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No sex please: We’re Germans (Reuters) February 28, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in German culture, Random musings.

One of my friends sent me the oddest article from Reuters.com Friday about how Germans just don’t talk about sex. I don’t understand this, because sex is everywhere in Germany: the daily newspapers like Bild features a photo of a buxom (usually topless) woman on the front page every day, parents are more lax with their children when it comes to opposite sex friends staying over, “Oben Ohne” (topless) sunbathing is normal on European beaches (I’ve done it – it was no big deal), they show soft porn on TV on Sunday nights, etc. I suppose this ties in with my previous post on not understanding German men. Yet one more piece to the puzzle that is the German mindset… 🙂 We Americans may be more prude, but sex seems to be a more common topic here. I’ll be curious to see what some of you folks have to say about this one.

No sex please: We’re Germans

Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:05pm EST

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germans would rather talk about death, sickness or money problems than sex.

A new poll of nearly 2,000 Germans showed sex to be the subject they least liked to talk about, with 64 percent saying it was something they would rather avoid.

Just below sex on the list of least-liked topics were cash and relationships, according to the Allensbach polling institute. One in three of the Germans preferred not to talk about death, and one in five said sickness was a no-go area.

The favorite conversation topic was gossip about friends, followed by the latest prices of consumer goods. Coming a close third was “everyday stuff” and how they felt about themselves.

(Writing by Franziska Scheven)


TGIF: French language school commercial February 26, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.

Language schools always have the best commercials. This one made me chuckle and is sure to make you laugh as well.

Tightening the belt February 26, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Marketing ideas.


It’s hard not to escape the fact that our global economy is in serious trouble. We are bombarded with bad news every day, both in the media and in professional forums. Even Microsoft is laying off employees. And yet we are also hearing about all the corporate and government waste that is going on even while times are supposedly tough. Every day I read a new report in the newspaper about how a bank that received bailout funds spent millions on a corporate event, this corporation gave its CEO several billion dollars in bonuses despite having laid off a ton of workers, or how FEMA has a $2 billion surplus that it isn’t distributing to those who need it.

Many translators have also been increasingly getting e-mails from clients asking us to reduce our already low prices. I have been doing this for at least 15 years and am amazed that the average word price really hasn’t increased with inflation. Freelance translators are constantly asked to reduce their rates “for this job” or “for this client” “because the margin is tight” – this was happening even BEFORE the economy tanked! I realize agencies have to make a profit, and one of the ways is to pay less for the translations they are selling to the end clients, but it’s hard to get blood out of an already anemic stone.

One way to combat this is to stop working with low-paying agencies and concentrate on finding more direct clients. I love working with translation agencies, because it allows me to not have to do all the hand-holding and hoop-jumping working with direct clients entails. However, if one more agency sends me an e-mail asking me to lower my rates “because of the economy” I’m going to scream. They aren’t doing it because of the economy; they are doing it because it makes fiscal sense to take advantage of the bad economy.

Translations cost money, and good translators cost money. Having seen the results of translations by lower-paid “translators” I realize they get what they pay for. Most of the translators I know are no longer willing to proofread, because agencies are also trying to save money by farming the translation to a machine or a cheap translator and then hiring a more expensive translator to try to save the translation through proofreading (at $0.02 or $0.03 a word). This practice is useless, because it is often easier to retranslate the document than try to correct all the errors and still have a halfway decent translation in the end. And those accepting a per-word rate for proofreading certainly don’t earn a decent wage from the hours of hair pulling proofreading a bad translation entails. This is why an hourly proofreading rate is always advisable. I went to school and got a Master’s degree, which obviously doesn’t mean beans to less reputable translation agencies, and have invested thousands of dollars in dictionaries and equipment over the years. Doing your job well costs money. I wish some agencies would stand up to their clients and do a little client education and explain why paying peanuts is not necessarily a good thing.

In the meantime, we need to follow Adam@Home’s lead and tighten our belts. If you haven’t read Corinne’s post on freelance frugality I suggest you head over there right now and check it out. We may be earning less for a little while until the economy improves again, so it pays to practice frugality and perhaps tap into the cushion you hopefully have been setting aside for times like these.

I’m sticking to my rates and if the agency doesn’t like it they can find someone else and I will do the same. Despite all the doom and gloom out there right now, there still are plenty of good agencies that value their independent contractors out there. You just need to look for them.

Have I lost my mojo? February 26, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

I was writing invoices last night, which I normally do as soon as I deliver a job, but had been putting off for a variety of reasons – the biggest one being the malaise I have been suffering from in the last month or so. I realize it is a seasonal affective disorder thing and have been taking steps to combat it, but it is sometimes easier said than done. The fact that the weather was 47 degrees yesterday has helped a bit. I actually became motivated enough to dust and vacuum my apartment (and my hallway stairs, which I had been neglecting all winter – vacuuming them in 10 degree weather when the hallway is unheated isn’t an inviting thing to do). I still have quite a bit of work to do to dig out from the malaise-induced bedlam in my apartment.

Anyway, I have digressed from my original point… When writing the invoices I started doubting my line and word counts and whether I charge the customer for source text or target text. I have decided to spell it out directly on each invoice (target word, source word, Zielzeile, Quellziele) so I don’t have to remember what I charge for each individual client. I imagine Translation Office 3000 would help in this situation, but I got out of the habit of using it last year.

I don’t remember ever having been this confused before. I have a couple newer clients, which doesn’t help matters, but this is the first time I looked at all the translations I had done in the last couple weeks and didn’t know where to start and wasn’t sure if I had forgotten to include a job that I might have archived already. Hopefully once spring breaks my foggy brain will clear up, but in the meantime, how do you keep track of what you charge your clients?

TGIF: Scout and Paws February 20, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
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Sorry for the delay in posting today’s video. Friday kind of snuck up on me. I hope you enjoy this cute little ad, which reminds me of one of the first videos I put up with the bilingual cat. It isn’t quite as funny, but it is amusing all the same.

Living without technology February 17, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Tools, Uncategorized.

While sitting in the Relaxation Room at Massage Envy yesterday, I had time to relax and flip through a magazine. The January 2009 issue of Cleveland Magazine looked interesting, and an article called The Big Disconnect caught my eye. The author, Andy Netzel, explained how he decided to give up every piece of technology not in common use before his birthday in 1980 – that meant no “cell phone, cable television, mp3 player, satellite radio, computer, e-mail, Internet, call waiting, caller ID, ATM and debit card, air conditioning in my car, remote controls of any type — even Post-it notes.”

It was an interesting article, but I certainly don’t think I could do it. His description of writing a 5,500 word article on a typewriter made me shudder. I can’t even imagine having to retype the copy on a manual typewriter after proofreading and editing (three times!) – let alone his description of trying to track down a typewriter ribbon.

And don’t even get me started on how much I/we rely on the Internet, e-mail and cell phones for our clients to contact us. My clients know to call my cell if I don’t respond quickly to their e-mailed job inquiries.

The article really made me appreciate our technological advances and glad that I began my translation career just as Windows 3.11 and Windows 95 hit the scene. Those of you who were translators before then have my utmost respect!

Massage is not a luxury February 16, 2009

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

I am a firm believer in the necessity of massages. When you sit at a computer as much as we do, your muscles tend to stiffen up and get sore. In addition to practicing ergonomic posture I also try to get a massage once a month. One of my students at Kent took my advice about ergonomics and investing in a good desk chair and bought a massaging desk chair. She’s never regretted it.

My neck and shoulder muscles spasmed over the weekend, and I developed a tension headache from the pain. I tried to get an appointment on Sunday at Massage Envy despite the fact that I have an hour massage scheduled at my favorite spa on Friday. Instead I went in for a 20-minute massage today and ended up signing up for a membership, which gives you one 1-hour massage a month for just $49 and discounts on additional services. She loosened muscles I didn’t even realize I had in my head and neck in just 20 minutes, and I feel great.

Monthly massages are one expense that I can get behind, especially since Massage Envy is much cheaper than my favorite spa. If you have a Massage Envy near you (they have 800 locations nationwide) I highly recommend joining. The clients there raved about the package when I was signing up. I’m looking forward to treating myself to a monthly massage with a certified massage therapist and being less tense. Does anyone know if you can write the expense off as a business expense? I’ll have to call my CPA and ask…

TGIF: 16 Language Love Song February 12, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
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In honor of Valentine’s Day on Saturday, here is a cheesy, yet clever little song showing you how to say I love you in 16 different languages. I’m willing to bet most of you linguists will be able to identify all 16 of them.

And here is an interesting video featuring even more languages (even if some of them are phonetic and not 100% correct). It was made in 2008 by a young German, but it is still relevant today. I particularly like the little bit for the Germans towards the end. If you don’t have a Valentine I’ll be happy to be your Valentine.

So Happy Valentine’s Day!

The overcommercialism of Valentine’s Day February 11, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.

OK, Valentine’s Day has officially become way too overcommercialized. Did any of you get this e-mail from Wordfast today? Good thing I wasn’t eating or drinking anything at the time, because I probably would have choked on it. I don’t know about you, but I hope no one buys me Wordfast for Valentine’s Day. That’s worse than a blender 🙂

Find your match with Wordfast

Wordfast invites you to see a movie this Valentine’s Day. Visit our video learning center to watch our FREE Wordfast Pro training videos. These videos will give you step-by-step instructions on how to use Wordfast Pro, the most powerful Translation Memory tool for any platform.

Scam alert: Word Solutions Translations February 11, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Scam alert.

Just a word of warning if you receive an e-mail similar to this one:

We currently need English to Spanish Translators.If you”re interested to work with let me as soon as possible.

It’s a scam. Several of my NOTA members have received e-mails from this supposed company. The company has no address on its website, there is no identifiable e-mail (other than a yahoo.com account, which is not very professional), and if you call the telephone number the only response you will get is a recording. After one of the members answered that she was available, “they offered a very good deal, a lot of work in too many areas…, they did not seem interested in checking qualifications, nor did they answer any of my particular questions in relation to the work, payment modality, nor where they are located.” The catch seems to be that you have to buy Systran software at a “discounted rate” to do the job. When asked for more information about the version and type so the translator could buy it locally they disappeared from her radar.

Lots of flags with this one: grammar errors, no identifying information yahoo.com address, etc. The clincher is trying to sell the translator software. Payment Practices has a listing for them and specifies it is an “ad only” capture site. As they say, “If it sounds too good, it probably is no good.”

Update: see the Comments for links to several discussions on ProZ.com about this scam. Apparently they are trying to do business now as Webnode Translation, www.webnodetranslation.com, transwebnode@yahoo.com“.