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Trying to decide about the 51st ATA conference February 16, 2010

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

Hi everyone,

Maybe some of you can help me decide what to do about the 51st ATA conference. I toyed with the idea of sitting this one out (mainly because I would like to enjoy ONE Halloween with my nieces before they are too old to trick or treat), but knowing how much I enjoy them and how beneficial they are I am most likely going to attend this year in Denver. I am now trying to decide whether I should present and whether I should submit a proposal for a preconference seminar or one-hour session and what I should present on. Most of you regular readers are familiar with the things I am passionate about – including getting started as a freelance translator, proper formatting in Word, word counts, PDFs and OCR, Internet privacy, ergonomics and work-life balance. Many of you have probably attended one or more of my sessions over the past 8 years. So I ask you, dear readers, what would you like to see me present? Would you like Corinne and I to present our preconference seminar on How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator again? Would you like a preconference seminar on PDFs and OCR? Would you like me to present an hour session on how to set tabs and format documents in Word to look like the source text? Do you have another idea I haven’t even considered? I would love to hear from all of you in the comments. The deadline is March 8th, so I need to make a decision soon. Thanks for your help!


TGIF: Love in any language February 12, 2010

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

I have loved this song since we sang it in high school – accompanied by sign language interpreters. Since Valentine’s Day is this weekend I thought it was only fitting. I hope you enjoy it and have a great weekend.

Confidentiality in the translation industry February 9, 2010

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

There is an interesting discussion right now on the ATA’s Business Practices listserv about confidentiality. The discussion originally started out as a discussion about payment issues and ethics and how some agencies should bear the risk of non-payment by choosing their translators carefully, employing editors and setting money aside to cover any problems that may arise.Interestingly enough, the subject soon turned to ethics and confidentiality.

Confidentiality is definitely something everyone in the translation industry (both translators and agencies) should think about. Riccardo at About Translation wrote a blog post just yesterday about an agency that sent a blanket e-mail to numerous translators and attached highly confidential and sensitive documents. He had never worked with the agency before and had therefore never signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement. If their client knew about this clear breach of confidentiality they would most assuredly not be pleased. Unfortunately this is often common practice in our industry. Agencies should really be more careful when sending out confidential documents to lots of translators.

Translators can be just as guilty of this when they agree to translate a job and then subcontract it out to a colleague either in whole or in part. I very rarely subcontract work, but when I do I always let the client know I am doing so. I recently had a large job just before Christmas that I split with a colleague because the volume was quite large and I wouldn’t have made the deadline on my own. I let the client know I was doing it and told them the name of the other translator. We agreed to just submit one bill to the client. The client was so thrilled with our quick turnaround that the project manager sent us cloth bags with the translation agency’s name on it and a very nice thank you note. I sent my colleague the bag along with my check for her half.

Behavior like this is a clear breach of ethics. We in the translation industry need to be more cognizant of the ethics involved in our field. Project managers, take a deep breath and really think about the documents you are sending out to a pool of translators. If they contain confidential information, it would be better to just send out a brief description of the text. Translators, the next time you consider accepting a job you can’t handle on your own, please think twice or at least let the client know you will be working with someone else. And you’d best make sure your colleague has signed a confidentiality agreement and keep it on file.

If anyone else wants to bring up confidentiality issues in our industry that bug them, feel free to comment. I look forward to the dialog!

TGIF: Things we (Americans) say wrong February 5, 2010

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

This video will probably make most native and non-native speakers’ heads spin, but I found it pretty amusing. As translators I hope you enjoy it as well. Enjoy your weekend! Thanks to Screw You!, an interesting blog for freelance writers that writes about bottom-feeding rates and the vendors who try to get away with paying freelance writers abominably low rates. One recent job that was featured offered $0.005 a word. And you thought translation job bids were bad!

On the swabish railway – EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger February 4, 2010

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

Several of my German colleagues alerted me to this rather humorous piece in the Frankfurter Rundschau entitled “Well done, Günther: On the swabish railway.” Günther Oettinger is a German politician and member of the Christian Democratic Union party (CDU). He was appointed as an EU Commissioner in the European Commission on October 24, 2009. He recently received a lot of criticism and ridicule when he announced that English would be the working language of the Commission – and then held an atrociously articulated speech in English that no one could understand. The joke in the article above is that he needs ghostwriters and that those ghostwriters also do a terrible job with English. The links below the article to other “speeches” are just as enjoyable. Enjoy!

Back in the land of the living – I mean overworked February 4, 2010

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.

Sorry for the radio silence in the last month or so. I wish I could say it was due to being overworked, but alas it was due to being underworked. Since I wasn’t at my computer as often I didn’t have as much opportunity (or desire) to blog on life. My prediction for December and January was indeed correct, and it was pretty slow. Not to mention the fact that I had some problems getting customers to pay my invoices. At one point I had $4,000 in outstanding OVERDUE invoices (some overdue by 53 days, some by just a couple). A girl’s got to pay her rent, eat and pay the dog groomer, so I was glad I had a bit of a financial cushion to tap into. I now have to work hard to replenish that cushion. That really did a number on my mood though, so I wasn’t my usual chipper self, which in turn influenced my desire to blog.

Luckily all my customers have now paid their overdue invoices, and I am once again fairly solvent. Hint: it helps to tell customers you will be turning the invoice over to a bill collector in a couple days if they don’t pay. I was amazed at how quickly the checkbook finally opened up! The trick is to mean it and not be threatening. Just be firm and business-like. And mean it. I had a bill collector lined up.

Also, business has picked up again, and I am back in the swing of life as an overworked translator. I am housesitting and dogsitting for a friend at the moment, which brings a whole other set of problems with it. I lugged my work computer with me and am connected through my friend’s router. For some reason I can receive e-mail, but am unable to send e-mail from my mail program. I am forced to keep my ISP’s Webmailer open to send e-mail. I hope to have that fixed in a day or so. I was contacted by a new client this morning with a job request, and they sent me a Geheimhaltungsvereinbarung (Non-Disclosure Agreement). Since I don’t have a printer here I ended up inserting my digital signature and converting the Word file into a PDF.

Life is full of challenges and workarounds. We just need to be calm enough to come up with the solutions.