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TGIF: Another Berlitz commercial October 17, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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Whoever comes up with the ideas for the Berlitz commercials deserves a pat on the back. They are unique and funny. Here is another Berlitz commercial for your enjoyment. It can’t beat the ad with the German Coast Guard newbie, but it is still pretty enjoyable. Have a great weekend everyone!

TGIF: Bill The Language Guy from The Amazing Race October 17, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.

I’ve been trying to stay away from the computer for the past couple of days to get my tendonitis flare-up under control, but I couldn’t leave you guys without the weekly video. For those non-US-based viewers, The Amazing Race is a reality show in which multiple teams race around the globe to ‘amazing’ locations for $1,000,000. It’s a big hit here in the U.S. and is now currently in Season 13. Being totally averse to anything reality-show-related, I have never seen the show, and based on this clip I know why. This guy has the audacity to think that the key to winning the race is being able to try to talk to people in their own language, even if he does it badly. The look on the cab driver’s face is worth watching the clip. Enjoy!

No idea why the link isn’t working, but click here to view it directly in YouTube.

What’s the rush? October 14, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation Sites.

I can’t remember the last time I received a job inquiry where the PM said “you know, we have plenty of time for this one. No need to hurry.” In fact, I think I’ve only had this happen to me one or two times. It seems like every single job inquiry I get lately is extremely urgent and needs to be finished tomorrow – or if the call comes in on a Friday by Sunday night. And don’t even get me started about the “we have 10,000 words that need to be translated by tomorrow, how much can you take?” inquiries. I can’t imagine that all these texts are as urgent as the client makes them sound to be. After all, the financial world isn’t going to come crashing down if a CV isn’t translated by tomorrow. But then again…

Why do agencies feel the need to push their translators to their limits and deliver texts within unreasonable deadlines? It is up to us to know our limits and say no if an agency request is unreasonable. I don’t think that is right. The client takes four weeks to write a software manual, article, or computer game and then expects it back – in perfect English – within a day or two. I’m sorry, but that is just unrealistic! Unfortunately, that is the way things are in the T&I industry, and most agencies don’t explain to their clients that the rule of thumb should be that it takes just as long to translate a text as it took them to write it.

The agency should value their translators enough to not want to endanger their health. Instead, it is up to us to say no, but that is a hard thing to do sometimes. For example, I am working on a job that isn’t particularly large – just 8,000 words. However, it needs to be done asap, because it needs to be translated into several other languages based on my translation. Never mind the fact that the client promised it would be 70,000 words, which were to be split amongst four translators, and it ended up being 8,000 – all of which were assigned to me… My forearms are throbbing at the moment. I need to finish this job and then go slather them with my tendinitis ointment and bandage them up for a few days to give them a rest.

And, let’s be honest, who among us really charges rush rates? It’s great in theory, but in practice not so much… I for one rarely charge a rush rate, since most of my jobs need to be finished “am besten gestern” (preferably yesterday). The only time I even think to charge a rush rate is when a client needs the text within a few hours, but then again I am rarely able to accept a last-minute job like that in the first place because I am usually booked for a couple days in advance now. I feel stupid asking for a rush rate for “business as usual.” I have, however, started charging clients extra for weekends. It’s the only way to ensure I can actually have one.

To all you PMs and agency owners reading this: if your agency routinely tells your clients “it isn’t possible within that time frame” or routinely offer rush rates for jobs, please give me a call. You will quickly become my favorite customer!

An amazing Holocaust love story October 13, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in German culture, Random musings.
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This has got to be one of the most romantic love stories I have ever heard. It is about a couple who met on two sides of a Nazi death camp fence. She would throw apples or bread to the “cute boy.” They met years later on a blind date in the U.S. According to the article, there are plans to make a movie based on this story. I am not at all surprised. Stories from World War II never cease to amaze me, but I got chills and tears came to my eyes when I read about this one.

Freelancing is not for slackers October 13, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.

As one of my favorite writing blogs, The Urban Muse, wrote this morning, “freelancers tend to be highly driven and hard-working.” This is not a job for slackers. You have to have the drive to succeed in order to be a successful freelancer. The downside to this is our tendency to work all the time. The Urban Muse suggested reading Steph Auteri at Freelancedom’s great post about balancing life with work, and I don’t think I could do a better job explaining it. Go ahead and read it, I’ll still be here when you get back…

I think all of us can relate to this common problem. Steph lists her four top priorities that should always be on the top of her to-do list: eating, sleeping, breathing and bonding. I think these are needs that every one of us has. I personally have no problem getting enough sleep (I need at least 8 hours to be on top of things), but I also stay up until all hours of the night. Not having anyone press me to go to bed and no kids to wake up in the morning helps a lot… When I have a pressing deadline I let the refrigerator go bare (and I also forget to eat balanced meals or eat at all) and the dirty dishes and clothes pile up. I also notice that the most common complaint among my colleagues is the growing waistline. I try to schedule in exercise, but sometimes it too falls by the wayside. I have also been trying much harder to have a social life, which my friend Jane is constantly commenting on. I try to make it a priority to have lunch with a friend, go out to dinner with friends, or attend a Meetup.com get-together. That said, I’m still single and happily so. I don’t know if anyone could understand the crazy hours involved with translating.

What about you? How do you balance your personal needs with your professional drive?

No politics here October 12, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.

Well, I have officially voted in this year’s election. I will be in Orlando getting ready for the ATA conference on Election Day, so I voted by absentee ballot. I have purposely kept any and all political views out of this blog for a variety of reasons. First of all, this is a blog for the translation industry. Politics have no place here. As translators and interpreters we should strive to remain neutral when we translate or interpret, and I have a similar view on blogging for the T&I industry. Secondly, we get bombarded enough with political ads and rhetoric out there in the real world and elsewhere online. I don’t need to add to that here. And last but not least, no one is going to change how I feel about a politician or issue, so I would never try to should shove my views down your throats either. That said, I believe very strongly in the importance of this election, so no matter who you are voting for, just be sure you get out and vote! If you need help deciding on who to vote for and see the issues explained impartially, I recommend checking out Project Vote Smart and The League of Women Voters web sites. I also found the Cleveland.com’s Voter Guide very helpful, particularly when deciding which judges I should elect.

New name for the blog October 11, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.

No, I’m not renaming the blog because of Corinne’s suggestion yesterday. I am merely shelling out some money to have a better domain name than jillsommer.wordpress.com. So from now on you can find this blog at http://translationmusings.com. The old domain will also work, but I think this looks more professional and my name isn’t out there for all to see. Feel free to change your links accordingly – or not. Whatever you want to do is fine with me. Have a great weekend ­čÖé

Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, be sure to check out Ryan’s latest post about the virus scam targeting translators. It never hurts to be skeptical about new inquiries, but don’t be too skeptical. The thing that would have set off my warning bells would have been “I have deposited $150 to your credit card account that you gave me the last time.” I don’t accept credit cards as payment…

TGIF: No Twitter for Hitler October 9, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Uncategorized.

Whether some of you will find this funny may be debatable. I actually found this to be pretty funny myself. I suspect some of the more staid Germans and German speakers might not appreciate it as much. Do yourselves a favor and don’t listen to the German, just read the subtitles.

This clip is from a German movie about Hitler’s last days called “Der Untergang” (Downfall). In German, he is finding out that Berlin is surrounded, SS Obergruppenf├╝hrer Felix Steiner (who was supposed to lead a counter attack against the northern pincer of the Soviet assault on Berlin) refused to launch the attack, and the war is basically over (“Der Krieg ist aus“). He then lays into his generals and becomes resigned to his fate.

Not the funniest topic, but on the Internet nothing is sacred. The whole point is that it’s funny because the subtitles match up so well. The fact that most of you won’t understand the actual dialogue makes the subtitles work that much better. I myself am still trying to figure out how Twitter works, so some of this goes over my head. But those of you who are experienced Twitterers (Amybeth) will love it.

TGIF: Maggi Buchstabensuppe October 9, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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And now for something a little lighter… this video seems to be making the rounds among German translators at the moment. Man, I just realized that I haven’t had alphabet soup in a long, long time. Do they even make it anymore?

I don’t think something like this would ever be allowed to air in the U.S., because all kinds of “concerned mothers” would come out of the woodwork to mount a protest (come on, you know they would!).

Even if you don’t speak German you can appreciate it with the help of the following key: Kuh=cow (as in “you stupid cow”), Depp=dork, dweeb or moron, Zicke=bitch, Idiot (should be self-explanatory). Then Hure=whore and Ruhe=Be Quiet! Enjoy.

Shady agencies and scam artists October 8, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation Sites.
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I received the following e-mail yesterday. It sounded fishy to me, so I checked the company on Payment Practices and then forwarded a warning to my NOTA members. After all, what are the chances that this meeting would just happen to be held not 5 minutes from my house? Not too likely…

The contact info has been deleted to avoid any accusations of libel.

Hi, my name is [deleted] from Minnesota and I was conducting a search on the internet for professionals that live in the Cleveland Ohio area.  I run a Wellness Technology company here in Minneapolis and I have expanded my operations into Cleveland and I am looking for people that need additional income. This can be done part-time or full-time from home.

Anytime, I move into a new area; I personally talent scout top notch professionals for my business. I have a very simple question for you. Do you keep your options open in terms of another revenue stream outside of what you are currently doing in translation?

To be respectful of both of our times, there are two ways to hear about our company. 1) I could send you a link which outlines the company in detail or 2) If you are serious about earning additional income, join us this Thursday at the Solon Country Club to get a complete company overview (information only) and get your questions answered. If there is mutual interest at that point; we will schedule a time to meet again.

If you are doing great! Then congratulations! However, if you know someone that is less fortunate than you and might need more income, please forward this to them and have them contact me.

Event Date:
October 9

Event Time:
6:30 pm – 9 pm

Event Type:
Special Events / Company Overview

Event Language:

Special Guest:



Event Address:
39000 Signature Drive, Solon Ohio 44139

Local Contact Name:

Phone Number:

Contact Email:

Special Notes & Instructions:
Signature of Solon Country Club will host this Special Company Overview with [deleted].

Kindest regards,


Founder, [deleted] Translations, Inc.

Current markets:
Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Brunei, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Guam, Hungary, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Isla Baleares, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Vietnam, Virgin Islands

Now this in and of itself set my warning bells off. Several of my members wrote back to tell me that this woman had been discussed on ProZ.com as well by several of her “victims,” so she apparently works internationally as well.

One of my members, who I consider to be quite business-savvy, sent me the following e-mail this morning:

I wanted to tell you about [deleted], who is supposedly the Administrative Manager at [deleted].

[company contact info deleted]

[deleted] contacted me via e-mail telling me she was urgently looking for a translator for an on-going large translation project. She was willing to pay $0.14 per word and give me up to 2,500 words per day 5 days a week for a year. She was going to pay via Paypal and/or Western Union and she wanted me to start ASAP. The only stipulation was to use Systran software, which, she mentioned, she had several copies of, and she was willing to sell one to me at a discounted price.

I asked her is she would guarantee she would keep me busy full-time for a year if I was to buy the software, and she gave me a 100% guarantee.

I responded telling her I was very eager to start, I wanted to see the contract, and I knew someone who was willing to sell me his copy of the software.

Needless to say she dropped off the radar never to be heard from again. I do not know what the deal was, but I think she was looking to sell me the software.

Just wanted to give a heads up.

The variety of ways people try to scam other people never ceases to amaze me. If it isn’t the Prince of Ghana looking for an interpreter for his wife, it’s someone trying to sell software using really shady practices. If a job sounds too good to be true, it most likely is! Keep your guard up and get everything in writing. And never, ever accept a job from the Prince of Ghana or anyone who offers to pay you up front and then wants you to wire money back to them. The check will be a forgery and you will be out the money.