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TGIF: Ed Rondthaler on the nonsense of English spelling June 25, 2010

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
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English spelling is a vexing problem for most learners of English. Why does the English language have so many words that are difficult to spell? The main reason is that English has 1,100 different ways to spell its 44 separate sounds, more than any other language. This video, which I discovered thanks to one of the folks I follow on Twitter, features typographist, spelling champion, and chairman of the American Literacy Council Dr. Ed Rondthaler pointing out the nonsense of English spelling. Enjoy!


How to recognize a scam June 24, 2010

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

One of the most common questions I get from beginning translators is how to tell if a job request is a scam. I developed a PowerPoint presentation for the KSU grad students several years ago and thought I would share some of the tips with you so you don’t fall for a scam.

The most common warning signs:

  • Offer advanced payment (which the “client” would overpay and/or then claim a change in plans and ask you to “return” the overpayment.)
  • Spelling and grammar errors
  • Capitalized information suggest form letter
  • No contact information (freemail account like Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.)
  • Not much concrete information offered about the job
  • Wife, daughter, etc. does not speak English and is coming to the U.S. for a shopping trip, conference, etc.
  • Require the purchase of software (my one agency client that also sells a TEnT supplies me with the software and license for free, so you should not be expected to buy software as a prerequisite to work with a client. We are freelancers and as such should be “free” to choose which tools we use)

I find most legitimate job requests give lots of detailed information about the job, offer concrete contact information, do not suggest payment up front, and usually do not use a freemail account. Gmail is an exception to that rule.

Some agencies aren’t as forthcoming with information as they should be and do have project managers who may not be the best spellers, so a job request from an agency may in fact be legitimate. Any agency that is upstanding will have its own domain or will pay for their Internet access. You can quickly check their payment record on a site like Payment Practices or Translator Client Review (PP costs $19.99 a year for non-ATA members and $14.99 for ATA members and TCR costs $12.99 – money very well spent!). I published a post on payment practice lists a while back, but it is still fairly current. If you aren’t following one or two of them you really should!

If you do get a job request from an individual that perhaps doesn’t fit all the criteria, but your gut tells you it is most likely legitimate, there is nothing wrong with requesting payment in advance.

If you have any other tips for new (and even experienced) translators to help recognize a scam please share them in the comments.

I’m Comic Sans, Asshole June 18, 2010

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.
1 comment so far

I know a lot of people don’t like the Comic Sans font. I myself don’t get all the hate, because I find it to be a pretty legible font. That said, I usually stick with Arial or Times New Roman in my translations because I know a lot of people don’t like crazy fonts. I hope Jost reads this and reposts it to the Toolkit newsletter. Michelle Rafter at WordCount just included it in her recommended reading post, and I have to say it is absolutely brilliant. Here’s what she had to say about it:

McSweeney’s runs a regular column called Short Imagined Monologues where the writer assumes the persona of some real or fictitious character to expound on a particular point. This week’s installment from designer/writer Mike Lacher, will make the font fanatic in you smile. (Warning: language may not be suitable for work.)

So I hope you all enjoy I’m Comic Sans, Asshole as much as I did!

TGIF: How to swear in English June 18, 2010

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
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It’s been a while since I’ve had a TGIF video on the blog. I just haven’t found anything worth posting recently. Thanks to Fidus interpres, a German to Portuguese translator based in Rheinbach, Germany, for posting this video originally. As Fabio explains, “It’s an English lesson given by a Korean teacher who initiates students into the ‘metaphysics’ of four-letter words – he even explains graphically what an asshole is. The man is really good! The YouTube video has been translated from Korean into English so that you can enjoy the teacher’s insights – even if the subtitles are too difficult to follow.” Enjoy!

Freelance Folder: How to overcome freelancing stress June 17, 2010

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

We all know freelancing can be stressful. The ebb and flow of freelancing can sometimes be hard to deal with. If you are busy, you have lots of work and deadlines to contend with. Jobs can sometimes fall through the cracks. Your work-life balance suffers. If you have a day or two with no translation requests, you worry when the next job will come (and if it will come in at all) and might even worry about how you will pay the bills if business slows down significantly. Freelance Folder published a must-read post on How to Overcome Freelancing Stress that offers “Seven Tips for Reducing Your Freelancing Stress.” It is a must-read for every freelancer and contains tips for dealing with common stressors such as client conflict and not finding enough clients. You might find a solution you haven’t thought of to one of your biggest stressors. If you feel something is missing that affects translators in particular and have found a solution, please share it here in the comments.

It’s official… I hate moving! June 16, 2010

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

I know I have been really quiet here of late. Regular readers and my Twitter followers know that I moved at the beginning of the month. The first couple days were tough. Yes, I translated 10,000 words DURING my move and several thousand immediately afterward. Ah, the life of a freelance translator… I worked off my back-up computer with an English keyboard. After two days of that I set up my office computer and German keyboard on a provisional solution of the legs and the middle panel of my new desk. I’m still waiting for my friend who gave it to me to come by and help me put it together. I still don’t have the office set up to anywhere near what I would call comfortable, but at least I can walk in the room amidst the boxes. I can’t find my hanging file folders for this year’s check stubs, bills, business expenses and bank statements, which is frustrating. And to top it all off, yesterday our estimated taxes were due and I can’t find my refill checks in any of the boxes. I need to check the garage to see if a box slipped through the organization process. But at least most of the important things have been unboxed and have found a home in the new place. It took about a week for my dog to settle into the new place and feel comfortable. I love the new neighborhood and the serenity. And most of all, I love having a real office with a tall ceiling and walls I can hang things on! OK, maybe moving isn’t SO bad…

Freelancing means the freedom to say no June 7, 2010

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

I love freelancing. It affords me the freedom to work from home and to work when I want on the jobs I want. As freelancers we are free to say no. I just said no tonight and do not regret it one bit. I received an e-mail from a client informing me they were changing their payment terms to 60 days (“60 days after receiving the invoice, on the 15 or last day of every month” to be exact). They also informed me they would only be paying in Canadian dollars and only via Paypal. If I didn’t have a Paypal account I was to “please attain one, and provide us with your Paypal email address.” I sent them an e-mail asking them to remove me from their database. I am willing to accept quite a few things from my clients, such as a payment term of 45 days from my favorite client; however, it is a two-way street. Treat me with respect, and I will treat you with respect and bend over backwards for you (like translating 10,000 words during my move when I initially agreed to 5,000 and being happy to do so). I don’t like being dictated to, and luckily I am free to choose the clients with whom I wish to I work. They feel like they needed to change their payment terms because their clients changed theirs. I am glad that I at least have the freedom to say no.