The Best Part...

CRIT USA is now open.
As our dear readers may know, we love our jobs and pretty much everything about our profession. However, there are always aspects of our business that are more fun (or less fun; such as paperwork) than others. Without doubt, one of our favorite parts of the job is visiting and spending time with our incredible customers in person. We have met many of them, while others we just know via e-mail and phone. It's usually a fantastic experience to finally meet clients in person, and we've traveled quite extensively to do so. Sometimes we combine a vacation trip with a visit to a client's headquarters, but this week, it was all business as Judy headed to San Antonio for the grand opening of the Children's Rehabilitation Institute of Teletón (Teletón is a Mexican non-profit organization that operates children's rehabilitation centers). The opening marked the first CRIT center in the United States (there are more than 20 in Mexico).

We were delighted that Judy had been invited to the grand opening, which took place on October 30 at the brand-new building. The more than 1,000 guests were treated to entertainment by impressive musicians, including Aleks Syntek and Aida Cuevas. Both Univision and Televisa are major partners of Teletón and CRIT, so many well-known anchors, television executives and media moguls were in attendance, including Emilio Azcárraga, the president of Televisa. Actess and activist Eva Longoria, whose brother has special needs, also spoke at the opening ceremony. During the event, two additional pledges of $1 million were announced.

CRIT USA is a first of its kind in the sense that it offers rehabilitation treatment (on an outpatient basis) to 600 children and their families a year, independntly of their ability to pay for these services. The outpatient facility is truly impressive, with many high-tech robotics to give underprivileged children with neuromusculoskeletal access to the rehabilitation treatment they need -- and no expense was spared when it comes to equipment and services. It might be quite unprecendented here in the US: the center offers treatment until certain pre-established goals are met -- and not treatment until the insurance company doesn't approve treatment anymore. The top-notch medical staff is complemented by a variety of comprehensive care services, including a multisensory room, a life skills room, and a custom-built pool for hydroptherapy. The entire center is decorated in bright and cheerful colors and doesn't look like a medical facility at all.

Our business, Twin Translations, helped CRIT USA and Teletón with the translation of many patient materials, internal documents, PowerPoint presentations, subtitling of movies, and much more (Spanish into English). We also worked on a portion of the website and hope to continue doing so. Meeting CRIT USA's CEO, Ricardo Guzman Hefferán, was a pleasure. It's great to put the name with a face and to be part of this incredible effort to establish the first CRIT in the US (in dollars, it was $17 million to build it).  The festivities ended with confetti, projected fireworks and mariachi music, to be followed by a tour of the brand-new facilities.

What about you, dear colleagues? Have you enjoyed meeting some of your customers in person?

Quick Translation Tip

We recently decided to introduce regular short blog posts that center on just one short piece of advice that can be implemented quickly and that takes less than three minutes to read.

Today's post is a simple and effective way to improve any translation.

Once you get to your second draft (printed), read every target sentence individually again. Don't look at the source text and don't worry about specialized terminology. Just read it and ask yourself: does this make sense?

Is the population of the UK really 641 million? (No; it's 64.1 million.) Is Yellowstone National Park in California? (No; but Yosemite National park is.) Is Red Bull an Australian company? (It's an Austrian company.) Our point here is: read for obvious errors that aren't linguistic but rather fact-based (easy to research and/or double-check) or somehow related to logic. Sometimes we focus so much on specialized terminology that we misspell names, places, numbers, and just commit general errors that you would easily catch if you remove the translator lens and just review the sentence as an outside reader would.  Read it again and ask yourself: does this make sense?

We've committed many of these mistakes ourselves and usually catch them on our second draft. We hope you like this quick translation tip - we'd also love to hear yours. Just leave a comment below.

Our Number One Rule for Interpreting Practice

We both have the pleasure of teaching interpreting at the University of Vienna (Dagy, in-person) and at the University of California-San Diego Extension (Judy, online) and while we share what we know with others, we are also always constant students of our craft and practice and learn every day. We don't have too many hard rules for when we practice interpreting, but we have one that we came up with long ago that we try to stick with no matter what. Now, without further ado, here's our number one rule for practicing interpreting:

Stick with it. When you hit "play" on a recording (YouTube video, Speechpool video, any audio file) or listen to a TV show or radio show that you have chosen to interpret, just do it, even if it seems terribly hard. Soldier on. Try to stick it out, even if you falter early on, and try to recover. Just go on, even if the first sentence was terrible. That's how things will be in real life: you just have to go on, and learning how to do that early on, when the stakes are low, meaning you are sitting at home in front of your computer, is a very important lesson. Trust us, it can be painful -- we've been there too. As a matter of fact, Judy just listened to a recording she did a few weeks ago where the first 30 seconds were really quick terrible, but she did recover and went on to give a strong performance for the next 20 minutes. Be tough on yourself with this rule, and just keep on going once you've started interpreting. The worst that can happen is that you are not too happy with your performance, but the beautiful thing: it's only practice. And don't forget to record yourself.

What about you, dear colleagues and interpreter trainers? Do you have one favorite rule for interpreting practice that you'd like to share? We'd love to hear from you.

Open Thread: What's the Nicest Thing....

This month, we are in full client appreciation mode, but come to think of it, we are in client appreciation mode every month! We realize that without clients, we have nothing, and it never ceases to amaze us how great and lovely they are. We think it's important to never lose sight of that: as professional services providers, we are here to make our clients happy and to make them look good, and in turn, they pay us and keep us in business. We couldn't be more grateful, and we are quite sure that most of you feel the same way about your clients.

We recently started thinking about the nicest thing a client has ever done for us. We'd love to hear your #1 client interaction/memory/nice thing. We had many nice things to choose from, but without further ado, here's ours....

Our favorite client moment happened when a lovely long-term client approached us and gave us a permanent raise on our rate, and it was THEIR idea. They told us that our work was invaluable and that they wanted to pay us more than they had before. We were quite stunned, as that was a first, and initially told them we felt very well compensated, but the client insisted, and we gladly accepted. Now we make sure to show our appreciation by sending small gifts to our client as often as we can while continuing to make them look good with their customers. It's a win/win, and everyone's happy!

What about you, dear friends and colleagues? We'd love to hear your stories, and here's to being in the lucky position of working for ourselves. Here's to our clients!

The Humility Factor

Much has been written about what makes entrepreneurs successful, and in recent years, many books have also been written about success factors in the languages industry. We have also done quite a bit of writing about what one should do to succeed in our fantastic industry. Of course, while there are no secrets (which we would gladly share if they existed), there are many factors that contribute to one’s success. There are the basics, such as top-notch language skills and outstanding writing skills for translators, business skills, and a pleasant speaking voice and stamina for interpreters, among hundreds of other factors, both large and small. However, we’ve recently started noticing that not too much has been said about the importance of being humble. Allow us to elaborate.

We think being humble and recognizing one’s limitations and shortcomings can be a significant success factor. It keeps you honest and grounded, and if you are humble enough (and smart enough) to understand that you cannot take on a translation on say, quantum physics, it will serve you well because you won’t deliver a terrible translation. It will also serve you well because hopefully you will be humble enough to recommend a brilliant colleague who happens to have a doctorate in physics from.  The colleague will probably be happy to get the business, and the client should also be happy that you didn’t decide to wing it and instead sent her to the expert. In addition, humility is good because it helps you build a good reputation as an insightful analyst of your skills rather than show-off. We started thinking about this, and turns out that some of the translators and interpreters we admire the most are also the first ones to say that they don’t know something. Now, I don’t think there is much about legal interpreting that our court interpreting heroes Holly Mikkelson and Esther Navarro-Hall do not know, but we really like how they rarely speak in absolute terms and always allow some room for better ideas and other approaches. We have also noticed that the most experienced linguists are the ones who know exactly what they are good at and what they are not, while some newcomers tend to overrate their own abilities, which is a dangerous thing. It’s important to have confidence, but that confidence must be backed up by skills.

Humility has served us well in our years as a court and conference interpreters. Judy gladly confesses that she was initially terrified of the new interpreting territory in court, but that fear and that humility motivated her to acquire vocabulary at a fast pace. It’s not normal not to be humbled by what experienced court interpreters know, and of course you will be a better interpreter five years in than you are on day one. We have been flabbergasted by newcomers who insist that they know everything and that there is nothing they can learn from experienced interpreters (or translators, for that matter). 

These newbies are of course wrong, and going around saying you know everything certainly won’t endear you to your colleagues. Our best advice to newbies and to my students is to be a sponge and to follow around an experienced interpreter if they allow it (be sure to buy lunch!). This endeavor is a bit more difficult on the translation side, but the ATA listservs are a great opportunity to get advice from the best in the business, especially if you are new to translation. However, it’s important to keep one’s ego in in check and eat some humble pie if necessary – for instance, when an experienced colleague disagrees with your own crack at translating a particular sentence. Rather than getting defensive, take this valuable advice as what it is: a gift, and then, 10 years from now, you can pay it forward. However, regardless of how long we have been in the business: we are continuously humbled by all the things our colleagues know and by how much we still have to learn.  We will never know everything, and that’s a great gift for our brains and for our career. 

What do you think, dear colleagues? We'd love to hear your feedback.
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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