Language That Works

As translators, we many times keep an eye out for things that have been mistranslated or just don't work in the target language. We have to admit that we have an entire German-language website dedicated to translation mistakes. However, there are more examples of great translations out there than we acknowledge. This of course is related to the fact that many times things that are correct don't attract much attention as things that are blatantly wrong.

In the spirit of recognizing great work, we wanted to share the picture on the left with you. It was taking near the Austrian Airlines counter at Vienna International Airport. As you can see, it's composed of differnent languages, and it's easily understandable. We love how it communicates effecitively and clearly with a touch of international glamour -- who doesn't love languages, especially when they work together so well? Our hat is off to Austrian Airlines for coming up with a truly great piece of advertising and that's not only smart and effective, but also very memorable. Even for people who are not language geeks.

ATA GLD List Get-Together in Vienna

This Friday, February 27, marks the first get-together (that we know of) of German Language Division members of the American Translators Association (ATA) here in Vienna, Austria, where I am spending several weeks. We already have a small group, and we are meeting at Frank's (website in German only), conveniently located a few steps from Schwedenplatz (easily reached by subway). If you are not a regular reader of the GLD list or would simply like to hang out with fellow ATA members in Vienna, please e-mail us and let us know. We are meeting at 7 p.m.

Free Localization Webinar

A colleague and friend, chemical translator Karen Tkaczyk just told us about a free localization seminar that's being offered on February 28, 2009. We have attended several useful webinars in the past, so it might be worth checking it out. The webinars we attended virtually were held by another company (whose name escapes us), and lead to several sales calls from said company. Still, we learned something.

We are not familiar with the company offering this particular Webinar, but we hear there is quite a bit of useful information. Contuining education for free? We are in!

Details and registration information can be found here.

Fraud Warning: Small Businesses Targeted

The Latin Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas just sent out an e-mail to all its members with a warning for all small businesses. Fraudulent letters are circulating on fake Small Business Administration (SBA) letterhead, asking small businesses to disclose bank information for tax purposes. Many of these scams are so obvious it's really not worth warning fellow linguists about, but this one appears to be harder to detect than most, so we wanted to post it here.

Here's the text of the press release as issued by the SBA. Please pass this on to fellow small business owners who might not know about it.

SBA Warns of Fraudulent Attempts to Obtain Bank Account Information from Small Businesses
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration issued a scam alert today to small businesses, warning them not to respond to letters falsely claiming to have been sent by the SBA asking for bank account information in order to qualify them for federal tax rebates.
The fraudulent letters were sent out with what appears to be an SBA letterhead to small businesses across the country, advising recipients that they may be eligible for a tax rebate under the Economic Stimulus Act, and that SBA is assessing their eligibility for such a rebate. The letter asks the small business to provide the name of its bank and account number.
These letters have not been sent by or authorized by the SBA, and all small businesses are strongly advised not to respond to them.
The scheme is similar in many ways to e-mail scams often referred to as “phishing” that seek personal data and financial account information that enables another party to access and individual’s bank accounts or to engage in identity theft.
The SBA is working with the SBA Office of Inspector General to investigate this matter. The Office of Inspector General asks that anyone who receives such a letter report it to the OIG Fraud Line at 1 (800) 767-0385, or e-mail at

NITA Announces Health Care Interpreting Training

NITA, the Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association, is proud to announce its Health Care Interpreting Training to be held in Reno, NV. Held on five Saturdays in March and April, this forty-hour professional development course is aimed at interpreters who want to break into the much-in-demand healthcare interpreting field. Topics covered include: Medical Terminology and Common Medical Problems, Sight Translation, Code of Ethics, Sight Interpretation, etc. Upon completion of the course, participants will receive a certificate of language proficiency, a certificate of completion, workbooks and materials for self-study, etc. The course includes snacks and refreshments and is held at St. Mary's Regional Hospital in Auditorium A.

Tracy Young, RN, BSA, MA, will be teaching the course. She has 18 years' experience as a medical interpreter and medical interpreter trainer. She is currently a trainer at the Bridging the Gap program in South Lake Tahoe, volunteers her interpreting services at the Renown Emergency Room, and works for several interpretation agencies for health care interpreting agencies.

The class is filling up fast, but if you live/work in northern Nevada or northern California, don't miss this opportunity to receieve a significant amount of professional development classes at a very affordable prices. As NITA is a non-profit organization, the cost for all five Saturdays is only $375. The discounted price for members of NITA, ATA, NCIHC, NAJIT is $325. To sign up for the class and get more information, please visit the NITA site or e-mail Tracy Young directly.

Twitter: Uncle, We Joined!

After several inspiring posts from fellow writers and translators, solid advice from our resident web guru, and informal input from an online marketing guru friend, we decided we could no longer stay away from one of the fastest-growing social networking tools on the planet: Twitter. January 1, 2009, marked our entry into the Twitter universe.

We already have profiles on LinkedIn, Xing, Projo, MiGente (and 25+ other professional and social networks), so we were a bit hesitant about adding to our online lives. So far, so good: the amount put into it has been minimal, and of course we have barely scratched the surface of all the cool Twitter apps and add-ons. We have really enjoyed interacting with fellow translators, small business owners, entrepreneurs, bloggers, travelers, etc., and have found the updates and exchanges quite fascinating. Many folks have started following us, and we have also discovered many great Twitterers to follow.

What have your experiences been so far? Has anyone had any fantastic experiences or even potential leads from Twitter? For now, we have linked this blog and one of our Facebook pages to Twitter, making it easier to update the "What are you doing now?" line (on one site versus two). We like the simple layout and the fact that it's an incredibly powerful tool that reaches millions of people in real time. Also, 140 characters is plenty, and we are happy to see that one of our favorite sites is getting a lot of use: (Twitter converts links automatically to save space). At the moment, we are following Twitterquette to make sure we learn the ins and outs.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter (language_news)!

Proz Pow-Wow in Vienna

For Thursday, March 5, 2009, we are planning a casual get-together (Proz Pow-Wow) with fellow linguists here in Vienna. Adequate set-up permitting, I will present my informal lecture "What I Learned in Business School: The Entrepreneurial Linguist" at a to-be-determined location. My hands-on speech includes tips and strategies from business school and elsewhere and focuses on marketing, accounting, economics, etc., and hopefully has some good information for everyone in attendance. We'd also very much enjoy getting a lively discussion started (perhaps over drinks). As soon as the location is set, we will send out an e-mail to all those who have already expressed interest (thanks!).

If you happen to be in Vienna, live in Vienna, or would like to come to Austria's capital to spend time with fellow translators and perhaps learn a few things on March 5, 2009 (7 p.m.) please let us know and we will send you more information.

Negotiating: Art, not Science

One of the most important parts of running a translation business is setting your price and negotiating your contracts. After all, we are all in business to make a profit, and in order to achieve that, we sometimes have to fine-tune our prices and work on our negotiation techniques. While this is an area of continous learning and improvement, we'd like to present a few strategies and lessons learned during the last few years. Some of them were learned by trial and error, while some are basics that we have established as business rules, which we will stick to.

  • Set your prices. Just like in any other business, the seller sets the prices, not the buyer. If you are letting the buyer dictate the price, you are ignoring a basic principle of the marketplace.
  • Realize that not everyone will want to purchase your services at the price you set. It is impossible to create a price that will make everyone happy. Find a price that makes you happy and that will accurately reward you for your services.
  • Don't justify yourself. Many times, linguists feel the need to justify their rates. You don't have to -- simply state your price. My carpet cleaner doesn't give me a reason why things are priced at a certain amount, and I really don't expect it.
  • Be firm. There's no reason to play hardball unless you really have to, but you can be both polite and firm. It's also completely appropiate to say that your rates are non-negotiable.
  • Throw a bone. If you would like to work with the client in question and can't agree on the rate, offer a discount on something unrelated to price. For instance, a few times we have agreed to waive the surcharge for working on a PDF. The client correctly perceived this as an addded value and accepted our rate. Sometimes you have to find ways of compromising.
  • The power of silence. Negotiating is difficult, and most of us want to talk too much to fill uncomfortable silences. It's a challenge, but try this: after stating your price, say nothing for a few seconds and see what happens. This is substantially easier over the phone than in person.
  • No is a complete sentence. Well, it's not really a complete sentence, but saying no is completely acceptable at all times. As an entrepreneur, you have the power and responsibility to decide who you would like to work with. If it doesn't feel right, politely say so. One of our favorite lines, courtesy from a fellow ATA linguist, is: "Unfortunately, we have no availability at that price".
  • Walk away. At some point, after many e-mail exchanges or repeat phone calls, you need to decide how much time you would like to invest in this potential working relationship. If the project is from, say, an individual who wants her birth certificate translated, is costing you one hour's negotiating time, it's probably not worth it. If the project is from a potentially long-term customer, it's certainly wise to spend more time. However, be aware that you might not get any return on your investment (=your time) should you not reach an agreement, so monitor your time accordingly.
  • Put it in writing. E-mail or fax your quote with the agreed-upon price and ask the client to sign it and fax or e-mail it back.
  • Trust your gut. If you feel that your counterpart is driving too hard of a bargain and you feel uncomfortable with the situation, trust your instincts and decline. You don't want to set yourself up to working for someone who might not be a good match personality-wise or even business-wise.
Our negotiating abilities and understanding of the nuances and subtelties are always evolving and changing, and it's a lifelong learning process. We look forward to continue developing the ability to negotiate professionally and politely while mainatining our fair rates. If you have any tips to contribute, we'd very much like to hear them!
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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