Looking for English->Spanish Translation Pet Peeves

Happy Friday, dear readers! Today's your turn to share your English->Spanish pet peeves, and we know you have a lot of them (so do we). Here are the details: Judy is one of the spokespersons of the American Translators Association, and as such, she was invited to speak (via the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Florida) at the Excellence in Journalism conference, which is a joint event between the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists. The event will take place in Orlando September 18 through 20.
Specifically, Judy has been asked to serve on a Spanish-language panel titled "Common Grammatical Errors in the Newsroom: Learn How to Identify and Correct Them." The panel will consist of a few journalists and one translator, and Judy has been compiling her own list of grammar pet peeves when it comes to newspapers and translation. Oftentimes, Spanish-language journalists in the U.S. don't have any formal educational background in Spanish, which can lead to less-than-stellar results in original Spanish-language writing. Other times, articles are poorly translated from English, and don't even get us started on Spanglish.

Since we love to share what our colleagues have to say, we figured we'd open this up to all who would like to share their pet peeves by leaving a comment below. If she has the chance to do so, Judy will mention that she polled her colleagues, and will try to mention some by name. Are you in? Please share! There are no rules or guidelines: go for it!


Coming Soon: The Interpreter Movie

We recently heard from our friends at InterpretAmerica that they have teamed up with USC Media Institute for Social Change and the non-profit No One Left Behind to make a movie about military interpreters, specifically about Afghan interpreters who work for the U.S. forces. The title of the movie is "The Interpreter.

Photo credit: http://www.nooneleft.org/
This is a topic that we are very interested in, and we've written about the life-and-death problem that Afghan interpreters face when the immigrant visas that the U.S. government promises them in exchange for their services aren't approved, as is the case for the vast majority of interpreters. They are seen as traitors by the Taliban and can't pretend they did not work with the U.S. forces. This issue has been getting a bit of coverage in the media, but not nearly as much as it should, which is why we are so delighted that this movie is being made. Think about how cool this is: yes, a movie about interpreters! And it doesn't have Nicole Kidman in it!

Now's your chance to become part of this adventure: spread the word, fund the Kickstarter campaign (we did; $17,000 to go), or both.  For $2,500, you can get associate producer credit in this movie, which would be a fantastic option for a large interpreting company.

This film will be screened at festivals around the country and the purpose is to raise awareness and to put pressure on political leaders to issue these visas. It's such an amazing and huge project, and if we were trying to produce a movie, we wouldn't even know where to start. We are so impressed by what InterpretAmerica has been able to put together. Here's a link to how this project started. 

Let's make this movie a reality! Will you join us in funding it and/or helping spread the word?

How Do I Market My Translation Services to Clients? (Video)

Without a doubt, the question we get the most from fellow linguists (especially beginning linguists) is: how do I get clients? How do I market my services?

We have both had the pleasure of speaking at conferences around the world to address this very topic, and we did publish a book on this topic as well, but now there's more: a 10-week class that Judy is teaching at the University of California-San Diego's Extension program. It's entirely online and there are no prerequisites (even though the class is part of the Certificate in English/Spanish Translation and Interpretation). Anyone can sign up for it, and this year's class (it's usually only offered once a year) starts September 29 and runs through December 7. It's presented entirely in English, so you don't need to speak Spanish to take this class.

While it is true that many T&I universities around the world fail to focus on the entrepreneurial and marketing aspect of our translation, there is now a class available that teaches you those skills, so: no more excuses! The class is offered by one of California's premier public universities, so it's also affordable at $475 (it was important to Judy to work with a well-known bricks-and-mortar institution that focuses on teaching rather than on maximizing profits). But rather than tell you all about this class in writing, we had Judy record a little video to explain the class in a bit more detail. Here's the link to sign up.

But rather than just read about the class, allow Judy to tell you about the class in this brief video:

Meet Wordycat

We recently heard about Wordycat through a colleague and are happy to spread the word about it. It's a new platform for translators, and before you roll your eyes and think "I've heard this before," have a look at what they are doing. They might be on to something! 

We are not associated with Wordycat in any way, but we think it's a great idea. But enough of us writing about them: here's a link to their Kickstarter campaign. We like how this new project describes itself: "Wordycat is an exclusive network in which freelance language professionals and their customers meet at eye level." It's the brain child of Anja Müller (and team) of Germany. While they did not reach their backing goal, it's not too late to support them! We also think the idea of language professionals getting recommended based on their skills and profile is a strong one; one that's very much in tune with what we think: business professionals will recommend linguists to their peers (or anyone else) if their experiences are good, and having a platform to do so is smart. This platform basically takes an idea that works well offline (recommendations) and replicates it online. Here's a link to the website with plenty of news in both German and English. 

And for the record: the creators spell Wordycat with a lower-case first letter, but in line with the major style guides, we will capitalize the business name in this post.

Most importantly, here's a cute YouTube video that they produced:

Only time will tell if this concept will catch up, but we'd like to congratulate Anja and her team for their vision, effort, and enthusiasm to create something better and make a positive contribution to the industry,

Getting Started: 10 Tips

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We oftentimes get questions about how to get started in the profession, and that's a long answer. Actually, part of this blog is dedicated to answering precisely that question, and we have a long list of articles that we've marked for beginners. However, a dear friend of ours recently asked us to compile 10 tips on what one needs to do to get started (he was thinking about becoming a translator). We came up with these 10 tips/ideas, but of course there are hundreds more. These tips have nothing to do with language skills (we will assume everyone has those), but have to do with building a business and a career once you already have the necessary skills.

1) Read some fantastic books that will answer most of your questions about the world of translation. These books weren't around 15 years ago, so you are in luck if you are getting started now. Our all-time favorite is Corinne McKay's How to succeed as a freelance translator, and we hear our book The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation isn't bad, either.    These two books should help solve 90% of your initial questions.
2)  Invest in your education. There are many fantastic courses available for translators, and many are even online. For the Spanish/English pair, may we suggest UCSD-Extension, where Judy teaches?
3) Become a member of a professional association. Or two. Or three. The ATA has a great membership directory that clients can use to find vendors (read: translators).
4) Read the 650+ entries on this blog to get some good insight into the joys and challenges of translation. Then discover other fantastic blogs. We've listed them on our blog roll on the right-hand side of this blog.
5) Build your website and get an associated professional e-mail address. Don't tinker with it too long--it will never be perfect, and you can always change it later. Done is better than perfect.
6) Attend industry conferences and meet your peers. There just is no substitute, and translators need a network of colleagues to succeed. So go out and build it. Be sure to also join e-mail lists (listservs) that many associations offer.
7) Invest in your set-up. We are in the lucky position that starting a translation services business requires minimal investment, but there will be some (a few thousand, perhaps) you need to buy a great computer, dictionaries, CAT tools, etc.
8) Keep in mind that starting a translation business is no different than starting out any other business, but perhaps with less risk because the investment you need to make is low and you have no overhead. Remember that it will take time to build a business. It's never instantaneous.
8) Go to where the clients are. You need to get out of the house and network. If you are a legal translator, go to events where there will be lots of lawyers, such as bar association meetings, etc. 
9) Create a good pricing structure. Don't underprice everyone just because you are getting started, as that will affect you and everyone else in both the short and the long run. Do the math to see how much you need to make to have a thriving business, and charge the rate that gets you there. Not everyone will want to work with you, but you don't need thousands of clients.
10) Dedicate time to administrative and promotional work. Unless you work only with translation agencies, which essentially do all the client acquisition work for you, you must do the sales and marketing functions yourself. In the beginning, this will take up a big part of your time, but as you progress in your career it will be less so.

What would you like to add, dear colleagues?


Quack, Quack: A Museum for a Translator

Image: http://www.erika-fuchs.de/erika-fuchs/
One of our dear German translator colleagues recently shared a gem of information with us: there's now a museum in Germany that honors a translator (yes, one translator). 

The English->German translator is none than the amazing late Erika Fuchs, who translated all things Disney comics (specifically, Carl Barks' comics featuring Mickey Mouse) for more than 30 years. She's well-known and beloved in the German translation world, and her work was truly groundbreaking and brought Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck to German-speaking audiences. In fact, our first encounters with the mouse and the duck were courtesy of Erika Fuchs, and that was long before we knew what translation even was and understood that she had opened up a world to us kids that we wouldn't otherwise have had access to. Ms. Fuchs was known for her exquisitely crafted translations that matched each cartoon character's personality and quirks. She was also a master at avoiding literal translations, and was quite free in her approach, yielding highly idiomatic results that generations of kids were addicted to (we were as well). 

If anyone deserves a medal for her work, it's certainly Erika Fuchs (and she received several during her lifetime). We would never have dreamed that she would have an entire museum dedicated to her, but it's official! The small town of Schwarzenbach an der Saale (in Germany), where Ms. Fuchs lived for more than 50 years, now has a museum dedicated to her. Here's the German-language link to it.

Did any of our lovely colleagues also fall in love with Mickey Mouse as kids because of Ms. Fuchs' translations? Please share your stories with us!

Interpreting: Anatomy of a Deposition

Today's quick blog post is a link to a video Judy recorded for Speechpool a few months ago. It's about what happens during deposition proceedings. While the video was recorded to practice interpreting, the content covers exactly what happens during a deposition, which is why many interpreters have found it helpful to prepare for this type of proceedings. We love this, as we are killing two birds with one stone here! We have had several requests to make the video available outside of Speechpool, so here it is.

There will be a second part to this video coming soon--stay tuned!


We hope you find this useful! It's been our experience that most court interpreter training focuses on proceedings that happen in actual court, which makes sense. However, in many stages, cases are also handled outside of court (arbitration, mediation, depositions, etc.), but relatively little information is available about these processes. We are hence trying to fill in the gaps here in terms of information so our colleagues can prepare for these kinds of assignments. Enjoy!

Improve your Sight Translation: Quick Tip

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Today's quick tip doesn't really directly relate to interpreting technique, but it has everything to do with preparation. As many of our readers know, sight translation (despite its name, it's considered a form of interpreting) is very frequently used in court settings. While we learn at university and at prep courses that we should never, ever start sight translating until we've read the entire document, the reality is that most of the time things move so quickly that we just don't have time to do so. The best we usually can do is to scan the text a few sentences ahead while we sight translate sentence by sentence.

Now, the best way to get better at this is to be a fast reader. Yes, mom was right: reading is good for many, many things, including sight translation. The faster you read, the better you will be at crafting good sight translation, even when under pressure. Of course we don't just mean superficial reading, but reading to really understand the texts. To practice that, we read high-level texts (good newspapers, such as the New York Times and non-fiction), and after reading a paragraph or two, we put away the reading materials and ask ourselves: have we really understood what we just read? And then we try to give a brief summary.

Needless to say, the more you read, the faster you usually get, which will benefit your sight translation. And yes, we'd say your summer reading by the pool definitely counts--everything counts!

What do you think, dear colleagues?

The Pro Bono Factor

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Happy Friday! For today's quick post, we wanted to talk about the lovely colleagues we hire as contractors for projects every week.  We recently realized that they have many things in common. The one that stands out the most (in addition to excellent language skills, of course) is that the vast majority of them are active in their translator and interpreter associations or do some other sort of volunteer work.

It's not that we specifically look for colleagues with volunteer experience or that it's a requirement at all, but we tend to naturally gravitate towards those linguists who not only want to earn a good living, but who also want to give back to their communities and to the world. We've both always done a lot of pro bono work ourselves, and we appreciate others who do as well. Going good can also be good for you! We think it says something very powerful about a linguist when she or he is donating some time to make the world better for everyone. 

We recently looked through our contractor list, and sure enough: pretty much all of them have been on the boards of their local translator/interpreter organization, and many have done lots of other pro bono work in other sectors.

We've worked with the same colleagues for years (sorry, not accepting applications), but if we were looking for say, someone, to translate something from English into Romanian, and we can think of two translators for that language pair (we actually can!), and all other things being equal, we'd probably pick the one translator who is more active in the industry. It also helps that of course those linguists who are more active in the industry (speak: pro bono) are more visible, which makes it easier for us to remember them.

What do you think, dear colleagues? If you'd like to chime in, please leave a comment below. Have a great weekend.

Interpreting Tip: Try This

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For today's quick and short post about interpreting (which will take you less than three minutes to read), we'd like to share an easy technique that should help you improve your interpreting skills. It's a true-and-tried technique, but one that we also frequently forget about. Whenever we do remember to do it, we feel that our subsequent interpreting renditions are stronger.

The technique is called shadowing. Most of you will know what that means, but let us elaborate just in case. Shadowing means that you will listen to an audio recording via headphones and repeat what the speaker says in the same language word by word, trying to lag at least a full thought behind the speaker. This sounds easy, but some speakers are so fast that shadowing in itself (let alone interpreting) is a huge challenge. We purposely choose fast speakers (court hearings and especially trials on YouTube work very well) to make this as difficult as possible. It's still less draining than actual interpreting, so we try to do some 45 minutes of this. And we can really tell the difference if we do an interpreting practice session right after. In our experience, shadowing helps us with improve our pronunciation and speed, and repeating the same phrases over and over again during practice puts them the tip of your tongue for actual interpreting work, as we have found.

So try it, dear colleagues. We recommend doing this in both source and target (or in several source languages if you have them). What do you think? Have you tried it? Do you have some videos you like to interpret that you'd like to share? We'd be delighted to hear from you. 
Join the discussion! Commenting is a great way of becoming 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 are 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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