How to be a VIC (IV): Think Ahead

We all like to know what to expect, so well-organised clients with generous deadlines and no surprises stand a better chance of making it to the translator’s list of VICs (very important clients). Last-minute panics, documents arriving in dribs and drabs and sudden changes are a translator’s worst nightmare. Good planning makes good friends.

Think “first arrived, first served”. It may be a good idea to Continue reading

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How to be a VIC (II): Does Your Text Make Sense?

This second post on how to be a VIC (very important client) addresses the quality of your texts. Vague (generic words, clichés, lengthy sentences) or poorly written (incorrect grammar/punctuation, etc.) documents are confusing and hair-pulling sessions slow your translator down. We love our work and we do like a challenge, but we’re not so keen on headaches. Painful translations do not get priority.

If no one Continue reading

Commodity Translators vs Service Translators

The translation agencies’ race to the bottom – endlessly undercutting each other’s rates and claiming to provide the best for less – has led many new starters and less confident translators to accept unsustainable rates, creating two increasingly apparent categories: the “commodity translators” (slaves who translate for agencies or clients unwilling to pay decent rates) and the “service translators” (business-aware linguists who work primarily with direct clients for reasonable rates and who do more than just Continue reading

Crowdsourcing: the Secret to a Motley Translation

While crowdsourcing may seem like a conveniently cheap approach to translation, it is symptomatic of a misconception of translation as an exact science and generates a text as variegated as the crowd that produces it. Continue reading

Give the Cream to Those who Want it Most

Out of the blue, a Toronto-based artist contacted me, asking whether my MA dissertation (on J. M. W. Turner and the Industrial Revolution) was available for purchase. Who would have thought! The artist is currently doing some research on Turner and found my details in the Association of Art Historians’ member directory.

While my translation services are irrelevant in this case, this anecdote illustrates that translators are everywhere, even where you might Continue reading

Cutting Corners is Risky Business

Being accredited to provide certified translations, I regularly receive requests to translate birth certificates and similar documents. Occasionally someone will ask whether they could translate it themselves (because they have A-level French) and I could then just correct it and certify it for them. Unfortunately, fixing a DIY translation takes much longer than doing it right first time; so if the idea is to save money, it is unlikely to work. Continue reading

Keeping your Text into Perspective

Contrary to common belief, the translation process is not linear. Sending documents in dribs and drabs and expecting them to be returned individually as and when they’re ready could be detrimental to the quality of the work.

I once translated a long list of independent, one- or two-sentence paragraphs for the purpose of a presentation leaflet. There was no time to ask for more background on each item, so I did Continue reading

Keeping Up With Languages

After much thinking, deliberating, hesitating and mmm-ing, I have decided to stop offering translation from Spanish.

People who do not speak a second language struggle to understand that the knowledge of a language is not for life. Languages are living things. If you don’t look after them, they will wither away and die from your memory. Even your mother tongue can Continue reading

Technology in Translation

I have been quite busy lately, with little time to write a blog post for this week. However, here is an excellent article on technology in translation that you may like to read: Why So Many Translators Hate Translation Technology.

For clarification as to what CAT tools are, please see my post on the topic: The Translator’s Little Helpers.