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Translators against Crowdsourcing by Commercial Businesses June 16, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

The translators who are active on Twitter are all atwitter (ok, pissed off) about LinkedIn’s request for translators to translate their site without payment. I’m not as upset as some are. In fact, I think I deleted the e-mail from LinkedIn without even reading it. I’m too busy to deal with that kind of thing right now. I figure I don’t pay to be on LinkedIn, so I certainly don’t expect anything from it. However, that doesn’t mean I am going to help translate the site into other languages.

Crowdsourcing is all the rage right now in this economic downturn. As Bilingual Joe’s Translation Store explains, “It basically involves getting your fans to work for you, for free to improve your bottom line.” Facebook did it, then Google, and now LinkedIn. I’m sure this won’t be the last time. Everyone’s hurting nowadays, and big companies are doing everything they can to save money – at the expense of quality.

I think the main crux behind my fellow translators’ rage is that LinkedIn has always marketed itself as a professional site, but now it is treating its professional members (translators) as non-professionals. As several of my fellow translators have pointed out, LinkedIn isn’t asking its accountants for free accounting services or PR folks to do its market research and publicity work for free. Why then do they think it is ok to ask translators to offer their services for free?

If you would like to join, there is a new LinkedIn group called Translators against Crowdsourcing by Commercial Businesses. I’ve joined it, but I don’t expect to be too active there. Like I said I’m upset by it, but I am not too sure it will change anyone’s mind about crowdsourcing.

Update: Matthew Bennett wrote a very good blog post on the subject today as well entitled LinkedIn Infuriates Professional Translators: 10 Big Questions in which he asks some very good questions.


Wonder and amazement in Antwerp’s Central Station June 15, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
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My first experience overseas was when I studied in Salzburg, Austria back in 1989. Salzburg is of course where they filmed huge portions of the Sound of Music, so it – and the movie – has always had a special place in my heart. Train stations are the same no matter where you are, so I can only imagine the bewilderment these people experienced. This is just a really cool video. Not necessarily TGIF worthy, but consider it a little bonus to brighten your week. And think about how you might react if this had happened where you were. It is a promotion stunt in the Central Station of Antwerp for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone to play the leading role in the musical of “The Sound of Music”. Apparently they only had two rehearsals. Quite impressive…

Scam alert: yet another Nigerian scam targeting translators June 15, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Scam alert.
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According to the Sun Herald of Biloxi-Gulfport and South Mississippi, there is a new Nigerian scam targeting Hispanic translators in which con artists are promising to send people money in return for jobs that don’t exist. The jobs are being posted on Craigslist and Monster.com, so they just aren’t a local problem. The job ad requires the job seekers to send their resumé with their addresses and date of birth, previous place of employment and all their other personal information, including their social security numbers. The job seekers are then eventually contacted and sent large checks without having done any actual work. Once they receive the checks, they are then told the checks were made out for too much money and that the victims should immediately return the overpayment in a wire transfer to another address (if you’ve been paying attention you know that this is a common scam method and these checks are bogus). In short, the only time our clients ask us for all the detailed personal information is if you need to for a background check with the government, and those agencies should be easy to look up online. Never accept money ahead of time if you haven’t done any actual work – unless you yourself make it a stipulation for the job (like when you translate personal documents for an unknown individual). If you use your head and a little common sense you will not fall prey to these scams.

TGIF: Busy Prepositions June 12, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
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It’s Friday, and you all know what that means – TGIF video time. I want to apologize for my lack of posts in the last few weeks. I have been working on a large project. I just submitted the fourth batch of files today. The job is supposed to end in the next few weeks and will then hopefully start back up in July. That leaves little time for things like housecleaning, spending time with Lily and blogging. I need to get better at managing my time. I’m sick of living in a pig sty :-). I’m planning on spending today cleaning, doing laundry, washing the floors and finishing up odd chores – in addition to a little translating.

We are coming to the end of the Schoolhouse Rock videos on grammar. I don’t know about you, but I have really been enjoying this little trip down memory lane. I have even had the opportunity to share them with my 4 and 6 year old nieces when I babysat them, and they now ask to see them again when they see me. These songs are so catchy that I still can sing along – and it’s probably been 35 years. These last two, Busy Prepositions and The Tale of Mr. Morton, aired in 1993. Even if they are more recent they are still catchy. I will post the one that started it all – Interjections – to end the series.

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Payment Practices now a “Member Benefit” of ATA June 10, 2009

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

This has been in negotiations for a while now, but now it is official.

Payment Practices, Inc. (www.paymentpractices.net) is pleased to announce that it has signed an agreement with the American Translators Association (ATA) to become the very first vendor in ATA’s new “Member Benefit” program. Under this agreement, current ATA members will be able to subscribe to Payment Practices for an annual fee of just $14.99, a 25% discount from the normal price of $19.99/year. To receive the discount, ATA members must use the link provided at the ATA Member Provider page (www.atanet.org/member_provider).

Current subscribers to Payment Practices who are also ATA members can take advantage of the discount when their current subscription expires. If you have established a recurring payment via PayPal, you should cancel that subscription before the renewal date and then pay the discounted rate either by check or a one-time payment via PayPal.

I feel Payment Practices is one of the most beneficial services for translators out there – and now it is available at a 25% discount to ATA members. How cool is that?

There are no kangaroos in Austria! June 8, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.

This became a well-worn joke during my Academic Year Abroad in Salzburg, Austria back in 1989. So much so that I have a twenty-year-old t-shirt with the above slogan. Sadly, it really is true that folks confuse Austria and Australia, because one of my letters that year arrived months later because it had been directed to Australia by one well-meaning yet inept postal worker. So it really made me chuckle to see this Adam@Home comic in my e-mail in box this morning.


TGIF: Unpack your adjectives June 5, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
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There are nine Schoolhouse Rock – Grammar Rock videos in total. We are getting down to the end. Today’s video is on adjectives and features Blossom Dearie on vocals. According to Wikipedia, “Blossom Dearie was an American jazz singer and pianist, often performing in the bebop genre and known for her distinctive girlish voice.” A camping theme is used in this video to describe adjectives. As we all know, adjectives are words that describe or modify another person or thing in the sentence. I personally love the turtle. He’s adorable. I hope you enjoy this one and have a great weekend!

A treat (or not…) for you French speakers… June 3, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.

Wow, this is too good to wait for Friday to post. Thanks to my fellow translators on Twitter for tweeting about it this morning. The French language version of the trailer for Coco Avant Chanel (the upcoming biopic of legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel) starring Audrey Tatou was released today, but the subtitled American version doesn’t come out for a few weeks. Videogum asked a “high school freshman with one and a half semesters of introductory French” (and absolutely no ear for the English language) to translate it for them and posted the results. I can’t figure out how to embed the video in WordPress, so you need to click on the link. Believe me – it’s worth it. I don’t understand French at all but even I enjoyed reading the subtitles. And now I’m looking forward to the movie coming out. It looks good – and hopefully the subtitles will be much better than these. Enjoy!

A networking tale June 3, 2009

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

I just got a phone call from someone in Wisconsin looking for a state-certified translator recognized in Spain to translate some official documents for him. He asked if any of my NOTA members were a “traductor jurado” (sworn translator – thanks to @nj_linguist on Twitter for helping me with the term and its spelling). My first reaction was to tell him no and refer him to the ATA member directory, but then I realized the directory probably didn’t offer a search field for that. At that point I had a flash of brilliance (if I can call it that…). I suggested he contact my former mentor at Kent State and ask her for the names of some KSU graduates living in Spain – and specified one person who I think might best be able to help because he is active in the translation industry in Spain. I knew that from talking with Marian Greenfield several years ago, because she had told me he had said hello when she was invited to speak there.

Networking truly pays off. Maybe not for me in this case, but it feels good to know I was hopefully able to help him and at least point him in the right direction. When he called me he was getting pretty desperate. I hope my past connections – even if I haven’t spoken with them in 15 years – will be able to help him. It’s always a good idea to be able to refer colleagues who might be able to help even if you can’t. They might return the favor some day.

The value of used book sales June 1, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.
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global_5968471.jpegEvery year Case Western Reserve University holds a massive book sale over four days in its gymnasium. The gymnasium is crammed with books and boxes – and people looking for bargains. People from the Cleveland area clean off their book shelves and empty their attics all year to make the annual book sale, sponsored by the Association for Continuing Education at Case Western Reserve University, a huge event. This year’s 63rd Annual Book Sale features 60,000-80,000 books and several rare and autographed editions. All hours are free and open to the public except for a $20 presale admission between 9 a.m. and noon on the opening day. Sale hours are noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (reduced price day), and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, ($5 box day).

In the past I have made a day of it and had lunch afterwards at a restaurant in Cleveland’s Little Italy district, which is just around the corner from Case Western Reserve. I sit in one of the garden patios and leaf through a couple of my finds. This year I went to the Book Sale after a 12-mile training walk for the Breast Cancer 3-Day, so I spent an hour browsing my favorite sections and then hobbled home to hang out with my dog in the backyard and then take a shower.

I look forward to attending the Book Sale every year and have found some real gems. Last year I bought the two-volume set of Ernst’s Wörterbuch der industriellen Technik (fifth edition) in pristine condition for $45 (and gave the English-German volume as a gift to one of my colleagues) in addition to lots of fun and interesting books like Love in the Time of Cholera, Shadow Divers, and The Fun Book: 102 Ways for Girls to Have Some. This year my finds include Neuder/Ullrich’s Dictionary of Radiological Engineering for $3, the American College of Cardiology’s ECG-SAP III Electrocardiography Self-Assessment Program for $8 (for a little light reading and term mining – I’ve been translating lots of stent reports lately), Thieme Verlag’s Color Atlas of Physiology for $1, Made in America (An Informal History of the English Language in the United States) by Bill Bryson in hard cover ($1), and lots of paperback mysteries by P.D. James and Robin Cook. The European setting of P.D. James’ The Private Patient inspired a blog post back in March about being stuck between cultures, and I just finished Robin Cook’s Brain for my mystery book discussion tonight. I loved all the medical terminology he uses – and love that I can understand it! I can’t wait to dig in. The books should tide me over through the winter until next year’s Book Sale.

If you have a used book sale (or several) near you I urge you to check them out. You never know when you will find a dictionary that usually sells for $295 on Amazon for $45 – or a book that could radically change the way you look at life.