Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Going through the emotions of translation



Confrontation. What a dirty word!

I’m the master avoider of confrontation. You will see me running for the hills rather than face a confrontational situation!  

However, we’ve all had that compliant from a client where they are unhappy with your work. Once you receive the complaint you’ll invariably have to confront the situation but have you confronted your emotions too?

Denial:

Usually when you receive the contesting email you think, “I’m sure this is a mistake. I’m misreading the tone. I did an excellent job”.  Soon, though, you’ll need to know you have a situation on hand. Don’t deny it. The sooner you deal with the situation, the better.

Anger:

You will most probably proceed to draft that angry email with the nasty and disdainful undertone. It’s alright to be angry. Be careful though what you do with your anger. Many blog posts have been written about drafting the angry email, letting it sit, deleting it and replacing it with a courteous one. It is cathartic. But also be careful what social media platforms you use to air your grievances. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are never good places to air your grievances. The internet has a long-term memory. You don’t want to make the situation worse by making your client angrier when he stumbles across your post.


Gmail also has a nice “undo” feature if you inadvertently send that angry email. You can enable it in settings and it gives you about 8 seconds to recall the email you have just sent.   

Bargaining:

Be careful how you bargain in trying to make the situation better. Depending on the circumstances, it may feel right to refund entire amounts of money or give a discount on the next job you do for the client. Whatever you choose to do, make it a good compromise for you and your client. This will, however, depend on the circumstances.

Depression:

Some jobs may become a thorn in your side. Maybe the client has asked you for your third rewrite. Your heart may not be in it any more. You may be plagued by it in your down time and sleep. Just know that a job can never be never-ending. Soon the client will be gone and you will have moved on. Be careful though when you are feeling demotivated that you still do the job to the best of your ability.

Acceptance:

Sometimes you will just have to accept that some clients will never be happy. Try to deliver the job with your integrity still attached. Sometimes, it may be necessary to either fire the client or refund the whole amount and refer them elsewhere. This is no reflection on you but it is sometimes a necessary step.

What can you do to avoid this in the future?

I have a list of golden rules stuck up on the wall which I refer to before accepting a client. There have been many blog posts on this but it always bears repeating. Here’s my list:

1.     Research the client thoroughly!!

2.     Is the brief clear?

3.     Does the client respect your working hours?

4.     Is it a reasonable time frame for you to complete the job? Will you be able to complete the work to the best of your ability and beyond, in the given time frame?

5.     Take time to accept the job. Read through terms and conditions. Is this the right fit for you? Never hastily accept anything.  

6.     Your reputation is more valuable than gold!! Am I doing anything to compromise my reputation in the industry?

7.     Tired? Rather reply to the email/sign the contract when you’ve rested.

8.     Are there any warning signs from the beginning? Is the client difficult to reach? Has he not sent you requested materials?

What would you add to this list?

Corinne McKay in her book How to succeed as a freelance translator has an excellent checklist on researching potential clients and what to do when things don’t go as planned. I highly recommend this book for any freelancer.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

My top ten apps for translators

I’m a huge fan of smart phones and tablets. It sounds clichéd but I can’t remember a better life without them.  
I thought I would share with you my top apps I use in my daily life which I think are pretty good tools for translators. Most of them are available for android and Apple.
Please do also share what apps you use in your daily life! It’ll be great to find some new ones.
In no particular order:
Twitter: There’s nothing fancy about this twitter app. I just love it because I am able to check my timeline and mentions on the go. I’ve enabled the push function which sometimes isn’t such a good thing.
BlogSpace: I use blogger to power my blog and BlogSpace is the app for this. It’s really great because you are able to post your blog posts on the go. You are also able to add links and pictures as well. WordPress also has an excellent app which has the same features and which I’ve heard is even better.
Evernote: This is one of the best digital note taking tools I’ve come across. You are able to work on and create a text, webpage, photograph, voice memo and handwritten note all in this one app. Too lazy to take notes? Just press record and it’ll record audio for an hour.
Skype: The Skype app is great because I can still get calls when I’m out and the forward call feature is great. It has great call and picture quality too.
WexEx and GoToMeeting: As a translator I attend a lot of webinars. WebEx and GoToMeeting are the main meeting platforms which are used for these webinars. You can download WebEx and GoToMeeting for free and they work brilliantly. A few problems though: You can only listen to live webinars on these apps. If the organiser has a poll, you aren’t able to participate in the poll. There is also no chat feature you can use with these apps. Overall, though, if you don’t have your laptop or desktop pc handy, these apps are great for listening to live webinars which require minimum interaction.
Calendar and contacts: Where would a freelancer be without his/her calendar? Apple has done a great job with the Calendar and Contacts app, enabling you to sync very easily with iOS. It is also very easy to sync with your Google calendar and contacts across devices. I’ve also never found it simpler to add entries from other apps or your email.
Dropbox: Where would we be without Dropbox? The Dropbox app gives you previews of all your files. Another app I use is the box.net app. You’re able to download, forward, email and comment on your files.
WordRef: This app is a good tool for translators. It’s not the best and I do have complaints but it has some brilliant monolingual English language dictionary entries (for those times you quickly want to look up a word). It is also one of the most comprehensive digital dictionaries I have found in Spanish-English. I still prefer my hard copy dictionaries but if you are stuck incommunicado with only your tablet as a resource, this is an excellent app. There are also some useful forum entries for culture specific words. Dictionary.com is another useful app with a thesaurus included.
Clock: I really like the clock app because you can literally add  hundreds of clocks from every city from around the world. This is really useful for quickly checking the time in different time zones. It also changes automatically when the European clocks are changed. I’ve always been challenged calculating time differences and converting GMT to DST to PST.
News apps: News apps are great. I particularly like the El País app and the NY Times app. Two other apps which I like are Newspapers and PressReader. These apps allow you to read the full content of newspapers from around the world. You can even pick from sometimes 20 different dailies in a country. The Newspapers app costs $2.99 but is really worth it as it gives you unlimited access. PressReader allows you to download six free issues before you start paying for each issue of a country’s newspaper.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Versatile Blogger Award


Last week I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by Catherine Christaki. I was bowled over when I found out and couldn’t wipe the silly grin off my face for the whole day. I’ve never met Catherine in the flesh but she is a brilliant translator and blogger. I love reading her blog posts which are always informative, funny and relatable. One of my favourite blog posts of hers was her introductory post, introducing herself. I was laughing out loud when I read what job she had once worked at. So, thank you Catherine for nominating me, a very fresh, new translator and blogger who is very honoured to have been awarded this Versatile Blogger Award.
Official rules of the award
1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading.
4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Just a note before I share the 7 things about myself. I read Lisa Carter’s blog post (another favourite of mine) on her Versatile Blogger Award a few weeks ago and loved it. I then took the idea of sharing 7 things about yourself and wrote a blog post entitled “Pleased to meet you?”. In this post I share 5 things about myself. If you have time, read them here. They might amuse you;) After I wrote that post, I thought I had told the 5 things that could possibly interest you . However, after thinking hard, here are another 7 things about me:
7 things about me: 
1. I hate cooking.

2. I studied piano and music theory for 10 years. I still play the piano but I don’t perform anymore.

3. I love building things and putting things together. For one birthday I was given a set to build my own working radio with copper coil. I didn’t build it to the exact specifications and it looked like it had been put through the food blender but it worked. Doing this kind of thing gives me immense satisfaction and gives me hours of fun.

4. I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa.

5. One of my dreams is to go gorilla tracking in the Democratic Republic of Congo.   

6. I love to play games! None of my family or friends like to play games so I play videogames which I can play by myself. My first experience with a PC game was Conan the Barbarian on an old DOS operating system on a black and white screen. I then moved on to the SEGA console. Later I became obsessed with playing Need for Speed. Now, anything will do. I’m also fiercely competitive when playing games.

7. I love order and cleanliness.

So now you know almost everything there is about me;)

15 of my favourite, recently discovered blogs:

I’ve tried not to include blogs which have participated in or been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award already.  Some of them you may have known about for a long time before me and some aren’t even translation or language related blogs but these are the blogs which I love reading every week and inspire me as a newbie. They often put a smile on my face too.



               






Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Time and resources

On Friday, for International Translation Day, I attended ECPD Webinar’s free virtual coffee morning in conjunction with ITI. This was my first virtual event and I loved it. One of the morning’s discussions was about membership of a translator’s institute. The consensus was that it is important to belong to an institute in your target language country and if possible, your source language country too. I do not disagree with the importance of belonging to an institute. I am a member of a few myself and there are many benefits to belonging to one.
Today, I am not going to go into if you should belong to an institute and if your clients even care if you belong to one or not, but the situation in which you take an accreditation test for an institute.
For the past few months I have been working towards getting accredited by the South African Translator’s Institute (SATI). Before taking the exam, you are able to take a practice test to gauge how you might do if you were taking the test for real. A marker is assigned to mark your test and give you feedback and you are given a mark of pass or fail.
When taking the accreditation for real, your exam script is sent to a friend/colleague/neighbour (it cannot be a family member) and the friend opens it in front of you. You then have 12 hours in which to do the exam. This consists of translating 3 texts: a general text and two specialist texts. The friend does not have to stay with you for the full 12 hours but s/he has to sign off that you have not consulted anyone during the test, meaning that in the exam you are not allowed to telephone, email or even start a discussion forum. You may, however, consult any number of dictionaries or other resources, such as parallel texts. In the practice test, you are told to try to stick to the rules of the proper accreditation exam as closely as possible.   
To pass the test, you are only allowed one major error and three minor errors in all 3 texts.
As a translator though, I have two problems with the framework for the exam:
-time
-resources
Time:
I think 12 hours is an unreasonable amount of time to expect a translator to translate 3 texts. As a translator, I painstakingly translate every word, nuance, idea and thought. One word may make me pause for an hour, paging through many dictionaries, websites and resources. Even after the text is translated, I read and reread the text. It will then go for proofreading with an outside proofreader. I find that after a while, I become blind to the text somehow, in that some clumsy collocations aren’t noticed by me or not noticing that I’ve written ‘them’ instead of ‘then’. So it usually takes days to have a text ready to be sent to a client.  
My point is that it’s ok to take more than one hour finding a good substitute for a word in a text.
Resources:
Sometimes I will phone someone to discuss a text. This is normally a native speaker of my source language (Spanish). It sometimes helps voicing your problem out loud and working through it to come to a solution. A lot of freelancers do not have this opportunity to consult with anyone but I think it is important sometimes.
I know that exams do not emulate real life situations but I think it’s important to try to give the translator an advantage in the exam. Shouldn’t an accreditation exam try to emulate a real life situation? I know this is not possible because you could get someone else to take the exam for you and then you get accredited but I think some things do need to change.  
Granted the texts you will get in the exam aren’t that difficult. My practice exam had a text on the marketing strategy of Coca-Cola and how it was bringing the fizz back to its marketing strategy. There was also a word play on ayatollah and aya-cola.
Some translators have never been certified. They don’t see accreditation as a benefit and are happy to let their reputation precede them.
So, what do you think? How important are the factors of time and resources in translation to you?