Guest post: Do translation customers really care what kind of people they’re buying from? November 18, 2014Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation.
I don’t normally accept guest posts, but I am making an exception for this one. This needs to be heard and discussed.
Guest post by Terena Bell of In Every Language.
Maybe people really don’t care. That’s what I thought this morning as I got out of bed and read today’s news on my cell phone. Maybe people don’t care, maybe they don’t want a better world, maybe there are no rewards for the good or punishment for the bad.
I’ve written in my MultiLingual Magazine column before about how American culture is trending so that people no longer want to spend money at businesses where they find the owner’s behavior deplorable. Well, I’m writing this blog to say that I was wrong. Or at least I was wrong about how or when this particular macrotrend would affect our industry.
See, there’s this little thing going on right now — maybe you’ve heard of it — Crain’s New York is calling it the TransPerfect Storm. I’ve got to admit, the title’s catchy. For those of you who haven’t seen the press, Liz Elting and Philip Shawe, co-owners of translation giant TransPerfect, are going at it in the courts, in the office, in the breakroom — pretty much everywhere these two can find a place to disagree, according to Crain’s, they’re doing it. And it’s not just Crain’s reporting the story either. It’s The New York Post and The New York Daily News, too. And when The Daily News – which let’s face it, is pretty much a fancy tabloid – starts covering the story you know it’s salacious.
According to Crain’s, the two owners “are suing each other for malfeasance and mismanagement, and each wants the other thrown out of the company. The parties have asked a judge to break the deadlock, and a hearing is scheduled for Nov. 18.” The translation industry will be watching today’s results with bated breath.
See, here’s the thing: Many in the translation industry have thought for years that Elting and Shawe are not what most people would call good people. Multiple media reports of Elting kicking Shawe with her heels and pouring coffee on him during work, all the media reports of the f-you emails back and forth, filing restraining orders against the other, all these reports of what – if true – is clearly unprofessional, childish behavior, well juicy as the news maybe, it’s not a surprise to many who work in translation for a living.
In October of 2013, the blog TranslationEthics.com called TransPerfect a “sweatshop” because of the well below standard rates it pays its translators. As far back as 2011, a different blog, TransPerfect Translation Concerns, reported, “It’s only a matter of time [before] a hungry investigative reporter will has burst the … TransPerfect PR bubble [sic], and release some less than glowing information.” Well, that time is now.
So here’s my question, and here’s what has me writing a blog entry before breakfast: Do clients even care? Court documents for the case claim Fortune 100 clients have either threatened to pull or have already pulled over $20 million worth of work. But there’s a big difference between threatening to yank your business and actually doing it. In the sales meetings I’ve been in with current TransPerfect customers, the topic hasn’t even come up. As a TransPerfect competitor, I haven’t had a single client come to me saying, “Oh my, their ethics are horrible, they’re just not good people.“ Have you?
You don’t become the kind of person who would assault your ex-fiance at work overnight. Nor do you develop so much hate for someone overnight that you would sue them in open court to the detriment of your own business. No. If the press is revealing who the owners of TransPerfect are, if this scandal is revealing the way they live their lives, then they have been the people they are for quite some time. Any client kickback now is simply because the world finally sees Elting and Shawe for who they apparently are. But where is the kickback really?
Maybe I’m wrong. What do you think? Will TransPerfect actually lose business because of this? Will clients actually leave? Do translation customers really care what kind of people they’re buying from?
Terena Bell is the chief executive officer of In Every Language, a language services provider offering translation, interpreting, and localization. She served on the Association of Language Companies Leadership Council. She is a member of the Obama Administration’s White House Business Roundtable, which has taken calls from the president and the vice-president, as well as senior advisors and members of the Cabinet. She writes the “Micro/Macro” column for MultiLingual Magazine, and has been quoted by Inc., Forbes, and CNN Money.
(Almost) Wordless Wednesday November 12, 2014Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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New translation tool on the market November 11, 2014Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, Tools, Translation.
There’s a new translation tool on the market. Bad Translator was developed by Ackuna Translator to show just how funny things can get with Machine Translation. Enter any text in English then click “Translate!” to start. The program translates the text back and forth using FreeTranslation.com, TransPerfect, and Yandex, then displays the final English translation.
Bad news for those who work for CLS Communication November 10, 2014Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Translation.
Lionbridge to Acquire CLS Communication
Lionbridge is delighted to announce a definitive agreement to acquire CLS Communication! CLS Communication is a global leader in translation services for financial, industrial, life science, telecom, legal and public sector organizations. This acquisition will further expand Lionbridge’s end market diversification of translation solutions.
CLS is a complementary addition to the Lionbridge team, as both organizations have excelled in vertical market expertise, geographic scale and technology and program management. The joining of our teams will allow us to deliver greater scale, velocity and global knowledge to our clients and enable them to engage their customers across any geography, market, language and channel.
My impressions of the 2014 ATA Conference November 10, 2014Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices.
I got back from the ATA Conference last night. I wanted to jot down my thoughts before I drown in the translations that await me in the next few weeks. I drove this year, so I had six hours to ruminate on the conference when I wasn’t talking to people on my phone to stay awake. My eyes started seriously crossing about half an hour from home.
I thoroughly enjoyed the conference. Once again, there were a ton of people I wish I had been able to spend more time with. I made sure I never ate alone and took the time to talk to the people I could. I even closed down the bar on Saturday, which is something I haven’t done in probably four years. I simply made catching up with the people I care about my priority this year.
One highlight of the conference for me was skipping out on a morning session and spending an hour in Julius Meinl with two German colleagues – one I knew well and one I had just met. We enjoyed our Melange (one espresso shot served in a large coffee cup topped with steamed milk and milk foam) and chatted about the industry, our work, politics and various other topics. I also got to savor the most authentic Apfelstrudel I have eaten in the U.S. The crust was as paper-thin as the ones I enjoyed in Austria when I lived there. It was worth blowing the diet for!
My panel presentation with Sandra Alboum, Terena Bell and Ted Wozniak, Why Won’t You Work For Me, was another highlight for me. I think Terena’s idea of getting rid of the table (or as she called it “the barriers”) was an excellent idea that set the tone of the entire presentation. Our focus was on making contact at conferences, because Sandra and Terena have both attended the conference looking to hire translators and not been able to make those connections. We wanted to discuss the possible stumbling blocks and offer concrete suggestions to enable agencies and translators to work together. The two main take-aways (I hope) are find a way to make yourself stand out and be memorable and make your interactions a bit more personal. Don’t simply just walk up to someone at a booth, hand them your business card and walk away. Talk with them a bit, tell them who you are and what you do and ask for their card as well. And then follow up by sending an email referring to the conversation. You will get a better response with “I saw this article and thought you might be interested in it based on our discussion at the 2014 ATA Conference” than “Attached please find my resume. I look forward to hearing from you.” We have had wonderful feedback from everyone in attendance and hope to present this again with a more moderated (and longer) format to get through all of the points we wanted to discuss before opening it up to questions and discussion with the floor.
I attended several sessions that were very good (including ergonomics, HIPAA and one in my language pair on marketing translation); however, my absolutely favorite session was Joe McClinton’s Untangling German Legalese: Talkin’ Like The Supremes. He not only clearly explained the differences between the various “Supreme Courts” in Germany and shared lots of terminology, but he showed us how he breaks down complicated sentences and citations. It reassured me to find out my terminology is identical to his – even down to the usage of parentheses in citations instead of translating all the Absatz, Paragraph, Satz/Halbsatz stuff that Germans so love to cite.
The Freelance Juggling Act: Tips for Living the Life You Want panel discussion with Eve Bodeaux, Corinne McKay, Marianne Reiner and Andrew Morris was entertaining and was a great way to start the conference. Andrew’s idea of a work-life balance of 85% work and 15% life made me feel much better about my choice to favor work over life most of the time. It is still a good idea to ensure you have some free time and down time, because I personally know two excellent translators who have burnt out. So work-life balance is very important. You can find a lot of good background info and Ted talks on the subject at Eve’s website.
There were so many excellent sessions on offer that I had to make tough choices and miss some excellent presentations. As a result, I ordered the eConference recordings. I look forward to revisiting Joe’s presentation as well as watching lots of others that I really wanted to attend but missed (such as Trisha Kovacic-Young’s Translating for the Insurance Industry, Judy Jenner’s Quote This, Sanne LeGier’s Navigating the International Payment Jungle, and Riccardo Schiffiano’s presentation on XBench – just to name a few!).
The hotel was centrally located, and I was able to enjoy wonderful meals with colleagues and friends. From deep dish pizza and stuffed spinach bread at Lou Malnati’s while staying Tuesday night with my newbie last year and now good friend Joe, soup and salad at Howells & Hood, the German Language Division dinner at Bar Toma, dinner with eight good friends on Saturday night at Quay to the most amazing ramen at The Slurping Turtle, each meal was enjoyable and memorable. Chicago definitely has lots of culinary things to offer! Not to mention the hotel bar’s Old Fashioned Apple Pie Moonshine. I drank many of these with various colleagues. I am going back soon.
There were so many people I wish I had had time to catch up with. I always wish the conference was longer, but each time I am happy it is over when it is because I am exhausted. The conference was – as always – a total rush and a huge motivation. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.
The only downer was my friend being pickpocketed on Friday night. Her wallet was in the coat pocket over her right breast that she was wearing while we were waiting to go to dinner in the hotel bar. They/he/she were definitely pros. They somehow knew exactly which pocket to pick, and her credit card and debit cards were maxed out within 30 minutes to the tune of almost $8000, leaving her without her cards, but also without her driver’s license, insurance cards, or cash. She was understandably upset and left a day early. No one noticed anything untoward and they knew exactly how to wipe out the cards before anyone could do anything. My tweet prompted Starwood Hotel headquarters to get involved, and I am very impressed with how they responded. But the fact remains that when we are at the conference we may feel very insular, but the hotel is a public place that anyone can enter. Attendees must remain vigilant of their belongings at all times. It also made me aware that I shouldn’t carry everything together and should only take the bare minimum with me at all times.
Nevertheless, I have a wonderful memory of the conference. My body is sore, my feet ache, and I went to bed early and slept really well last night. I look forward to doing it again next year. I just hope they bring back the massage chairs! See you in Miami in November 2015!
In case you missed it, here are some highlights of the conference (featuring, among other people, my newbie last year Joe, who was a Buddy this year). Derek Platt did a great job recording the conference for posterity and editing it into a coherent and entertaining video. Jost’s fish joke alone makes the video worth watching!
John Oliver on military translators and interpreters October 20, 2014Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Translation.
From last night’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:
Translators who have aided the U.S. Military in Afghanistan and Iraq are in great danger in their home countries, but red tape is making it impossible for many of them to leave. John Oliver interviews Mohammad, one translator who made it out.
In the process he made millions of Americans aware of a problem many of us in the industry have known about for years. Thanks, Mr. Oliver! And thanks for sharing this, Rose!
Also, Afghan interpreter Mohammed started a petition on Change.org to help save his family’s lives http://t.co/l7Gc1UoXW7 Please sign and share.