Job Posting (Vietnamese): Las Vegas

While this job is not directly translation-related, it comes from a dear client and it might be of interest either to a beginning translator or a Vietnamese speaker who is looking for a steady entry-level position. Please see the job posting and application information below . Let us know if one of you gets the job!

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Nevada State Government Agency is seeking an Applicant who can speak and read Vietnamese for the position of:

Administrative Analyst I

Education/Experience: High school diploma or equivalent and 2 years of office experience.

Knowledge: General knowledge basic computer functions and Microsoft Office, spreadsheet software, and general office operations. 

Abilities: Ability to speak and read Vietnamese and English. Ability to multi-task; meet deadlines, prioritize and organize work and handle frequent interruptions and effectively compose business correspondences and reports. 

Duties: Assisting in administrative/office work, perform data-entry functions, communicate through email and phone, assist customers, and additional tasks as needed.

Employment Status: Temporary with possibility for full-time employment for the right candidate with Nevada State Government Agency.

Anticipated Start Date: TBD

Salary: Based on education and experience.

Location: Las Vegas

How to Apply: Email:

Introduction to Translation Starts 6/23

Happy Friday, dear readers! This is just a quick note to let you know that Judy's online class (English/Spanish) for University of California San Diego-Extension is starting again on June 23, 2015. The class is Introduction to Translation, and it's offered entirely online (asynchronous), and it lasts five weeks (through July 27, 2015). The class is offered via the user-friendly online learning platform Blackboard. 

The class is part of UCSD-Extension's online translation (Spanish/English) certificate, but you don't have to be signed up for the entire certificate to take this class. Since this class is the very first one in the certificate program, all students with the English/Spanish combination may take this class. Here's where to sign up

Translation Pricing: Should We Charge Hourly Rates?

The inside of Judy's wallet.
For today's quick post, we wanted to touch on something that we've been thinking about a lot: the way translators charge for their services. Traditionally, translation services in the U.S. have always been billed by the source word, meaning the translator will know exactly how much she or he will charge the client before the process starts. And the client has an exact figure, which is helpful for them. In Germany and Austria, translation is usually billed by the source line (a line being 55 characters).

Changing existing pricing structures can be difficult, and most translation agencies have established processes based on per-word rates, so we speculate that there won't be too much change there in the short term. So that's why we will focus on direct clients here. We work only with direct clients, and not surprisingly, most have no idea how many words are on the documents/websites they need to have translated  because as opposed to translators, they've never thought on a per-word basis. On most documents, it's easy to count the words, but things get trickier with PDFs and with web-based content. For the past few years, we have started quoting many projects by the hour, because we feel that an hourly rate is something most clients understand quite well, as they are used to paying that for other professional services, such as lawyers, CPAs, therapists, etc. 

We also like this approach  because it elevates our profession in a way and puts it more on par with other professional services and moves away from this "piecemeal" approach that sometimes comes with per-word pricing. And ultimately, it's all about making clients happy, and in our (not necessarily representative) experience we feel that clients have been pleased with the hourly approach. We also like this pricing structure because it makes sense to most clients. For instance: say a client brings you a five-page last will and testament. If you submit a quote for five hours' work (for instance) at your hourly rate of, say $100/hour, that's transparent and easy to quantify and understand. 

Finally, we like per-hour pricing because it gives the client the chance to clearly understand some surcharges that we usually added on manually in percentages. For instance: a scanned images converted into a PDF document will take infinitely longer to translate than a Word document with no tables (well, not infinitely, but it feels like it). We've always had a surcharge for PDF processing (which sometimes results in the client finding the Word document), and we think it's a very straightforward explanation that a PDF takes more time to process and is thus more expensive. We think it all comes down to an hourly charge being something that's transparent and easy to calculate and understand. Of course, your clients must trust you not to overcharge them. 

Now, what are the potential downsides to this pricing approach? The main one that we see is that the translator has to do an excellent job at estimating how long the translation will take before the project starts. This is relatively easy to do if you have many years' experience, but it's hard in the beginning. That's why we advise to estimate on the high end to give yourself some wiggle room and you will have a pleasantly surprised customer if you invoice them for less. On the other hand, we never invoice more than what we estimated, as we think that's not fair for the client. You may choose to do this differently, but on the few occasions where we've been way off on our estimates, we just had to absorb the difference. Another downside is that some clients might potentially perceive your rate, regardless of what it is, as high. Then you can either explain to them that translation is professional service or you can simply thank them for their interest. Unfortunately, a change in pricing structure doesn't mean that there won't be some clients who will think your work is too expensive regardless of how you charge for it. 

What do you think, dear colleagues? This brief post is of course in no way exhaustive, and we'd very much enjoy knowing what you think. Please join the conversation below!

Kiva Looking for Volunteers (Into English)

We've frequently written about Kiva, a leading microlending organization with big impact on poverty that relies on volunteer translators to try to change the world, one microloan at a time. We have no working relationship with Kiva other than we think that they are doing great work, and we are happy to spread the word about them on this blog. We frequently recommend volunteer translation opportunities to beginning translators to get some experience under their belt, as most agencies (and direct clients) usually do not work with translators who have no experience. We think volunteering your time for a worthy non-profit and getting that name on your CV is a much better idea than working for the very low wages that are frequently offered to beginning translators on the open market.

A few days ago, we received another message from Kiva, asking them to spread the word. It looks like this time they are looking for team leaders rather than translators We are copying and pasting from the e-mail we received here:

Kiva’s Review and Translation Program relies on over 400 volunteers to edit, translate, and thoroughly review loan profiles that our Field Partners have posted to the Kiva website. Each profile provides a brief overview of the borrower's background and their microloan use. This personal component is what helps to connect Kiva borrowers with Kiva lenders.

To keep our volunteer teams working smoothly, we are looking for highly committed volunteers to lead teams of up to 35 members. This remote volunteer opportunity is ideal for someone who would like to use their for strong communicators who speak English at a native level to head teams professional skills to help create social impact through Kiva. We are looking for strong communicators who speak English at a native level to head teams working in English, Spanish, Russian, French, and Portuguese.

We’re accepting applications through May 31 for Team Leaders to join us in August 2015, and would greatly appreciate your help in reaching out to in order to help us spread the word
about volunteering with Kiva.

We don't have any additional information about this opportunity, so if you have any questions, please be sure to contact Kiva directly.

Bad Client?

Made on 
Today's  post is about something that comes up in our industry quite often. The scenario is this: the highly talented translator delivers a world-class translation, only for the clueless client (we mean this tongue-in-cheek, in case you haven't noticed) to destroy it by "editing" it when the client should stick to his or her area of expertise and leave the translating to the talented translator. The resulting edited translation is not improved at all: quite the contrary. It's a disaster. Now the translator is  indignant and complaining to all her colleagues and friends about it. Does this sound familiar? Let us suggest a different way of looking at it.

After the client pays for your work, he or she owns it. Period. They are free to do with your product as they please, because you now longer own it (yes, we got a legal opinion on this). A translator can certainly insist that his or her name not be listed as the translator on a mutilated translation, but the reality is that most translators can't get their names within 10 miles of most translations anyway, so this shouldn't be a big concern. We are not saying that the client is right in destroying a perfectly good translation with good intentions but bad language skills, but that's life. Translators are no different than lawyers, doctors, interior designers, stylists, etc. We hear our stylist when she tells us black is not our color, but we love it anyway. We hear our doctor when she tells us to lay off the fatty Mexican food, but it's so tasty.  Our CPA is right that we should be more organized in our charity donations, but we aren't. Sometimes clients buy a Mercedes and put gaudy rims and license plates with rhinestones on it. The dealer probably cringes, but if the client's money is good, what can be done? Not much. 

We have had this scenario happen very infrequently, but when it does happen, we just make sure to detail in writing why we think the translation should be published/going to print as is and list the reasons. Then we say that we are happy to give our professional opinion, since that's in part what we are getting paid for. If the client insists to use the mutilated translation anyway and our names are on it, we respectfully ask to have our names removed. We think it's important to stick to your role of professional advisor and not become too indignant when the client doesn't follow our advice. They pay us for it, so they are free to take it or leave if after they've paid for our services.

That said, we are on our way to the tailor to have her add some ruffles to a gorgeous black Jil Sander suit. While we are at it, we might stop by the hairdresser's to see if she can turn us into redheads. Just kidding! 

What do you think, dear friends and colleagues? We'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Jobs: Language Specialist at Netflix

Just in time for the weekend, we wanted to share a job posting that a friend recently sent to us. We have no other information about this particular job nor are we getting paid to post it, but Netflix sure does sound like a great company to work for. The job is located in Silicon Valley. 

We are copying and pasting from the company website's posting here:

Language Specialist

Los Gatos, California
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: Arabic, Vietnamese, Japanese,
Korean, Polish, Spanish, and Hungarian. 

Native fluency, localization experience and creative writing in one or more of the above languages are 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

Have a look at this link to apply. Looks like the company has made it very easy to apply online, as you can apply via LinkedIn. We like!

Small Talk Tips for Translators

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The old adage that we hear in our industry might be  spot on: most interpreters are fairly extroverted, while most translators tend to be introverts. Of course, that's an oversimplification indeed, and we know that there are always many exceptions to all rules, but in our many years in the industry, we have realized that translators struggle more with one important thing than interpreters do: small talk.

Do you hate small talk? If yes, read on. Do you love small talk? Then you probably don't need this post, but you might enjoy it anyway.

We get it: small talk can be painful, but you can make it easier on yourself by keeping a few things in mind:

  1. Keep it short. At networking events, no one wants to hear long, complicated stories. Be succinct and interesting, but resist the urge to tell our life story.
  2. Don't monopolize people. We know that once you get comfortable talking to one person and your nerves settle down a bit, you might want to hang on to that person for dear life because it's scary to start over with another person. We know how it is--trust us. However, remember that everyone is there to mix and mingle and that you are not the only person they want to talk to.
  3. Don't be afraid of standing around alone. Of course, it's not comfortable at all if the person you were talking to excuses herself to join another conversation and you are stuck standing there with your wine glass and no one to talk to. Yes, it's uncomfortable, but work up the courage to walk up to someone else and strike up a conversation. If all else fails, go to the bathroom and come back refreshed.
  4. Work on your conversation starters. The easiest was is just to introduce yourself and say something simple along the lines of "I am new to this event" or "I just wanted to say hello because I don't know many people here" or something similar. Experienced networkers will get the hint and will introduce you to others. Another good way to start a conversation is to ask questions: about the organization, about that particular event, about the person you are talking to, etc. This brings us to the next point.
  5. Learn to listen. The best relationship builders are people who truly, truly listen and who are not focused on obsessing over what they can sell, but rather how they can maybe help the other person. It's a powerful thing to think long-term and big picture rather than short-term and project-based. For instance, Judy was recently at a dinner where a friend mentioned she was looking for freelance work in the human resources world. Judy happened to think of another friend who is in desperate need of freelance HR professionals. Judy connected them, and everyone's happy. There was no business in there for us per se, but we invested in the relationship, and that's what matters in the long run. Maybe they will both need our services at some point, and maybe they won't. 
  6. Brush up on current events (including sports). Even if you don't like baseball, you better have something to say if you are at an event during the World Series. And while local politics might mostly not be that interesting, but might want to know that a big new company is investing 100 million in your state. It's important to come across as sophisticated and educated. Of course you don't have to know everything, but we recently met a professional who said she hadn't heard of Berkshire Hathaway. While that's fine, that's probably not something you want to publicize. The bottom line is: be informed. Clients want to work with professionals who are aware of their world and what happens around them. We feel the same about our contractors, by the way.
  7. Avoid certain topics. It's usually best to steer clear of politics, religion, and most highly personal matters. Sure, there's always an election around the corner, and it's of course perfectly fine to have an opinion, but we prefer to talk about more neutral matters with people we don't know or barely know.
  8. Drinking. While this point has nothing to do with the actual art of small talk, just remember that drinking more than you are used to (which you might possibly do if you are nervous) will negatively impact your ability to make intelligent conversation. We like to have a glass in our hands, but oftentimes we refill it with water. Drink intelligently.
  9. Introductions. It can be awkward when another person walks up and you don't know who either the first or the second person is. In our experience, it's usually best to be honest and say: "I am sorry, we just met, would you mind telling me your name again so I can introduce you to..." It's horrifying to stand next to people all evening without knowing their names, so it's good to get the introductions out of the way early on. And it's fine to admit you don't remember. Just ask again. Get a business card and try to remember one particular thing about the person (her purse, his shirt, her cute earrings, his Boston accent, etc.) to help you remember.
  10. It's an art. Now, don't be discouraged if you don't have a great time every time you go to a networking event or if you simply find that some people are hard to talk to. That's just the way it is, and give yourself kudos for trying. Small talk is similar to translation in one way: it's art, not science. And just like translation, it usually gets easier the more you do it.
Happy small talking! This list is, of course, not exhaustive by any means, and we'd love to read about any other suggestions that colleagues might have. Just leave a comment and join the conversation.

Is Twitter Stupid?

Every time we talk to colleagues, either casually or during some sort of formal conference, invariably someone will say: "Twitter is stupid. I don't get it." That was us six years ago, and we were wrong. Trust us, we joined Twitter kicking and screaming in 2008, when we couldn't really see the point. But the point is that all great ideas sound somewhat absurd in the beginning, think: the printing press, the wheel, the car, the internet, e-mail. Sometimes you just have to be an adapter of technologies and see where they take you, especially if they are free and help you promote your business.

So, dear Twitter users and haters, here are our top 10 reasons (in no particular order) why Twitter is not stupid.

  1. It's free promotion for your business. Don't constantly tweet things like: "Please hire me!" because that is annoying. Tweet about things that you think might be interesting to others. Share before you focus on getting business. Help others rather than trying to get business at all cost. Twitter is not unlike relationships: you get out of them what you put into it, and you shouldn't go into any relationship only expecting to take and not to give. One of our most grateful followers is a successful media executive who was hard-pressed for a creative appetizer recipe before having some big-shot clients over, and we sent her our secret recipe for _____ (it's secret). And no, we didn't get any business out of it, because that's not always the point. This takes us to point #2.
  2. You grow a business--any business--by increasing the amount of people who know that you and your services exist. If you only tell your circle of friends about your awesome services but don't widen your circle, it will be hard to grow your network. Twitter allows you to easily increase your network and to keep fresh in people's minds. This takes us to point #3.
  3. You stay fresh in potential client's minds. Just yesterday, a client asked us for a translator to work on some texts from English into Canadian French. We know plenty of linguists in that language combination, but one stands out, not because she's a great translator and absolutely lovely, but also because we see her on Twitter all the time, where she has insightful things to say. As clients, we also use Twitter to keep track of our industry and its most successful players. Sadly, we also make a mental note of those who like to pick fights and tend to badmouth their clients and we make sure to stay away from them, because nothing good can come out of it. 
  4. You learn to keep things short. Judy tends to be quite verbose, which results in lost productivity because every e-mail she used to write resembled a novella, and she's learned to keep things short thanks to Twitter. It's amazing that Twitter actually offers some writing lessons in keeping things to the point, to the tune of 140 characters. It's harder than you think.
  5. You learn about your specialization. It's fascinating to follow industry leaders in your specialization, and it's amazing how much you can learn. Interact with them with insightful comments and you just might develop some sort of online relationship you might not otherwise have.
  6. You keep your languages fresh. Between us, we follow users (journalists, thought leaders, politicians, businesspeople, etc.) in our five languages, and it's remarkable to read original content from actual country of origin. This is especially important for Spanish, and we try to follow users in regions that are relatively untouched by English, such as users in Argentina. We also follow a number of newspapers and leading radio and TV programs to keep our language skills fresh. We also want to keep current on the news, and Twitter is a great way to do it.
  7. You keep in touch with your source/target markets. See above. Knowing what's happening in both your source and target markets is crucial, because you can only live in one of them, but clients might want to make small talk about what's happening in their world. If you have clients in Austria, you better know who Conchita Wurst is and why Wolf Haas changed the German language forever. 
  8. You can help promote clients. Trust us: they love this. Pretty much all of our clients are on Twitter, and we make a point to retweet what they have to see. Retweeting is the equivalent of liking/sharing with your network. It does not cost us anything, but clients are very grateful for the promotion, especially because we have more Twitter followers than some of our smaller direct clients.
  9. You learn something new from others. There is so much collective wisdom if you get a few dozen people together for a translators' coffee get-together. Can you imagine what happens if you get millions of people together? Great things can happen. Of course not everything that everyone says is interesting or relevant, but that's also true for your offline interactions. Just because your friends don't always say interesting stuff doesn't mean you will stop hanging out with them, right? Keep that in mind for Twitter, too. Take the interesting stuff and ignore the rest.
  10. You don't need to leave the house. Making it out of the house to an in-person networking event can be painful and yes, occasionally boring. We are not saying you can replace all your in-person networking with Twitter, but it's all complementary and we think you need to do both (unless you live in a very remote area, of course). So there's no need to get our your suit, polish your shoes, and get your business cards ready: you can conquer the world, so to say, from the comfort of your home office.
We'd venture to say that in three years (or less), Twitter will the technology we can't live without. Facebook is still very  relevant, but it seems like Twitter is quickly overtaking it (at least for business purposes) because you can grow your network more quickly.

And yes, we've gotten work from Twitter. But don't go on Twitter with that end in mind. Approach Twitter just like you would approach any networking opportunity: enjoy the journey and the worl might come. However, just like with everything else in business, there's never a guarantee. 

Interpreting in Jail: Is It Safe?

For today's interpreting topic, we'd like to focus on a very specific topic: interpreting in jail.

Most certified or registered court interpreters will at some point find themselves inside the walls of a jail, detention center, prison, juvenile detention facility, etc. Of course, all interpreters have the option of turning down the assignment. If you accept it, here are a few things to keep in mind that Judy has learned from her experiences in Nevada detention centers:

  • You will be locked inside a small room with the defendant and his/her attorney (or other third party). The defendant will usually not be handcuffed, and if you want to leave the room at any point, you have to ring a bell for a guard to come get you. These days, jails and prisons are so overstaffed that this usually takes a long time, so that's not good in case of an emergency. While attorneys have anecdotally told Judy about some scary situations with inmates, we have yet to hear of an incident involving an interpreter, but that certainly doesn't mean it hasn't happened or it won't happen. If you don't like being locked inside small rooms without a cell phone (you might have to leave it in your car) or cell phone reception (if you take it inside), you might want to turn down these assignments.
  • Being female. Most interpreters are female, and statistically, the vast majority if inmates are male, and they have very limited contact with women. Not surprisingly, females (attorneys, social workers, officers, interpreters) are a welcome sight, but be sure to dress conservatively. Avoid low-cut tops, short skirts, high heels, flashy jewelry, large earrings. Keep it very simple and professional, and dress more conservatively than you would usually do.
  • Behavior. Judy has never had an issue with an inmate at all, and every single one of them has been polite. Most of them even jump up when she and the attorney enter the room and offer her the chair (many rooms only have two chairs, so a guard will have to get a second one). Many inmates will perceive the interpreter not as a neutral party that she or he is, but will incorrectly view the interpreter as an advocate. Of course court interpreters are not advocates, but we have yet to see an inmate direct anger towards an interpreter. However, keep in mind that you might be the bearer of bad news: delayed trials, denial of a plea bargain, uncooperative witnesses, an attorney who is withdrawing from the case.
  • Information. Whenever, possible, ask the attorney (or the party for whom you will be interpreting) what the purpose of the visit is so you can prepare yourself both personally and mentally. All visits usually involve quite a bit of sight interpreting of official documents from English into Spanish.
So: is it safe? In general, we would say that yes, it is safe, but just because there are a lot of guards with guns around you doesn't mean that you will be protected at all times. There is always risk with any kind of assignment in a locked facility, so keep that in mind before you accept an assignment behind bars,

We'd love to hear from other colleagues who have experience interpreting in jails or prisons--just leave a comment below. 

Entrepreneurial Linguist Workshop in D.C.: April 18

Spring is in the air (almost) everywhere, including in Washington, D.C., our nation's lovely capital. Judy is excited to head to D.C. this week.  She is also very much looking forward to giving a two-hour workshop at the National Capital Area Translators Association (NCATA), a chapter of the American Translators Association.

We know it is short notice, but the event will be at the popular Goethe Institute, it's on a Saturday, it's free to NCATA members, and the topic should be quite interesting, so we hope that many of you in the D.C. area will join Judy!

The workshop's title is: Web 2.0 and Pricing Basics for Entrepreneurial Linguists. Judy will spend about an hour on each topic and there will be plenty of time for questions. Afterwards, we will head to lunch, and we hear there will also be food at the actual event! And since Judy likes raffles, she will be raffling off copies of our "Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation" books (and she will also bring some to purchase if you don't win).

Please have a look at the NCATA website, where you can also register.

Hope to see you in D.C.!

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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