translation opportunities, like at eBay for example, may require very different kinds of skills and competence but would still draw on basic translation and linguistic competence.

The forces that drive the increasing use of MT in the world, are largely beyond the control of the “translation industry,” continue to build unabated and can be briefly listed as follows:

  • More Content: The sheer volume of content that global enterprises, governmental agencies and any international commercial venture need to translate continues to grow.
  • Content Value: The value of business content increasingly has a very short shelf-life and thus traditional TEP (translate-edit-proof) approaches are increasingly questioned for information that may have little or no value after six months.
  • Short Product Life Cycles: The product life cycles in electronics, fashion, and many other consumer products get shorter all the time, so rapid, “good enough” product descriptions are increasingly considered sufficient for business requirements.
  • Volume & Cost Pressures: Enterprises are under continuous pressure to translate more content with the same budgets, and thus they seek out agencies who understand how to do this with rapid turnaround.
  • Changing Internet User Base: As more of the developing world comes online it becomes imperative for these new users to have MT to be able to get some basic understanding of existing web content.
  • Free Generic Translation: The universal availability and widespread use and acceptance of “free MT” on the internet has raised acceptance of MT in executive management circles too. This also drives the momentum for large new types of projects that would never have been considered in the TEP translation world.

So if we presume, that it is very likely that MT is going to be a fact of life for many professional translators in the 21st century, what new skills would a translator need to understand and be considered a valued partner, in a world where MT deployment and “opportunities” will continue to abound?

MT today, has already proven itself in professional use scenarios with most Romance languages, but we are still at a transition point in the use of MT in many other language combinations, and thus the MT experience can often be less than satisfying for translators in those languages, especially when working with translation agencies who are not technically competent with MT.

The New Skills in Demand

At a high level, the skills that matter in working with the professional use of MT, that we can expect will grow in value to global enterprises and agencies involved in large MT projects are as follows.

  • Understand the different kinds of MT systems that you would interface with. Translators that understand the different kinds of MT are likely to be much more marketable.
  • Understand the specific output quality of the MT engines that you are working with. Provide articulate linguistic feedback on MT output. Being able to provide articulate feedback on error patterns is perhaps one of the most sought after skills in professional MT deployment today. This ability to assess the quality of MT output is also beneficial to a freelancer who is trying to decide whether to work on a PEMT project or not.
  • Develop skills with new kinds of tools that are valuable in dealing with corpus level tasks and manipulations. It is much more likely that MT projects will involve much larger volumes of data and data preparation and global pattern modification skills become much more useful and valuable.
  • Develop skills in providing pattern level feedback and develop rapid error pattern identification and correction. Being able to devise a rapidly implementable test and evaluation routines that are useful and effective is an urgent market requirement. This paper summarizes the specific linguistic issues with Brazilian Portuguese that provide an idea of what this actually means.
  • Develop a corpus view that involves linguistic steering rather than segment level corrections. This is a fundamental change of mental perspective that is a mandatory requirement for successful professional involvement with MT. Understanding the competence of the translation agencies that you engage with is also a key requirement as it is VERY easy to mismanage an MT project and most translation agencies that attempt to build MT engines on their own  are quite likely to be incompetent.

What can you do?

  1. Learn and educate yourself on the variants of MT.
  2. Experiment with major engines from Google, Systran, and Bing and with specialist tools like Lilt and SmartCAT that allow easy interaction with MT.
  3. Understand how to rapidly assess MT output quality BEFORE you engage in any MT project.
  4. Don’t work with incompetent translation agencies who know little or nothing about MT but only seek to reduce rates with crappy do-it-yourself engines.
  5. Experiment with corpus management tools.

You can find much more information on the eMpTy Pages blog and on many translator forums.

It was a real pleasure to host you here on my blog, Kirti! Thank you so much for accepting my invitation and taking the time to write such an enlightening and useful post!

About the author
kvclrKirti Vashee is an independent machine translation technology and marketing strategy consultant. He was previously VP of Enterprise Translation sales for Asia Online and also  responsible for the worldwide business development and marketing strategy at Language Weaver (SDL). He has long-term sales and marketing experience in the software industry  working in both, large global companies (EMC, Legato, Dow Jones, Lotus) and startups . He is the moderator of the Automated Language Translation group with almost 5,000 members  in LinkedIn and also a former board member of AMTA (American Machine Translation Association). Kirti is active on Twitter and the blogosphere on MT and translation automation related issues. He received his formal education in South Africa, India and the United States. He is also an amateur musician who plays the sitar, bansuri and percussion.