Webinar on German-language orthography

That's Peggie. She's an expert.

Dagy has been giving in-house workshops about German orthography at large companies in Austria and Germany for many years now. People often ask her about classes for individuals, which she wasn’t able to offer in the past. This has changed, thanks to ACADEMIA webinars, for which Dagy recorded a 65-minute webinar for (aspiring) language pros. We know German orthography can be tricky, but leave it to Dagy to explain it all in easy-to-understand language and plenty of examples. Here's the link to sign up (yes, it's in German!).

Cocktails for breakfast: Client acquisition at an online marketing conference

Keynote speaker Patricia Bergler of Facebook on stage
Entrepreneurs are supposed to spend time and money on client acquisition when business is good so that they will be prepared for rainy days. This is why Dagy decided to try to expand her client base at a time when she was really busy, following a slow start into the new year. Still, spending 400 euro on a 1.5-day conference that wouldn’t be relevant for me as a linguist  (but all the more as a consumer) wasn’t an easy decision. Luckily, I ended up getting a coupon for 20% off and I was ready to attend the “Mobile Marketing Innovation Days” in Vienna.  I quickly learned that the buzzword “mobile marketing” simply refers to tools and strategies used to sell products (and sometimes services) online using apps. Also, I learned that these sales are mostly done on people’s phones. The speaker line-up at the conference was quite impressive, with some of them working for the big players in the industry, including Google, Facebook, and the likes. The speakers from Google stood out for their professionalism and they also came across as really likeable, also because they emphasized that privacy was holy to them. Which is something I truly wanted to believe, given the huge amounts of data I share with Google on a voluntary basis every day.

The linguist in me heroically ignored language-related hiccups in the conference program (German/English) and elsewhere and focused on my primary goal: networking.

With a total of roughly 400 participants (most of them considerably younger than me), the conference was a good choice in terms of size because it seemed manageable and not too overwhelming. A plus was that everybody was on a first-name basis, which seems to be common in this hip and young industry and which made starting a conversation much easier. As expected, the presentations per se were mostly irrelevant for my job, but interesting from a user’s perspective. Among others, I enjoyed learning about online crime from a representative of Europol, the EU law enforcement agency.
Branded chocolates for everyone (no calories!)

Ultimately, the reason I attended the conference in the first place was the networking during breaks and after or before presentations. Other than a trained translator who now works in online marketing, I was the only translator/interpreter in sight. This fact alone ensured people’s attention when I introduced myself and I soon took to referring to myself as an “exotic species” at the conference. I always used my “ice-breaker question” about the difference between translating and interpreting, which works every time to get a conversation started. Many of the people I spoke to showed interest in my services, from marketing agencies to a pharmaceuticals company, a government agency, a university department, etc. Each and every time, I conveniently ended up talking to the person most likely to need my services, which are people working in marketing and communication departments. Talking to the person sitting next to me before and after presentations also turned out to be a good networking approach.

Even though it was an easy-going crowd, networking can be an exhausting exercise. For those who needed a little pick-me-up, vodka-based cocktails were being served as early as in the morning, thanks to a sponsor, which is certainly unheard of in the US. Drinks in hand, participants avidly exchanged old-fashioned business cards. Needless to say that it is very important to follow up on these contacts shortly afterwards using LinkedIn and/or Xing.

Here are a few takeaways from my client acquisition project at a marketing conference:
  • Don’t expect it to be easy. Making conversation with people can be hard, especially outside the US. Make sure you are willing to approach people and start a conversation. Don’t expect others to do it. 
  •  If you don’t feel like you’re in a great networking mood on the day of the event, motivate yourself and set some realistic goals such as having a meaningful conversation with three or five people and getting their business cards. I also recommend having a few funny translating/interpreting anecdotes handy. Everybody loves a good story! Asking the other person questions about their job, etc. always works, too. Who doesn’t like talking about themselves?
  • Bring a little something. After introducing yourself, go ahead and use our favorite icebreaker mentioned above. Give a small “prize” to those rare people who get in right and to those who gave it the good old college try. Years ago, I had small chocolates with my logo and my contact information made for that purpose (see below, it’s for “Texterei,” the European side of our business). People loved it!
  • Cut yourself some slack. Even though you have paid to attend the entire conference, don’t feel bad if you skip a session or two or go home early. After all, networking is not so much about quantity than about quality, but be sure to talk to a fair amount of people.
Last but not least, here is the big question: Did this marketing effort pay off? The success of marketing efforts is generally hard to measure and if at all, time will tell. My presence at this conference might result in future translating/interpreting jobs or somebody might share my contact information – who knows. One thing is for certain: meeting new people is always an enriching experience, both from a professional and a personal perspective. Needless to say, the chances of getting new jobs will increase with a linguist’s visibility, both online and offline. My bottom line was this: I had fun, I got great insight into an industry previously unknown to me, it was sometimes exhausting (after all, it was work) and I am already planning on attending other small conferences in Vienna.

New Client, New Payment Practices

Oftentimes we only hear bad news about payment practices in our profession, so we figured we'd share some good news instead. 

Earlier this week, we received a phone call from a Las Vegas law firm we know that had not previously been a client. Their translation needs were urgent and required us to drop everything, cancel dinner, and work a few hours in the evening to get it done. We usually ask for a deposit for new clients, but this was a last-minute and urgent request, so we used the highly scientific method known as gut feeling (which mostly works) and started working on the project right away. It was a small, yet intense team effort, and we delivered the project the next day a few hours before the agreed-upon deadline. We e-mailed the invoice at the same time as the project, and we received payment in the form of a check the very next day, which is a new record. We've received electronic transfers the very same day, but never a check from a brand-new client the very next day. We are not quite sure how they got it to us so quickly except that they must have prepared the check as soon as they received the quote (talk about trust!). Either way, we are very grateful for the quick payment and sent the client an e-mail to thank them.

So in spite of the many negative comments about client payment practices you may read, there are some great clients out there indeed. What about you, dear colleagues? We'd love to hear your best payment-related story!

Learn from the Best: Interpreting Training with Darinka Mangino

A few months ago, we both had the pleasure of meeting Mexican presidential interpreter Darinka Mangino at the ATA conference in New Orleans, and we had a great time. She reminds us a bit of our dear friend, the late and dearly missed Esther Navarro-Hall. Darinka is a member of AIIC one of our interpreting heroes with  more than 3,000 days (!) of interpreting at the very highest level (learn more about here here by viewing this cool video and this Spanish-language podcast). When we heard about her online module-based interpreting training courses, Judy jumped at the chance to polish her skills. The class runs 8 weeks and starts January 7, 2019. Here's more information if you'd like to join us in getting a jump start on professional development in 2019. 

Course name: On-line Refresher Course on General Issues Related to Interpreting Module 1
Instructor: Darinka Mangino, AIIC

Platform: Adobe Connect
Dates: Every Monday starting January 7 through April 29, 8 p.m. Mexico City time (Central Time in the U.S.)
Duration: 70 minutes per session
Presenting language: Spanish

ATA continuing education points: 10
Language: Spanish
Cost: MX$5,352 for ATA members and a number of other organizations (approx. USD 270)
Sign-up: https://www.eventbee.com/event?eid=133063102#/tickets

Course overview:

Español mexicano
Organización de glosarios
Contextos ONU
Contextos politicos
Agilidad léxica
Investigación documental y terminológica
Contextos artísticos
Contextos legales
Escucha y atención
Simultánea con texto

Stockholm Syndrome

A few months ago, Judy had the honor to speak at the SLAM! (Scandinavian Language Associations' Meeting) conference in Malmö, Sweden. It was a fantastic event, and after it ended, Judy treated herself to some R&R in gorgeous Stockholm, Sweden. There she learned that the term "Stockholm Syndrome" derives from an actual bank robbery in Sweden in the 1970s. It makes absolute sense that it's based on a real event, but for some reason Judy had thought that the psychologist who coined the term was from Stockholm. Now that this had been cleared up, we started thinking about how oftentimes as linguists and small business owners, we may have the tendency to develop Stockholm syndrome with subpar clients. Of course we are exaggerating a bit here for the sake of the argument and we are not implying that your clients are holding you hostage, but allow us to expand (and you can read up on Stockholm syndrome here):
Stockholm in September. Photo by Judy.

  • Some clients are just not good clients.
    If you have a client who repeatedly does not pay you and keeps on asking you to take on more work, either politely decline or ask for payment up front. No need to feel bad for them. You need to look out for your business interests, which mainly include getting paid for services rendered.
  • Some clients are abusive. We've all heard the stories: there are clients who are so unreasonable that they are having a negative effect on your mental health. These are few and far between, but if this ever happens to you, you need to walk away without feeling bad. You should actually feel very good about the fact that you are not an employee but a contractor or freelancer, which means you are free to work or not work with whoever you choose. We agree that walking away from good work can be hard, but even if the work is good, there's no reason you should put up with an abusive client. Of course there's no one definition of what "abusive" means, as we all have different levels of tolerance, but in our book if you are thinking about a specific client more than you want and those thoughts are stressful, it's time to say good-bye, in a very professional and friendly way.
  • Speaking of saying good-bye: We oftentimes get the question about how to exactly phrase it. You need to use your own style and tone when drafting these messages, but here are some ideas. You don't necessarily have to give a reason, but you certainly can if you would like to (we prefer to keep things very short and spend as little time on it as possible to cut our losses).
    • "Thank you very much for your interest in my services. I hereby kindly inform you that I will not be working with your firm/company in the future."
    • "Thank you for your past business. It's been my pleasure to provide top-notch services for your firm/company, but I will not continue to do so in the future. Kindly remove me from your list."
    • Option 3: Do nothing, don't respond, and perhaps (in extreme cases) block the sender. This is not an option we would go with, but it certainly might be an idea.
What do you think, dear colleagues? Have you suffered from Stockholm syndrome? If yes, how did you resolve it? We'd love to hear from you.

Do You Suffer From Interpricide?

Does Nicole Kidman suffer from this? Probably not.

A few months ago, we received an email from our colleague Sarah Glendenning in Manchester, UK. We had not met her in person, and we always enjoy hearing from “new” colleagues, especially those in sign interpreting languages. We have to admit that we do a poor job at reaching out and collaborating with our colleagues in the sign languages interpreting profession, so we are thrilled that Sarah approached us to get our thoughts from the spoken languages interpreting perspective about something that Sarah, a registered BSL (British Sign Language) interpreter has termed interpricide. Let’s have her explain it in this interview. She previously wrote an article about this same topic for Newsli, the quarterly magazine for members of ASLI (The Association of Sign Language Interpreters) in 2009.  

Translation Times: Thanks for speaking to us! We’d never heard of interpricide until you contacted us. Can you explain what it is?
Sarah:  Interpricide is a term myself and a colleague came up with back in 2009 at a conference of the Association of Sign Language Interpreters (ASLI).  A call was sent out for interpreters to interpret at the conference and we were trying to persuade our peer group that it would not be “interpricide,” that is, the fear of committing professional suicide by interpreting in front of other interpreters.  It was very much a tongue in cheek phrase but resonated with a lot of people in the room.  It struck me that it is actually a real fear.  Interpricide is “the act of committing professional suicide by interpreting in front of your peer group” (Llorca and Glendenning 2008).  I seem to remember Karl and I getting a lot of requests from student interpreters to read our article, we had to turn them down as an article hadn’t actually been written!

Translation Times: What is your goal in terms of talking about interprecide? Academic research? Awareness-building? How can we help?
At the moment it is purely for awareness building so linguists can start having these conversations. It is something that intrigues me and am looking forward to investigating this further by using different academic/medical theories. From the interpreters I have spoken to informally, many have stated they felt an increased pressure when they knew people in the audience could monitor both the L1 and L2 being used.  At this stage I am not sure if other professions have the same feelings or whether it is just within the interpreting field.  

Translation Times: Have you personally experienced interpricide?
Sarah: Most definitely.  Not so much now because I’ve been on the circuit for a long time, but when I was a trainee and newly qualified most definitely.  I was involved in a conference and my team consisted of four experienced interpreters plus myself.  We were a great team.  However, when I took to the stage to start interpreting, the footlights dimmed and I could see the audience, I could see in the audience some of my professors from University, ex bosses from different in-house positions I had held, some of the assessors who had marked my work throughout interpreter training and also some interpreters who in my view were demi gods and I looked up to them. 

I remember looking at my hands (being a sign language interpreter), and the meta notative comments in my head were on overdrive.  What had I been signing?  Did it make any sense?  Was I even good enough to be there? (Impostor Syndrome). What were my options? (Fleeing was a strong urge). My hands were sweating, my throat went dry, and my knees were shaking, but why?  Some interpreters will say interpricide is not a thing but for me it really is.

Now I have a question for you. Have you experienced interpricide as spoken languages interpreters? Have you seen it happen in your profession? I’d love to know more.

Translation Times: Good point. We hadn’t really thought about it too much until you brought it up – wait, we had thought about it, but we just didn’t have a name for it. Spoken language interpreters tend to be less “exposed” than sign language interpreter colleagues, because we don’t often stand in the front of a room. For our answer we will focus on conference interpreting in a booth first. In this situation, you always have a colleague sitting inches from you, and she or he is obviously quite able to evaluate your performance. There are certainly some nerves involved when you interpret next to a more experienced colleague, and we’ve seen it happen that some interpreters are unable to interpret at all and can’t get a word out. It doesn’t happen very often, and we don’t know if it happens because the interpreter is so intimidated by the colleague or simply overwhelmed by the task at hand. It could be both.

Now in legal interpreting, especially in the United States, you mostly work on your own with the exceptions of longer hearings and trials, for which we use team interpreting. However, oftentimes you will be in a courtroom with multiple interpreters (could be for several different languages) who are waiting for their cases to come up, or you may have an interpreter for both plaintiff and defendant, so in those cases your performance is also quite public to your colleague. That can be scary for interpreters, especially newly certified ones, and we will be the first ones to admit that it’s certainly made us nervous in the past. A few years ago, Judy interpreted in federal court next to a fellow federally certified Spanish interpreter she admires and turns out that the client had made a mistake and had double-booked the interpreters. So, both were there and Judy’s colleague asked Judy to go ahead and start interpreting and they’d take turns if the hearing lasted more than 20 minutes. It didn’t, and Judy interpreted the entire thing herself – while being quite nervous under the watchful eye of her more experienced colleague (for the record: everything went very well). For legal assignments that are not held in court, but usually at law firms, you could be in the situation that you are in, for instance, an arbitration for which both plaintiff and defendant have an interpreter. You’d sit on opposite ends of the table of the other interpreter –which can be uncomfortable for some, especially because you’ve been retained by opposing parties (even though we are, of course, neutral parties). Finally, some law firms have started hiring what is called “check interpreters,” a term we hadn’t heard until a few years ago. For instance, if the firm represents the plaintiff and the plaintiff is called in for a deposition (meaning they give testimony under oath) and the interpreter is hired by a third party (oftentimes the court-reporting firm), sometimes the plaintiff law firm will retain their own interpreter to check on the first interpreter. This is a new procedure, and the rules of professional behavior for interpreters (When should we intervene? How? What is inappropriate?) are still being defined. We are of two minds about this: it does seem troubling that interpreters are, essentially, not trusted, hence the check interpreter. We do have court certifications for a reason, and we are certainly trustworthy as professionals. The check interpreter system also puts both interpreters in an uncomfortable, sometimes adversarial position. On the other hand, this system can potentially double the amount of work available to court interpreters, so that’s a significant positive.

In general, we think all interpreters must have experienced some interpricide at one point in their careers – it’s only natural, and being surrounded by qualified professionals who can actually evaluate your performance keeps you humble and honest, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Twin Translations: Thanks so much for your time and for telling us about this very interesting topic. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I would love to know whether spoken language interpreters have similar experiences, so thanks for getting things started and sharing your own experiences here. As a sign language interpreter I am visually present in the room and therefore more accessible. It would also be great to see interpreters come together. It doesn’t matter which language we use; we can all learn from each other. Thank you for involving me in this blog.  I welcome your comments! My Twitter handle is @sginterpreting #interpricide.

About Sarah:
A registered sign language interpreter based in the UK. Passionate about her work and dedicated to teaching and training other interpreters.  A mentor and a member of ASLI (The Association of Sign Language Interpreters), regulated under The NRCPD (National Registers of Communication Professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind  People). Widely read and open to discussion. Website: www.sginterpreting.co.uk

Job Posting: Assistant Professor of Translation/Spanish

Happy Friday, dear readers! A few days ago, our colleague Adam Wooten sent us this job announcement, and we are happy to share. There aren't that many job openings for full-time tenure-track translation professors in the U.S., and this one is a hybrid, as it's a combined Spanish/translation teaching position. It's at Weber State University in Utah, located north of Salt Lake City.

Please note that we are not involved in the hiring process and cannot answer any questions about the position -- sorry! We are merely posting this job in the hopes that one of our fantastic colleagues is interested in it. Keep us posted if you apply, which you can do here.

A Blind Certified Medical Interpreter's Job Search

More than six years ago, Judy met the unstoppable blind Spanish/English certified medical interpreter Jamey Cook (CMI) and her late seeing eye dog, Abner, at a conference in North Carolina, and a friendship developed. In 2014, Judy wrote a story about Jamey for the ITI Bulletin, which made the cover of the January-February issue (see picture). They've been in touch ever since, and it's been lovely to see that Jamey landed a full-time OPI (over-the-phone interpreting) position a few year ago. Unfortunately, Jamey and her entire OPI department were recently laid off. Now, losing a full-time interpreting position is difficult, especially since there aren't that many in this country, and it's especially difficult for someone like Jamey who has limitations -- which have, of course, barely stopped her. So we thought instead of us posting job openings on our blog, which we frequently do, let's flip this around, profile Jamey and announce it here that she's looking for a job. Our goal is to spread the word about Jamey's job search and hopefully match this talented medical interpreter with an amazing employer. 

Jamey in a nutshell:

  • Jamey Cook holds a master's degree in Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • She's a certified Spanish/English medical interpreter (CMI; certified by the National Board of Certification for Health Care Interpreters). She is one of only a handful blind certified medical interpreters in the country.
  • She has more than eight years' experience as a medical interpreter (OPI)
  • Jamey resides in North Carolina and is looking for a full-time job from home
  • If you are interested in interviewing/hiring Jamey, please either email her at jamey(dot)cook(at)gmail(dot)com or leave a comment and we will put you in touch.
So now it's the interpreter community's turn: is Jamey's dream job out there? Can you help her find it? Let's do this, fellow terps!

Free SDL Webinar: Pricing Skills for Translators and Interpreters

Just like last year, Judy is delighted to be giving another webinar for our friends over at SDL -- and it's free for everyone (you just have to sign up). The title is: Tell me how to price my translation services, and here's a brief description of what you can expect to learn:

We translate and interpret because we love it, but we also want to make sure we get compensated well for our professional services. Having a well-developed pricing strategy is key to linguists’ satisfaction and success – but what are some of the economic factors you must take into consideration? How can you make sure you don’t get paid peanuts, what does inflation have to do with anything, and what’s price differentiation?
In accordance with prevailing anti-trust legislation, no pricing recommendations will be made. However, attendees will be presented with practical advice and food for thought that they can implement immediately. Join Judy to talk pricing and learn to not be afraid of this key topic – it can be rewarding.
Here's the link to sign up. SDL is based in the UK, so the event will be held on Friday, November 8, at 3 pm GMT, which is 7 am Pacific and 10 am Eastern. "See" you there?

Court Interpreting in Nevada: Two New Trends

As a federally certified Spanish court interpreter, Judy spends a lot of time in the federal courts around the Southwest, but she also works in judiciary assignments outside of court (depositions, arbitration, attorney-client meetings). As challenging as court interpreting is, regardless of the setting or the mode of interpretation, after a decade or so, you do learn to anticipate quite well, as cases seem to fall within certain categories and can become repetitive. However, every once in a while you notice new trends and new cases coming through the system, which require some investigation and study to be able to interpret at a high level. Here are two that Judy has noticed this year (please note that these topics are quite serious and not for the faint of heart):

Photo credit: https://tinyurl.com/yctxq3w5
1) Fentanyl (fentanilo in Spanish): Anecdotally, before the beginning of this year, I'd say I'd only seen one or two of these cases in my entire interpreting career. This year, these types of cases have exploded, at least from my perspective as a court interpreter, and that seems to be in line with the national trends. Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate that's some 100 times more potent than morphine (having gotten one post-surgery morphine injection that knocked me out, I find it hard to process that fentanyl is 100 times stronger). It is also many times stronger than heroin, its synthetic cousin. As you would expect, it's highly addictive and dangerous. It's a Schedule I narcotic under the federal courts, and I've seen an increased amount of defendants accused of trafficking fentanyl into the country (oftentimes mixed with heroin or cocaine). I found these links helpful in trying to learn more about this synthetic substance, which is also used as an anesthetic and short-term pain reliever (the use it was originally designed for): Why fentanyl is deadlier than heroin, What is fentanyl?, DEA drug sheet on fentanyl , The fentanyl crisis is so deadly in Canada that even funeral directors need the antidote, Fentanyl is fueling a new overdose crisis

2) MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha), an international criminal gang: I mostly work in Nevada, California, and New Mexico, and many defendants in criminal drug cases have some affiliation, as marginal as it may be, to Mexican cartels. I know their lingo well as I have spent years interpreting for them. However, MS-13, a Salvadorean-American street gang that got its start in Los Angeles in the 1970s, is relatively new to me. While I have attended several conferences on MS-13 to learn terminology and get general insight, I'd rarely interpreted for these defendants before. I've recently seen an increase in cases involving MS-13 in my part of the country, and I've had to quickly pick up new terminology (such as paro for "errand boy"). Interpreting gruesome details related to violence is never easy, but the amount of violence inside MS-13 is particularly difficult to stomach, even for an experienced court interpreter. In theory, interpreters can recuse themselves from any case, but I have never done that; I just focus on the job, which is to interpret, regardless of what is being said and of how it makes me feel. Here are some articles that have helped me learn more about MS-13 (warning: explicit content): MS-13 Gang Member Pleads Guilty in Quadruple Murder Highlighted by Trump, MS-13, explained, What You Need to Know About the MS-13 Street Gang.

What about you, dear fellow court interpreters? Which new trends are you seeing? How do you learn more about new topics? We'd love to hear your tips and tricks.
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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

Translation Times