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TGIF: Tom Hanks on Univision June 24, 2011

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

This video is making the rounds on all the celebrity gossip sites and news shows here in the U.S. Tom Hanks is doing the publicity tours for his upcoming movie Larry Crowne, and he appeared on Univision’s “Despierta America”. He doesn’t habla espanol, but he energetically danced his way through a weather report alongside glamorous weather girl Chiquinquira Delgado and participated in several other parts of the show. You have to give him props for making the effort to appear on a Spanish show even though he doesn’t speak Spanish. But Bradley Cooper he is not…

You know who gets props for going on a Spanish show and at least trying? Will Smith when he was pushing his movie Seven Pounds.

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♪♫ I’m just a girl who can’t say no… ♪♫ June 21, 2011

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

There is a reason I am overworked. I have a hard time saying no. Even when I go on vacation I usually have my laptop with me and translate the occasional document for my clients. I was translating several books when I was last in Germany a few years ago. I traveled around visiting friends and worked while they were at work. I even had my laptop with me at a garden cafe in Munich – sitting in the sun, drinking coffee, and translating Italian recipes because the deadline was looming. Last February I worked from the Florida Keys. My mother wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t go far from where we were staying, so it was a good thing I had my laptop with me. I put in a full week and a half of work that week.

I am going on vacation on Thursday. My cousin is getting married on the beach in Lauderdale by the Sea, so my parents and I are going down there and staying in a condo in Naples for a few days afterward. I’ve even hired a pet sitter to stay at my place with the critters. I made a conscious decision to bring my laptop that does not have Trados installed on it so that I wouldn’t be tempted to work. That said, I turned down a sizable job yesterday from my favorite client that would have arrived on Wednesday and taken up most of the weekend. I said no, and the PM was okay with that (and let everyone else know I was unavailable for the next week). However, I still had a mental debate of whether or not I should take it. I’m still having moments of “oh, I should have accepted it” and then “no, I need a vacation. I haven’t had a proper one in years.” It is really hard for me to say no to clients. But I am resolute that I will be enjoying a week with no work. I just wonder if I can do it…

Bonus TGIF: Samuel Jackson reads Go the F*ck to Sleep June 16, 2011

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

This is just too hilarious not to share with you all. This book was written by Adam Mansbach and narrated by “the ultra-talented Samuel L. Jackson.” It’s just brilliant.

If you are at all sensitive to foul language I suggest you skip this one. Everyone else – enjoy! I can go to bed happy now.

TGIF: The Dalai Lama walks into a pizza shop… June 16, 2011

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

Chris Durban shared this little video with me, which a friend of hers in Australia sent her, because she thought it would make a good TGIF video. As Chris explains, it is “a good example of a cultural mismatch, with (as he [her friend] put it) “the joke being on the Australian TV presenter trying to be funny.” :-)” For those of you who don’t get it either, I will explain the joke below the video window.

My favorite line is “You know that a joke’s in trouble when you’ve got a translator off to the side.” Truer words have never been spoken.

To those non-native speakers who, like the Dalai Lama, have no idea what he’s going on about, the joke is when he says “make me one with everything.” It’s a pun (meaning it has 2 meanings): 1) Make me a pizza with everything 2) Make me at harmony with everything (which according to the Buddhist tenet the ultimate goal is to become one with the world and be at peace through meditation.

E-mail etiquette 101 June 13, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Tech tips.
17 comments

I received an e-mail from a translation agency today informing me that they have made some recent changes to their Vendor Portal. They sent the e-mail to all the vendors in their database. Do you know how I know this? I then proceeded to get e-mails from their vendors from all over the world because they hit Reply All simply to say “thank you” to the person who sent the e-mail. I’m about ready to set up an e-mail filter to filter the replies to that subject line straight to the Trash. I don’t have the time or energy to delete hundreds of e-mails today (and since this is one of the Common Sense Advisory’s “top 20 translation agencies” there must be thousands of vendors…).

Sounds like some professionals need some schooling in e-mail etiquette. Here are my top 15 e-mail etiquette tips. If I missed one please feel free to share in the comments.

1. Use a subject line. I hate receiving e-mails with no subject line at all. I can’t believe people still do this.

2. Understand the difference between To:, CC: and BCC:  and please use CC: and BCC: sparingly. And while I have your attention, don’t use Return Receipts on every single email. I decline them as a rule.

3. Do not hit Reply All unless you truly want to reply to every single person listed in the e-mail header. If one of the e-mail addresses is a generic one, do everyone a favor and delete it before you hit send.

4. Be polite at all times and be mindful of your tone. E-mail is a medium that too easily creates misunderstandings. Use sarcasm sparingly. If something gets “lost in translation,” you risk offending the other party. The more matter-of-fact you can be, the better.

5. Keep your e-mails brief and to the point. We all know people who write diatribes to listservs. I don’t know how they get any work done!

6. Reply in a timely manner. Even if it is a simple “thanks for your inquiry, but I am afraid I am booked up through the rest of the month.”

7. Don’t use e-mail to criticize others (or complain about a third party). Criticism is best conveyed in person or over the phone so that you can immediately mitigate any misunderstandings. Plus, you never know what might happen with your e-mail after you hit send and it arrives in the other person’s e-mail address. Worst case scenario: your e-mail will be forwarded to the third party in question. Ouch!

8. Don’t reply to an e-mail in anger. Write the e-mail and walk away from it for an hour or two (or a day or two) until you’ve had a chance to cool down. Better yet… vent your feelings by writing the e-mail and then hit Delete instead of Send.

9. Don’t forward chain letters. Nine times out of ten, the information is an urban legend. Just don’t do it! If in doubt, check it out at Snopes.com, a website devoted to tracking down and debunking urban legends and rumors.

10. Don’t write in ALL CAPS. This is the digital equivalent of shouting. No one likes to be shouted at.

11. Include your full name and contact information in your e-mail signature, but keep it to 4-5 lines. Also, if you are participating in a listserv please use your given first name so people know who they are dealing with. I have seen people sign their e-mails to listservs with an initial or, even worse, a pseudonym.

12. Don’t send or forward emails containing libelous, defamatory, offensive, racist or obscene remarks. It seems self-evident, but surprisingly it happens.

13. Remember e-mails aren’t private. E-mails sent to a listserv go to everyone on the list. E-mail can be intercepted and read by just about anyone if they choose to do so. Think of e-mail as being the equivalent of sending a postcard through the mail.

14. Use your spellchecker. Nothing reflects on a language professional worse than an e-mail riddled with grammar errors and typos.

15. Reread your e-mail before sending it. Better yet, read it out loud. Make sure you are communicating clearly and that no words have been accidentally dropped in your zeal to write down your thoughts.

For more e-mail etiquette tips, check out 101 Email Etiquette Tips. Your clients and colleagues will thank you!

Words of wisdom from Adam@Home June 13, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, Random musings.
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As some of you regular readers may know I subscribe to GoComics’ Adam@Home comic strip. This means I get the comic every morning as an e-mail. I (and probably most of you) can relate to Adam because he also works from home as a freelancer and loves his coffee. This Sunday’s comic strip was too good to not share…

Several of my colleagues have confided in me that they are thinking of taking office jobs for the steady paycheck, social interaction, etc. If you consider doing this you should weigh all the pros and cons. It takes a special kind of person to work and succeed as a freelancer. Not everyone has the discipline to make their deadlines and market themselves when things are slow. But I for one love freelancing and all that it offers. I love being able to translate my texts and then take the rest of the day off if I can. In fact, I plan on doing that today. I have some gardening I need to do and my library book (Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand) is due in two days. With only about 1,500 words to translate today I should be done by 1 or so… I hope you all enjoy your Whit Monday (or if you’re in the U.S. your Monday…)

Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in June 9, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.
5 comments

I have been your typical overworked translator in the last month or so. In May I earned double my target. June doesn’t look to be any slower. My number one client is keeping me very busy – with all 4 or 5 PMs contacting me, luckily not all at once but several a day. Plus, several other clients have been sending me jobs as well. So I was happy that Monday and Tuesday were “kind of slow”. I had hoped to enjoy a slow week and catch up running errands, cleaning the house, etc. Plus, Tuesday was my sister’s 40th birthday and my niece’s graduation from pre-school, so Tuesday night was spent with my family. Today I had all my translations delivered by 11 and was looking forward to taking the rest of the day off to rest for my incredibly busy day tomorrow (I’m tired just thinking about everything I have to do tomorrow!). So you can imagine my dismay when I received an e-mail from #1 client with a 2,000 word job for tomorrow EOB. But I happily accepted the job and am busy translating a survey about car brands. Of course I took an hour or so off to run my errands, because my cupboards were BARE and I was completely out of cat food (only 1 bowl left). Bailey would not have been a happy camper! As for the cleaning, it can wait until the weekend (or I may just use my Groupon and call a cleaning service).

Even with things being “slow” this week I’ve still managed to translate 10,860 words so far this month (and that isn’t counting the 2,000 word survey I’m working on today)… Life is good!

TGIF: Bradley Cooper speaks French? June 2, 2011

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

Who knew? This video is being featured on all the Hollywood gossip blogs I follow and is being met with shock that Bradley Cooper is fluent in French.

As my favorite blogger stated:

I think as Americans, we are used to everyone only speaking English. We cannot fathom that everyone in the world does not speak English and I think we are equally as shocked when someone from America who does not actually come from another country can speak a language fluently other than English. And no, asking how much a beer costs in Spanish is not being fluent.

So, to be a stereotypical as the world sees us American, I was shocked to discover that not only does Bradley Cooper speak French, he does it brilliantly. I promise that even though you might not understand a word of this, you will have a new found respect for Bradley Cooper. Not for the way he treats women, you will still have that bias, rightfully so, but for the language ability. I have watched this thing like five times already.

We know that it isn’t that shocking for someone to speak another language, but it is rare that an actor – let alone a very well-known actor – can speak another language and do it well. At least I am assuming he does it well. Well, fellow French speakers, what say you?