How to get into transcreation

How to get into transcreation The transcreation <> copywriting exchange

Transcreators are often copywriters too. Therefore, if you are a translator hoping to get into transcreation, it’s a good idea to sharpen your sword in the field of copywriting itself.

Copywriting is something that requires practice, a knack for understanding products and/or markets, and good writing skills. A good writer from any field within the humanities, or any field at all, can break into copywriting without delay. You can literally get an entry-level freelancing job tomorrow and start cutting your chops.

Find a way to practice professionally

So you think you are a good writer and want to break into copywriting immediately, so you can become a better transcreator? There’s just one problem: you’ve never written copy.

The good news is that the person hiring you, unlike in translation, can actually teach you and provide valuable feedback on your work. This is why copywriting is something you can break into right away: if you can get past the typical writing test given during the freelance interview process, you will often find that the client is willing to teach you what you need to know.

What many marketers want is a talented, ambitious writer that they can develop. I got my career started as a technical writer with Lionbridge/HP doing just that, and have been on the teaching end of the equation several times.

Here’s a little secret: everyone in online marketing is learning how to do their jobs by reading the top marketing blogs, because things change so quickly anyway. If you’re a good writer, you can probably arm yourself for an entry level job with a few tips for writing good copy or the difference between features and benefits, along with whatever experience you already have in translation.

Copywriters themselves are constantly re-reading these tips while they are writing. 😉

Where to find copywriting work

Linkedin, Twitter, or other social platforms are great for working on your copywriting business, but often require lots of time and effort (which you should definitely put in).

Freelancer sites like Upwork, Elance, and others have a bad reputation with translators. The customers there know very little about translation and do not know what to expect, and they often get “sticker shock” when they realize how expensive professional translation can be.

But these sites are often great for copywriters, writers, technical writers, and designers. If you don’t believe me, Lise Cartwright has an excellent article about launching your career as a freelance writer on outsourcing sites.

My business partner has built a successful design business with Upwork customers. I myself am reviewing copywriting proposals for Zingword, because where else am I going to find a freelance copywriter? Most of the proposals are from 30-55 euros per hour. My wife manages the design and production of marketing materials, websites, and apps for national theaters, opera houses, and more, for a company whose operations run entirely through Upwork, and whose founder criss-crosses the globe.

A cursory review of copywriters from peopleperhour.com gives you a good idea of what copywriters can fetch. As a newbie, you’ll probably want to charge less than people who have lots of experience, but enough to be satisfied (depending on where you live).

The type of position you are looking for is “copywriting” or “website content,” but avoid “article writing” since that’s not going to get you the experience you need, and is often on the low-end of the writing market. If the company or product is interesting to you, that’s usually a good sign.

Learning markets

People will usually offer training before you start. In fact, you should insist upon a solid “learning session” to go with ongoing feedback. Particularly, you’ll want to target customers who will take you under their wing. In this way, you’ll be able to learn on the job.

Nevertheless, use your judgment. Usually, if the buyer is looking for someone with tons of experience selling bicycles, they won’t hire you. But you should take some responsibility too, because you’ll have to dig deep into why this product is special and people should buy it.

Finally, having the customer be able to provide feedback is invaluable, as compared to translations where this is often not possible.

Learning mediums

As you gather experience, you’ll start to get into “mediums” of communications.

A good example is writing a newsletter in Mailchimp. Newsletters are still the most powerful marketing communications available today, even more powerful than social media, and they have their own idiosyncrasies in terms of copywriting. You can learn the nuances of writing newsletters by researching on the internet and through instructions from your client, but it will take some effort. The same goes for basic SEO (many clients have guidelines to help you).

Eat high quality word snacks

Recent studies show that novels change your brain structure. Any reader who has gone through an extended period of not reading understands this thoroughly; it doesn’t take long until your brain feels like it’s in the doldrums.

Writing great copy isn’t limited to copywriting experience; it also means reading both beautiful and commercial things, paying close attention to rhetorical strategies, word usage, and even prose. If you find yourself doing this already, then you’re probably going to do fine in copywriting.

Challenging myself in my reading has always worked for me. I recently read a best seller and loved it, but I’ve always relied on high quality word snacks to keep my tools sharp.

Punctuation—use it!

Sadly, elaborate punctuation is the sworn enemy of the modern business writer. Writing simply and directly is almost always a recipe for good copy, with flourishes here and there to suit your subject matter.

The semi-colon, for example, has disappeared, which isn’t exactly a new thing: the Google ngram viewer shows you statistics on word usage or punctuation usage over time, and the results for the semi-colon are pretty clear.

But even if sophisticated punctuation is out of style, any translator, copywriter, or transcreator should be able to fluidly employ punctuation at her will. Even if creative punctuation is avoided, it should only be avoided by choice and not by any particular limitations the copywriter or transcreator may have. Ideally, the only thing that limits your letters are the choices you make.

Surely, there will come a day when that em dash in your copy is going to blow somebody away, or that misused hyphen is going to look like the weak, miniature em dash that it really is.

Now, let’s count my grammatical mistakes while I take cover. 😛

Header image credit: kaboompics

Author bio

Robert Rogge - CEO of ZingwordRobert Rogge is CEO of Zingword for translations and a wannabe novelist. His half-finished novel carries the working title, The Prospect of Summer. So far, it has served to improve his copywriting skills while not advancing his literary ambitions in any way. He stops short of recommending that you write a novel to improve your copy.

Zingword helps translators feature themselves online, while also effectively marketing their translation services to prospective clients. We do encourage translators who are practicing transcreation to sign up at our special transcreation page, since our goal is to help you find jobs in your field.

How language professionals can reclaim their digital lives after Snowden

How language professionals can reclaim their digital lives after SnowdenOur private and professional lives happen increasingly online. However, we often compromise our privacy and put the integrity of data and information at risk. Public and private entities exploit that: invasive ads, tracking across websites, profiling, restrictive digital rights management, attacks on net neutrality, bulk data collection – the list goes on.

It is time for language professionals to reclaim control, especially when handling client data, which can be sensitive or even confidential. This hands-on talk provides practical solutions: from encrypted email and secure wi-fi on the go to safer passwords and having your files available and yet safe.

This session was presented at the American Translators Association’s 57th Annual Conference. Learn more about the conference at http://www.atanet.org/conf/2016 and more about ATA at http://www.atanet.org/.

Header image credit: MMT

Author bio

Alexander DrechselAlexander Drechsel has been a staff interpreter with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Interpretation since 2007. He has studied at universities in Germany, Romania and Russia and his working languages are German (A), English (B), French and Romanian (C). Alexander is also a bit of a ‘technology geek’ with a special interest in tablets and other mobile devices, regularly sharing his passion and knowledge with fellow interpreters during internal training sessions and on the web at http://www.tabletinterpreter.eu.

You can also find Alexander on Twitter as @adrechsel (personal account) and as @tabterp where he shares all things related to using tablets for interpreting.

Beat the January doldrums starting now

Beat the January doldrums starting nowThe holiday season is an interesting time in the freelance business cycle. For many freelancers, some much-wanted/needed time off turns into an unwelcome amount of down time when work is slow in January. Following are some tips on how to beat the January doldrums in your freelance business, starting now:

Tip 1: Work over the holidays if you need or want to. Many established freelancers may look forward to a holiday lull. And if you work with clients in Europe, they may all but shut down until about January 9, the first Monday after New Year’s. But especially if you’re just starting your freelance business (or if you need to bring in some more income before the end of the year), consider working over the holidays. This is an especially good time to land new clients, when all of a translation agency’s go-to translators are out of the office and they have no choice but to branch out.

Tip 2: Assign yourself some work for January. What do most freelancers do when work is slow? Panic. Assume that no client will ever call them again. What’s a better option? “Assign yourself” to those non-paying projects that (if you’re like me…) remain eternally on the back burner because they’re not due tomorrow. Demo some accounting software. Upgrade your website. Take an online course. Start researching a new specialization. Write an e-book. Pre-load your blog with 10 posts. The key here is to plan ahead, so that the “assignments” are in place when you sit down at your desk in the new year, and before panic mode sets in.

Tip 3: Do a marketing push ahead of your slow periods. The time to get on a client’s radar screen is before they need you. For next year, schedule a marketing push in early December, before your clients wind down for the holidays. For now, prepare a marketing push for the next big work slowdown (such as July and August, when a lot of clients and translators go on vacation). For example, write a warm e-mail that you can send to prospective clients; resolve to send at least three e-mails a day, starting two to three weeks before you expect your work volume to drop off. Check in with all of your current clients (anything in the pipeline that you might help with?) and prospect for some new clients.

Tip 4: Evaluate your business expenses. Many freelance translators spend *too little* on their businesses, in a way that can lead to stagnation. But it’s also important to look at what you’re currently spending, and where you could reallocate some money. This is especially critical if you tend to sign up for services that require a monthly fee, but then you don’t end up using as much as you anticipated. It’s also critical if you pay for big-ticket expenses such as health insurance or office rent. Otherwise, think about what expenses might make you happier and more productive in your work (an accountant? a better desk?) and allocate some money for those.

Along those same lines, the end of the year is a good time to rack up tax-deductible business expenses. For example, make sure to renew your ATA membership and any other professional association memberships before December 31, so that you can claim the business expense for this year. If you need office equipment or a new computer, Black Friday and after-Christmas sales are a great time to shop for deals. Software companies may even run end-of-the-year specials. In future years, you may even want to earmark some money to spend in December.

Tip 5: Plan a “think swap” activity with other freelancers. January is a great time for types of activities that seem like a good idea, but for which you never have time. Invite three or four (or more) other freelancers, block out a couple of hours, and pick a topic. Maybe you invite other people in your language pair and everyone translates the same passage before you meet, then you go over your translations together. Maybe you invite freelancers of various flavors and trade marketing ideas. Go over each other’s resumes or LinkedIn profiles. Practice interpreting using YouTube videos. The possibilities are pretty much endless, and in January you may actually have the time for some of them!

Thanks for reading, and happy translating!

Header image credit: MTT

Author bio

Corinne McKayCorinne McKay, CT, is an ATA-certified French to English translator and the current ATA President-elect. She specializes in international development, corporate communications, and non-fiction book translation. She is also passionate about helping beginning and established translators launch, run, and grow successful freelance businesses. Her book, How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator, has become a go-to reference for the industry with over 10,000 copies in print, and her blog, Thoughts on Translation, has been a lively gathering place for freelance translators since 2008. You can keep in touch with Corinne on Twitter @corinnemckay, or on LinkedIn.

A Newbie’s Experience at #ATA57

ATA 57th Annual ConferenceAttending conferences can be exciting and nerve-racking at the same time, but with the Newbies & Buddies program at the ATA annual conference, I felt at ease and enjoyed every moment to the fullest. Bonding with three smiling faces through the welcome reception—Farah Arjang, a veteran translator and translation service provider, and Yifan Zhan and Lilian Gao, two graduate students studying Translation and Localization Management at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, I was happy as a clam. Our little group had quite the variety: practitioner, student, and scholar of translation and interpreting.

‘Hectic’ is a good word to describe the first day of international conferences for first time attendees. The 57th ATA annual conference was no exception. Luckily, the conference was carefully organized and attended to even the smallest details, such as the suggestion that Newbies have a meal with their Buddies. Compulsory and stiff as it might sound, it did help to take a lot of pressure off the Newbies. Farah briefed us on the basic flow of the conference schedule at the continental breakfast on the first day, so the three of us had a general idea of where to go and what to expect at the sessions to follow. I personally am a big fan of the conference app! I had all my sessions planned out ahead of time and was able to set up alerts. With the guidance of a kind and caring experienced ATA conference attendee and a helpful app, the first day was not all that hectic but instead quite enjoyable.

As a scholar and practitioner of Chinese/English translation and interpreting, I’m always drawn to learning about the Chinese/English language service industry, so I added the session called “Language Services Industry in China: Opportunities and Challenges” to the top of my schedule. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that Dr. Ping Yang, Chief Editor of the Chinese Translators Journal, the most influential academic journal in translation and interpreting studies in China, had been invited to give a talk about the status quo and prospects of translation services and translation studies in China. I’ve met Dr. Yang on many occasions in China, and ATA brought us together once again in the U.S. What a delightful coincidence! The other two speakers, Hui Tao and Yang Yu, introduced translation services in China from the perspective of localization, machine-aided translation technology, and big data analysis. It was definitely eye-opening for me to learn how entrenched technology is becoming in the industry.

The sessions that I looked forward to the most even before I arrived in San Francisco were those related to interpreting ethics, which was the theme of the panel discussion for the Interpreting Division this year. Interpreting ethics is my current research interest. I learned a lot from the panelists, Helen Eby, Milena Calderari-Waldron, Robyn Dean, Christina Helmerichs, and Marina Waters. In Dr. Robyn Dean’s sessions, she deconstructed the notion of the interpreter’s “role” and differentiated the use of the term in sociology and applied ethics. This was very new and insightful, since the interpreter’s role is always the center of discussion regarding the quality of interpreting services, where different metaphors of roles are often used to assess an interpreter’s performance. I had a pleasant short conversation with Dr. Dean afterwards and mentioned to her my questionnaire about interpreters’ decision making processes. She was interested and offer a few words of encouragement. The ATA annual meeting offered a great bridge for young scholars like myself to reach out to established scholars and learn from them.

Time always flies when you’re having fun. In the end, I departed San Francisco feeling extremely grateful. I’m grateful to Farah, whose advice was like a life jacket for newbies to navigate the oceans of opportunities and insight at the conference; to Yifang and Lilian, with whom I braved the air-tight schedule without suffocating as we were bombarded with new information. I’m grateful to all the speakers in the different sessions that painted the picture of a new and promising world of translation and interpreting. Finally, I’m grateful to the conference organizers and volunteers, who produced a successful event, united us for the 57th time, and reminded us that as translators and interpreters, though we are invisible most of the time, we are important, and we do not stand alone.

Author bio

Mia YinMingyue Yin is an assistant professor and Ph.D candidate at Sichuan University in China. She is also a visiting scholar at the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interest is in Translation/Interpreting Studies and Language Communication. She is currently working on her doctoral research project, “Interpreter’s Decision Making and Ethics”. Mingyue is also a certified Chinese/English Interpreter through the Chinese Accreditation Test for Translators and Interpreters (CATTI).

5 lessons from SLAM! on promoting professionalism in the translation industry

5 lessons from SLAM! on promoting professionalism in the translation industryHow do you differentiate yourself and earn a living as a freelance translator or interpreter? Arm yourself with huge doses of entrepreneurship, pride and courage. Keep on reading to get more tips and be ready to rock!

About SLAM!
The Scandinavian Language Associations’ meeting (SLAM!) was held on the 24th of September in Malmö. The theme of the event was promoting professionalism in a changing market.

Some of the speakers were experienced personalities in the translation world such as Chris Durban and Ros Schwartz. I was there to learn, network and enjoy the sense of community that I get among other language professionals. I kept hearing some recurring topics that I am sharing with you here. I hope you find them useful as pieces of advice and enjoy applying them.

  • Find your niche.

Everyone talked about specialization. When I first heard this before the event, I did not understand the importance of it. Since the conference, I have attended two conferences and several courses in my specialization. I have literature on the subject at hand and I feel much better prepared to translate within digital marketing. I simply love the field. I now agree that it gives you more in-depth knowledge and skills. You build a clearer profile that makes it easier for clients to decide if you are the right fit for their project.

  • No price competition.

As opposed to what some might think, we are not at all competing on price but on quality and the added value we provide. Quoting cheaper prices is not a solution but educating our clients can eliminate some price sensitivity. Concentrate on rendering quality services that offer solutions to your clients’ dilemmas. Find ways to add value and enhance your delivery with extra suggestions and service. It will pay off; your clients will understand the advantages of working with a language consultant that knows what he or she is doing and they will keep coming back.

  • Have goals.

Write down your goals on paper for a daily reminder of what you want to achieve. Make them specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. They will help you keep on track when the spirit fails. Having them clear in your mind will put you closer to achieving them.

  • Believe in yourself.

Know what you can do and believe in your value and that of your company. With language skills, specialized knowledge, a focus on value for clients and specific goals, you are all set, right? Well, do not forget to be confident in all those things. As a sole proprietor you need the mindset for success and to concentrate on positive things to remain optimistic and proud of what you do. This will in turn help you present your business in a better way. Train building your confidence, practice your elevator pitch and be your best boss. Strive at all times to deliver quality; the best value you can give, and that will make your customer want to come back.

  • Get out of the house.

Challenge the idea that translators are shy creatures hiding behind their screens. Network and meet new clients. You need to be out there so that your prospective clients find you and know you can help them. Attend conferences and trade fairs so that you can stay up to date on topics you specialize in and meet potential clients in need of your services. Become a member of local chambers of commerce where you can expand your network and find recommendations, projects and people to collaborate with in some form. Be a member of an association that supports your work as a translator.

Keep reading, keep listening, keep learning, keep applying, and good luck! Have you got any comments or useful pieces of advice on these subjects? Please share.

Author bio

Noelia GarasievichNoelia Garasievich is an English/Swedish to Spanish translator and content writer specialized in digital marketing and transcreation. She is a member of the Swedish Association of Professional Translators (SFÖ). She has written pedagogical books in Sweden where she has lived for the past 15 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in conference interpretation and translation and a European Master in Conference Interpreting. Connect with her on Twitter @NoeliaLG1 or visit her website.

Always leave the door open for future opportunities

Always leave the door open for future opportunitiesLearning to say no is widely covered in our profession. It is a skill many of us have to work on. It took me a long time to identify my limits and realize that yes can be a huge and attractive trap. There is another aspect of our profession that does not receive as much attention: learning to hear no and respond properly.

Not too long ago I was contacted by a law firm. They seemed to be in a big hurry to replace their previous translator. They invited me to come to their offices for a meeting and I promptly agreed. Error #1.

I should have investigated them before responding to their email. The email identified the type of law the firm was involved in, but did not give me any idea of their size or type of cases they took on (personal, business, both). It would also have been a good idea to tell them my rates beforehand to make sure my services fit within their budget. Error #2.

The interview was conducted in a hallway (bad sign). I was informed that the attorney herself performed the translations into Portuguese (well, her accent was not that of a Portuguese speaker, which already concerned me), and the attorney’s focus was on cost. All she cared about was the fact that her former translators had raised their fees.

Upon seeing the dollar signs swirling around my head, I informed her of my rates. Guess what her response was? She abruptly thanked me, turned around and left the hallway. I was left there dumbfounded staring at her back. After a day of thinking how to properly respond, I sent her office a note that read more or less like this:

Dear Former Prospective Client,

Thank you for making yourself available to speak with me at your offices on [DATE]. I truly wished we had had more time to speak so we could both fully understand what was at stake.

My career in translation and interpreting spans 36 years and I have clients in various countries and industry segments. The reason my clients choose to work with me are quality and reliability. The dollar signs attached to a translation project are to be analyzed against the best interest of the client, always.

In order to project a more polished image and produce a fully culturally and linguistically correct product, language access through translation and interpreting has to be considered beyond dollar signs.

I understand that my rates do not fit your budget but I can offer you guidance on where to look for qualified professionals. The best places to find qualified translators are the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (www.najit.org) and the American Translators Association (www.atanet.org). These two professional associations offer directory users the opportunity to search by language pair, certifications and location among other options. Their members are bound by codes of ethics pertaining to confidentiality, quality, professionalism, which I believe, would suit your organization.

The ideas behind the note were:

  1. Bring back a level of civility to our exchange
  2. Keep the door open for future projects
  3. Share information that may assist them in the future
  4. Help them realize that their need is shared by many and
  5. There are professionals trained to assist them

As you may have guessed, I have not heard back from them. However, should they choose to do so, rather than the bad impression left by the meeting, we will have the email as a starting point for our renewed relationship.

Lessons learned:

  1. Always follow your procedures for qualifying a client
  2. Rushing things lends itself to bad experiences (not always, but enough times)
  3. An emergency on the client’s part does not constitute an emergency on my end
  4. Keep calm and read the signs!

Image credit: freely

Author bio
Giovanna LesterBrazilian-born Giovanna “Gio” Lester has worked in the translation and interpreting fields since 1980. Gio is very active in her profession and in the associations she is affiliated with: ATANAJITIAPTI, and the new ATA Florida Chapter, ATIF, which she co-founded in 2009, serving as its first elected president (2011-2012).
As an international conference interpreter, Gio has been the voice of government heads and officials, scientists, researchers, doctors, hairdressers, teachers, engineers, investors and more. She loves to teach and share her experience. Connect with her on Twitter @giostake and contact her at gio@giolester.com.

Quoting a Large Translation Project

By May Fung Danis and Steven Marzuola

Quoting a Large Translation ProjectMay Fung Danis and Steven Marzuola each responded to a question about writing a proposal for a large translation project recently on the ATA Business Practices discussion group. We’ve combined our remarks for The Savvy Newcomer blog.

First, take a look at the following resources from the ATA:

Model translation job contract A job contract is a one-time arrangement covering an individual job or assignment. It specifies the details of the work for that job—and only for that job.

Model translation agreement A services agreement is a standing arrangement covering multiple jobs or assignments. It establishes a structure for an ongoing business relationship, generally between a company and a freelancer.

(To learn more about these documents, visit http://www.atanet.org/business_practices/services_agreements.php)

The contract/agreement is relevant only when the client has decided to work with you. But looking at the contract/agreement will help you to think about the details that need to be addressed in your quote. For new clients, your quotation will typically contain the following (please note that not everything in this list will apply to you):

– Short note addressed to the person requesting the bid, acknowledging the request and thanking them for the opportunity.

– Description of services provided. This section will vary a great deal, depending on the client and industry. Feel free to omit what doesn’t make sense in your case.

  • Describe the source document. Title, revision number or date, approximate number of pages, source format (Word, PDF, etc.). This could be important if the client makes any changes to the document after they send it for translation, or if several different people have contacted you about the project.
  • Describe the target document, including the format of the finished translation. This is especially relevant when the format of your translation differs from the source, for example, if you are asked to deliver your translation as a bilingual table in a MSWord document when the source document is a .pdf file.
  • Describe how elements such as images, graphics or tables will be handled.
  • Describe whether third-party review is included. Your client may expect a document that is ready for publication. Others may only want a “draft” translation, for example, if they plan on editing the translation internally.
  • Describe whether review of proofs is included. Will the client ask you to check the printed copy for errors? A typesetter that normally works in language A might not get everything right in language B.
  • Describe whether post-delivery edits are included. When the translation is delivered, is the job complete? Or will the client perform their own review, and then ask for your consent for any changes?

– Description of your rate or price. If you are not offering a fixed price in advance, then explain how the price will be calculated.

– Description of turnaround time. Will the client make a decision immediately, or will they require some time to decide? If it’s the latter, then you should state that the delivery will be X weeks/months after they notify you of their approval.

– Description of delivery terms. Will you offer a single delivery, or does the client want to see partials?

– Description of payment terms:

  • Payment on delivery: These are the simplest terms and are preferred by most clients’ accounting departments.
  • Advance payment: Do you require an advance payment before you start work? If so, the typical percentage is 30-50% of the total, with the remaining balance due on delivery.
  • Partial payments: If the translation will take more than 30 days, will you require partial payments? Will the payments be linked to partial deliveries?

– Description of quotation validity. How long will your quotation be valid? (What will you do if you send the quotation, and before they respond, you receive a large assignment from another customer?)

– Description of service provider qualifications. This is especially relevant if your quotation will be reviewed by a number of people and not just the person who contacted you. If you are working with an editor, a translator of a different language, or any other service providers, you might include their qualifications here also. You can use your CV here. Or, better yet, write a short paragraph describing what makes you the right translator.

– Several possible closing remarks. For example, ask whether they have any other questions, and when you can expect the order.

– Thank them, and include your contact information.

We suggest that you include all of the above in a single business-style letter; perhaps in PDF format attached to an email. After you have worked with a client, you won’t need to include all of these details in future proposals. But you should still include these basics:

name and contact info
client’s name and contact info
date (important if your quote is only valid for a certain amount of time)
project description/details
price
turnaround/delivery date
payment terms (e.g. partial payment)

Good luck on your first big quote!

Author bios

May Fung Danis is a member of ATA’s Business Practices Education committee and serves as co-moderator for its discussion list. An ATA-certified French to English translator, May lives and works in Guadeloupe, France.www.mfdanis.com

Steven Marzuola is a Spanish to English technical translator based in Houston, Texas. He specializes in the oil and gas industry and related technical and commercial documents. www.techlanguage.com

A Slammin’ Good Time at #ata57

ATA 57th Annual ConferenceFor all our camaraderie, we translators rarely have the opportunity to get a glimpse of each other’s work. But at this year’s ATA conference, two translators will display their efforts for all the world to see. Watch French-to-English translators Jenn Mercer and Andie Ho go head-to-head in a Translation Slam at the American Translators Conference in San Francisco on Saturday, November 5 at 2 p.m. Both of them will translate the same text but only unveil their masterpieces to each other and the public for the very first time, live and on screen, at the conference. French to English translator Eve Bodeux, FLD Administrator, will serve as moderator.

This battle for the ages is for novices and veterans alike. Come see linguistic techniques, philosophical approaches, writing styles, and word choices compared and contrasted. Witness how experienced translators face lexical challenges and handle feedback and criticism.

And, just like our own game show, audience members can play along at home! FLD members will receive the text several weeks before the conference so they can try their own hand at tackling the text. It’s a doozy, full of clever word play and on a much-talked-about topic in worldwide news.

Who will reign supreme? Find out this November. Let’s get ready to rumble!

Eve Lindemuth Bodeux is the administrator of ATA’s French Language Division. She has been active in the language services industry since 1994. A French>English translator, her company, Bodeux International LLC, offers multilingual localization, translation, and project management services. She is the author of the book Maintaining Your Second Language: Practical and Productive Strategies for Translators, Teachers, Interpreters, and Other Language Lovers.

Andie Ho is a French>English translator with more than 20 years of experience in the food industry. She is an alumna of Kent State’s graduate translation program and began her career as a project manager before moving into translation full-time. Her background includes a bachelor’s degree in French, a minor in mathematics, a performance at Carnegie Hall, and a stint at a criminal forensics laboratory—all of which influences her translation work today.

Jenn Mercer is the assistant administrator of ATA’s French Language Division. A French>English translator, she has been translating professionally since 2008, specializing in legal, business, and financial translation. She is a past director of the Carolina Association of Translators and Interpreters (an ATA chapter). She has bachelor’s degrees in English (with a concentration in creative writing) and French from North Carolina State University, and a certificate in French>English translation from New York University. She has been published in The ATA Chronicle and has presented at ATA conferences twice before on acronym translation strategies and advanced search techniques.

Entering the Big Game

How I started out only working for direct clients in my target language country, Sweden

Business networkingBackground
I decided to study to be a translator because I wanted the freedom of being self-employed along with the opportunity to do work I am passionate about. I also enjoy helping people from different cultures and backgrounds communicate with each other, so working with languages was a no-brainer for me.

I loved studying at the University of Gothenburg and enjoyed the conversations and discussions we had. However, we never really talked about setting up businesses, and how to market, pitch and sell your services.

As a result, I realized that everything I learned at the university was all well and good theoretically, but I was not at all prepared for the demands that come with being self-employed on the free market. This led me to that the world of academia and the world of business were parallel lines without a point of intersection, and made me wish that we had talked more about what it would be like to run your own business, networking and how to find your area of expertise and niche so you can market your business effectively. But I didn’t let that stop me. I was determined to find my place and find my own clients, and that is just what I eventually did.

Out of sight, out of mind
I decided pretty early on that I wanted to work for direct clients. What I didn’t know was how to find them. Therefore, I put on a jacket, brought a lot of business cards, went to several networking events and then joined a few of those networks. One of the networks I chose was Business Network International (BNI), which has both local and global roots.

The philosophy of BNI is built on the idea of “Givers Gain®”, which means that by giving business to others, you will get business in return. To join a BNI chapter, I paid a membership fee that I thought was rather expensive at the time for my new business. But I believe that you have to be prepared to invest real money if you want to see a real return on investment, and my return came in at tenfold the original investment within 18 months. The members of a BNI chapter increase their business through structured and professional breakfast or lunch meetings. The other dozens of people at those meetings are like your own personal sales force.

BNI has helped me develop long-term, meaningful relationships with other business professionals from several different industries. For example, I gained one of my best direct clients and collaborators through a BNI referral when a copywriter needed help with the translation of an article that was going to be rewritten for a Swedish hunting e-magazine. After that, they asked me to translate highly specific texts about hunting rifles, ammunition, and various scopes. I told them immediately that I do not hunt and I have never practiced target shooting, and therefore my knowledge is limited, but, I offered to give it a go if they agreed to assist me with the terminology using their industry expertise. They did, and I found that I was able to produce excellent results in collaboration with them and quickly get a feel for the industry-specific terms. This marked my entry into the Big Game as well as a truly fruitful partnership with a Swedish copywriter and an advertising agency.

Understanding what clients want
Willy Brandt once said: “If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen”, and I think he made a very good point. There is a general opinion in Sweden, and maybe abroad too, that Swedes are very good at English. We are in general contexts, but not so much when it comes to specific contexts such as understanding manuals, instructions or guidelines. If there is a choice of having them in Swedish, most Swedes, even Swedish translators, would probably prefer to read them in Swedish.

Since I work with direct clients, I have the opportunity to engage in direct dialogue and understand what they want, and I turn to my clients when it comes to terminology. They do not expect me to know the name of every bolt, pin, spring or gasket on the hunting rifles because they know they are the experts when it comes to hunting weapons, but they do rely on me to make sure all of the information is transferred from the source text to the target text and that the text is well written and properly adapted for its purpose.

Whenever I am asked to translate advertising or marketing texts, which perhaps is more like transcreation than translation, I often present more than one version. I also ask questions, leave comments and cooperate with a copywriter or a journalist, someone who is used to writing for a target group and adapting the language to the target audience. The result of us working together helps make the end product much better than if I had done it myself without their input and if they had done it themselves without my input. My knowledge and their knowledge combined is what produces superb results.

However, if clients have queries about certain words, sentences, or have questions about the translation, it is always good to be able to give a grammatical, syntactical or cultural explanation, as long as the explanation shows that you know what you are doing. Explanations for your translation choices are often what separate the wheat from the chaff and leave a good impression of you. Professional translators and premium clients know that it takes a skilled translator with a good eye to achieve good results, just like hairdressers, surgeons, or carpenters. In my experience, it is better to show your clients you have the knowledge rather than telling them. This has benefitted my business by leading to more projects and new clients.

No matter how much training you have or how much knowledge you have in a particular field, you need to be able to look at things from your client’s perspective. For my clients, it is perhaps not so much outstanding syntactic solutions that matter to them. It is more important that I can deliver a-translation that is well suited to its purpose, in tune with the client’s objectives, and on time.

Recently a few of my clients told me that the way I run my translation business is innovative and is a fresh approach to the industry. I asked what they meant by that and the answer was simple: They have met me, had lunch with me and they talk to me on the phone. This allows me to understand what they want and need on a completely different level and assures them we are on the same page. For me, there is nothing out of the ordinary about speaking to clients on the phone or in person, but perhaps it is slightly unusual for translators, especially in Sweden, and therefore it seemed new to my clients and they felt that the results were better than other more impersonal translation services they had used in the past.

Header image credit: Picjumbo

Author bio
Elisabeth SommarElisabeth Sommar is an English, German and Danish to Swedish translator specialized in technical and marketing texts. Her translations are mainly for hunting e-magazines, advertisements, and manuals for hunting rifles, shotguns and equipment for hunting and clay target shooting. In the past she has held various positions in the furniture production industry. Elisabeth has a master’s degree in translation from the University of Gothenburg and lives in western Sweden. You can connect with her on LinkedIn: se.linkedin.com/in/elisabeth-sommar

ATA Science & Technology Division 2014 National Meeting Program

By Matthew Schlecht

plasma-389438_640The ATA Science & Technology Division has a solid program at the 55th ATA Annual Meeting with content that will appeal to the inner geek in all of us. S&TD includes translators working in a wide variety of language pairs with a focus on scientific and technical subject matter. Some of the S&TD presentations do have a specific language pair focus, while others discuss only subject matter, but all address the unique constellation of terminology, style, register, and background that are necessary to do translation work in this area.

Our Distinguished Speaker for 2014 is Dr. Christiane Feldmann-Leben, who works between English and German, and into German from French and Japanese. One of her presentations (ST1) is entitled “An Introduction to Nanomaterials: From Synthesis to Applications”. This talk will provide attendees with an introduction to the synthesis and analysis of these new materials and will also focus on the applications of nanomaterials in fields such as medicine, the automotive industry, and consumer products. Her second offering (ST1) is entitled “From Oil Economy to Hydrogen Economy: An Introduction to Fuel Cells”, and will explain this important new option for renewable energy. This presentation will explain how fuel cells have reached a highly advanced stage beyond the initial applications in space flight, and cover ongoing developments in the means of producing and storing hydrogen. Listeners will be introduced to fuel cells from the bottom up and will learn about the problems still to be overcome and possible solutions to make a hydrogen economy viable.

Something of use to everyone will be the talk by Patricia Thickstun, who works into English from French. The title is “Updating Your Knowledge of Science and Technology Innovations” (ST9), and the intent is to provide strategies and resources for efficiently developing, expanding, and maintaining one’s science and technology knowledge base. How to be a quick study in science and technology and have fun doing it! Examples will be taken from the fields of biotechnology, medicine, chemistry, and physics.

As the typical bicycling season draws to a close in the Chicago area, Carola Berger (EN>DE) will take you on a whirlwind tour of all things bicycle, from low-end clunkers to high-end carbon fiber frames. Those who attend her presentation, “Grannies, Freds, and LSD: A Non-Pedestrian Introduction to Bicycles” (ST-5), will learn what the jargon in the title really means. In addition, they will be able to translate the user manual for the newest electronic 22-speed gruppo or localize the latest interactive global positioning system bicycling app.

The talk “Left of Boom: Explosives and Bombing-Related Terminology, Part 2” (ST-3) is a follow-up to the well-received Part 1 from last year’s San Antonio meeting. This time, Christina Schoeb (AR>EN) will focus on English-language vocabulary related to explosives and explosions. Terminology related to homemade and improvised explosive devices and bombing incidents will be presented to help translators and interpreters prepare themselves with the English expressions in this field of application.

A presentation of both scientific and medical interest, “Gene Therapy: The New Frontier of Medicine” (ST2), will be given by Tapani Ronni (EN>FI). Gene therapy is the deliberate modification of the genes in a patient’s cells with possible future applications including DNA vaccinations and tailor-made anti-cancer drugs. The talk will cover current applications, the limitations and risks, and will explore the philosophical and ethical issues related to the hotly debated germ line gene therapy.

Another introduction to a high-tech topic will be presented by Di Wu, who works between Mandarin Chinese and English. The talk is entitled “Terminology in Integrated Circuits and Semiconductor Manufacturing” (ST7) and will start with a brief history of semiconductor development, and then it will proceed through the steps of semiconductor manufacturing, including wafer making, processing, wafer testing, device testing, and packaging. He will also profile the business side of the field, listing the major players and discussing trends in semiconductor technology.

Leo van Zanten, who works into Dutch from English and Spanish, will discuss a topic that reaches every corner of the globe: “Agri-Food for Thought: How Agriculture Translates into Food” (ST6). The talk will offer a deeper insight into the world of agricultural food production and the challenges for the future, covering the meaning and background of terminology specific to this area. Examples will cover the challenges and nuances in the translation of commonly-used terminology, such as organic agriculture.

My own presentation, “Chromatography for Technical Translators” (ST8), will cover the widely-used technique of chromatography in terms of theory, equipment, applications, and results. The focus will be on how chromatography is described in documents received for technical translation, with most of the examples between English and German, Japanese, French and Spanish. The jargon and abbreviations unique to the chromatography field will be decoded, and glossary information and resource links will be provided.

The division will be present at the Open House on Wednesday evening and has arranged a dinner on Thursday evening. Two “veteran” S&TD members, Amy Lesiewicz and myself, will host an “S&TD New Member Breakfast” at the ATA Meeting Friday morning continental breakfast (watch for the tables with signs!). We look forward to getting to know new members.

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About the author: Matthew Schlecht has operated a freelance translation, proofreading, editing and writing practice under the name Word Alchemy since 2002. He completed an MS and PhD at Columbia University and post-doctoral work at Berkeley in organic chemistry, and also studied Japanese, German, French, and Spanish in parallel with his scientific studies. He worked for twenty years as a researcher in the chemistry and life sciences fields, in both academia and private industry, where he used his language proficiency in service of his research. He now uses his research training and experience to provide expert translation and editing of technical documents.