There is a New Blog in Town

We are avid readers of colleagues' translation blogs, and are always quite excited to hear about a new one. Unfortunately, one of our favorite bloggers, the mysterious Masked Translator, has not posted since the middle of last year. While we miss his/her honest take on the translation world, we are happy that there is another high-quality blog that just made its cyberspace debut. It is hosted by English-to-Swedish translator Tess Whitty, who lives in gorgeous Park City, Utah, where she runs her business, Swedish Translation Services. Even though her blog has only been live for a few weeks, she has already shared some great information. We particularly like her post about time management. We have added Tess' blog to our blogroll, and you can also visit it here. Be sure to add it to your RSS reader. Congratulations to Tess for starting a great new blog!

Job Offer of the Week

While ridiculously low rates are offered to translators around the world on a regular basis, this one just had to be shared. Our colleague Karin Bauchrowitz, a English->German translator, just forwarded the following job offer to us telling us that it was quite unbelievable -- and it is. It was posted on, which has many fantastic advantages, including glossaries and solid term search functions. However, many of the jobs posted on Proz are very poorly compensated. This one takes the prize (original text, unedited):

We need some translation work on urgent basis & regular basis there after.
English to German-Polish-Portugese-Swedish Translation: URGENT
We have some 500 product descriptions and some site banners and ads that needs translation.

It is mostly technical and repetitive.
Our target price is $1500 to $2500 per pair.

No per word math please.

Product Description and other details: 21 days.

It is around 750 web pages.
Word Count is approximately: 215,000
Unique words: 133990 (Product description) and rest repeat.

Only Native speakers!
So, if you're from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Japan, Korea, please do not bid. As we need native speakers and writers.

We did the math for you, and if you were to get paid the maximum rate of $2500 for the 215,000 words (not the unique words), you would be making $0.011 per word. If you got the low end of $1500, your per-word rate would be $0.0069. Any takers?

The Lighter Side: The Office Assistant

Since Judy frequently gets asked about the source of the occassional background noise when she's on the phone with clients and colleagues, we figured we'd post some pictures of the noisemaker. It's Luna, a very friendly 6-year-old black Lab/St. Bernard (adopted from a no-kill shelter) who weighs in at 100 pounds. Her favorite activities include monitoring translations on the laptop (see picture), guarding the print dictionaries (see picture), and taking a nap next to the desk. She also enjoys scaring off potential intruders by barking at the top of her lungs. Even though her translation skills are quite poor, she has the title of Canine Office Assistant II, Vegas office. If she passes her evaluation this year (she didn't last year, failed the "being quiet when the client speaks" portion), we might promote her to Canine Office Assistant III, which comes with a second biscuit a day.

Do you have an office assistant/sidekick? Dagmar's in Vienna is Junia, a 10-year old former resident of Vegas (and dual citizen). More on her mischievious office antics to follow.

Link: The Evolution of Google Translate

Machine translation is a heavily debated topic in our profession, and not surprisingly, Google is leading the mainstream efforts. While we have personally only scratched the surface of the debate, we applaud Google's goal of making all online information available to all people via their translations. We are quite confident that professional translators will never go out of style -- because, really, who wants a computer that doesn't understand syntax and tone to translate their confidential multi-million dollar sales contract between two global companies? Our clients don't (and won't, we hope). We look forward to playing around with Google's capabilities and were happy to hear that German researcher Franz Och, who is very well-known in the field of machine translation, is leading Google's efforts.

This week's New York Times article about Google Translate does a good job at analayzing the issues. However, we were surprised that the NYT did not get a quote from a representative of the translation industry, such as the American Translators Association.

Purchase of the Month: Ergonomic Office Chair

Dagmar recently invested in an ergonomic office chair that cost more than Judy's first car (which isn't hard) that promises significant relief for her neck problems. Judy soon decided to follow suit. The American side of Twin Translations now has a good, but not top-of-the-line chair, which is much better than the 12-year-old chair (from a garage sale, really!) that she was using before. Judy's hestitation to buy a good chair stems from the fact that while she was working as an in-house translation department manager, she thought she was sitting on a regular run-of-the-mill chair. Turns out it was a $1,000 dollar chair, but it didn't help the neck pain.

Finally, Judy headed to her beloved Costco to buy a Space executive mesh chair for $200. If you are not a Costco member, you can buy it on a variety of office chair websites, for roughly $300. Judy proudly put the thing together herself. No word yet on neck pain relief from either side of the Atlantic, but we will keep you posted!

Any other great chairs that you love? Please share your favorite in the comments section!

Value, Not Price: Taxes, CPAs, and TurboTax

Today's post is by Judy, based on her experiences with the Twin Translations (an S-corporation) tax preparation process in the U.S.

Doing my taxes, both business and personal, has always been one of the tasks I gladly outsourced. However, our long-term CPA made a significant mistake last year, didn't return five or six messages we left her, but still sent us a holiday card thanking us for her business (an apology would have been better). I won't work with her again, so I met with a few other CPAs in town. I am really not that price sensitive as long as I feel that I am getting value, butI was quite underwhelmed by my experiences meeting with CPAs. None of them really gave me the feeling that they would add value to my tax process -- in particular, that they would find me deductions I wouldn't myself find, would make the process a breeze, and that their pricing structure would be transparent. None of them had price lists, and most couldn't give me a specific amount that my tax returns would cost after I'd told them exactly how I would submit the information to them (that is, I would NOT hand them a shoebox full of receipts). Some gave me ranges for estimates, for instance, $200 - $350 for one return. That's a wide range, and didn't make me feel warm and fuzzy. A $300 - $350 range would have been acceptable.

I am no tax expert, but I've read several books on taxation for small businesses, and the CPAs I interviewed didn't really sell me on their services. Perhaps they do know how to find these deductions, but they didn't tell me, so I am not hiring them. If it cost me $500 to have my taxes done, but it would make my life easier and I would benefit from all kinds of semi-secret tax code things I don't know about, I would be all for it. However, as things stand right now, hiring a CPA just creates more work for me. I have to compile my (highly organized) information, send/e-mail the documents, perhaps drive to the other side of town for a meeting -- all that for someone to (presumably) plug my numbers into a tax software? Plus, I do like having control of all the steps of the process, because it makes me feel more vested, so with the help of the dummy-proof (I need it!) TurboTax, I can plug in the numbers myself. I got a great deal at Costco for our personal taxes (Deluxe edition) and went to OfficeDepot to get my full business version. I used my rewards card, which means I'll get a $20 coupon in the mail soon. Of course, hiring a professional has many advantages, including a buffer if and when the IRS should audit you. However, my accounting is quite transparent and easy, and I shouldn't have anything to fear from the IRS. For the record, according to TurboTax, the chance of my S-Corp getting audited is 0.4%.

I am sorry, dear CPAs and fellow small business owners: you didn't convince me that you'd add value to my process, regardless of the price. What do our fellow translators think? How do you handle your taxes?
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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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