Balancing client confidentiality and applying for work July 23, 2012Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.
One of my friends owns a translation agency. They are currently updating their records and have their poor intern contacting translators in their database to update their information. As you can imagine, the poor intern is getting frustrated with the nutty replies she is getting. These are translators who applied to work with the agency in the past. All they are asking is for them to update their contact info, sign an NDA and supply a couple references. One translator refused because they are “requesting the names of some of my other clients, an inconsistency both with the rules of the profession and your own NDA. You should be aware that requesting or disclosing such information is illegal and unethical, and contrary to both laws governing the profession and rules of the American Translator’s Association.”
Uh, what? Dude, take a chill pill. All they are asking is for a couple references. Disclosing this information is not “illegal and unethical.” It’s actually a standard business practices everywhere. I think someone has misunderstood something they heard somewhere.
The American Translator’s Association’s Code of Professional Conduct says nothing about providing references. There are eight bullet points, and the only one that might possibly be misconstrued to mean this could be number 2 – “to hold in confidence any privileged and/or confidential information entrusted to us in the course of our work.” However, this means confidential corporate information, medical results, and business secrets. Keeping anything we learn through a translation for our clients confidential. No more, no less. It does not mean providing a reference.
According to Freelance Folder’s 10 Painful Mistakes that Cost You Freelance Work, one of the top ten mistakes is “No references.” As the writer explains, “Testimonials are a key part of marketing yourself as a freelancer. If no one is willing to say that you did a good job for them, prospects may wonder what’s wrong with you.” Freelance Folder suggests you “ask a few of your current clients if they would be willing to write a testimonial for you.” The reference can also be a former professor, another freelance translator, or a project manager that has worked with you at several agencies. They aren’t asking for references to poach your clients. I am regularly asked to provide a reference for former students. All the agencies want to know is if the student has the skills to be a translator (and is sane). In fact, most agencies probably don’t even have the manpower to follow up on the references. Asking for a reference is not equivalent to client poaching, and this translator will most likely never get work from any agency with this attitude.
Something lighter to start the weekend off right… July 20, 2012Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.
And now for something completely different than the upsetting news article… I hope you enjoy reading 25 handy words that simply don’t exist in English from the blog So Good, So Good. My favorite was Backpfeifengesicht – A face badly in need of a fist. I can honestly say I hadn’t ever heard this one in the 27 years I’ve been learning and speaking German. And for what it’s worth, we do have a word for Bakku-shan in English. It’s ‘butterface’. And thus ends today’s English lesson… LOL!
Is there a word in your language you feel that should be included on the list? Please share it with us in the comments!
Another glaring example of unprofessionalism July 20, 2012Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.
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According to the Daily Echo, a murder trial was recently halted because the interpreter was not translating key phrases and incorrectly. Turns out the man was there instead of his wife, who was the actual certified court interpreter, because she “was busy.” Her husband was not qualified or registered to work in the courts – let alone to translate vital evidence in a murder trial. Are you kidding me?!?! It’s only a matter of time until the courts yank the contract with Applied Language Solutions, right?!? How can they justify all these poor business practices. The government should really go back to using their former (qualified) interpreters, because delaying costs by a day costs tens of thousands of pounds. In the end all these delays and postponements are going to cost the courts far more than the £18m they originally wanted to save when they signed the contract with ALS.
Separated by a common language July 6, 2012Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.
This morning I was asked by a client if I translated into UK English. This is a new client, so I don’t fault them for asking. However, I have lost track of the times I have been asked to translate something into UK English. I don’t know if it is a German thing, but German clients seem to think one can run the Word spellchecker over a document and it’s UK English. As anyone who follows the blog Separated by a Common Language knows, UK English and US English are most definitely not the same. It goes beyond throwing a “u” in color or favorite or spelling tire with a “y” instead of an “i.” Just as with the word potato in German (Kartoffel in Germany, Erdapfel in Austria), there are lots of different words for the same concept (truck vs. lorry, eraser vs. rubber, paper towel vs. kitchen towel). They also regularly use words like “whilst” and “amongst.” Someone who has grown up in another culture may not know the different word even exists despite growing up watching all kinds of British TV. It just isn’t the same as growing up in the culture and just knowing it.
The grammar is also quite different. UK readers can read my posts and understand them – and I can understand theirs. However, as I learned when I was an intern at a translation agency in Bonn, the Brits have very different rules when it comes to comma placement, which tends to mirror German much more closely than US English. Heck, they even put their periods/full stops outside the quotation marks and apostrophe signs instead of inside them like we do in the States. I tore up several translations by excellent translators and after discussing the changes with them quickly learned that it was the perfectly correct way to state it in UK English. It was a valuable lesson for someone just starting out. I learned to be much more judicious with my editing.
So when my client wrote me this morning I shook my head for a second, but sent off a cheerful reply explaining, “No, I am an American and live in the U.S. I don’t translate into UK English. Sorry.” They won’t know I don’t if they don’t ask, right? No need to be snarky about it. I just wish that German clients would learn that asking me to translate UK English is like asking someone in Hamburg to translate into Austrian or even Swiss German.