Friday Humor

Happy Friday, dear readers! Today's post is short and sweet. This is an ad that Judy picked up at a restaurant in Recife, Brazil, during her stay in the gorgeous country for the fantastic conference

Very, very close. 
The ad is largely in Portuguese, with one memorable line in English. We hear from our Brazilian friends that advertisers like to use English phrases and words, such as a pizzeria that calls itself "steakhouse" in English, even though it is clearly a pizzeria. English is considered quite cool, which is fantastic, but as we can see, the results are not always great. Perhaps advertisers should rely on some of the fantastic English/Portuguese translators Judy met at the conference. 

Surely Walber Marinho is a fabulous hairdresser, and he also uses that English-language term in his ad, but now he should rely on other professionals for his language needs. It really is amazing that one small letter (missing, in this case) makes all the difference.

To see a larger version, simply click on the image. 

With that: have a great weekend. 

Decision Tree: Bad Translations

Palm trees near Recife, Brazil. Pic by Judy.
One of the complaints/questions we get from colleagues quite frequently goes something like this: "My client has some terrible translations on their website. I keep on telling them the translation is awful, but my client doesn't think so and refuses to do anything. What should I do?"

This is a common situation, and not one that lends itself to easy answers. We thus tried to come up with some sort of decision tree. Judy tried to use SimpleDiagram to make a tree,  but her computer-based drawing skills are just as bad as her handwriting, so we abandoned this project and will just put this in writing. We've included a picture of palm trees, as they are also trees!

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this affect the quality of your work or your reputation? That is, do you need these translations for your own translations (=are they reference material)? Do these translations make you look bad? Our bet is that since you didn't translate them, your name isn't on them, so we don't see how they could really directly make you look bad. We translate plenty of websites, and know that clients oftentimes tinker with them without our knowledge and do the occasional translation themselves. It's not ideal, but it's the nature of the web. Also think about this: if you, for instance, translate the company's contracts, and they happen to have a terrible website, that's certainly very unfortunate, but has no ill effect on your work other than that it annoys you. You've done your due diligence by pointing out this shortcoming to your client, and that's all you can do. Move on.
  • Is the client paying you? We had colleagues talk to us who are so ticked off at their client's language nonchalance that they are tempted to end the working relationship. Needless to say, we think that's a poor decision. We are not the language police nor can we make clients do what we think is best. All we can do is make recommendations and suggestions, and if they don't accept them, well, then we have to accept the fact that our word isn't gospel. As long as the client is paying you for whatever translation work you are performing for them and you enjoy that relationship, there's no reason to be a purist and let your convictions get in the way of making a living. For instance, our dentists constantly point out that we don't floss enough. It's the same story every six months, but they continue to provide dental services. Perhaps this isn't the best analogy we have ever come up with, but it will do for now.
  • Does this annoy you so much you just cannot handle it? Well, if it does, then you are certainly as free as the other party to walk away from this relationship, and you have every right to to so. You are not married to your client, and if seeing your client's bad translations gives you heartburn and increases your blood pressure to dangerous levels, then sever the relationship. Just ask yourself: is it really worth it? We do have one client who pays us very well for the work we do for him but insists on doing other portions of his business translations himself. We cringe when we see them, and have gently pointed out that it would be best to have "one voice" for his translations (a euphemism for "your translations are not up to par"), but he thinks things are fine the way they are. We tried. So we continue working, cash his checks, and have hope that he will come around.

Of course, please take this all with a small grain of salt, but in essence, this is what we would recommend. We would very much enjoy reading your comments and thoughts on this topic. Happy Wednesday!

Warriors Needed

Unfortunately, the public in general doesn't tend to know too terribly much about what we do, and many might think that anyone who is bilingual can be a translator, but that's like saying that anyone who can listen and speak is automatically a therapist or anyone who speaks English is a reporter or anyone who is funny is a comedian -- the list goes on on and on. Of course, being perfectly bilingual is the minimum requirement one needs to meet to be a professional translator, but we digress.

That's Tree pose, and not Warrior, but close enough?
We have a confession to make: when it comes to the public's lack of awareness about our profession, we have a particular pet peeve. For one reason or another, we cringe when we hear "Hillary Clinton is speaking through a translator," although this clearly is about an interpreter. The confusion doesn't seem to happen the other way around, but interpreters are consistently called translators. This might not be a big deal, but they are different professions, and we figured it's important to clear up this incorrect use of terms in the media. So instead of complaining to our colleagues and to each other, we decided to complain effectively and tell the media outlets in question that get it wrong. We write regular e-mails to a large number of newspapers, radio programs and magazines, and being a squeaky wheel has even gotten Judy on NPR, which issued a correction. The nice side effect of this is that NPR has now called her several times for a comment on a language-related issues. It sure looks like being a squeaky wheel might pay off.

So we have a proposal to make: join us. Instead of complaining to each other on Twitter (or elsewhere), tell the people who make the mistake and clear up the misunderstanding. This could be a simple two-line e-mail, which can be saved for future use (that's what we do). We frequently like to point out that translation (written word) and interpreting (spoken word) are like libel (written) and slander (spoken). Keep the tone nice and friendly and offer to elaborate. 

Can you imagine if even 1,000 colleagues sent one e-mail a day to some media outlet? We'd get more coverage for our profession, which is always a good thing, and we might educate the media and the public while we are at it, which is fantastic. We like to think about this translation/interpreting confusion along the lines of: what if the media consistently confused psychiatrists with psychologists? We bet the American Medical Association (and other associations around the world) would be up in arms about this. When translation and interpreting get confused, we figured that in addition to our professional associations setting the record straight, it can't hurt if we do it on an individual level as well.

And you know how our profession might get more recognition, the recognition it deserves? Perhaps by being talked about in the media. So let's combine the power of the media and the power of freelance translators around the world.

Will you join us and be a translation and interpreting warrior?

Upcoming Professional Development + ATA Certification Exam: Nevada

Things are happening in Nevada's translation and interpreting world, courtesy of the Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association (NITA). This non-profit group, an affiliate group of the American Translators Association, strives to elevate the quality of language services available in the state and regularly holds professional development events, which are very reasonably priced. Judy is the proud past president of NITA, and Lorena Pike, the current president, is doing an excellent job at organizing events.

Here is some information about upcoming events in September and October:

The widespread practice of translation has taken new forms with the advent of technology. These include the use of Machine Translation (MT), Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) and Human Translation (HT). Understanding their strengths and the translator’s use for each of the foregoing modes of translation is of vital importance for the growing T&I industry. This presentation will shed light on the three aforementioned modes of translation and their utility. It will touch on Direct Translations, MT such as Google Translate, elements of CAT Translation Memories (TM), as well as the traditional HT with the aid of dictionaries. The presentation posited will go into detail as to the building blocks of each mode and their appropriateness for different types of texts (i.e. technical, journalistic).
  • Saturday, October 6, 2013: ATA Translator Certification Exam, Las Vegas. The American Translators Association offers translator certification in many different language combinations, and the ATA relies on regional groups to host and proctor this exam. Just like every year, NITA is delighted to hold two certification exams in Nevada, including the upcoming sitting in Las Vegas. Please note that all registration and questions must go through the ATA, as NITA is merely providing the room and the proctor. 
  • Saturday, October 26, 2013, Las Vegas: Central American Spanish by Rubén Buitrago. Learn all about the Spanish that's spoken in Central American countries, including regional differences and expressions you might never have heard before. 

Have a great late summer/fall!

Proz Conference in Brazil: Final Countdown

The Fifth Annual Translation Conference in Recife, Brazil, is just around the corner (August 24 and 25), and Judy is delighted to be one of the keynote speakers! The program looks fantastic, and having a conference in a beach town sure is a draw, isn't it? Barry Olsen of the Monterey Institute of International Studies and InterpretAmerica is giving another one of the three keynote addresses and he's a truly outstanding public speaker. In addition, our dear friend Cris Silva, current president of the Colorado Translators Association, will also be speaking, and her presentations are always high-energy and very inspiring. This event is being organized, with great enthusiasm and efficiency, by Julia Chaad and Nina Cavalcanti of local language service provider MilkTrados. events typically outsource all organization to local language professionals, and we are very grateful to Julia and Nina for the hundreds of hours of work they've put into this.

If you are looking for some late-summer professional development and some beach time to boot, then this might be the perfect conference for you! Judy will be giving her Entrepreneurial Linguist presentation in English, which a fabulous colleague will be interpreting into Portuguese, as Judy's Portuguese is limited to three words. 

See you in Recife? If you will be there, be sure to drop Judy a line to coordinate a get-together

Friday Job: Swiss German/English (Contract/Switzerland)

OK, that's Austria, but close enough.
Happy Friday, dear readers! A few days ago, our friend and colleague Otto Zellmann in South Carolina sent us the following job posting to share with all of you. Please see below for details. We are not involved in this job search, but we are merely passing this information along for those who might be interested.

Role: Translator/Writer 
Location: Mezzovico, Switzerland
Duration: 6 month contract

As an experienced Translator / Writer 
- preferably in the Medical Device Industry that will be responsible for:

- Verbal and Written Translation (English / German) - PLEASE NOTE THIS NEEDS TO BE SWISS-GERMAN.
- Assist team with document translations and/or translations during interviewing/discussions with Engineers and Management located at Clients sites in Germany 
and Switzerland.

Fluent in Speaking and Writing in both English and German.

- Demonstrated ability to produce accurate, timely and succinct reports and summaries. 
- Be able to manage effectively multiple priorities and tasks.
- Proficiency with a variety of computer software applications in word processing,
spreadsheets, database and presentation (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.).
- Work independently and in a team environment. 

- Minimum 5 years of experience with working with multi-lingual English / German teams in translations - both written and verbal.
- Previous experience with working in medical device field / environment preferred.

Keisha Finch| MAETRICS LLC  Corporate Recruiter | | 

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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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