Greatest Women in Translation: Lucinda Byatt

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Welcome back to the Greatest Women in Translation interview series!

Please welcome this month’s interviewee, Lucinda Byatt, non-fiction translator from Italian into English, nominated by Marilyn Booth.

Lucinda Byatt

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1. You were a speaker at this year’s ITI Conference. I was there too! Too bad I missed a chance of meeting you! The topic of your presentation was “What’s involved in translating non-fiction? Rewards and Challenges.” Could you tell us a bit about it?

I’m sorry we didn’t catch up there, too! But thanks so much, both to you and above all Marilyn, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog. The theme of this year’s ITI Conference in Sheffield, UK, was “Beyond the Core: Forging the Future of the Profession” and this was the context of my talk on non-fiction translation. In fact, this is a huge field, ranging from academic works in every discipline to the popular non-fiction markets. Broadly speaking, I focused on three topics: Building up expertise and finding opportunities; Tackling the translation (skills, research); Looking at collaborative translation and working with editors.

I’m very conscious that I can only speak from my own experience – every translator follows a different path and accumulates different skills, of course! But in general, a non-fiction translator tends to be a specialist – at least, that certainly helps, even in a broad field, like my own, which is history, history of art and architectural history. So the somewhat obvious advice in the first part was to follow your interests and to find areas that you are passionate about, and maybe also qualified in – since this is an added incentive to develop your knowledge and gradually build a network of contacts.

The second part of my presentation tried to give some answers to the broad question of what, if any, are the special skills of the non-fiction translator? I think there may be an assumption that translating non-fiction is harder and more complicated than translating fiction. For example, do you need to invest more time in research and fact checking? Or in finding and checking quotations, and deciding whether to use a published translation if one already exists?

I suggested that translating non-fiction need not be harder, and indeed – in some respects – it might actually be easier than translating fiction. For example, a non-fiction author is less likely to be as experimental in style as a novelist, because she or he is focused above all on the argument and the factual content of the book.

Most of the skills required for non-fiction translation are the same as for fiction. There may be no dialogue to deal with in non-fiction, and there’s unlikely to be much colloquial language. But rhythm, word choice and the construction of sentences and paragraphs are just as important in non-fiction writing – particularly in the growing ‘umbrella genre’ of literary non-fiction – as they are in novels. A non-fiction book certainly has a flow, a carefully constructed sequence of chapters, and it often features evocative settings and vivid characterisation.

2. You are one of the very few interviewees in this series who does not work with fiction. You translate books, but primarily focused on history, architecture, art history, and humanities in general. I confess I’m quite happy to feature a non-fiction translator for a change, since, in my humble opinion, we, “technical” translators, do not get as recognized as fiction translators do. Do you feel the same way?

There’s no doubt that compared to fiction, translated nonfiction doesn’t get much of the limelight, and certainly fewer prizes. Yet translated non-fiction will never not be relevant and its benefits are even more trenchant today. English-language publishers have certainly discovered there’s a market for engaging, even challenging, non-fiction books emerging from Europe and beyond. I know I’m not alone in being more aware than ever of how important it is to bolster an open society, and one way of doing that is to offer readers books that deepen their understanding of other cultures and enable them to join in the debates that excite, or aggravate, us all.

And it’s not only published non-fiction that we should consider. Journalism and blogs are also important – non-fiction writing comes in many forms.

I’m intrigued that you use the term “technical” translator. We are all technicians in some respect. As I said before, a non-fiction translation needs the same feel for register, rhythm, tone, voice, flow, etc. as for fiction. These skills form the crux of our ‘techne’, but perhaps the difference is that in non-fiction the approach is usually more subject-specific.

3. Talking about history, you also teach non-translation courses at the University of Edinburgh, such as Italian Renaissance. What came first: the translator or the teacher? And how did you venture into translation?

That’s an interesting question. I did languages all the way through formal education – and had an inspirational French teacher who worked on translation with us in secondary school. Then at university, I did French and German for two years, before eventually focusing on medieval and modern history. Even the next step – a doctorate at the European University Institute – was effectively a blend of languages and history as all my primary sources were in Italian. Learning Italian from scratch was quite a steep learning curve! During the four years I spent in Italy for my doctorate, I worked on various small translation projects and enjoyed them. Moreover, as a Ph.D. student you are also asked to give presentations. So I think I can honestly say that translation and teaching have developed side by side.

However, there have been times when translation has certainly been uppermost. While I was living in Turin – in the Nineties – and for the first six or so years back in Edinburgh – in the Noughties – I was solely a translator. My first published translation was for Polity, and the next few books were for a Swiss publisher, Birkhäuser, and for Cambridge University Press. Sometimes these opportunities arose because I met the editors at book events in Turin and perhaps editing work then led to translation; or occasionally they were the result of a direct approach.

I also worked extensively as a commercial translator during the years we lived in Turin, translating what I think could be called “general” documents for companies and institutions. This general practice allowed me to hone my skills, also in terms of business practice. One of my earliest contacts in Turin was Alan Nixon, whose company Dialogue International is still flourishing. Much of the work he gave me was for Fiat which was then still a big presence in Turin. The technical automotive stuff was beyond me, but I worked on corporate documents and the occasional presentation for the top management. While I was in Turin, I also embarked on a broad range of translation projects for cultural institutions in the city and elsewhere. I loved the variety and again it was valuable experience as I worked for museums and tourist organisations, on cultural policy documents and (from Edinburgh!) even on the 2006 Winter Olympics. In the 1990s technology was in its infancy: I had a pc and email, but no broadband. Work had to be delivered electronically over a modem connection (who remembers its distinctive buzz?) or in hard copy by “Pony Express” (bike couriers). I still work with a few of my Turin clients – one private company holds the record, with a relationship that dates back nearly thirty years!

4. Although you mainly translate non-fiction, your latest book, Murder in Venice, by Maria Luisa Minarelli, is a fiction one. And you also said it’s quite different from the previous two (academic books). How was your experience in translating this fiction book for a change?

I really enjoyed it. The publisher is AmazonCrossing and the offer came out of the blue, but the contract was straightforward and the terms were good. I have to add here that I have always found it very hard to retain copyright for my non-fiction translations. In this case, AmazonCrossing were immediately clear that this was not an issue, although of course it is licensed back to them. Moreover, the contract includes royalties, including on free promotional copies, something that has never been the case in my non-fiction contracts for other publishers. All of my contracts are vetted by the UK Society of Authors, which is a real bonus of membership, and immensely reassuring. However, even with their support, securing copyright and royalties for my translations can still be an uphill struggle.

As is clear from the title, Murder in Venice, Maria Luisa Minarelli’s book is a historical mystery. It’s set in eighteenth-century Venice, so that itself appealed to me. I know Venice well and teach a ten-week course on medieval and early modern Venice. The author’s historical research is excellent and the characters and setting are convincingly portrayed. There were some lovely coincidences too. Just last year, I translated a life of Leonardo da Vinci by Antonio Forcellino, and here – as a key part of Minarelli’s plot – I came across the canal dredger designed by Leonardo, probably while he was living in Milan. Another particularly enjoyable aspect of my foray in fiction was the sense of freedom in the translation process (no footnotes!). Above all, translating the different voices in dialogue was a treat. I’m secretly hoping to do more!

5. These previous academic books you translated were about suicide and lordship in medieval Southern Italy – and then a fiction book. How do you manage to work with such diverse topics? Do you have any established work process?

The non-fiction books I have translated often have varying degrees of connection with my specialized academic field. But the variety is enormously stimulating. It means discovering and researching new topics. Regular contact with the author is an enormous benefit, and given the immediacy of communication now, I think all translators would agree that this is a crucial part of the translation process. For me, it’s often a starting point. If I can talk to the author, by phone or Skype, I find I have a better understanding of the register and pace of the “non-fiction voice” on paper. I also rely on the authors for their specialised knowledge.

My work on Marzio Barbagli’s book, Farewell to the World: A History of Suicide, offered different challenges. It is a masterpiece of sociological and historical analysis. I won’t go into the arguments here – also because it’s certainly not my place to do so! – but I will say that the subject-matter was gruelling at times. In practical terms, a major problem that arose during the translation was the referencing. Many of the reference works had been translated, perhaps from German or French originals into Italian and obviously the footnotes gave pages numbers from the Italian editions. Instead, I had to trace the English translations, where they existed, and then play the “page number” game (different language editions often don’t have the same pagination) as I searched through the books for the correct passages. I’m sure others will know what I’m talking about. It can be a frustratingly slow process, but in the end it’s worthwhile.

The translation of Sandro Carocci’s book on lordship in medieval Southern Italy was a great example of collaboration. Probably the most useful result of working closely with an author is that you can fine tune the message. And, above all for a work of non-fiction, the message is key. Of course, language matters too: and in this case, Sandro’s advice regarding the correct feudal terminology was invaluable.

A similar project was the co-translation with Michael Bury of a sixteenth-century art history treatise by Giovanni Andrea Gilio, “Dialogue on the Errors and Abuses of Painters”. Working together with Carol Richardson, this was in every sense a team project. I was the only “professional” translator, but Michael Bury’s thorough understanding of the text meant that his contribution to the translation was fundamental. Some of the challenges of tackling a historical text, like Gilio’s, are outlined in my chapter on the translation process, which is included in the volume (Getty Publications, 2018).

On that note, I’ve recently also worked on a variety of other historical texts in the context of major exhibitions. These have included extracts from the letters between Emma Hamilton and Queen Maria Carolina of Naples and Sicily, and also a few letters written by Artemisia Gentileschi. Decisions about language need to be made and my preference is to steer a middle course that tries to avoid unnecessarily archaic vocabulary but also glaring anachronisms. Clarity for the modern reader seems to me to be paramount.

6. You are currently translating a short book for Antonio Foscari, Living with Palladio. What can you tell us about it?

I’ve worked with Antonio Foscari on three previous projects, two of which have also focused on Villa Foscari, an elegant building on the mainland close to Venice, which was designed by the great sixteenth-century architect Antonio Palladio. This is a shorter book and will appeal to a broader audience since the author goes through the villa’s rooms and describes how they would have been used in the late sixteenth century. There are fascinating details about the layout of the villa and the upstairs/downstairs division. For example, the top floor of the villa was used to store grain and other produce because it was dry and also well guarded. Thieves were rare, even the four-legged variety: the smooth bands of plaster applied to the walls made it easier to trap any pesky rodents by preventing them from scrambling up the walls and into the roof space. I really look forward to seeing it in print.

7. Now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

It’s a real pleasure to nominate Ros Schwartz. Ros is a hugely talented and award-winning translator and an inspiring mentor. She is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Kings College London and also a director of Warwick Translates Summer School. When I contacted her about this blog she was on her way back from Cameroon where she’d been to lead a literary translation workshop.

Brazilian women writers translated into English

August is Women in Translation month.

The project was created back in 2014 by Meytal Radzinski to raise awareness of women writers translated into English.

Inspired by her and her project, I decided to create our own “Brazilian women writers translated into English” list to raise awareness of Brazilian literature written by women translated into English.

Here’s the list of 44 authors (in alphabetical order) and (some of) their translated books kindly suggested by people on social media:

1. Adriana Lisboa
Translated books and their translators: Crow Blue, Alison Entrekin; Hut of Fallen Persimmons, Sarah Green; Symphony in White, Sarah Green.

Read Alison Entrekin’s interview in my Greatest Women in Translation series here.

2. Alice Brant
Translated book and its translator: The Diary of “Helena Morley,” Elizabeth Bishop.
Interesting fact: This was the only book written by Alice under the pen name Helena Morley. It’s a diary she started writing when she was 13. Her book is considered one of the best Brazilian literary works of the 19th century.

3. Alice Sant’Anna
Translated book of poems and its translator: Tail of the Whale, Tiffany Higgins.

4. Ana Cristina Cesar
Translated book and its translators: At Your Feet, Brenda Hillman, Helen Hillman & Sebastião Edson.

5. Ana Maria Machado
Translated books and their translators: The History Mistery, Luisa Baeta; Me in the Middle, David Unger; From Another World, Luisa Baeta.
Interesting fact: Ana is also a translator and has translated Alice in Wonderland into Brazilian Portuguese.

6. Ana Miranda
Translated book and its translator: Bay of All Saints and Every Conceivable Sin, Giovanni Pontiero.

7. Ana Paula Maia
Translated book and its translator: Saga of Brutes, Alexandra Joy Forman.

8. Angélica Freitas
Translated book and its translator: Rilke Shake, Hilary Kaplan.

9. Beatriz Bracher
Translated book and its translator: I Didn’t Talk, Adam Morris.

10. Camila Fernandes
Translated short stories and their translator: The Other Bank of the River, Christopher Kastensmidt; The Best of the Three, Christopher Kastensmidt.

11. Carol Bensimon
Translated book and its translator: We All Loved Cowboys, Beth Fowler.

12. Carola Saavedra
Translated book and its translator: Blue Flowers, Daniel Hahn (coming on January 2020).

Read Daniel Hahn’s guest post about the TA First Translation Prize here.

13. Carolina Maria de Jesus
Translated book and its translator: Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus, David St. Clair.

14. Cecília Meireles
Interesting fact: Cecília was also a translator.
P.S.: I couldn’t find any formal translation of her works. Feel free to comment below if you know any.

15. Clarice Lispector
Translated books and their translators: The Besieged City, Giovanni Pontiero; The Chandelier, Benjamin Moser & Magdalena Edwards (read this!); Near to the Wild Heart, Alison Entrekin; A Breath of Life, Johnny Lorenz; The Passion According to G.H., Ronald W. Souza; Complete Stories, Katrina Dodson; The Apple in the Dark, Gregory Rabassa; An Apprenticeship, or, The Book of Delights, Richard A. Mazzare; Discovering the World, Giovanni Pontiero; The Hour of the Star, Giovanni Pontiero; The Stream of Life, Elizabeth Lowe & Earl Fitz.
Interesting fact: Clarice “was one of the first Brazilian women to graduate from law school and to become a journalist.” “Being famous for her striking beauty did not make her popular, which mattered to a woman whose talent was proportional to her sensitivity.” She’s the most widely translated and the best known woman writer in Brazil.

16. Dinah Silveira de Queiroz
Translated books and their translators: Christ’s Memorial, Isabel do Prado; The Women of Brazil, Roberta King.

17. Edla van Steen
Translated book and its translator: Village of the Ghost Bells, David George.

18. Eliane Brum
Translated books and their translators: The Collector of Leftover Souls: Field Notes on Brazil Everyday, Diane Grosklaus Whitty; One Two, Lucy Greaves.

Read Diane Grosklaus Whitty’s interview in my Greatest Women in Translation series here.

19. Fernanda Torres
Translated books and their translators: Glory and Its Litany of Horrors, Eric M. B. Becker; The End, Alison Entrekin.

20. Helena Parente Cunha
Translated book and its translator: Woman Between Mirrors, Fred P. Ellison & Naomi Lindstrom.

21. Hilda Hilst
Translated books and their translators: With My Dog Eyes, Adam Morris; The Obscene Madame D., Nathanaël & Rachel Gontijo Araujo; Letters from a Seducer, John Keene.

22. Lya Luft
Translated books and their translators: The Island of the Dead, Carmen Chaves McClendon & Betty Jean Craige; The Red House, Giovanni Pontiero.

23. Lygia Fagundes Telles
Translated books and their translator: The Girl in the Photograph, Margaret A. Neves; The Marble Dance, Margaret A. Neves.

24. Lygia Nunes
Translated books and their translators: The Companions, Ellen Watson; My Friend the Painter, Giovanni Pontiero.

25. Maria Esther Maciel
Translated stories and their translator: The Meanings of Yellow, Daniel Hahn; The Voice of Silence, Daniel Hahn.

26. Marilene Felinto
Translated book and its translator: The Women of Tijucopapo, Irene Matthews.

27. Marília Garcia
Translated poems and their translator: It’s a Love Story and It’s About an Accident, Hilary Kaplan; Love Story, A-Z, Hilary Kaplan.

28. Martha Batalha
Translated book and its translator: The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao, Eric M. B. Becker.

29. Maurinete Lima
Translated poems and their translators: Fear and Its Trajectory, Flávia Rocha & Eric M. B. Becker; Sinhá Rosa; Flávia Rocha.

30. Nélida Piñón
Translated books and their translator: The Republic of Dreams: A Novel, Helen Lane; Caetana’s Sweet Song, Helen Lane.
Interesting fact: Nélida was the first woman president of Academia Brasileira de Letras.

31. Nikelen Witter
Translated work and its translator: Mary G., Christopher Karstensmith.

32. Nina Rizzi
Translated poem and its translator: Mermaid in the Glass of Water, Rafaela Miranda.

33. Noemi Jaffe
Translated book and its translator: What are the Blind Men Dreaming?, Julia Sanches & Ellen Elias-Bursac.

Read Julia Sanches’ interview in my Greatest Women in Translation series here.

34. Patrícia Galvão
Translated book and its translator: Industrial Park: A Proletarian Novel, Elizabeth Jackson & Kenneth David Jackson.

35. Patrícia Mello
Translated books and their translator: The Body Snatcher, Clifford E. Landers; Black Waltz, Clifford E. Landers.

36. Paula Parisot
Translated book and its translator: The Lady of Solitude, Elizabeth Lowe & Clifford E. Landers.

37. Raquel de Queiroz
Translated books and their translators: The Three Marias, Fred P. Ellison; Dora, Doralina, Dorothy Scott Loos; The Three Marias, Fred P. Ellison.
Interesting fact: Raquel was also a translator.

38. Regina Rheda
Translated book and its translator: First World Third Class and Other Tales of the Global Mix, Adria Frizzi.

39. Socorro Acioli
Translated book and its translator: The Head of the Saint, Daniel Hahn. (I read it in Portuguese and loved it! It’s a nice reading.)

40. Stella Car Ribeiro
Translated book and its translator: Sambaqui: A Novel of Pre-History, Claudia Van der Heuvel.

41. Tatiana Salem Levy
Translated book and its translator: The House in Smyrna, Alison Entrekin.

42. Veronica Stigger
Translated book and its translator: Opisanie Swiata, Zoë Perry.

43. Zulmira Ribeiro Tavares
Translated book and its translator: Family Heirlooms, Daniel Hahn.

 

Hope you like it. If you read any of them because you saw this post, feel free to come and tell us know what you thought of it.

Do you know any other Brazilian women authors with books translated into English? Let us know in the comments below and I’ll add them to the list above.

And make sure to keep an eye out on the hashtag #WiTmonth on Twitter and on Meytal’s list of #100BestWIT, with women authors from all over the world translated into English.

 

Suggested reading:
Latin American Women Writers: A Resource Guide to Titles in English, by Kathy S. Leonard
One Hundred Years After Tomorrow: Brazilian Women’s Fiction in the 20th Century, edited and translated by Darlene J. Sadlier
Fourteen Female Voices from Brazil, interviews and works selected and edited by Elzbieta Szoka
Wikipedia’s List of Brazilian Women Writers
Benjamin Moser and the Smallest Women in the World, by Magdalena Edwards, Clarice Lispector’s translator, on men taking credit for women’s work

Guest post: How to make sure you are charging enough

Welcome back to our guest post series!

This month Richard Lackey, of Contractually Speaking, explains how he conducts a rate audit to see if he is charging enough for what he needs and for what he is worth.

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Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

What am I worth as a freelance translator?
And how data can help you analyse your client list

A recent ProCopywriters survey came to a startling conclusion. Level of qualifications among copywriters appears to be inversely linked to earnings, in fact those who left school at 16 came out top.

This got me thinking. Could it be that many translators – who are generally highly educated – also charge too little?

Day rates, project fees, by the hour or by the word?

With the myriad of different ways to charge, it can be tough to compare rates from one client to another or from one job to another. A higher per-word rate on a tricky little project can be much less profitable than a fairly average rate on a much larger project.

The only way to truly tell is to break it down hour by hour and see what you are earning.

A two-week audit

Just like dieting, the only way to get really useful data is to track everything. You will need to keep note of exactly what you make and how long you spend working. This could be one week or, for a more accurate representation, I would recommend two weeks.

I created a very simple Excel to collect this data for me. You can download a copy of this Excel for yourself here. It’s very simple: all you need to do is fill out how many words you need to translate and the rate, then record how many words you have left to do after a half-hour or one hour session. If you are translating a non-editable file and don’t know the word count, I created a “Countup” page that provides similar data. This tracker is based on using the Pomodoro technique.

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Image provided by the author

Did I change my rates after the audit?

Absolutely. Mid-way through last year I found I was working too much and needed to lighten my workload. Immediately after doing this analysis, I substantially raised my rates for two longstanding clients who had given me regular work, but at a rate that wasn’t giving me a good enough hourly rate.

Further analysis

The second analysis I performed, together with my business mentor, was an analysis of all my clients from the past 18 months. By grouping together all the jobs for each client, I created a neat pie chart. This highlighted my most important clients, but also showed that many profitable jobs are one-offs for new clients.

Moving forward

Project fees are now by far my preferred way to charge direct clients, but I’m still making the initial calculation based on the word count. I would like to move towards estimating the number of days a job will take and basing my fee on a day rate. Not only is it easier to compare with other professions, but it could also be a better way of allocating my working hours.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever done a rates audit to analyse your clients?

References

For more on the survey mentioned at the top, see John Espirian’s post for an interesting discussion of copywriting rates. Rates surveys like the 2001 ITI/CIOL survey (or the 2011 edition) or the BDU survey are still useful sources of data. There are also many calculators out there that help you to calculate how much you spend or need per month (such as this one by Luke Spears) although I disagree with this approach.

About the author
Richard LackeyRichard Lackey has been translating from Spanish and French to English since 2011, now as Contractually Speaking, specialising in legal and business translations. He is a qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), Deputy Coordinator of the ITI Spanish Network committee, and a regular contributor to the bimonthly ITI Bulletin on topics such as legal translation, translation technology and co-working. You can contact him at richard@contractuallyspeaking.co.uk, via Twitter, @ContractSpeak, or his website: www.contractually-speaking.co.uk.

Summary of the BP19 Translation Conference

This year I attended the BP Translation Conference for the first time. It was held in Bologna, Italy, on May 1-3.

It was a fantastic experience! I especially liked the app where attendees were able to engage and create activities for everyone to join. It was a great way to get to know people before the conference. When we arrived at the conference, it was as if we were all long-time friends! It’s great not only for newbies and shy and introvert people, but also for everybody who likes networking and meeting new people.

Here is a brief overview on the sessions I attended. The post is longer than usual, but only because there were so many great presentations and insights.

May 1: Workshops

Multilingual SEO for translators, by David García Ruiz

Fresh content is king. Our website’s content should be useful, valuable, relevant (describing what we do and what our clients look for using keywords), competitive (the more specific, the better). Each page should have from 600 to 2,000 words. If your website is in more than on language, you should include language meta tags (hreflang); otherwise, Google will not recognize it as multilingual.

According to a research mentioned by David, “75% [of web visitors] prefer to buy products in their native language. In addition, 60% rarely or never buy from English-only websites.” Therefore, it is important to have a website translated into your working languages.

May 2: Long sessions

Hectic lives + happy clients: four tendencies to rule them all, by Anne-Sophie De Clerq

We develop habits to be able to deal with constraints and expectations, both useful and bad ones.

The big question we should make ourselves is: Who are you? How do you respond to internal and external expectations?

Anne-Sophie’s presentation was based on Gretchen Rubin’s The Four Tendencies framework, which helps getting people to do what you want by identifying what type of tendency they have:

  • Obligers: Respond well to external expectations and like being of assistance.
  • Questioners: Respond well to internal expectations and love knowledge.
  • Upholders: Respond well to both internal and external expectations; their motto is “In discipline we trust.”
  • Rebels: Do not respond well to neither and love freedom.

Listen to what clients have to say to understand who they are and identify their tendency in order to facilitate your selling your services to them.

Suggestions of things you can do according to their tendency:

  • Upholders: Send your portfolio and let them judge, do not pressure them, and ask just the essential questions.
  • Obligers: Show how much you can help them; go for the human touch.
  • Questioners: Describe your process and your strengths; answer any questions thoroughly.
  • Rebels: Display your identity and your passion; offer them choices.

Bottom line is: We are all different, so flexibility is paramount.

What legal clients want – As told by a former client, by Paige Dygert

According to Paige, who is a lawyer herself, most lawyers are horrible procrastinators. However, they are loyal clients. They will hang on to you. And they have the budget, so do not be afraid to charge what you are worth. You can charge for being good, and fast!

When communicating with law clients, be polished (reflect what you want from them; it is not about what you like and enjoy or not), precise (detail-oriented), concise (appreciate their time, be straightforward), and complete.

When working with them, just be the translator, know your role. When asking questions, group them, offer solutions, and know when to ask. Be succinct, reliable, and responsive. Provide excellent translations.

Law journals are the best source of reference material and the highest quality one! Their content is, most of the time, perfectly written.

Get a lawyer mentor to help you. LinkedIn and Facebook are great places to find lawyers. If you reach out to them, respect their time!

A killer marketing strategy to win your dream clients, by Sarah Silva

Persistence is key when trying to find dream clients. Be prepared to stand out and be different. Have a long-term strategy (not a one-time sales promotion).

You can use direct client marketing to keep existing clients, contact old clients, or find new ones. Examples: physical post (lumpy mail, letter, postcard), email and digital marketing, and real conversations (phone, video call, in person). Lumpy mail is comprised of a surprise and delight package in order to make a great first impression. Follow-up with a postcard, email, call, etc. People respond better to handwritten messages.

Do not be afraid to dream big. Dream as big as you like and see what happens. Start with whom you want to work with. Ask for referrals from your good existing clients. Get to know your market (better) and have fun!

Keep that in mind this question when prospecting: “So what?” What do your prospects care about? Grab their attention, talk about their problems, and how you can be the solution.

Let your dream clients know that you exist and care, and that they can trust you.

GDPR and translators: easy steps to protect your and your clients’ data, by Irene Koukia

Backup options: Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, Google Drive. Backup every day! What to backup: TMs, CAT folders, etc.

Boxcryptor: Data security across smartphones, tablets, and desktops. You can choose what to encrypt and what not.

Whisply: secure and easy file transfer.

A VPN secures your private network. Ideal if you work on the go or use a shared Wi-Fi (almost all of us, right?).

Learn what is what about terminology extraction tools, by Andriy Yasharov

Terminology extraction is like data mining, where terms are subtracted from a text. It can be helpful for creating glossaries, thesaurus, and dictionaries; extracting terminology for TMs, etc. It is important because it also extracts the context of a term. Terminology extraction tools: SDL Multiterm Extract, memoQ TE module, SynchroTerm, Sketch Engine, PlusTools for MS Word, FiveFilters, WebCorp, AntConc, Rainbow.

May 3: Short talks

The very first of the day was mine. I will try to write about it in another future post.

Strategies to get more translation clients in a non-spammy way, Olga Jeczmyk Nowak

How to increase clients and keep them coming? Study the market. Contact prospects with a personalized email. Offer them something they are looking for. Reply to them as soon as possible. Don’t spam! Avoid being spammy by personalizing your emails and writing enough professional content (spam filters dislike short emails!). Be honest. Find your identity and make some noise online.

Be online and be active: If you’re not on Google, you don’t exist. Choose the best platform(s) for you.

How to distinguish yourself? Create a brand and keep improving it. Offer something different and more elaborate. Adapt your service according to each client. Keep reinventing yourself!

How to raise your rates (and still keep your clients), by Susanne Präsent-Winkler

Start raising your rates with new clients, especially when you are busy. Then do it with your current clients. Base your raise on your country’s inflation rate. Set your limit as to how low you can go on the rate to still make a living and stick to it. Don’t work for peanuts, for the sake of the entire industry!

Add all relevant steps of your translation process in the quote, so that the client knows what is included in the price.

Dealing with difficult customers – conflict management for translators, by Peter Oehmen

After a negative client experience, 67% of the customers buy somewhere else, only 33% of them stay. One unhappy client tells 15 other people about their negative experience. One happy client, on the other hand, tells six other people about their positive experience.

Conflicts are based on differences of perspective, so we need to understand others’ perspectives and be able to explain our own. Be clear and factual in your communication. Go for consensus and compromise.

The power of soft skills in a digital age, Jaquelina Guardamagna

We need to get better at being human. That is why soft skills have become essential nowadays. They are personal traits that enable individuals to interact effectively. They can help us win clients, when combined with hard skills.

Essential soft skills in the digital age: Empathy, decision making (decisions are part of human nature), flexibility, creativity (it’s what keep us dreaming), collaboration, self-management. If we use them effectively, we will never be replaced! Soft skills will be the difference between those who get replaced by machines, and those who succeed in a digital age.

Bucking the trend of self-promotion (and still obtain the results you want), by Magda Phili

Self-focused narratives: As translators, if we don’t talk about ourselves, who will, right? However, improve your narrative to avoid being perceived as arrogant: Rephrase it and involve other people.

Magda said that her experience showed her that translators working together and promoting each other see their business grow. Solidarity and collaboration boosts confidence, improves quality and efficiency, and helps you gain perspective.

Humility brings collaboration, collaboration brings more work and excellence, while perseverance brings results.

Are you really a professional?, by Vasiliki Prestidge

According to Vasiliki, prices don’t say anything about you and your services. We’re more than just a number!

“Every package is the golden package,” she said. Therefore, we should treat everybody with the same level of professionalism. In a hyperconnected world, one contact can change our life. Be professional in all aspects of your work. You never know who will be impressed by you and request your services. “You look like a business, you behave like a business, you get the business.”

Productivity hacks for translators, by Sherif Abuzid

Sherif talked about Can Newport’s concept of deep work, which is mastering how to focus on a single task in order to boost productivity and maximize your energy expenditure.

If your laptop battery would last for only one hour and you had to choose one app to use, which one would you choose? Your answer will show your priority. We have a limited amount of energy, like batteries. We need to make the best use if it, setting priorities.

Deep work means working in a distraction-free environment, fully focused. If you totally focus at one task at a time, you are more productive. “Focus is the new IQ.” Focused professionals stand out from others. Start with the most important tasks and keep your main goals in mind.

It’s not only about business. We can apply deep work to our personal life as well. Keep your phone away during family time!

How to follow the deep work principle: Plan for tomorrow; focus on goals, not tasks (do what makes you move forward); and set tight deadlines for all activities

Do you diversify your business?, by Francesca Manicardi

Diversification is for creative minds who can easily switch from an activity to another and who can properly manage their time.

Pros of diversifying your business: More stable source of income; creativity boost; change of perspective; and increased visibility.

Effective time management for translators, by Iwona Piatkowska

The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you are the pilot.

The first step to greater productivity is to create a distraction-free environment, and that is something only you can do, e.g. mute your phone, close the door, have a dedicated office, switch off push/desktop notifications, etc.

Work in chunks and take cycled breaks, e.g. Pomodoro Technique. Take into account that our attention span is of 45-50 minutes. Make your breaks effective: Change constantly, go away from the computer (walk the dog, do the dishes), energize your body, etc.

Track your progress, especially in long projects. It boosts your confidence and keeps you motivated. Do 50-60% of the project as soon as possible. Be a (wo)man of action!

A balanced and healthy lifestyle is the foundation of productivity on a daily basis. Exercise frequently, eat nutritious meals, and sleep well.

Clean your desk every evening, plan your day ahead, set a timer for tasks, and invoice projects immediately.

Running a translation business as a restaurant: tips for a balanced menu, by Carlos la Orden Tovar

According to Carlos, there are four types of restaurant: 1. Just another takeaway: Unbelievably average; rat race. 2. The franchise: Generic, but familiar; safe money; average service = average clients. 3. Luxury restaurant: High-end clients, elaborate services, based on a thorough experience. 4. Classic revisited: Pick classic stuff; add a new, unique touch; charge double; focused on clients who value quality and innovation.

Make a list of your skills, things you are good at. Make a list of what is trending in the market. Score them and craft the perfect menu of your service offers.

Stretch your services by offering, for example, DTP, QA, testing, glossary & TM services, etc. But don’t stretch it too much. Focus on your strengths.

Study your ideal client, engage and find out, list your needs, plan buffer time, and consider investing in proper training.

 

That’s it! I hope you like my brief summary of the conference. As you can see, it was totally worth it. So if I got you into considering attending it next year, it will be held in Nürnberg, Germany, on April 24-25, 2020! Save the date and stay tuned for more information.

If you were interested in any talk in particular or in all of them, their recording are available to be purchased on demand here.

You can also find reviews by other attendees here.

Greatest Women in Translation: Robin Myers

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Created by Érick Tonin

Welcome back to our Greatest Women in Translation interview series!

This month, I talk to Robin Myers, US-born, Mexico City-based literary translator and poet, nominated by Charlotte Whittle.

Robin Myers

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1. Could you start by telling us about your beginning in translation?

I first became fascinated with translation in my late teens. At the time, it felt like the natural amalgam of several other interests: poetry, the Spanish language, and Mexico. I was born and raised in the US, but part of my father’s family came from Mexico; I visited a couple times as a child and always wanted to spend more time here. So I studied Spanish as the means to this very specific end. I lived in the city of Oaxaca for a few months after high school, then again halfway through college. It was during those early experiences of real immersion—in the language, in a place I loved, in my first Spanish-speaking friendships, in my first forays into reading contemporary Mexican literature—that I started experimenting with translation. There was something very simple and earnest about those initial explorations: I just wanted to share what I was reading (whether in English or Spanish) with people I cared about. As innocent as this may sound to me now—or at least as far removed as it can feel from certain parts of the day-to-day grind—I still believe that the desire to translate springs from the desire to connect, period. Of course we want that! Of course we want to bring disparate words, disparate worlds together.

In any case, it wasn’t too long before my translatorly hopes and expectations came into contact with more technical realities. In college, I spent a semester studying in Buenos Aires and took a workshop with Ezequiel Zaidenwerg, a remarkable Argentine poet and translator. Ezequiel’s approach emphasized the metrical building blocks of the Spanish-language poetic tradition, and at first I railed against this focus on syllable-counting and form. But I came around, and I started to genuinely enjoy the search for poetic “solutions” within a set of formal parameters. Ezequiel’s mentorship was very important to me as I started translating in a more professional way, and we’ve both gone on to translate each other’s work over the years, which has been a great gift.

2. Besides being a translator you are also a poet. Does being a poet help as translator and vice-versa? If so, how?

It absolutely helps. Both poetry and translation (and by this I mean the translation of anything, not just poetry) are practices rooted in the materiality of language. If you write poetry or translate anything, you are in the business of dealing with words as stuff, as resources, as concrete elements you shape and combine to form certain structures and spark particular effects in the reader. Of course, in translation, you’re using language in response to—in relation to—language that already exists in the world. You’re writing (because translating is also writing) in the service of and in complicity with that language. In this sense, too, translation demands both that you saturate yourself with the original text and that you distance yourself from it. That doubleness has helped me write my own poetry, I think, at least in the sense that it’s made the experience of writing poetry much more interesting. For one thing, it’s made me more conscious of the artifice of whatever I’m doing (and I mean “artifice” not as an insult but as a fact). For the same reason, it’s also made me feel freer to experiment: to think with more curiosity and more gratitude about language as “tools” and how I might try them out. I do feel that writing poetry affects my translations as well, or my approach to translating. For example, I care a great deal about sound when I write poetry, about what happens to words when we string them together and speak them aloud, and I feel a similar need to “hear” what language does in translating both poetry and prose. That said, I don’t mean to talk about this obsession with sound as if it were strictly the domain of poetry, much less of poets, because that’s not the case at all! I’m just musing about what it feels like for me in going about things as I go about them.

3. Could you please kindly share one of your (short) poems with us?

Here’s an untitled poem (they’re all untitled) from a collection called Having, which was translated into Spanish by Ezequiel Zaidenwerg and published as Tener in Argentina, Mexico, and (soon) Spain:

You can have it.

You can have the mad dash
and the mist,
the burned tongue
and honey-slick,
the cup
intact.

The night rage, the gray dawn
forgiving you.

The train,
the track.

The soft hairs
at the nape of the neck,
the thrilled plunge
and the cast.

You can have the rest of it.

You can rest.

It will drive you mad.

You will scald your way through
the days, trying
to have all of it,

having it.

4. In this interview you gave for the Los Angeles Review of Books, you said “translation is a weird, lovely, mysterious, largely invisible relationship, both for the translator and for the translated.” Why is that?

I mean, it’s so intimate! Even if the author and translator never meet, even if the author can’t read the language she’s been translated into, even if the author’s been dead for hundreds of years. No matter what, the translator gets to—has to—inhabit the text, figure out what makes it run, spend an unholy amount of time studying how the author thinks and what she cares about.

The translator invariably has to make tradeoffs, has to figure out what can or should or under no circumstances ought to be sacrificed. It feels like a serious responsibility!

The translator is entrusted with something. With any luck, if she and the author exist on the same mortal plane and can talk to each other and choose to do so, they’ll both view the translation process as something that links them together. And they’ll both register this as an honor: the translator, honored at the invitation to engage with the text, attend to it, and deliver it somewhere new; the translated, honored to have her work—which she, too, once produced in a solitary act of faith—engaged with, attended to, and delivered in this way. But even if the translator and the author walk the earth at different moments in history, or are never in personal contact, or don’t even personally like each other very much, this relationship still exists. The devotion, the attention, the responsibility, the anxiety, the fact that the translator ultimately creates a second work of art that is both inseparable from and necessarily independent of the first: it’s all there, all the time. I find it so strange! Thrillingly strange, though.

5. Your poems are translated into other languages, including Portuguese, right? How is it like being in both sides, as translator and translated author?

It’s been very joyful and moving. Yes, poems of mine have been translated mostly into Spanish, with shorter selections into Galician, Arabic, and Portuguese. Many of these translations have emerged from long-term dialogues and friendships; several of the translators are themselves poets I’ve translated from Spanish into English. So it’s hard to be objective about it; it’s all felt like a series of long, warm conversations, marked by a sense both of deep connection and of distance. Distance in the sense that I always hope a translator will feel that the poems also belong to her, you know? In all her particularities, all her personal styles and tastes and approaches.

If I write a poem and someone else translates it—or the other way around—it’s ours.

Part of what I still find uniquely powerful about the experience of being translated into Spanish, though, is that my books have only been published in Spanish translation. Not in English, and not in my own country of origin. And since I’m based in Mexico, when I take part in poetry readings, for example, I mostly read in Spanish. Which means I’m directly and constantly identifying myself with someone else’s work as my primary form of participation. Which means I’m inhabiting and sharing theirs as much as my own.

6. Are you currently translating any books? If so, could you tell us a bit about them?

I currently have three prose projects in the works: by Mónica Ramón Ríos (Chile), there’s Cars on Fire, a wild, free-wheeling, darkly funny collection of short stories set between Chile and New York, forthcoming from Open Letter Books in 2020; Animals at the End of the World, a novel by Gloria Susana Esquivel (Colombia) about a young girl growing up in her grandparents’ house in Bogotá, forthcoming from the University of Texas Press in 2020; and The Restless Dead, a book of critical essays by Cristina Rivera Garza (Mexico) about disappropriation, “necropolitics,” and contemporary literature. I’m also working on various poetry projects in hopes of eventually finding homes for them in English. These include work by Javier Peñalosa, Maricela Guerrero, and Isabel Zapata (three Mexican poets whose recent books take beautifully and radically different approaches to the natural world and its relationship with contemporary humans); Daniel Lipara, Claudia Masin, and Alejandro Crotto (all from Argentina); and Adalber Salas Hernández (from Venezuela).

7. Now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

I’d like to nominate Juana Adcock, a Mexican-born, Scotland-based poet and translator. Juana translates between Spanish and English in both directions (a superpower that never ceases to amaze me!). Into English, she is the translator of Sexographies by Gabriela Wiener (with Lucy Greaves) and An Orphan World by Giuseppe Caputo (with Sophie Hughes). I met Juana in person only recently, although we’d been in touch for months before that, because I had the privilege of translating her poetry collection Manca into English. By the end of the process—which involved great openness, engagement, and creativity on her part—I really felt that Juana and I had become co-translators. I feel lucky to know her and learn from her in both languages!

Guest post: The power of introversion

Welcome back to our guest post series, dear readers!

This month, I’d like you to welcome Greek translator and interpreter Vasiliki Prestidge, from Greek to Me Translations.

Welcome, Vasiliki!

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Source: Unsplash

Translators and the secret power of introversion

“Not enough classroom participation.”
“She has the answers to the questions, but she never puts her hand up. The other children are not benefiting.”
“She’s excellent, but she has to try harder to share.”

My parents always received the same feedback from my teachers.

The thing is, there was nothing wrong with me. I was simply an introvert.

There’s so much negativity attached to introversion. So many misunderstandings. Decades later, I am still an introvert. I am also a translator, interpreter, blogger, consultant and founder of Greek to Me Translations. Did my introversion stop me from becoming who I am today? No, to the contrary. It has pushed me in the right direction.

But let’s take it from the start. Reading this, you are probably a translator too. And you may consider yourself an introvert too. Do you feel like not going out, talking to people, or picking up the phone? Are you terrified of conferences, and making contacts during events? Welcome to the world of introversion. Hey, it’s really not that bad.

I want to clarify that I use the word ‘introversion’ within the context of MBTI, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Many of you might be familiar with it, some not. In this framework, introversion is not about shyness. It’s about energy. Some people take their energy from others (extroverts) and some from within themselves (introverts). Think of the sunflower; it always turns to the sun. Now think of a cactus; it conserves its energy within it and requires few external stimuli.

Extroversion doesn’t make you better and neither does introversion. However, what makes you the best is a balance of both traits. Naturally, you are more comfortable with one of the two personality preferences. But perhaps, your job or culture has pushed you toward adopting features of the opposite side. These are your coping mechanisms and they are great. They turn you into a fully-grown personality.

But these definitions are not about putting people in boxes and locking them there. They constitute a common language offering you the opportunity to understand yourself, accept your gaps and find ways to develop. Isn’t that liberating?

There are two tools that can help you identify your preferences. MBTI Step I gives you a first taste of your preferences. MBTI Step II allows your palate to discover the full range of tastes. Maybe you know you like fish in general, but you might not like salmon or maybe you cannot eat scallops.

Similarly, there are different facets to introversion. Maybe you are an introvert who enjoys running their business from home, on their own, but you don’t mind initiating conversation with potential clients at events. Maybe you feel uncomfortable getting to events by yourself, but once you are there, you’re fine. Or, you find it difficult to initiate conversation, but once someone starts speaking with you, you cannot stop talking.

Introversion is far more complex than we think, and it certainly doesn’t put you in an inferior position. Did you know that introverts make the perfect freelance entrepreneurs and great leaders? Introverts thrive in solitude. They read others and they can listen. I mean they can properly listen.

Then thinking of marketing ‒ an important side of running a business ‒ social media has empowered introverted entrepreneurs to share without feeling exhausted. And did you know introverts are better with social media? That’s because they focus on the internal ideas and feelings which means they are more likely to process before publishing. And that sometimes is truly valuable.

But of course, having the best of both worlds requires effort. The first step to achieving balance is acceptance. Accept you are an introvert and that that’s OK. Then, you invest in understanding your introversion. Everyone is different. We all come from different backgrounds and cultures. Sometimes, a temporary life event could be impacting your core personality preferences. So, self-awareness is key.

Then, you can start learning. And you can learn from extroverts. Think of those instances where being an extrovert could benefit you. Do you have gaps? Identify your goals and keep them in a notebook. This can become your extroversion workbook. The important thing to remember is that you can’t do too much too soon. And by that, I mean take it one step at a time.

For example, if your biggest challenge in running your business is networking with potential clients at conferences or trade fairs, then start small. Go to a local meet-up. Find an event with fewer people. Then, you scale up. Find your “event-buddy”; someone you go to events with. But be careful as this is dangerous. You may end up talking only to your “event-buddy” and that’s not helpful.

And remember, you are definitely not alone in this. I have a secret suspicion that most translators are introverts. So, give yourself a pat on the back. Don’t forget your natural preferences. Allow yourself quiet, me-time. It’s how you thrive.

Do you feel exhausted after a 2-day conference? I’ll let you into a secret: most people do. Don’t beat yourself up. You have the secret power of introversion. Own it.

About the author
VasilikiVasiliki Prestidge is a Greek into English and English into Greek translator and interpreter. She specialises in legal, marketing and psychometrics. She is an MBTI Step I and Step II qualified practitioner. She is the founder of Greek to Me Translations and blogs on www.grtome.com/blog. She often gives webinars and talks in conferences and she enjoys networking. (Believe it or not, she is an introvert). You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Learning from customer experience

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

As translators/interpreters, we are service providers. All companies/brands that sell services/products also provide an experience to their customers, and this experience starts from the very beginning, even before prospects contact us, when they try to find us or someone who can provide what they need. And it ends way after the product/service is delivered, but it doesn’t necessarily need to, that’s also the point.

As a customer, I love great experiences! I easily become loyal to brands that go beyond and provide me the best service possible. Likewise, I easily let go of brands who let me down somehow. And when there is reasonable competition, even the smallest detail can make a difference. As customers, we have a lot to learn also as entrepreneurs. After all, learning from mistakes (and successes) of others is better than making our own, right?

When we need something, a service or a product, we are vulnerable (or at least control freaks like me are). Leaving our comfort zones is not easy. We have to look for someone who can provide us something we need with quality, a reasonable price, reliability, and, most of the times, we do not have a clue as to what this means. If the service provider makes us feel at ease, comfortable and happy with their service, then we can easily trust them. If, on the other hand, they make our lives even more difficult than they already are, the entire experience becomes a nightmare.

Here are three real-life scenarios that I’ve been through and from which I learned a lot!

Scenario 1: Post office

Important fact: here in Brazil, mailmen usually don’t work on Sundays.

Another important fact: as you might all be aware, Brazil is not exactly a safe country. And I live by myself at a house, as opposed to an apartment, that is usually safer.

At 9 a.m. on a Sunday, the doorbell rings. I was still sleeping, because I had gone out the night before and arrived really late. I answer the intercom. A man on the other side identifies himself as the mailman. Still sleepy, I think, “The mailman, on a Sunday?” I ask him whom the package is for (something I always do, to check the person is indeed the mailman and the package is indeed intended for me, since other people have lived in my house before and their mail still keep coming). He confirms my name, in a rather impatient voice, probably noticing I’m reluctant. I think, “Ok, that is information people can easily get ahold of. This is still weird.” I tell him I find that strange, “I’m sorry, sir, but what guarantee do I have you are indeed the mailman, on a Sunday morning?” He becomes quite mad, goes away and leaves me speaking to myself over the intercom.

Later on, I find out they had been working on Sundays because they were late on deliveries. But I learned this from someone else, because the mailman himself didn’t even care to try to explain that to me.

I tried to track the package and see where it had been taken to, with no success. I got yelled at over the phone and hung up on a couple of times, so I just gave up.

Of course mailmen know they don’t usually work on Sundays. The guy was probably so pissed he had to work on a Sunday morning that he simply didn’t care. No empathy at all, no trying to understand my position, no respect, just plain rudeness.

Takeaway: We often complain that clients say “translator,” when they mean “interpreter,” or that they want everything for yesterday, and so on. And many of us are even rude or have no patience at all with people that are not from our area and that have misleading ideas about it. How would they know? It’s our role to be patient and try to explain, in a way they understand, how things work. Whining, complaining and having lack of patience with people are not the solution.

Scenario 2: Landline technical support

My landline was silent. I had no signal to make calls, but I ran some quick and simple tests and found out it was probably the device itself, not the connection. I took it to a place specialized in technical phone support. The girl ran not one, but several tests, in different power supplies, using different wires, until she found what the problem was.

This is it, plain and simple, right? You are probably thinking, “C’mon, that’s her job.” Yes, it is, I agree. However, unfortunately, people simply don’t do their jobs anymore. They simply don’t care. What I expected: her trying once or twice, at the most, and giving up, saying it was broken and that I needed to buy a new device. Instead, I was really impressed at how much she cared and tried to find what the problem was.

Takeaway: Are we doing our jobs? My clients are frequently ecstatic with me for just doing my job: delivering on time, sometimes, if possible, even earlier, doing a good job, etc. Basic things we are expected to do, but that, apparently, most translators don’t. Is the competition fierce? Are there a lot of translators out there? Yes and yes. However, what’s the quality of the service they provide? Delivering on time is Translation 101, Lesson 1. If, apart from that, you go a bit beyond and try to deliver earlier whenever you can, believe me, you win the client. Go the extra mile. Be the solution your client needs and, if you can’t solve their problem yourself, be proactive and try to find someone who can. Clients usually don’t have a clue about the translation world. We do.

Scenario 3: Nike store

I love Nike products. In my opinion, they are high-quality and worth every penny. I still wear clothes that are more than five years old and that are still in good shape. Ok, so I am already a fan of the brand, fine.

They have a cool store in São Paulo (I live in a town about two hours from the big city). The last time I went there I was amazed! As I was taking a look at the store and choosing what I would try on, the salesperson was preparing the dressing room with other suggestions of things I could like based on my choices. When I arrived in the dressing room, they had even written my name one the door! Maybe you wouldn’t care less about it, but I do. Who doesn’t like to feel special?

Takeaway: Each client is special in their own way and should be treated accordingly. We should make our clients feel they are unique, because they are. Pamper them whenever and however you can. I send personalized handwritten Christmas cards with a branded little something every end of the year to all my clients. I also send branded handwritten Thank You notes to clients and partners or whomever I feel like thanking. Whatever you do, make sure all your clients feel that you care about each of them and that they are special to you. This simple attitude may be what differentiates you from other equally great translators and what makes your clients not even think twice before requesting your services.

A key aspect to a successful customer experience (and to everything in life, let’s face it) is empathy. Wearing our customers’ shoes is essential to understanding their needs and providing the best service possible. It’s like that old saying by Confucius goes, “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” And vice-versa. It’s as simple as that. No need to overcomplicate or overthink things. No secret formula. No million-dollar strategy.

What have you learned from your own customer experiences?

Guest post: TA First Translation Prize shortlists

Happy 2018, dearest readers!

Thanks for the patience in waiting for new posts! Posts will resume as usual starting from today. And to make up to your patient and kind waiting, here are some words on the fresh announcement of the Society of Authors’ TA First Translation Prize, from Daniel Hahn himself.

Welcome, Daniel!

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Source: Society of Authors

Today my fellow judges and I announce the four shortlisted books for this year’s TA First Translation Prize, a prize launched in 2017 and run by the Society of Authors, to reward the best book-length debut prose translation published in the UK. The translation profession is pretty rude health, I think, but the relative shortage of work means it’s still highly competitive, which means it’s hard for a newcomer to break into; so this prize is designed to give those starting out a little friendly encouragement…

The judges for the inaugural prize last year selected Bela Shayevich’s translation of Second-Hand Time (by the Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich), published by Jacques Testard at Fitzcarraldo Books. Testard himself shared in the win, as this £2000 prize unusually rewards not only the translator but also her/his editor – in grateful recognition of that invaluable but mostly invisible contribution editors make to our profession.

This year, translator Margaret Jull Costa, publisher Philip Gwyn Jones and I read through all the eligible books – fiction long and short, assorted non-fiction, work for children, illustrated books – and narrowed them down to just four titles. A slightly shorter shortlist than last year, but we took the decision that we didn’t merely want to settle with a fixed number that a majority of us were more or less keen on, rather we wanted a list of books – however many that may be – of which we all felt that genuinely any one could win. Which is certainly the case for the selection we ended up with: very different books, but all of us felt that any one of them would be a worthy winner of the prize. We three judges were delighted at what we discovered. (And we – two translators and a publisher, all very experienced – are a pretty demanding bunch…)

The books we’ve chosen are as follows:

I Am the Brother of XXGini Alhadeff’s translation of a collection of Fleur Jaeggy’s short stories (publ. And Other Stories). This isn’t just a superb collection from Jaeggy herself, it’s also a masterpiece of translatory control. Gini Alhadeff follows every beat of Jaeggy’s prose, matching its subtle modulations and its sharp turns to truly impressive effect. This is writing that’s often restrained, often cool, and yet really gets under your skin, and stays there. I learned after reading this that Alhadeff has some experience translating poetry, which comes as no surprise.

The Impossible Fairy-TaleJanet Hong’s translation of the beautiful and disturbing novel by Han Yujoo (pub. Tilted Axis Press). Any book that needs to grip its reader so tightly for over 300 pages demands great precision from a translator. But a novel that seems to have language as one of its subjects must of course present a particular additional challenge, and Janet Hong has met this challenge brilliantly – with energy, style and often great imaginativeness.

FirefliesFionn Petch’s translation of the book by Luis Sagasti (publ. Charco Press). An unusual book, and – I think for all of us on the panel – one of the real discoveries of our reading. It’s an ambitious novel (is it really a novel?), deeply and cleverly intriguing but structurally fleet-footed (-winged?). Translator Fionn Petch gives us Sagasti in a voice that is just as erudite, meditative and beautifully poetic as it needs to be but conveyed in absolutely readable clarity, too – a lot harder to do than it looks.

Can You Hear Me?Alex Valente’s translation of Elena Varvello’s unputdownable piece of noir (publ. Two Roads). In some ways, this is the most understated piece of translation on the list, which is its own challenge; the particular voice and atmosphere and pacing require something very clear, very clean, very unshowy – a kind of prose with no room for any wrong notes. Which can be as hard, and certainly as unforgiving, as the more virtuosic work – but Valente’s work is impeccable.

It’s quite a quartet, I think. I’d strongly recommend you check out the work of these four brilliant translators – who may just be starting out, but, rather depressingly, can already teach the rest of us a thing or two…

We announce the winning translator and editor at an event at the British Library in London, on the evening of February 13th.

Official announcement: The Translation Prizes 2018 shortlists

About the author

Daniel Hahn

Credit: John Lawrence

Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor and translator with some sixty books to his name. He is a past chair of the Translators Association and the Society of Authors, and currently on the judging panel for the TA First Translation Prize.

Greatest Women in Translation: Heather Cleary

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Image created by Érick Tonin

Welcome back to our amazing Greatest Women in Translation interview series!

Please welcome this month’s interviewee, Heather Cleary, Spanish into English literary translator nominated by Allison Markin Powell.

Heather Cleary

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1. First of all, it’s a pleasure to be talking to one of the nominees for the inaugural National Book Awards in the category of Translated Literature. Congratulations, Heather! Could you tell us a bit more about the book that rendered your nomination, Comemadre, by Roque Larraquy?

Thank you for the invitation! And for your kind congratulations. Roque and I are very excited about the NBA nomination; the longlist is full of wonderful books that your readers might enjoy checking out. Comemadre is a short novel—very dark, very funny—about our collective obsession with progress and with leaving our mark on the world; it’s about hubris, violence, and love (specifically, the violence inherent to different kinds of love). The title refers to a plant that releases carnivorous spores, which plays a key role in each section.

Comemadre is divided into two parts, the first of which takes place in 1907 in a sanatorium near Buenos Aires, Argentina. A group of doctors has decided to experiment on unwitting test subjects to determine what happens in the moments after death (I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but there are guillotines involved). When they’re not trying to swindle their patients into signing away their lives, these men are busy stabbing one another in the back professionally and romantically; a number of them are infatuated with Ménendez, the Head Nurse. Unsurprisingly, things end badly. We then flash forward a hundred years to drop in on an artist who made a name for himself with a piece involving a two-headed baby, and then teamed up with his doppelgänger to develop performance pieces that involve physical mutilation. Think Damien Hirst on acid. This second part of the novel addresses, through the lens of art, many of the ethical and philosophical questions raised in the first section through science.

This book was extraordinarily fun to translate. It’s grotesque, insightful, and perversely hilarious. It’s full of dirty puns, which I love, and presented other interesting challenges. For example, the “oracles” in the first section of the book occasionally blurt out snippets of text from the second section; finding a way to make this continuity clear without giving too much away or slipping into anachronism was a delightful puzzle.

2. After having two Japanese translator nominees, Allison Markin Powell and Ginny Takemori; a Scandinavian, Nicky Smalley; and a German translator, Jen Calleja, we are back to Latin language translators with you, who translates from Spanish. How did your connection with Spanish start?

It was peer pressure, really. I was in seventh or eighth grade, I think, and my friends were studying Spanish at school. So I joined them. But most of them stopped after a year or two, and by that time I had already fallen in love with the language. I studied it straight through high school, then spent the following summer (and a semester in college) in Spain. After that, I spent some time in Mexico, and later lived in Buenos Aires for almost two years. I kind of stumbled into literary translation in a similar way: I had been frustrated with the shape my undergraduate honors thesis was taking when Richard Sieburth, a professor in the department of Comparative Literature at NYU and a gifted translator of French and German, suggested I switch gears and try my hand at translation. I was immediately hooked, and ended up organizing my life around my desire to do more of it.

3. I noticed your name is placed in a highlighted position on the cover of Comemadre. As far as I know, not all publishers display the translator’s name on the cover, right? At least not in Brazil. So, besides being on the cover, you are highlighted! This is fantastic! Do you think this is something that has been changing lately? What role do translators play in convincing publishers to recognize the translator on the cover of translated books?

Thanks! It has been an absolute delight to work with Coffee House; it really is a press that values translation. As for how common it is here to note the translator’s name on the cover, it varies from publisher to publisher, with independent presses tending to be a bit more open to the idea than the bigger houses. There are always exceptions, though. I think there has definitely been a greater awareness about translation in recent years, and a greater appreciation of what it is that we translators actually do. For this, we have a number of vocal advocates and organizations, like the PEN Translation Committee, to thank.

4. I have already heard of the Japanese term ikigai, which is about finding your purpose in life. Now I see you translated a book called Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, by Héctor Garcia and Francesc Miralles, also from Spanish. Something interesting is that the authors describe the term as “the happiness of always being busy.” Now I am curious. Could you tell a bit more about this book?

Héctor García and Francesc Miralles both spent time in Japan and discovered a shared fascination with certain aspects of the culture there, above all with the value placed on staying active and engaged with friends and family in some of the longest-living communities in the country. In the book, they combine their personal experience talking with centenarians in Okinawa with research from different parts of the world into the benefits of staying active by finding a passion to pursue. From what I understand, the book has done very well.

5. The books you have already translated vary from non-fiction, fiction and poetry, in diverse topics. Do you have a favorite genre?

I wouldn’t say I have a favorite genre, necessarily, but rather that there are certain things I look for in a project. I love working on books that are linguistically complex in one way or another: one of my earliest translation projects was of the work of an avant-garde poet from Argentina named Oliverio Girondo. His later collections are full of neologisms and derive much of their meaning from the sound of the words, the way they ricochet off one another. Sergio Chejfec’s novels are marked by long, intricate sentences that require juggling nested clauses, and Roque Larraquy’s Comemadre, as I mentioned above, is full of puns and wordplay. In this last case, I also enjoyed the challenge of establishing two distinct narrative voices that evoked two very different historical moments. One of the writers I’m working with now, Fernanda Trías, is fascinating for a different reason: she writes emotionally charged narratives with absolute restraint and precision.

6. You are a founding editor of the digital, bilingual Buenos Aires Review, where I found a link to Brasília, among other worldwide cities, and other fiction writings from Brazilian authors. Could you tell us a bit more about this project?

Ah, the BAR! I’m very proud of the work we’ve done, though our production schedule has slowed down [clears throat] significantly. In late 2011, I picked up and moved to Buenos Aires, where Jennifer Croft (winner of this year’s International Man Booker Prize for Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights) was living. She and I spoke extensively about all the wonderful writers around us who were entirely unknown to readers of English; we decided that we wanted to do something about it by creating a platform that was more nimble than print publishing, and able to take more risks. She then invited the writer Maxine Swann, who also lives in Buenos Aires, to join us, and Maxine brought in Pola Oloixarac. And so the magazine was born. It was our hope that it would serve as a launching pad for writers and translators, alike; we’ve also had the privilege of publishing new work by luminaries like Ishion Hutchinson, Ada Limón, Mario Bellatin, and Carol Bensimon. We started with a focus on creating an exchange between English and Spanish, and then broadened our scope to include Portuguese, Chinese, German… the list goes on. Every text on the website appears in at least two languages. It has been a (huge) labor of love that wouldn’t have been possible without our rock star editors, Martín Felipe Castagnet (whose Bodies of Summer was published last year by Dalkey), Lucas Mertehikian, Andrea Rosenberg (see Aura Xilonen’s The Gringo Champion, among her many fabulous translations), and Belén Agustina Sánchez.

7. Now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

I’d like to nominate Elisabeth Jaquette, who—in addition to being a brilliant translator from the Arabic—is also a vital part of the translation community as the Executive Director of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA)… and as a member of the Cedilla & Co. translators collective, of course. Her work has been shortlisted for the TA First Translation Prize, longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award, and supported by PEN/Heim and several English PEN Translates Awards

On speaking the client’s language (not the opposite)

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Photo by Alexandra on Unsplash

I changed my bank accounts – moved to another bank. There I was, at my new bank, signing the endless sheets of contract papers while the manager was explaining how they worked using banking jargon. Besides feeling extremely mad I was losing precious working hours because the manager did not have everything ready, as she said she would, I felt lost a couple of times because I did not understand the specific terms she used. And I felt embarrassed for having to ask her what they meant. When I finally understood, I started asking myself why she wouldn’t use another term, a more commonly-used one with exactly the same meaning.

I struggle to understand financial and banking operations. Whenever I have to deal with related matters, I postpone it to the last possible minute. And when I finally have to take the bulls by the horn, I feel bored and petrified I might do something wrong I may regret later. So why make my life easier and use lay terms if they can show off their banking expertise, right?

I use every single experience as a customer to learn how to deal with my own clients. If I like something, I try to adapt it to my translation business. If not, I reflect to see if I do the same with my clients and, if so, I immediately try to change it.

Do I want my client to feel the way I feel when I have to deal with things I don’t understand?

We should always keep in mind that if a client is coming to us it means they want their problem solved. It doesn’t matter how we do it and the terms we use to describe it. In order to win the client, we need to be as straightforward and clear as possible, and make them feel relieved their problem will be solved according to their needs, so they can go on and worry about other things. We should try to make their lives as easier as possible.

On this note, is it really that important that the client knows the difference between a translation and an interpreting service? Will it really change your entire life to “teach” the client that you are an interpreter, not a translator, for Pete’s sake? In Portuguese, we have different terms for translation into our mother tongue and into our B language (the latter is called versão). Do my Brazilian clients need to know this difference?

Let’s leave our ego aside for a moment and take the focus off us and make it on the client.

First and foremost, we are the language experts – the main reason we should be the ones to speak our client’s language, not the opposite. Secondly, we will be the ones to handle their (written/spoken) words – another reason we should be the ones to speak their language, not the opposite. Thirdly, don’t you just love when, as a client, the service provider truly understands you and doesn’t vomit jargons you don’t understand?

Listen to your client, instead of focusing on “educating” them or “teaching” them. Try to truly understand their needs and talk to them in a language they understand. Do your homework and research more information about them to get to know them even further and understand their language and their world. Always remember the client is king/queen.