The Dog Park Client

Lexi the matchmaker (sort of).
Do you ever wonder where in the universe you can meet clients? We can't say it enough: you can actually meet clients essentially anywhere. Allow us to elaborate with one of the oddest places we've met a client. Yes, it's clear from the title of this post. We did indeed acquire a client at the dog park.

Last year, Judy's husband Keith was at the dog park with our rambunctious rescue German shepherd, Lexi. Keith is an attorney, as is one of his dog park acquaintances--let's call him Bob. Bob takes his much better behaved dog to the park on the weekend, so that's when Keith and Bob see each other. Everyone's quite friendly and they chat and spend the early mornings together. One day Bob, who works for a large law firm, came to the park complaining that he had communication problems, in both written and spoken form, which his overseas client. Keith perked right up and told Bob that our business, Twin Translations, could probably help him solve this very quickly and easily. So Keith gave Bob Judy's card, we met, talked on the phone a few times, and Bob's law firm has been a client of ours for the better part of a year.

Now, two weeks ago, Lexi saw Bob at the dog park and was quite excited, ran up to him, and nipped him a tiny bit. Unfortunately for us, this really happened. Needless to say, we were mortified. Luckily for us, Bob was not mad and he's still our client. Lexi, on the other hand, is going back to doggie training.

We hope you enjoyed this anecdote, dear readers. What about you? What's the strangest place you've met a client?

Spring Classes at UCSD (Translation, Interpretation, Marketing)

Happy Friday, dear friends and colleagues! Today's quick post is to let you know about three of Judy's upcoming classes at the University of California San Diego. 

This spring, UC San Diego-Extension's Certificate for Spanish/English Translation and Interpretation program (all online) offers a variety of classes that might be of interest for both beginning and more advanced interpreters and translators.

Introduction to Translation (no prerequisites, starts March 29) is a five-week course that teaches newcomers to the profession the basics of translation, and introduces them to a strategic way to approach translations. This course is ideal for those who want to find out if this profession is for them. Judy will share the realities of our profession without sugar-coating the challenges translators face. Students will submit two graded translations and many exercises.

Introduction to Interpretation (no prerequisites, starts May 3) is a five-week course delivered via Blackboard (an online learning platform). Every week, students will access customized, pre-recorded PPT presentations with audio, which last approximately 2-3 hours per week. Students complete assignments every week, including weekly quizzes, and learn about all basic aspects of interpreting. The PPT presentations include dozens of exercises with original content. Students are only graded on one actual interpreting assignment (the final exam), as this class is meant for beginners.

Strategic Branding & Marketing for Interpreters and Translators (language neutral, no prerequisites, starts March 29) is a ten-week course where Judy teaches everything she knows about marketing your services as a translator and/or interpreter. The course follows the same format as the other classes and includes easy-to-use information on marketing to agencies and direct clients, social media, networking, outreach, public relations, etc.

To view all classes in the certificate program, please have a look at this link.

Mistake of the Week

The solution is on the left side.
True to our tradition to occasionally poking fun at ourselves with the goal of having others learn from our mistakes, here's Judy's mistake of the week during a legal interpreting assignment.

All Judy knew was that she was to interpret at a deposition. She had the case name, the time, the plaintiff's name and the deponent's name. It's very common to get incomplete information about the cases for which you are to interpret; even if you ask. It's just something court interpreters work to live with, but we all know that it's always ideal to have as much context and background information as possible. Having had it would have solved the following situation that we are now delighted to present. In fact, it could have been prevented with a single photograph that everyone but Judy had previously seen.

The attorney is deposing a maintenance worker. That is all Judy knows about the deponent at this point.

Defense attorney: So why did you trim this tree?
Judy (interpreting): ¿Por qué recortó usted este árbol?
Deponent: Bueno, porque las ramas estaban llegando hasta la carpeta (note: last word was hard to understand).
Judy (interpreting): Well, because the branches were reaching all the way to the carpet.

Puzzled looks all around, including from Judy.

Here's an explanation: the Spanish word for carpet is not carpeta. It's incorrectly used by Spanish speakers in the U.S. all the time. The correct word for carpet in Spanish is alfombra. Carpeta is also a Spanish-language word, but it means folder, as in a manila folder that you would have on your desk. We've gotten very used to Spanglish terms, and when we hear carpeta we immediately interpret "carpet." Now, Judy was very aware that it didn't really make sense in this context to talk about carpet since the issue in question as a tree, which would most likely be outside. That said, she didn't have any other context and interpreted what she heard. Here's what followed.

Plainttiff's attorney: At this point I'd like to stipulate that my client said "cart path." Would our interpreter agree?
Judy: It is the interpreter's opinion that the deponent could have used the English-language term "cart path," but pronounced it in such a way to render it almost unintelligible.
Defense attorney: For the record, I did not hear anything resembling an English word in the deponent's answer.
Judy: Would counsel like the interpreter to clarify that the deponent meant to say "cart path"?
Both attorneys: Yes, please go ahead.

A few minutes after this incident, the defense attorney introduced an exhibit: a photograph that clearly showed an image of a golf course, a tree, a cart path, and a maintenance cart belonging to the worker. An image speaks a thousand words, and context sure is king. After the session ended, all parties agreed that this was a new one. But yes, if you pronounce "cart path" a certain way, it could sound like carpeta. Mystery solved.

We don't really know how Judy would have been able to do any better with this one under the circumstances, but it's still a mistake that's worth pointing out. Actually, mispronounced English-language words by Spanish speakers and Spanglish are very interesting topics that we don't discuss much in our industry, and we plan on writing more about them in the future.

What do you think, dear colleagues? How would you have reacted? Having asked for repetition would have resulted in the deponent repeating the word with, most likely, the same pronunciation, so the options here were limited. 

Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become 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 is 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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