Celebrating Each Other: Happy International Translation Day

Congratulations to all our lovely friends and colleagues around the world! September 30 is International Translation Day, and we celebrate St. Jerome, but of course that includes interpreters as well.

Instead of announcing some cool new conference or celebration, may we suggest we all do something very simple to strengthen our community and our profession? It goes like this:

1.) Find a colleague who happens to be in your city permanently or on business/vacation. Pick someone you have never met before or someone you don't know well.
2.) Drop him or her an e-mail (or call!) and extend an invitation. It can be for coffee, for dinner, for drinks--whatever works. 
3.) Meet up, enjoy, and network! You will have probably made a new friend, and if not, a new colleague. There's nothing quite like breaking bread, sharing a glass of wine, or just talking with someone you don't know well (yet), but who is in your same industry.

Judy has started with this and has invited a lovely colleague who's visiting from Argentina to stay at her house for a few days--it should be a lot of fun.

What do you think, dear colleagues? Will you join us in celebrating our profession and each other?

Let's Talk About Rates

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Our lovely colleague Jo Rourke of Silver Tongue Translations in the UK is hosting a live chat to discuss something that's very near and dear to all translators' hearts: rates

It's oftentimes not discussed enough, mainly due to restrictions on doing so (price fixing), but these are important conversations to be had, especially for newcomers to the profession. The live chat is completely free, but is limited to the first 100 linguists who sign up. It will also feature some give-aways! Here's the link. There's even a cool video! Please join Jo for this awesome-sounding event on Wednesday, October 5th at 8 p.m. London time, which is 12 pm Pacific and 3 pm Eastern here in the U.S. We just signed up ourselves.

Business Pitfalls: The Trouble With E-Mail

It's Labor Day here in the U.S., and while we are not working that much today, we wanted to leave you, dear readers, with a brief post about business practices.

For better or for worse, the vast majority of business communication most of us do is via e-mail, and while as translators we know that the written medium is a fantastic choice for many things, it also has myriad limitations. People could read things into it that you did not mean, the tone can come across differently than you intended it to (especially if you have a quirky writing style and the other person does not know you well), you can come across as too direct or not direct enough, etc. In spoken communication, especially when we are actually looking at each other, things are easier because non-verbal communication is an essential part of communication that makes it easy for humans to decipher the other's intent by evaluating tone, body language, pitch of voice, etc. We don't have that in written communication, and we need to be aware of this fact. By that we don't mean adding emoticons to business e-mails (we actually highly discourage you from doing so), but we mean that you should be very careful about what you put in writing.

We recently worked on a large legal case that included a government subpoena and some 1.1 million e-mails, and we bet that none of the people who wrote those e-mails ever expected anyone other than the recipient to read them--this in spite of the well-known fact that e-mail is never truly private. We think it's essential to keep in mind that you should never put anything in writing that you wouldn't feel comfortable seeing on the front page of the newspaper the next morning. This is a little internal test that we use quite frequently, and it works for us.  Here are a few other e-mail tips you might find useful:

  • Don't send e-mails when you are angry. It's fine to write them, but just don't hit the "send" button until you have let some time pass. Let the message sit for a few hours or a few days (as long as it's not urgent), and come back to it later. Keep in mind that you usually can't take back what you have written, so think before hitting "send."
  • Have someone give you a sanity check. For very important communication via e-mail, we look over each other's e-mail to make sure the tone is right. It's good to have someone double-check your messages, especially if you have any doubt about whether what you are writing is appropiate. Of course you shouldn't need to do this very frequently, but probably just a few times a year or so.
  • If you have any doubt about whether you should send the message or not, don't send it. Your instincts are probably good, so delete the message and start over.
  • Be brief. Judy has a tendency to write e-mails that are too long for everyone, so she's worked hard on changing that, and has also tried to learn from her lawyer husband who's fantastic at writing succinct messages. Read through the message again before sending it and see if you can strip out unnecessary sections. It's a sign of good writing, and your e-mails are also more likely to be read that way.
What about you, dear colleagues and readers? Is there anything you would like to add to this non-exhaustive list? We look forward to reading your comments. 
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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