ATA is celebrating International Translation Day – and we want to celebrate with you!

We’re calling all members, followers, translators, interpreters, and students to participate in ATA’s interactive social media campaign to celebrate International Translation Day 2021.

From September 27–October 1, 2021, ATA will release one to three interactive posts per day on each of its social media channels, inviting T&I professionals to interact with questions and prompts about their work. Posts will range from Instagram bingo to Facebook mad libs. Our goal is to share details and facts about our work with the world in a fun and interactive way.

Help us spread the fun! Every day that week, starting Monday, September 27, a post will go live on each ATA platform. All you have to do is:

We can’t wait to see the results! Thank you in advance for your support and Happy International Translation Day!

How to Land Your First Gig as a Freelance Translator

The rise of the internet, globalization, and social media has led to a surge in the demand for translators.

As Statista reported in their global language services review for 2009 to 2021, the industry has grown by USD 5 billion in the past two years alone. This means limitless opportunities for freelancing if you know how and where to look.

While setting up for your first gig as a newcomer may feel like a daunting task, here are five tips to help you get started:

1. Determine how you want to receive jobs

For starters, you can be an independent freelancer working for direct clients, translation agencies, or even both. The main difference is the initial setup required before you can start receiving jobs.

Agencies usually administer a test like this that you must pass in order to begin working with them. Once you’re accepted, they will match you with jobs that fit your skillset.

The whole process saves you the hassle of preparing an extensive portfolio and pitching to potential clients yourself.

Do note that some agencies (and even clients from larger companies) use translation software to manage the projects they assign to their translators.

On the other hand, if you decide to go the independent route, you don’t usually need to worry about software. However, you do need to play a more active role in seeking clients, bidding for jobs, and promoting your services.

2. Build a diverse portfolio

To kick off your career as a freelance translator, you need a strong portfolio to showcase your translation experience.

Initially you might need to do some volunteer translation work to build a portfolio, but remember to be fair to yourself, your time, and your efforts before taking unpaid jobs.

Consider your personal interests or those of the people around you, and look for opportunities there instead. Here are some ideas on where to start:

  • Translate subtitles for your favorite YouTubers
  • Offer to translate the website of your friends or family members for a small fee
  • Translate magazine articles and share them on forums for special interest groups (for example, interviews with athletes are interesting to the users of relevant sports forums)

More information on how to create an effective portfolio can be found in this article.

3. Identify your strengths and specializations

Over time, you should develop a few translation specializations based on your strengths and interests.

Otherwise you might feel compelled to accept any offers that come your way, even if they undersell your time and skills. Being a specialist rather than generalist may help you land clients who value quality over quantity and are thus willing to pay the appropriate rates for it.

In fact, this research by Inbox Translation reports that freelance translators with one or two areas of specialization are generally able to charge higher rates than those who are not specialized.

Remember that not everyone is your potential client. Start by asking yourself three simple questions:

  • What industries do I want to work in?
  • What kind of companies do I want to work for?
  • Will this project add relevancy and value to my portfolio?

4. Check out online translation communities

The internet is a great place to socialize with other freelancers and professionals who have been in the trade for longer.

Some of my favorite online forums and social media groups dedicated to translators include:

They’re informative, entertaining, and more importantly, allow you to build meaningful relationships with other translators which increases your chances of finding new projects to join.

5. Create a profile on freelance marketplaces

Businesses that are not within the translation industry themselves are likely to look for freelancers using channels they are familiar with. These include ProZ, Upwork, Fiverr, and even LinkedIn.

To make the best use of them, you should:

  • Create a profile on several marketplaces (as many as you can handle)
  • Complete a profile with your relevant skillsets, experience, and portfolio
  • Indicate your specializations to ensure the right people can find you
  • Update your availability to “open for work” or anything along those lines
  • Establish a routine of checking your inbox and bidding for jobs on freelance marketplaces

On certain websites, you may have to pay a fee to prioritize your profile in recruiters’ search results. I generally do not recommend using this method, because this can be achieved for free by optimizing your profile for certain specializations, language pairs, or industries.

6. Don’t underestimate LinkedIn

LinkedIn is not just a professional platform where people share work anecdotes and announce major career developments.

Being on LinkedIn as a freelancer allows you to use the job search function and build a profile that highlights your top skills so recruiters will notice you.

To do so use specific keywords in your headline and descriptions, like “German to English Translator” or “Gaming Translator,” so that you’re more likely to appear on internal search engines.

However, since there are many head-hunters on LinkedIn recruiting for full time positions, be mindful of how you brand yourself to ensure that the right job invitations land in your inbox.

For more tips on how to craft a good LinkedIn profile for freelancers, check out this video by Freelanceverse.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Author bio

Shu Ni Lim holds a degree in linguistics and freelanced as an English to Chinese / Malay translator, mostly working with social media marketing content. Now a writer at Redokun, Shu Ni hopes to create useful content for translators and businesses by utilizing her experience in translation, marketing, and discourse studies.

Emotions in More than One Language

This post originally appeared on Psychology Today on August 18, 2011, and it is republished with permission.

The language(s) of emotions in bilinguals

There is a myth that bilinguals express their emotions in their first language (when they haven’t acquired both languages simultaneously), usually the language of their parents. Like all myths, there are instances when it is true. Thus, a Portuguese-English bilingual who acquired English at age fourteen wrote to me that if something makes him angry and he allows his anger to come out, there is no doubt that he will use Portuguese to express himself. And it makes sense that bilinguals who have lived in the same place all their lives, who use their first language with family and friends and their other language(s) mainly at work, will express affect in their first language.

However, as Temple University researcher Aneta Pavlenko, herself multilingual, writes, things are much more complex than that. In her book on the topic, she dismantles this myth and shows that the relationship between emotions and bilingualism plays out differently for different individuals and distinct language areas. Basically, it is too simplistic to suggest that late bilinguals have emotional ties only with their first language and no ties with their other language(s).

When a childhood in one language lacked affection or was marked by distressing events, then bilinguals may prefer to express emotion in their second language. For example, an adult English-French bilingual who moved to France in early adulthood once wrote to me that she found it easier to speak of anything connected with emotions in French, her second language, whereas in English she was rather tongue-tied. She then explained that it was in French that she had discovered what love meant. She ended by stating, “Perhaps one day I’ll even manage to say, ‘I love you’ in English”.

The Canadian and French novelist, Nancy Huston, gives a similar testimony. Nine years after having moved to Paris from North America, her daughter Léa was born. She had married a Bulgarian-French bilingual with whom she spoke French. Huston tried to use English baby talk with her daughter but couldn’t continue. She explains that the memories and feelings stirred up were simply too strong (her English-speaking mother had abandoned the family home when she was six).

On a less poignant level, many late bilinguals state that they can swear more easily in their second language. Both the English-French bilingual above and Nancy Huston have said the same thing. The former stated that she has a wider range of vulgar vocabulary in French and Nancy Huston wrote her master’s thesis on linguistic taboo and swear words in French. As she wrote, “The French language in general…. was to me less emotion-fraught, and therefore less dangerous, than my mother tongue. It was cold, and I approached it coldly.” (p. 49).

When bilinguals are angry, excited, tired or stressed, their accent in a language can reappear or increase in strength. In addition, they often revert to the language(s) in which they express their emotions, be it their first or their second language, or both. I was once bitten by a stingray in California and I recall clearly switching back and forth between English and French. I used English to ask the English-speaking friends I was with to take me to see a doctor and I cursed in French to help me ease the pain.

The language used in therapy is also quite informative. Paul Preston who has written a book on the sign language / spoken language bilingualism of the hearing children of Deaf parents, interviewed several of them who said they felt blocked when in a therapy session. They wanted to use sign language but couldn’t do so (the session was taking place in English). And Nancy Huston claims that she could not finish her own psychoanalysis because it was conducted in French, the language in which her neuroses were under control.

In sum, expressing emotions in more than one language follows no set rules; some bilinguals prefer to use one language, some the other, and some both. It is fitting to finish with an extract from Aneta Pavlenko’s book about her own habits:

‘”I love you,” I whisper to my English-speaking partner. “Babulechka, ia tak skuchaiu po tebe [Grandma, I miss you so much],” I tenderly say on the phone to my Russian-speaking grandmother”‘.

As the author states prior to this: “I have no choice but to use both English and Russian when talking about emotions.” (p. 22-23).

References

Pavlenko, A. (2005). Emotions and Multilingualism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Huston, N. (2002). Losing North: Musings on Land, Tongue and Self. Toronto: McArthur.
Grosjean, F. Personality, thinking and dreaming, and emotions in bilinguals. Chapter 11 of Grosjean, F. (2010). Bilingual: Life and Reality. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

“Life as a bilingual” posts by content area: http://www.francoisgrosjean.ch/blog_en.html

François Grosjean’s highly successful blog with more than 2.3 million visitors can now be found as a book, Life as a Bilingual (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Author bio

François Grosjean received his degrees up to the Doctorat d’Etat from the University of Paris, France. He started his academic career at the University of Paris 8 and then left for the United-States in 1974 where he taught and did research in psycholinguistics at Northeastern University, Boston. While at Northeastern he was also a Research Affiliate at the Speech Communication Laboratory at MIT. In 1987, he was appointed professor at Neuchâtel University, Switzerland, where he founded the Language and Speech Processing Laboratory. He has lectured occasionally at the Universities of Basel, Zurich and Oxford. In 1998, he cofounded Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (Cambridge University Press).

His domains of interest are the perception, comprehension and production of speech, bilingualism and biculturalism, sign language and the bilingualism of the Deaf, the evaluation of speech comprehension in aphasic patients, as well as the modeling of language processing. François Grosjean’s website: www.francoisgrosjean.ch

How to review a translation

As translators, the first draft of our translation is only a starting point. We need to verify the quality of our work before we send it off for publication. The following list is not comprehensive, but it will help us find most of the problems we have to solve.

Check for completeness

Go through every unit of meaning and make sure it was translated. We translate meaning, not words—and skipping easy words like “no” completely changes the meaning!

Check for accuracy

Check the nuance of the source. Words are usually carefully chosen to give the reader a specific impression. We see this often in articles with political content. Person First language, as illustrated below, is expected more and more often.

Person-First Term Outdated Term
Person with diabetes Diabetic
Neurodiverse person Autistic person
Adults in custody Incarcerated people
They He/she
Undocumented immigrant Illegal alien
Foreigner Alien

Tips to ward off potential problems with completeness and accuracy checks

It is easy to lose our place. To solve that, we can use several approaches.

  • When you first start a review, change the font and the font size for the whole translated text. Change the font back to the desired font as you go. This does two things: It helps you keep your place, and it helps you find strange paragraph breaks that will cause problems later in the publication process. Another option is to highlight the whole document and unhighlight it as you review.
  • Use the Read Aloud feature in Word. Have Word read one document while you check the other one. This is my favorite way to find wrong numbers in official documents and unnatural constructions!
  • Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools help us keep our place, but we also need to check the document in its target format before releasing it. Things that we did not notice in the earlier processes might show up here.

Check for readability

Read the text as an editor. Anything that makes you stumble should go. Every time you make a change, check the source to verify that the previous checks (accuracy, nuance, precision) are still good.

Problem with this check

Of course you will think it is readable—after all, you wrote it! To overcome this, imagine a reader and put yourself in their place. Since they do not have context, will this be clear to them? Can they understand it after a cursory reading?

Don’t be tempted to repeat grammatical or spelling mistakes from the source text

Replicating mistakes makes your translation a parody, and we are not there to mimic the text. We also run the risk of introduce new mistakes. We are there to translate the message, not the words. For example, an interpreter is not expected to cry when the speaker cries! That is mimicking and goes too far.

Watch for these common mistakes

Excessive use of the word “that.”

Punctuation. Each language has its own punctuation conventions and they should be used accordingly.

English Spanish
“That house is nice,” he said. “Esa casa es linda”, dijo.
Please call my supervisor ─ Peter Brown ─ on Tuesday. Por favor llame a mi supervisor, Peter Brown, el martes.
“What did you tell me, Peter?”

“That it is late, Maria.”

─José, ¿qué me dijiste?

─Que es tarde, María.

Capitalization. Make sure caps are used per target language conventions. One of the most common translation errors is to use capitalization to match the source text.

Consistency in terminology. In some languages, the use of synonyms is preferred to avoid boredom. However, technical terms and key terms should be translated with consistency.

Spelling. Never send something off without running a final spell check! However, the spell check won’t catch everything.

Ask yourself these questions:

Did you find the best way to say something at the very end of the document? Find where else you should modify the same thing to match. This is common.

Did you translate a term with one meaning, but later in the document you see that it is used in a different way? Go back and fix it all the way through the document.

Check for consistency

There are tools to check consistency, which help a lot with spellings of brands, etc.

Perfect It does this very well, and for this particular use, you can use it in any language.

Word Rake will flag phrases that are extra wordy and suggest replacements.

Warning: These tools are not created for us to accept every change they suggest! They are just consistency checkers, and we need to accept or reject each change on its own merits.

One trick for name consistency is to type a short abbreviation or acronym and the use Find and Replace at the end. For example, for Albuterol you could type BNA and then replace all BNA to Albuterol at the end. For names that are tricky to spell, use unique initials to avoid misspelling.

When you do this, make a table in a separate document so you can do the find and replace at the end. This style guide table could also be at the very start of the translated document, and you delete each thing as you check it.

Make sure you follow the brief!

  • If you were told the final translation should be no more than 5500 words, and you are at 7000, find ways to reduce wordiness and take the time to express things more concisely.
  • If it is a PPT file, make sure you are able to fit the text in the slide with a readable font!

Take extra care with slides and spreadsheets

Excel and PPT have challenges because they are not designed for editing. CAT tools handle these files well, but you may still need to make adjustments in the final file. If so, agree ahead of time on charging for that bit of desktop publishing.

PPT: Take the presentation, view it in outline mode, and copy the whole outline into a Word document. That allows you to translate from there, then dump it back in. Of course, you can let them adjust the presentation, or charge for the extra desktop publishing time. Agree on who does what before you start!

Excel: Copy the doc into a Word table, translate it, and send it back to Excel. If you are adjusting for space, make sure you add that to your fee.

Watch out for hidden text

Graphics can sometimes cover your text. Pick up the graphic, move it to the side, and edit. You are still responsible for the text that is hidden under the graphic!

There can also be text hidden in tables or text boxes. Always check the final version of the translation to make sure you translated everything!

Ask what to do with text in images. Often, this is the text we miss. I often create a table with the source-target text and ask the requester to make the changes to the graphic. I typically place it right next to the graphic and put a comment in the text. The comment could say: “Check this graphic. It has English text. See translation of text below.”

You can also do a graphic overlay of the text over the image…

Where it says… The translation is…
Acceptable box Caja aceptable
Etc.

Never forget the why

A quality translation reduces liability risk for the client, helps them communicate clearly and shows respect to the target audience. The details listed in this document help us consistently meet the goal of our clients, as they reach out to communities that speak a different language. This applies to all texts. I often translate forms, press releases, healthcare instructions, evidence for court, and training manuals, and these principles apply to all the translations we produce. For best practices, I always work with a reviewer and together we go through our work looking for these issues. This is one of the key reasons to work with an equally qualified colleague as an editor.

Recommended resources:
Lunsford, Andrea A. The Everyday Writer. Boston: Macmillan Learning, 2020
Eby, Helen. Principios de redacción. Self-published, available for free download from Spanish Editors Association. 2020
Gaucha Translations work order: This document has a good list of issues we must consider in translation, and it is a way to bring all of them to the table with the client before we start.

The hallmarks of a good translator

This post originally appeared on The minimalist translator blog and it is republished with permission.

What makes a really good translator? Maybe you’ve always wondered what a translator actually does and has to be good at. Maybe you are looking for a good translator. Or maybe you are a translator and perhaps, as you’re reading this post, find yourself nodding in agreement.

A good translator …

… is a good writer

… specialises in one or more subject fields, such as medicine, IT or marketing

… undertakes regular CPD training and stays abreast of current developments in his/her subject field(s)

… enjoys working in his/her chosen subject field(s)

… reproduces the content and meaning of the original text skilfully, without additions or omissions

… doesn’t translate word by word, but with a view to creating a text that is fluent and characterised by idiomatic usage

… translates into his/her mother tongue or language of habitual use only

… generally notices language around him/her in everyday life (and any mistakes in it!)

… has excellent knowledge of spelling, grammar and punctuation in his/her languages

… is reliable and meets agreed-upon deadlines

… creates translations in line with clients’ requirements and style guidelines

… is inquisitive and tends to ask relevant terminology- and context-related questions

… uses a writing style in translations that is perfectly understood by the target readers

… demonstrates patience, tenacity and lateral thinking

 

Author bio

Elisabeth Hippe-Heisler MA MITI translates from English and Italian into German and specialises in patents. She also blogs as The Minimalist Translator at https://hippe-heisler.blogspot.com. You can find her on Twitter @detransferendo (English) and @EHippeHeisler (German). Website: http://www.hippe-heisler.de