What Should I Tweet About?

We have a confession to make: well, it's not really much of a confession, but we think Twitter is great. It's revolutionized communication in many ways, and it's a powerful and free tool for self-promotion. We know that there are many Twitter haters out there, but there are fewer now than were a few years ago. Oftentimes we get asked what self-employed linguists should tweet about. While there are no solid rules that work for all, Judy has amassed many followers (8.5 K, specifically) by doing a few things that worked for her. Have a look at some of these:

1) Follow the 80/20 rule. That means you should promote yourself 20% of the time while focusing on other things 80% of the time. Reason being: it's hard to get followers if you only tweet things like, "Hire me!". That's just not interesting, and there's a reason that airlines don't just tweet about their newest and best flights. They tweet about other interesting things as well to grow a following, and so should you.
2) Be helpful. Not everything you do on Twitter has to be related to your business. In fact, most of it won't (see above). If someone asks for a restaurant recommendation in your city, chime in. It's never a bad idea to be a nice and helpful person, online and offline. We oftentimes retweet (=share) things that others ask us to share.
3) Post interesting things. Just posting stuff about yourself is the Twitter equivalent of only talking about yourself on a first date, so don't do that. Share things about organizations and people you like. Most people are aware that retweets aren't necessarily endorsements, but we still recommend reading everything before retweeting it to make sure it isn't offensive.
4) Politically correct? Speaking of offensive: it's almost impossible to never, ever, offend anyone, unless you want to be so politically correct that you are a bit bland and boring. Some linguists prefer to only tweet about business-related topics (which can be controversial enough), while we like to mix personal and private, and yes, sometimes, we use Twitter to briefly complain about bad service from say, our cable provider. We have learned to not censor ourselves too terribly much, but we also don't tweet about overly private things. 
5) Have fun. Twitter is the online equivalent of the watercooler, and it's supposed to be fun. Of course, as with the real water cooler, there are people online you'd rather not interact with, and you don't have to. If someone is harassing you, block them. If you don't want to respond, just don't. There will always be people you can't get along with --online and off---and you have to pick your battles. Surround yourself with good, positive people, just like you would in real life.
6) Learn. We can't even tell you how much we have learned from being on Twitter--we follow prominent journalists, writers, activists, politicians, and of course, fellow linguists. It's been an amazing tool, and it's also great for continuing to read in all our languages. 

Upcoming Fall Workshops

While it does not feel like fall here in Vegas (which we like), we wanted to include Judy's upcoming workshops for translators and interpreters during the next few months. We'd love to meet you, so if you are in Orlando, San Francisco, Miami, or online--come join us!

Here's the overview:

September 19, 2015
Orlando, FL
National Association of Hispanic Journalists: Excellence in Journalism
Location: Orlando World Center Marriott World
Workshop title: Common Grammatical Errors in the Newsroom: Learn How to Identify and Correct Them (panel discussion)
Registration: On the Excellence in Journalism website

October 3, 2015
San Francisco, CA
Northern California Translators Association (NCTA)
Location: Golden Gate University
Workshop title: 10 Habits of Highly Successful Translators and Interpreters
Registration: On the NCTA website

October 20, 2015
Webinar (online)
Location: Online
Workshop title: Getting Paid: Your Due Diligence
Registration: On the eCPD website

November 5, 2015
Miami, FL
56th Annual Conference, American Translators Association
Location: Hyatt Regency Miami
Workshop Title: Interpret This! Speechpool and the European Union Speech Repository
Registration: On the ATA website

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

Created on www.canva.com
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

Created on www.canva.com.
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?
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.

Subscribe by email:


Twitter update

Site Info

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

Translation Times