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Note from the Conference November 8, 2013

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Translation.
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Quote of the day: There are three kinds of translators: perfectionists, imperfectionists and transperfectionists.

SAPterm October 4, 2013

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tools, Translation.
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As most people who deal with SAP know, SAP is a language unto itself. SAP has often used its own terms for areas and items that already have industry standard naming conventions. In some cases, SAP even use existing terminology for different purposes. It’s enough to make you want to tear your hair out. SAP realizes this and offers a terminology database to make our lives easier. The SAP terminology database offers access to thousands of terminology entries in over forty languages.



Second Annual Shreve lecture on Friday, Apr. 13, 2012 March 28, 2012

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Translation.
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If you are within driving distance, the Institute of Applied Linguistics at Kent State University in Ohio cordially invites you to attend this event.

The IAL is sponsoring the second annual Shreve lecture and invites you to come hear their distinguished Translation Studies speaker, Professor Rosemary Arrojo. The lecture and reception will be followed by a showing of the documentary Woman with 5 Elephants (If you haven’t seen this documentary, you should!).

When: Friday, April 13, 2012 at 3:30 PM
Where: Satterfield Hall – Room 112.A

“Translation as Subversion in Latin American Fiction”

Refreshments will be served. All are welcome.

The IAL is pleased to present the second lecture in the annual Gregory M. Shreve Lecture Series in Translation Studies, instituted in honor of the IAL’s founding director. The series is made possible through the generosity of alumni, IAL faculty members, and friends of the IAL.

Dr. Rosemary Arrojo is a leading translation scholar. She is currently Professor of Comparative Literature at Binghamton University (SUNY). She has been teaching translation theory since the 1980s and has published extensively on the interface between translation studies and contemporary thought (psychoanalysis, deconstruction, post-colonial theory) and on representations of translation in fiction, both in English and Portuguese. Her work has also appeared in German, Spanish, Turkish, and Hungarian.

Tips on How to Better Connect with your Freelancers (GALAxy newsletter article) March 22, 2012

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

I was recently asked to contribute an article for the Globalization and Localization Association’s GALAxy newsletter, which was just published in the last few days. GALA is holding its 2012 conference in Monaco this week, so the timing couldn’t be better. Since GALA is targeted to globalization and localization companies, they thought it would be interesting for me to write about the qualities a good translation company should have. Jiri Stejskal, CEO of CETRA, wrote a similar article from the company’s point of view entitled LSP with a Human Face: Connecting with Freelancers. In his article he offers “suggestions from an LSP perspective on how to develop a successful working relationship with contracted freelancers.” I was asked to take the freelancer’s perspective on working with translation companies and share advice on “how to create lasting and fruitful relationships with translators.” You can read my article here (note that I consistently used “translation agency” instead of “LSP” (because we are all LSPs) in my article. I had to defend my choice to the newsletter editor, but she agreed that I had a valid point and allowed me to use “translation agency.” I wonder if anyone in GALA even noticed. I am honored to have been asked to write the article and hope you all enjoy it.

Advice for a new translator on job hunting December 6, 2011

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

I received an interesting comment from Martha, a new translator. I felt this was important enough that it shouldn’t be buried on a page no one will see. Martha has agreed to my posting it here for everyone to comment on. I particularly hope that some of my former students will share their insights (May, Justin, Emily, etc.) since they broke into the market more recently and are busy in their own rights.

I have to say that as a new translator, I’ve read these ideas to keep rates standard 100 times but find it very difficult to find any work at all if I can’t show I have much experience in any field yet. Does anyone have a good strategy of how to hunt for potential jobs (besides proZ.com)? I thought working for one agency and showing them that I could complete a quality translation would be an effective way to start and yet I finished a large project for my first employer and am now questioning whether I’ll be paid a dime for it or anything I’ve done since. Other translation agencies do not seem to be interested once they find out I have limited knowledge of a trial version of a CAT tool and have only offered small and sporadic work so I’m starting to feel overwhelmed. Do you seasoned translators have any suggestions?

Here are ten tips from me to get started. I hope others can share what worked for them.

1. Start marketing yourself to as many translation agencies and/or direct clients as you can. They won’t know you are available if they don’t know you exist. I wrote a guest blog post at Naked Translations explaining how I broke into the U.S. market when I moved back from Germany in 2001. Think about what makes you stand out from all the other translators out there looking for clients and highlight it to new clients.

2. Get active on the local, national and international levels. I was the president of the Northeast Ohio Translators Association for eight years. Not only was I the face of NOTA to local and regional businesses, I established good relations with my NOTA members (both agencies and freelancers) and kept urging my members to act professional at all times. I also highly recommend attending some of the smaller ATA regional conferences that are more specialized in the fields you work in or would like to work in. At the national and international level I attend (and present at) the ATA conference every year, am active on various translation listservs in the U.S. and Germany (word of mouth and referrals from colleagues who are too busy are VERY helpful – both when you are starting out and once you are established and you have a lull), maintain this blog, and use social media like Twitter, XING and LinkedIn. I have also written articles for our local newsletter (the NOTA BENE) and the ATA Chronicle. People actually do remember them years later.

3. Have you read Corinne McKay’s book, How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator, or Judy and Dagmar Jenner’s The Entrepreneurial Linguist yet? Both offer valuable advice for new and experienced translators alike.

4. Use a full version of your CAT tool – not a trial version. There are some excellent tools out there like Fluency or OmegaT that do not cost an arm and a leg (in fact, OmegaT is free!). Once you start earning more money you can consider branching out and purchasing one of the more expensive translation environment tools (if you feel you need to). This is where I feel sites like Proz.com can come in handy, because they occasionally offer group buys that make a software like MemoQ more affordable.

5. Stay strong on price. I just announced to my favorite client that I was raising my word rate by $0.01, and they were okay with it. Quality agencies are willing to pay for quality work. Don’t let yourself be beaten down by the bottom feeders. Have you spent any time on No Peanuts! for Translators? They offer some convincing arguments you can use when you are pressured by a lower paying agency.

6. Be sure to check out the agencies on non-payment sites like Payment Practices, Translator-Client Review, the ProZ.com Blue Board and Translatorscafe’s Hall of Shame. Get on non-payment listservs like WPPF and Zahlungspraxis (in German). This ensures you won’t be taken in by unscrupulous non-payers who prey on (desperate/less-informed) translators.

7. Take some college courses to expand your knowledge and experience in the field you are interested in and let potential clients know you have taken them. You don’t need to get a degree, but it shows you are interested in becoming a better translator. For example, Kent State University offers classes that they consider their core requirements (Translation Theory, Documents in Multilingual Contexts, Terminology and Computer Applications, and hands-on translation courses in the practice of translation, sci-tech-med, legal-commercial and literary-cultural).

8. Consider working on holidays, weekends and during the professional conferences (and advertising that fact) until you establish yourself. Many agencies scramble to find translators when their established translators are not available, and if you do a good job and impress them they will come back.

9. Be prepared to work hard. It takes about a year to establish yourself. Consider taking on a part-time job until you start becoming busier.

10. Most importantly, keep your existing clients very happy with quality work (hire a proofreader if you have to) and deliver quickly (if not early).

Full-Time Language Specialist job at Netflix (FR, TK, RU, DE, DA) October 24, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Translation.

Wow, I wish I were a native speaker of German. This job sounds awesome!


Join the team responsible for localization at Netflix. We are looking for experienced linguists with the ability to translate and customize marketing, UI and content materials for the target market.

We are looking for highly motivated individuals with the right mix of technical, organizational and communication skills to provide localization for the Netflix experience in the following languages:

French, Turkish, Russian, German, Danish

Native fluency, localization experience and creative writing in one or more of the above languages is essential. Knowledge or prior experience in the film/entertainment industry is definitely a plus.

Specific responsibilities will include:

-Ownership of linguistic quality
-Creating and maintaining glossaries and style guides
-Working with CAT tools, approving translations and maintaining memories
-Working with external vendors
-Representing linguistic and cultural nuances in cross-functional meetings
-Hands-on translation and editing tasks
-Planning and executing linguistic QA tasks on multiple devices and platforms
-Originating, monitoring and resolving linguistic bugs as necessary

Required Experience/Skills:
-Degree in Applied Linguistics, Translation and/or equivalent experience
-Native fluency in one of the languages mentioned above
-Knowledge of the movie/entertainment industry in the specific locale
-Mac and PC proficient
-Experience with translation & terminology tools
-Basic knowledge of Content Management Systems and web localization tools

To apply, email your resume to linguists@netflix.com.

Freelance translators and interpreters are NOT employees August 15, 2011

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

Sorry for the recent social media silence. After finally getting my new desktop computer up and running (yes, I am a dinosaur who prefers working on a desktop…) I have been bogged down with work. When I haven’t been translating I have been trying to relax and enjoy the summer.

That said, I had to break my silence when I found out recently that Language Line is claiming that translators and interpreters are truly employees attempting to defraud the government. Please pardon my French, but this is total and utter bullshit.

I know that Language Line likes to schedule their employees on shifts to cover their phone interpreting needs (don’t even get me started on the hourly pay, which I hear is BARELY over minimum wage in some cases), so in this case they truly ARE Language Line employees. However, that does not mean that ALL freelance translators and interpreters – or even all of the translators and interpreters who work for Language Line – are employees. If those Language Line employees are only working part-time they are most likely issued W-2s for their services. If not then Language Line has no right to claim that they are employees. Those part-time Language Line employees are also free to work for other agencies and most likely receive 1099-MISC forms for their work. They then report the W-2 income and 1099-MISC income in separate sections of their IRS tax returns. That’s the way it works – whether you are freelancer translating/interpreting full-time while working part-time at a book store, teaching part-time at a school, college or university or even work part-time for a translation agency.

In my case, I regularly work for at least 14 different agencies (not counting agencies that perhaps contact me once or twice a year with a translation request). I am issued 1099-MISCs from all my agencies who pay me $600 or more a year for my services. I submitted seven 1099s in 2009 and ten 1099s in 2010 as part of my tax returns. According to my tax preparer at Liberty Tax, I had “30 [agency clients] in 2009 and about the same in 2010 not reported on 1099s.”

I am a full-time freelance translator. I am free to accept or turn down translation jobs based on my availability and whether the texts are within my fields of specialization. I work when I want and how I want. I use the translation software I want. I track my income and issue reminders when invoices aren’t paid on time. And I pay my own taxes to the federal, state and local governments based on my earned income from all the agencies I have worked with that year both in the United States and abroad (whether or not they have sent me a 1099-MISC). Let me repeat that – I claim ALL of my income earned both domestically and abroad. I have NEVER attempted to defraud the federal government. You simply don’t screw with Uncle Sam.

Correct me if I am wrong, but freelance translators and interpreters who do not have scheduled shifts with a company all fall under this category. We are FREELANCE translators and interpreters, which means we are contractors who are free to work for whomever we want and however we want. This also means we are running our own businesses, whether it be as a sole proprietor, an LLC or an S-Corp. I am frankly offended by Language Line’s claim that because I am a freelance translator I am trying to defraud the government.

Feel free to weigh in with your comments below. The folks who are working hard right now to get translation-friendly legislation passed would appreciate your opinions to use as ammunition.

Articles on the subject:
* http://www.huffingtonpost.com/louis-provenzano/open-letter-to-irs-end-em_b_675776.html
* http://www.huffingtonpost.com/louis-provenzano/open-letter-to-congress-t_b_766612.html
* http://contractinterpreters.com/2011/04/12/interpretertranslators-as-independent-contractors-or-employees/
* http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2011/08/16/irs-narrows-independent-contractor-relief/

Free webinar on Working with Direct Clients July 13, 2011

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

On July 20, Chris Durban will be talking about working with direct clients in a webinar organized through Speaking of Translation. Corinne McKay will be interviewing her. The July 20 webinar is 30 minutes long, but you have to sign up. It’s free, and there will be a Q&A session after the interview.
For details and to register, see http://speakingoftranslation.com/upcoming-webinars/direct-clients/

A ♥ for Language Blogs July 4, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Translation, Translation Sites.

I was on vacation when Judy and Dagmar Jenner from Translation Times suggested a little experiment for translation bloggers to write a post listing their favorite language-related blogs. I don’t need a copy of their book, as I already own it, so I’m just doing this to share some blogs with my readers that they might not otherwise know. It seems most of those who have embraced this idea are introducing their readers to blogs that other bloggers have not suggested yet. I was going to avoid duplicates, but a lot of my favorites (like Thoughts on Translation, Translate This!, Translation Tribulations, There’s Something About Translation, Blogging Translator and the aforementioned Translation Times) have been mentioned and deserve mentioning again. Plus, I still have about 250 unread blog posts in my RSS feed after my vacation and can’t guarantee that they haven’t already been suggested. For what it’s worth, here are my favorite blogs (that are still active – I was shocked by how many translation blogs I have in my feed that haven’t posted in over a year or more!):

1. Naked Translations by Céline Graciet: this blog is completely bilingual (in English and French) and I can’t even imagine how much time she puts into each post.
2. Mox’s Blog by Alejandro Moreno-Ramos: Who doesn’t enjoy seeing our industry lampooned in comic form? Alejandro’s insights are hilarious.
3. Catherine Translates by Catherine Jan, a French to English translator who is from Canada (southern Ontario) but now lives in France. Her posts are insightful and interesting. She also posts interviews with notable translators.
4. Bunch of Thoughts on Translation by John Bunch, a German to English translator. He has been a translator since 1996 and a full-time freelancer since 2007. I also follow him on Twitter.
5. The Translator’s Teacup by Rose Newell, who writes about the translation industry and life as a freelance translator. I recently enjoyed her two-part series on what makes a good, successful and happy freelance translator.
6. false friends, good and bad translation, denglish, Tipps für Übersetzer by Martin Crellin. The blog is a mixture of German and English (but mostly German) and is often written quite tongue-in-cheek based on actual experiences with German clients who feel they “can English.”
7. Financial Translation Blog by Miguel Llorens. It is nice to hear well-reasoned arguments about how the sky is not falling (aka MT will not be taking over the industry as we know it).
8. The GITS Blog by Ryan Ginstrom, a Japanese to English translator and programmer. Ryan recently moved from Japan to take a job with Nintendo in the U.S. and his blog hasn’t been updated in a little while. I hope once things settle down he will be posting again soon.
Honorable mention: The Masked Translator (oh, where art thou, MT?!?! We miss you!).

Favorite non-language-related blogs:
1. Hyperbole and a Half – because it is pee-in-your-pants, fall-off-your-chair funny
2. Screw You! – a website by a freelance writer who rails against poorly paid writing jobs and job boards (surely we can all relate).
3. The Simple Dollar – because every freelancer should live frugally and understand investing.
4. Meet the Germans by Rory McLean – he lives in Berlin and writes about German culture for the Goethe Institut. It’s quite interesting.
5. The Grounded Traveler – because translators are at heart grounded travelers and love to travel. The author (Andy) normally writes about Germany and living as an expat there, but he recently married his wife in the U.S. (who he met online through Twitter) so he is also writing about the U.S. through the eyes of an expat who hasn’t been back in 10 years.
Honorable mention: Letters from Germany – even though Francesca died and her friend no longer maintains the blog, reading through the blog posts is well-worth your time if you are interested in German culture

I have to say that I am enjoying these lists. There are lots of blogs out there I was unaware of!

PC World: Google Docs Translations Don’t Make Sense May 18, 2011

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

A reporter at PC World is doing a series on Google Docs, and today he took a close look at their claim that they can “easily translate documents into 53 different languages.” He asked his bilingual Twitter followers for help, sending them an English document and its Google Docs translation and asking them what they thought. The results were hit or miss. English and French was passable, but English and Hebrew was “one big disaster.” He also tested Arabic, Spanish and probably several other languages. He summed up the results by saying, “Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t blindly trust any translation done by Google Docs. Obviously, the translations feature in Google Docs needs some work, and Google could start by making it at least as good as the translations done on the translate.google.com site.” Feel free to add your comments to the article 😉