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TGIF: Learning English pronounciation August 14, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
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I am a huge fan of Peter Sellers’ Pink Panther movies. I remember watching them with my mother and her almost falling off the couch laughing. The latest incarnation with Steve Martin – not so much. His accent is contrived beyond belief and makes me cringe, but this bit was somewhat amusing.

I’m starting to run low on ideas. If anyone has any fun videos they would like to share with the rest of us, feel free to send me the link to gertoeng AT jill-sommer.com. Have a good weekend, y’all!

When you accept a job be sure you deliver it! August 11, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.
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My latest tweet has inspired this post: R translators flaking at the moment? This is the 2nd time in 2 days I’ve been asked 2 help an agency when a transl8r bailed on a project.

I don’t understand this at all. I have only bailed on a job once in my 14-year career as a translator, because it was way beyond my capabilities. BUT (and this is a big but) I let my project manager know in plenty of time so she could find another translator. Yesterday I was contacted by an agency at around 2 PM because their translator had bailed on the job about 2 hours before it was due. I was glad to help them out and delivered the files this afternoon. Shortly after I delivered that job I returned to my office to find a voice mail on my cell phone from a completely different agency (that I consciously haven’t worked with in two years) asking if I could “help them out with a translation today” – at 4:30 pm. Sorry, I’m tired.

If you accept a translation job you should do everything in your power — even if you have to pull an all-nighter — to deliver that job on time. Apart from hospitalization, grave illness, death and perhaps computer troubles (although I had computer troubles today and still managed to find a way to translate about 3,500 words for Agency #1 and deliver them on time) there is no other excuse.

I am always surprised to hear stories about fellow translators flaking out on agencies and clients, but obviously it happens a lot or it wouldn’t be such an issue. Whatever you do, please try not to be one of those translators. Your clients and agencies will love you for it. Reliability is a major plus in their eyes and could give you the edge over another translator when they are deciding who to contact.

TGIF: How not to learn English as a second language August 7, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
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Ever since I first saw them in Germany I’ve always enjoyed the Axe commercials. This one features a class learning English as their second language. It’s definitely worth a giggle. Have a great weekend, everyone! I plan on thoroughly enjoying mine.

The Perfect Storm August 7, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.
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The term ‘”the perfect storm” has come to mean how circumstances and bad judgments come together to create havoc and death. In my case there was definite havoc – and most likely the death of any chance of ever working with this agency again. Let me tell you the story of my Perfect Storm this week. Heed my warnings, my friends, and make sure that this does not happen to you.

I took Monday off to recover from walking 60 miles in 3 days over the weekend in the Cleveland Breast Cancer 3-Day. It was an absolutely amazing experience. I ended up walking 55 miles out of 60, but then again no one said we had to walk all 60 miles. We had already done the hard work of fundraising (I raised $3,215) and raising awareness. It was a good decision on my part to take it easy on Day Two, and that and all the training I did over the last 24 weeks resulted in the fact that, apart from some blisters on the balls of my feet Sunday night, the blisters had subsided and I was feeling good on Monday. I had my auto-responder on for my e-mail accounts, but I did not think anything of it when the phone rang at around 5:30 p.m.

It was a project manager from an agency that I have long admired and never worked with before asking if I could translate a little over 7,000 words of real estate/business by Thursday. I told her no and explained that I was out of the office that day. She then somehow talked me into accepting it for delivery on Friday. I gave her my backup e-mail to view the file, because I did not have my work computer on, which also complicated things. I knew things were going to be tight, but she assured me there were plenty of reference materials and glossaries so I accepted.

I already had two smaller jobs lined up for Tuesday and Wednesday from the week before for two of my favorite agencies, one medical report and some legal documents. I figured I could start working on the job on Wednesday and would be in good shape by Friday.

My first inkling that things were about to go south was when I tried to OCR the large PDF files so that I could import them into a TM and leverage them for the translation. I don’t know why, but ABBYY FineReader had problems with the 80-page files. The consistent capital letters in the headers came out a garbled mess of capital and lower case letters. Worst of all, the program was dropping “i” and “l” in the middle of some words (like financial) for absolutely no reason while duplicating them perfectly in others. I spent an exorbitant amount of time fighting with the OCR and then gave up and saved them without spellchecking. Then I tried to align them in WinAlign… and soon gave up.

I also copied out my portion of the 175-page document and discovered there was a discrepancy, so I wrote the project manager to ask why the word count was 3,000 words off and specified exactly where I understood I was to start and end. It turns out the page numbers she was referring to were in the FOOTERS of the document and not the page numbers in Word itself, but that is just indicative of the communication problems we had from start to finish.

At that point the project manager called me to ask how things were going. When I asked how much of the reference material was repeated in my file she told me “none.” Oh crap. I felt the bottom of my stomach drop and started getting a panicked feeling. I expressed my panic to her at that point, because it was now Thursday morning and I was just getting started on the file. I asked her to find someone else for the remaining 3,000 words, but she never told me that she had. She asked me to deliver what I had finished in the morning and let her know if I could do more. I ended up translating 4,500 words yesterday (Thursday) and delivered them this morning. I then got back to work and translated 700 words this morning when she called to confirm delivery and told me to stop.

I realize that this was not my finest moment and tried to apologize and explain that the job was characterized by lots of miscommunication on both sides. I understand my actions put her in a bind, and I do not fault her for the fact that I kept translating. I do, however, wish she had told me she had indeed found someone else to take a portion of it instead of saying “stick to the original plan,” which indicated to me that I had to translate the entire 7,000 words. I probably would have slept a lot better last night, for instance.

So, kids, if your gut tells you to say no to a project, by all means say NO and do not let the agency talk you into accepting it. You will only be hurting yourself and the agency. And if you truly screw up like this, accept any accommodations the client suggests without complaining, in this case billing for a lower word count than you submitted. I screwed up and have to pay the consequences. It happens to the best of us.

Intrans Book Service August 5, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tools, Translation.
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I love supporting independents. Whether it is the little family-owned restaurant in the next town or the local hardware store I try to spend my money at local or small suppliers whenever I can. One of my favorite dictionary suppliers is Intrans Book Service, which is operated by Freek Lankhof. You can always count on Freek to be an exhibitor at the smaller ATA conferences as well as the annual ATA conference. I always treat myself to at least one dictionary at the ATA conference every year. Freek is also available on the web and offers personal service (in addition to being a really nice guy who has a passion for microbreweries). He sends out about one electronic newsletter a year to his customers. He has some interesting books on offer this time, so I thought I would share his e-mail with the rest of you:

Summer is moving quite along, too much rain here too much sun there, one just has to pick the right spot to vacation.  I had mine, I’m working again… This month I bring you a brand new edition of the “Black’s Legal Dictionary”.  This renowned dictionary has undergone another thorough revision and is now in its 9th printing.  It is my August Book-of-the-Month and you can check it out by going to http://www.intransbooks.com.

A pleasant surprise is the fact that Cambridge University Press has come out with a paperback edition of Claudia Angelelli’s “Medical Interpreting and Cross-cultural Communication”. Instead of the $105.00 one had to lay out for the hardcover edition, the paperback is now available for $39.99.  More information can be found at http://intransbooks.com/book_story/0521066778

I just received a copy of a new title called “A Career in Language Translation” – Insightful Information To Guide You In Your Journey as a Professional Translator by Carline Férailleur-Dumoulin.  This clearly written and well organized book contains a wealth of information that will help the novice (and not so novice) translator/interpreters break into the field or find new opportunities. This is a Print-on-Demand title and it may be a few days before I have stock but I should be able to ship by the middle of the month. More information: http://intransbooks.com/book_story/1438944225.

Also just out is the new 2009/2010 edition of the St. Jerome Publishing catalogue. This British publisher of first rate translation studies material brings us besides the very popular series Translation Practices Explained a wide variety of excellent in-depth studies. If you are interested in receiving a copy of this catalog, please drop me a line and I will mail you one.

And finally, remember that the ATA Annual Conference is less than four months away. Make your reservations now and check your list of “want-items” and let me know what to bring.

So if you are looking for a specialized dictionary, check out Intrans Book Service. He most likely carries it.

Language Services Resource Guide for Pharmacists August 4, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Marketing ideas, Translation.
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One of my colleagues forwarded this e-mail to me today and I thought it might be of interest to some of you, so I thought I’d share it.

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, language barriers occur in all arenas of the healthcare delivery system, including pharmacy services where the risk is significant for unsafe use of prescription medications. LEP patients can suffer serious adverse effects, including those that arise from improper administration of, and/or adherence to, prescription and over-the-counter medications due to barriers in communication.

The National Health Law Program (NHeLP), with the generous support of The California Endowment and in collaboration with the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, is developing a Language Services Resource Guide for Pharmacists. The purpose of the Guide is to provide pharmacists the necessary information and tools to improve the provision of language services. The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) is proud to be collaborating with NHeLP in this endeavor and is gathering information from interpreting/translation associations and language companies that will be a key component of the guide.

If your organization is interested in being included in the Resource Guide, please complete the survey which can be found at: http://www.tinyurl.com/nhelpresourceupdate. We also request that you please forward this e-mail to any appropriate persons and organizations who may be interested as well. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Aida Cases or Jorge Ungo at: nhelpupdate@ncihc.org. If you would like more information about the Guide, contact Mara Youdelman at Youdelman@healthlaw.org.

Deadline for submissions: August 21, 2009