Should Spanish Be an Official Language of the US?

Bilingualism, language acquisition, official languages, and services to speakers of foreign languages have been areas of interest for us in the past. As the United States' percentage of non-English speakers grows, the amount of services available in Spanish and other languages increases accordingly. There are very interesting points of debate on either side of the aisle -- should the US cater to speakers of other languages or shouldn't it? If yes, what are the limitations? We are happy we are not in the difficult positions to draft public policy about this, as there is no easy answer. Through one of our mailing lists, the Interagency Language Roundtable, which we highly recommend, we came across this interesting article which addresses the issue: should the US adopt Spanish as an official language? While this article certainly provides no definite answers, it's very interesting food for thought. Read the article here.

Prioritization Strategies: Who Goes First?

In a constant effort to improve and streamline our operations, we've recently started thinking about how to best handle work flow in terms of customer priority when things are extremely hectic. In the world of freelance translation, many time it's feast or famine, making it challenging to plan a schedule a few weeks out. So what do you do when your phone rings incessantly, the e-mails are pouring in, and you are getting more price quote requests than you have time to make? We've informally come up with the following prioritization strategy. Our goals with this strategy are:
  1. To ensure that we are able to stick to our extensive quality assurance methods, even under time pressure.
  2. To make our existing clients happy.
  3. To make our new clients happy.
  4. To keep ourselves sane and happy.
Here are the ways we are trying to accomplish this. It's an art, not a science, so there's always room for improvement.
  1. Long-term repeat customers who have worked with us for years always get first priority.
  2. Recently acquired repeat customers with an urgent project get first priority.
  3. Our surcharge for 24-hour turnaround is applied to all projects that are needed the next day. We typically accept these projects only from repeat customers.
  4. New client referrals from friends and colleagues have secondary priority.
  5. New customers with urgent projects are next.
  6. Once we have booked the following seven days, we will still provide quotes for future projects. In order to save time and effort for all parties, we respond quickly to inquiries, advising of the timeline. If the client is flexible with the time frame and still wants to work with us, we will send a formal price quote. If not, we will happily try to refer a trusted colleague.
  7. There is always some room to accomodate special requests, and we work with customers to help them achieve their goals, even if it means less leisure time for a weekend or two.
  8. We do not accept deadlines that we deem to be unrealistic and that wouldn't allow for our thourough QA process. There can be a higher margin of errors for last-minute projects, and that's not in anyone's interest.
We have been thinking about new ways to approach project management, scheduling, and prioritization. We've been thinking about working on retainer for some of our repeat customers. We'd love to hear if you have any other prioritization strategies. Please leave a comment below.

Bloggers' Lunch at ATA Conference

In keeping up with a tradition introduced last year, our friend and colleague Jill Sommer from Musings of an overworked translator is organizing another bloggers' lunch during the ATA's national conference. This year it's happening during the American Translators Association's 50th annual conference in New York City. We are going to meet on Thursday, October 29, at 12:30 p.m.

To let us know you are coming, please visit Jill's blog for detailed information and let her know that you will be attending by leaving a comment. We look forward to another entertaining lunch. Last year in Orlando we got to make contact in the real world with fellow bloggers as well as friends and also speculated about the Masked Translator's secret identity. Shall we do it again?

Short Survey for Judicial Interpreters

In an ongoing effort to improve the quality of court interpreting services available on both the state and national level, the National Association of Judiciary Translators and Interpreters (NAJIT) is kindly requesting interpreters' help with filling out a 15-minute survey. This is done through the anonymous Survey Monkey software and is completely confidential.

The purpose of the survey is to obtain detailed information nationwide about the ways in which state and federal courts use certified and non-certified spoken-language interpreters, so that NAJIT may best target its future advocacy work. The data generated by this survey will be made available to all participants and will be summarized on the NAJIT web site and in its advocacy efforts. No specific information that could reveal the identity or locations of the survey participants will be published.

You can take the survey here. For more information about NAJIT, please visit their website.

Link to Payment Options: A Great Overview

Translation and interpretation is an increasingly international business, and entrepreneurial linguists need to determine the best ways to accept payments from both domestic and international clients. There are many options, and some have some intransparent fees, while others are just too expensive for small amounts. Which one should you chose? PayPal? And what's ACH? And what does Bloomberg and the interbank rate have to do with anything?

Join our friends and colleagues Corinne McKay and Eve Bodeux as they discuss the different payment options in a well-researched, easy-to-follow report, which also includes links to the most important sites that they mention. Listen to the informative (and unique!) Speaking of Translation here to ensure that getting paid doesn't get too expensive for you.

ATA Conference in NYC: Marriott Room Available

For those of you who are going to the American Translators Association's 50th Anniversary Conference in NYC at the end of the month, you might have noticed that the excellent rate ($199) that the ATA had secured at the host hotel, the Marriott Marquis on Time Square, has sold out. There was a limited block of rooms available. If you are still looking for a room, contact Judy (click on "Contact Us" for the e-mail address). She recently found out that a good friend of hers is going to be able to house her on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, and instead of just canceling the reservation, she'd like to transfer it to a colleague. Preference will be given to someone with the same dates -- Tuesday, October 27 through Sunday, November 1 -- as to not "waste" any nights at the special price. Other than that, it's first come, first served. We are also posting this information on other listservs so all our colleagues have a chance to see this.

See you in NYC!

Negotiating: A Short Case Study

Negotiating is one of the skills that are crucial for any entrepreneur, especially in the languages industry, where we frequently get asked for discounts and yes, free translations. In general, unless you can expect an immediate promise, in writing, of a project following your free translation, they are not a good idea. You'd be voluntarily devaluing your product. We do, however, think that giving advice, along the lines of attorneys prodiving free first consultations (but where they do NOT give you a sample contract) is advisable. We routinely provide free over-the-phone assessment of clients' translation and multicultural marketing strategies.

We wanted to share this brief case study. A few days ago, a potential client called us with what sounded like an interesting long-term collaboration on multilingual websites. The client, to remain anonymous, asked us to translate a few lines for free, but that he would show his gratitude by "sending a little something via PayPal." The first thing we need to remind ourselves is that this is not personal -- it's just business. We quickly responded that we do not provide free services on the promise of future projects, which might or might not happen. The potential client mentioned that it was "only a few lines," to which we said that this was about the principle about not providing free work. We then quickly thought about what the customer wanted: he wanted to verify that we have website localization and e-commerce experience, which is certainly a very fair request. We offered him a following:
  1. Customized links in the language combinations that he was looking for to live websites that we've translated and localized
  2. References from clients who have used our services for website translations
We felt that this was a good compromise and that it would fulfill both purposes, which are:
  1. Giving the customer what he wants: a verification of our skills
  2. Giving us what we want: to not give away free work, but to make our customer happy
We are happy to report that our customer seemed satisfied with this scenario and we hope to collaborate with him in the near future.
Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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