The Benefits of Mentoring

Photo Credit: Pexels

This post was originally published on the Ben Translates blog. It is reposted with permission from the author.

This week, I was informed that I have been selected as one of 30 mentees for the 2017-2018 class of the American Translators Association mentoring program. I am delighted to have been chosen for this opportunity and look forward to the chance to learn from an industry veteran.

The ATA Mentoring Program has been around for nearly 20 years and was completely revamped in 2012. Each class starts at the beginning of April and runs through March 31st of the following year. Mentors assist mentees with topics ranging from business practices, rate negotiation, breaking into a certain area of the industry, and much more. They do not tutor mentees or help them to become better translators, often because they do not work in the same language pairs and are instead paired based on goals and personality. Another benefit of the program is that mentees and mentors all participate in a discussion group for sharing questions, best practices, and other advice across the 30 mentor-mentee pairs.

No matter the field, mentoring offers a unique opportunity for shared learning and growth. I have been running a successful translation business for nearly four years and have been working in the industry for six. That said, there is always more to learn and I am absolutely thrilled to be a mentee this year.

There are many benefits of mentoring for both the mentor and the mentee. Here are merely eight of them that apply across industries:

For the mentee:

1. Self-Reflection

It often takes someone asking you to think critically about what you do and why you do it to prompt you to have this conversation with yourself. Having a mentor encourages mentees to reflect on their practice and their goals and to intimate what it is that they want to accomplish.

2. Advice and Encouragement

Are you even doing this right? Could you be doing it better? Mentors can provide great advice about where improvements can be made and provide encouragement for things you already do well.

3. Support and Networking

It never hurts to expand your network. Having a mentor can give you privileged access to influential people in other networks, thereby increasing learning opportunities and support from others in your profession.

4. Professional Development

Experienced mentors can help mentees build better business practices, learn new skills, and become more effective.

For the mentor:

5. Giving Back

Many people were helped out or lifted up by an influential person sometime during their careers. Becoming a mentor means having the opportunity to do the same for someone else.

6. Increased Confidence

By sharing their expertise, mentors can experience increased confidence about their own work. By reminding mentees of what they are doing well, mentors have the same opportunity to reflect on what they do well, too.

7. Two-Way Learning

The cliché about the master learning from the student is true: collaborating with a mentee can teach mentors about new methods or practices that can re-energize their own work.

8. Fresh Perspective

There may not be a better way to gain fresh perspective about what you do than by helping another person through the challenges that you may have once experienced. Chances are that mentees are also experiencing a few things that mentors never dealt with, and working through them together can provide a fresh and meaningful perspective.

I am eager to share my mentoring experience over the coming year with you. For more information on the ATA mentoring program, click here. A free ATA webinar about the mentoring program may also be downloaded here (you will be prompted to save it to your computer).

Have you benefited from the guidance of a mentor? Please share your experience in the comments section.

Mea culpa. Meteduras de pata reales de traductores e intérpretes

This post was originally published on the En la luna de Babel blog. It is reposted with permission from the author.

Leemos, nos documentamos, seguimos consejos y aconsejamos, pero siempre hay algo que se nos escapa. ¿Un error de tecleo? Incontables, a veces tengo los dedos de mantequilla y algunas palabras se me resisten. ¿Meteduras de pata al traducir? Pues claro, sobre todo al principio y quien diga lo contrario que tire el primer dongle de Trados. ¡Suerte que mejoramos con el tiempo, como los buenos vinos!

En definitiva, somos humanos. Y aunque es cierto que en redes no solemos contar nuestros fallos, errores o puntos flacos, los tenemos. A continuación encontraréis algunos errores que traductores e intérpretes declaran haber cometido alguna vez. Al final hallaréis los datos de esta encuesta y si queréis dejar los vuestros… feel free! 

ERRORES DE TECLEO

  • En lugar de Segunda Guerra Mundial puse Segunda Guarra Mundial. Era un texto para un museo sobre el holocausto judío. ¡Tierra trágame!
  • La más tonta: poner conversación en lugar de conservación. De manera que determinado museo favorecía la conversación de las piezas… Lo malo es que lo he hecho varias veces. Será que me gusta más charlar que conservar.
  • Poco después de obtener el título de traductor jurado entregué una traducción jurada en que ponía «conSerVación» varias veces en vez de «conVerSación». El cliente se dio cuenta y, por suerte, fue comprensivo: solo tuve que corregirla y volverla a entregar. Desde entonces, intento no conversar sobre conservar el orden de las letras de las palabras.
  • Me como algunos signos de puntuación y a veces olvido los acentos.
  • Hay algunas palabras que, por más que lo intente, siempre tecleo mal, como «tambine» y «fatcura». Por suerte en Word tengo activada la autocorrección para estos términos.
  • En algún correo me he despedido como «Un cordial salido».
  • Uso salut («saludo» en catalán) como forma de despedida en los emails a algunas gestoras de proyecto. Alguna vez se me ha escapado un slut.

typing2

Los errores de este tipo pueden deberse a varios factores y no solamente al desconocimiento, que es habitualmente lo que suele decirse. Muchas veces tienen que ver con las prisas y con estar más pendiente de plasmar lo que estamos pensando que con la ortografía y el tecleo en sí.

Por suerte, existen los autocorrectores no solo en los procesadores de texto sino también en los navegadores que nos marcan los errores antes de enviar un correo. No obstante, cuidado porque no son infalibles. Lo mejor es revisarlo todo con mimo antes de enviar.

 

FACTURACIÓN, GESTIÓN Y TRATO CON LOS CLIENTES

  • Hacer traducción inversa al inglés pensado que podría hacerlo bien, y no quedé satisfecha con el resultado. Por suerte no era un cliente sino un intercambio, así que fue un mal menor. Pero la experiencia me sirvió para no volverlo a hacer
  • Delegar una parte de una traducción a un compañero para cumplir un plazo a tiempo, revisar la tarea con prisas y ver que pasaste por alto algún término.
  • Pasar trabajo a algún compañero traductor y ver que no lo han hecho con el mismo mimo. Es importante saber a quién envías tus traducciones y, sobre todo, revisarlas bien después.
  • Un par de veces he enviado una factura al cliente que no era. En una ocasión, incluso, envié al cliente el Excel que tenía hecho para saber cuánto le pagaba a cada uno de los colaboradores que me ayudaron en un proyecto. El sudor frío me acompañó todo el día. No se puede ir con prisas.
  • Olvidar adjuntar los archivos en el email.
  • Cambiarle el nombre a mi cliente. Creo que ha sido el que más vergüenza me dio.
  • No sé presupuestar. Frecuentemente se me olvida la extensión de las palabras cuando traduzco del inglés al español.
  • Olvidarme de adjuntar alguno de los ficheros de la entrega.
  • Enviar el borrador en vez del documento final.
  • Una vez traduje una carta en la que un directivo de EE. UU. explicaba una confusión en el envío de pagos a la dirección impositiva de una provincia argentina. No era larga y me pareció gracioso hacer inmediatamente otra carta en español pero esta vez insultando con sorna y sarcasmo a las autoridades provinciales asegurando que nos les pensaba pagar un peso. En aquella época el email estaba en pañales. Me presenté en la oficina de la compañía de turismo que me encargó el trabajo. La señorita que atendía en recepción se llevó el papel para guardarlo en una carpeta y sellarme la copia como recibida, pero inmediatamente volvió para decirme: «Me parece que esta carta no es la misma que Mister Smith escribió en inglés». Punzada en el estómago, susto… suspiro profundo. Me fijé en mi carpeta, le entregué la traducción correcta mientras le explicaba que me había confundido, que la otra era una broma… Ella se mantuvo muy seria mientra me recibía, esta vez la hoja correcta. Por suerte nunca más supe del incidente. Por un tiempo conservé esa carta en broma con el sello de recibida.
  • Las meteduras de pata más frecuentes suelen ser las típicas: entregar el trabajo sin adjuntar ningún archivo o devolverle al cliente el archivo original en vez del traducido. Son casi siempre meteduras de pata que obedecen a fallos en el flujo de trabajo.
  • Una vez cada tres meses más o menos cometo el error de abrir algún texto para revisar y hacerlo directamente desde el correo electrónico, sin guardarlo. Reviso, cambio y guardo constantemente y al final lo cierro antes de enviarlo… El documento corregido y las horas de trabajo se desvanecen. Tengo una lista bastante larga de recursos para encontrar el documento perdido y ahora ya me he convertido un experto en esto, pero el susto lo tengo cada vez que me pasa.
  • Enviar el borrador de un guión para doblaje en lugar del final un par de veces. Dar palabras por sentado y al corregir ver que significaban otra cosa muy diferente y decirme: ¡suerte que me he dado cuenta!

invoice

Como habéis comprobado, las meteduras de pata en este aspecto son comunes: enviar el original y no la traducción, olvidarse algún adjunto, no revisar bien el proyecto antes de aceptar…

Las soluciones dependen del caso (y también de la persona, que no a todos nos sirve lo mismo), pero podríamos dar algunos consejos:

  1. Proyecto. Sé sincero contigo mismo. ¿De verdad puedes encargarte de esa traducción? ¿Está dentro de tus posibilidades? O si no lo está, ¿sabes con quién contar para que te eche una mano? ¿Y podrás con el plazo? Si te pilla el toro, recuerda que la comunicación con el cliente es básica.
  2. Contenido. Mira bien qué tienes que traducir, cuántas pestañas tiene el Excel o cuántos documentos hay en el correo o dentro de aquella carpeta comprimida.
  3. Facturación. Revisa bien la factura antes de guardarla en pdf y enviarla. ¿Están bien todos los datos? Puede ser que uses una antigua de base para crear una nueva para otro cliente. Asegúrate de cambiar todos los datos que no procedan. En cuanto a los envíos, ¿un truco para no equivocarte? A mí me funciona adjuntar el archivo en el correo vacío, antes de escribir nada.
  4. Trato con el cliente. Como siempre y como con todo, debería imperar el sentido común. Aquí hay algunos consejos más sobre clientes, ya sean directos o agencias.

 

ERRORES AL INTERPRETAR

  • Al interpretar a veces me confundo de idioma.
  • My lecturer (during a press conference) mentioned «We have serious problems with AIDS» and I translated «Tenemos problemas con la ayuda». (He was talking about the disease)
  • En unas prácticas de interpretación durante la carrera, traduje «encina» (chêne, en FR) como «cabra» (chèvre) y luego nada tenía sentido. Mi profesor me puso un cartel con la palabra correcta escrita, pero en francés, así que seguía sin entenderla. Mi compañero de cabina me la tradujo en un papel y tuve que reconocer que me había confundido y que estábamos hablando de encinas y no cabras. ¡Menos mal que eran unas prácticas y el público eran otros estudiantes!
  • En una interpretación tratándose de un queso entendí «murcia albino» en lugar de «murcia al vino». Me di cuenta cuando vi la foto del PowerPoint donde estaban los quesos flotando en una barrica de vino.
  • Therapist – terapista. Por suerte era un examen de interpretación consecutiva.
  • Estaba interpretando en un hospital, el paciente acaba de tener una cirugía y tenía mucho dolor, terminé de interpretar y me retiré. A los pocos segundos venía la esposa gritando en español al médico que esperara, que su esposo se acababa de desmayar. El médico me preguntó «¿Qué dice?» y por error le contesté «My husband passed away». El doctor abrió los ojos e inmediatamente me di cuenta de mi error y lo corregí: «Sorry, he passed out».
  • En una clase de interpretación, mi compañera de cabina y yo estábamos interpretando un discurso diplomático del francés al español. Hubo un momento en que el hablante decía Comme j’ai déjà dit à Noël (Como dije en Navidad), lo cual acabó siendo traducido por mi compañera de cabina por «Como dijo Papá Noel». Lo mejor de todo es que a mí ni me chirrió ni me extrañó en ningún momento. Podéis imaginaros las risas que vinieron después por parte de tanto profesor como alumnos.

interpreting

La preparación antes de una interpretación es esencial, así como ir descansado y con la cabeza clara. Es un trabajo muy duro que requiere estar más alerta aún que al traducir; yo he interpretado un par de veces y me quito el sombrero ante los profesionales que os dedicáis a esto.

Muchos de los errores aquí mencionados tienen que ver con la comprensión, ya sea por no haber captado bien lo que se decía o por la homofonía de las palabras. Nuestro cerebro nos puede jugar malas pasadas, como en el caso de los errores de tecleo, así que, en la medida de lo posible, despacito y ̶b̶u̶e̶n̶a̶ ̶l̶e̶t̶r̶a̶  buen oído.

 

ERRORES DE TRADUCCIÓN

  • En un proyecto grande de traducción de una demanda millonaria, después de varios días sin dormir, cambie el número de objetos dañados, de ocho mil a ochenta. Por suerte la directora del proyecto revisó todo y se dio cuenta. De más está decir que nunca más me llamó.
  • Traducir (FR>ES) «palace» como «palacio», cuando significa «hotel de lujo», en una guía turística; enviar un fichero traducido al que le faltaba la mitad del texto por no haberme leído bien las instrucciones de la herramienta TAO de la agencia y no saber que antes de validar cada segmento había que poner el cursor al final (en la última revisión corregí cosas a medio segmento, validé, el resto del segmento se fue a hacer gárgaras y no me di cuenta); confundir «escenarista» y «escenógrafo» en un making of.
  • Equivocarme en una traducción jurada en el lugar de nacimiento en una partida de nacimiento.
  • Hubo una ocasión en la que entregué un trabajo y el cliente se mostró confundido porque para referirme al ponente de una conferencia, utilicé por error el término «parlante», en lugar de «ponente/expositor», cuando tuve que traducir la palabra speaker.
  • Por trabajar en una traducción estando muy cansada, traduje discharge como dar de alta en un hospital. La revisora me lo hizo ver, no el cliente final, pero la pena que sentí era gigante. Mi error: trabajar cansada y revisar mi trabajo bajo ese mismo cansancio.
  • En la traducción de un artículo para una publicación periódica, confundí la descripción de la revista que mencionaba con su título, por lo que pasó a llamarse «Line of Terror», cuando en realidad hablaba de una nueva línea editorial de revistas dedicadas al género del terror.
  • Una vez traduje state of the art como «estado del arte».
  • En una traducción certificada, escribir mal el nombre del cliente.
  • En una ocasión, al traducir un instructivo para un producto que requería baterías, al revisar justo antes de entregar la traducción no me di cuenta de que el producto requería baterías AAA y yo puse AA. Creo que imprimieron 50,000 instructivos. La dueña de la agencia de traducción nos escribió a la editora y a mí para decirnos que el cliente nos iba a cobrar las copias que no servían. $900 dólares de copias fotostáticas. Ni la editora ni yo vimos el error. Afortunadamente, la dueña de la agencia nos dijo que era la primera y única vez que habíamos cometido un error y que ella iba a absorber el gasto. Sí pagó los $900 dolorosos dólares de nuestro error. Jamás nos volvió a pasar.
  • En un formulario de consentimiento informado traduje grapefruit como «uva» en lugar de «toronja». Ni mi revisora ni yo nos dimos cuenta del error. Los pobres pacientes iban a evitar tomar jugo de uva en lugar de toronja. El error nos costó un descuento del 50 % del valor total del encargo, a cada una.
  • No revisar lo arrojado por la TM proporcionada por un cliente estricto (que exigía el uso de «su TM» como requisito); por no revisar lo que supuestamente estaba perfecto, se colaron errores.
  • Entregué una traducción que me llevó un par de días y que creí haber revisado a conciencia; más tarde vi que había traducido constantemente bandwith como «bando de ancha». En otra ocasión, tras una revisión bilingüe muy larga, trabajosa y poco agradecida, dejé pasar el nombre de un personaje, Kindly Cabbage, como «Amablemente repollo». Al menos, este solo aparecía una vez, pero aún lloro de risa al acordarme.
  • Siendo aún estudiante, y como becario de un vicerrectorado de mi facultad, traduje State of the art mal unas 40 veces en un acuerdo internacional. Por suerte, la traducción era orientativa. También dejé la ciudad de Ereván como Yerevan, con su original Y- inicial.
  • En un texto sobre conservantes alimentarios, traduje «preservatives» por yatusabeh. Así, «los consumidores prefieren los alimentos que no contienen preservativos». Afortunadamente, mi colega-clienta lo cazó al vuelo antes de entregar a su cliente. P’habernos matao. Durante la revisión hay que despegarse del texto original, especialmente cuando hay preservativos de por medio.
  • En una de estas traducciones contra reloj que cada vez son más comunes, enfrascado en la tarea, traduje «skydiving» como «bucear», con convicción absoluta de que era así (imagino que por el parecido con «scuba diving»). Por suerte, la PM/revisora lo cazó al vuelo. Cuando vi el producto emitido y me disculpé por la metedura de pata tan gorda, fue majísima y me respondió con un «Para eso estoy, ¿no?», pero imagino que se pensará bien lo de dejarme ciertos proyectos.
  • En general he aprendido a revisar muchas veces los textos traducidos antes de entregarlos, por dos razones: por un lado tengo tendencia hacia los typos (no me queda claro si es algo de dislexia o un caso de «el dedo es más rápido que el cerebro»), y por otra parte he tenido un par de fails espectaculares sobre el comienzo de mi carrera (generalmente por prisa y general tontería) que me enseñaron temprano a revisar, revisar, revisar. El error más horrible que cometí fue: Texto original: «We would like to avail your services…» Y yo puse: «Querríamos evitar sus servicios…». Sip, esa fui yo. Me hago cargo.
  • Poner «cuir» (cuero) en lugar de «cuivre» (cobre).

translating

Como en las demás áreas, no siempre es fácil identificar el origen concreto del error, por mucho que nos esforcemos por mejorar. Y como veis, volvemos a coincidir con las prisas y el cansancio, que no son buenas compañías para traducir. Pero, ay, esos plazos infernales y nuestro día a día no ayudan.

Por si sirven de algo, he aquí algunos consejos en cuanto a textos y al oficio en sí y otros sobre los aspectos burocráticos y de aprendizaje.

Para terminar, entre todos los errores, me quedo con esta confesión:

«Tenía mucho trabajo y visita en casa. Salí a cenar y se me fue de las manos, por lo que acabé a las dos de la mañana borracho como una cuba. Cuando me levanté al día siguiente, tenía una resaca absurdamente intensa, como si en lugar de cerebro tuviese un doloroso puré de patatas, denso como para que no fluyese la idea más simple. Me puse a trabajar y me di cuenta de que no había leído bien el encargo y tenía que entregar un formato específico de subtítulos, para lo cual tenía que bajarme un programa desconocido. Desesperación, gritos, «porquéporquéporqué».

Después de media hora configurándolo, me dispongo a traducir. El programa era ridículo, en absoluto intuitivo, había que usar el ratón para todo. Me doy cuenta de que a ese ritmo iba a terminar a las diez de la noche. «Porquéporquéporqué». Decido aprovechar que mi visita había decidido hacer turismo para no comer más que un trozo de fuet y un poco de pan y así no perder tiempo.

A las cuatro de la tarde, después de un esfuerzo titánico, voy por el 75 %. De pronto me doy cuenta de que no he guardado el trabajo en ningún momento. Sudor frío, estómago descompuesto, «ayayay». Archivo>guardar como. De pronto, «El programa ha sufrido un error y tiene que cerrarse». Me quedo como un imbécil mirando la pantalla. Me convenzo de que no es real, intento recuperar el trabajo en vano.

Se me empieza a formar un nudo en la garganta y empiezo a llorar, pero no en silencio, sino con sollozos, hipos y grititos. De pronto entra mi visita y me ve llorando como un niño de dos años, en posición semifetal e incapaz de articular palabra. Le intento explicar que el .stl no es lo mismo que el .srt y que todo es culpa del cliente, pero no puedo parar de llorar. Decido subcontratar a un tío que cobra muchísimo más que yo y pagarle un recargo de urgencia, perdiendo una locura de dinero. Mi visita sigue muy preocupada por mí. Don’t drink and translate».

***Datos de la encuesta***

La encuesta anónima aún está activa por si queréis confesar vuestros errores. Podéis acceder aquí mismo. Y estos son los datos:

¿Qué os han parecido? ¿Habéis cometido alguno de estos errores? ¿Os atrevéis a compartir los vuestros? ¡Gracias a todos y hasta la próxima!

Header image source: Pixabay

Translation Commons: A Community for Language Professionals

Reblogged from The ATA Chronicle, with permission

Translation Commons is a nonprofit, volunteer-based online community designed to facilitate collaboration among diverse sectors and stakeholders of the language industry and encourage transparency, trust, and free knowledge sharing. It was established with the idea that translated data and memories truly belong to the translators who create them and that they should be the ones to benefit from their work. By offering free access to open source tools and other resources, Translation Commons facilitates community-driven projects, aims to help empower linguists, and allows the sharing of educational and language assets.

A Brief History

Translation Commons didn’t happen in a vacuum. I first heard the catch phrase “collaborative commons” in 2014, and the concept of collaboration within the language community struck a very deep chord. How could that become a reality and how would everyone benefit? Would the platform for this collaboration offer collective translation memories and data, or perhaps merely serve as a means of talking to each other? Maybe it could serve both functions?

I discussed the idea at many conferences and networking events with language professionals, mostly in Silicon Valley, but I also had many online conversations through various LinkedIn groups. In December 2014, I created a LinkedIn group to determine the interest level for an online community serving all language professionals. I was very surprised by the positive response: just 20 days after starting the LinkedIn group, there were already 1,000 members. I felt that as far as feasibility studies go, this was a runaway success and demonstrated that there was a need for such a community waiting to be fulfilled.

I’ve always been in the language business with my husband, so after just a brief discussion we were both committed to take Translation Commons to the next level. We started a corporation and applied for nonprofit status. A few months later, to our surprise, the IRS not only granted us nonprofit status, but also determined that we could be categorized as a public charity benefiting the larger community, not just our linguistic members.

After many discussions, we managed to pin down and crystalize our objectives. In a nutshell, Translation Commons is concerned with helping all language professionals achieve due recognition for their work. More specifically, Translation Commons’ vision is to help the language industry by building an infrastructure to:

  • Help our language students by bridging the gap between academia and industry.
  • Facilitate collaboration and mentoring.
  • Organize language resources from around the world.
  • Grow the visibility and importance of our community and gain recognition.

Designing the Platform

Our first task was to create an advisory board consisting of high-profile professionals from many diverse sectors who could represent their interests and guide the community. We’ve been able to assemble an amazing group that’s still growing.

The next step was to move on from LinkedIn and start building our own online platform. Thankfully, we teamed up with Prompsit, an amazing engineering company in Spain that understood and shared our vision. We’ve been working with them for nearly two years now and have managed to expand the offerings on the website.

I would like to clarify that building such a platform is a vast undertaking. Although we now have a fully functional website, there’s still a lot to do. So far, the site architecture consists of Linux and Windows servers, 10 language applications (both proprietary and open source), docker containers (allowing applications to run virtually anywhere), MySQL, wikis, application programming interfaces, G Suite apps, and single sign-on integration.

To address all the issues in our mission, we’ve divided the Translation Commons online platform into three modules: Translate, Share, and Learn.

Translate: The Translate module offers translation tools and applications, both open source and proprietary, most of them on our servers with a few cloud applications integrated with our single sign-on integration. The goal is to create a seamless platform with all available applications. This is an extremely important endeavor as it helps students and those beginning their professional careers familiarize themselves with tools that they might not normally be able to access. We’ve found that quite a few of our members who are recent graduates are unfamiliar with the variety of tools available to help them work more effectively. By offering open source tools and free trials to proprietary applications, we hope to increase their skill set and knowledge of technology.

Share: The Share module is the main portal for all community sharing activities, including think tanks, language industry initiatives, group discussions, and working groups. This is also where any member of the community can start a new project or group and ask people to join. Because we know how difficult it is for small project groups to develop an online platform for collaboration, we offer them the tools to do exactly that: a website, mailing list, calendar, task page, and a drive and document uploader to gather their volunteers and work effectively. We also offer members the entire Google G Suite, which was donated to Translation Commons due to its nonprofit status. Currently, there are around 60 apps available to all members.

Learn: The Learn module offers a Learning Center, tutorials, skill development programs, online courses, and group webinars. Links to our free resources (both online and offline) are available in the Translation Hub. These resources include terminology databases and glossaries. Of course, this is a work in progress and we ask for everybody’s help to upload links to any free online resources to which they have access (e.g., tips, insights, and guides). We’re also talking with proprietary automation toolmakers that offer free trials and asking them to add their links in the Translation Hub. Finally, we’ve inherited and are hosting the eCoLo Project (electronic content localization), which provides useful training materials for both students and teachers to help improve skills in different areas of computer-assisted translation (e.g., translation memory, software localization, project management, and terminology). You’ll also find multilingual material, training kits, training scenarios, and full courses on various translation and localization techniques.

Working Groups

The working groups have been created from within the community. We call our groups Think Tanks because their mission is to identify areas that need improvement and the gaps that need to be filled.

Mentoring: This was the first Think Tank to emerge from the original LinkedIn group. There are some very good mentoring programs available through associations and other organizations in the U.S. and Europe (including ATA’s program) that have managed to capture the essence of mentoring and have a great group of people managing them. However, our mentoring group conducted a global survey and found that many of the freelance translators who responded were unaware of existing mentoring programs or didn’t have a clear understanding of how to get involved. Respondents also stated that expectations and responsibilities are issues of concern when agreeing on mentoring on a one-on-one basis. After analyzing the survey results, the mentoring group decided to create guidelines for freelance mentors who wish to take on freelance mentees. Under the guidance of Nancy Matis, an experienced project manager and teacher, we now have a thriving group that has written an extensive document, “Mentoring Guidelines for Freelancers,” which is currently available for download from the Translation Commons website. The group is also creating a list of mentoring programs so that graduates have somewhere to start their search for mentors.

Technology: The Technology Think Tank is an integral part of Translation Commons. Our commitment to open source resources allows us to make language and the work of translators a priority. Led by Mikel Forcada, a professor of computer science in Alicante, Spain, and with representatives from other translation platforms that include Apertium, Moses, Omega T, Mojito, Okapi, and Translate5, the goal is to catalogue all language-related open source applications and facilitate their adoption.

Interpreting: The Interpreting Think Tank is led by Barbara Werderitsch and ATA Member Arturo Bobea, who have created a very active LinkedIn group. They conducted a survey on interpreters’ knowledge and use of technology and are currently preparing the results. Their reports on various technology providers and new interpreting delivery platforms are also available on the Translation Commons website.

In addition to the working groups, we also host and facilitate volunteer groups that any member can create. Under the expert guidance of Gabriella Laszlo, who worked on Google’s Localization Operations and who now designs backend workflows for Translation Commons, we’re able to offer collaborative volunteer initiatives related to language.

Volunteers

Our volunteers are the heart and soul of the Translation Commons community. Their passion for language and expertise in technology are the cornerstones of our initiatives. Their commitment and clear vision of the roadmap that our industry needs to follow are a testament to the merit of a united global language community.

We invite everyone to join and register at http://www.translationcommons.org and to participate in the LinkedIn groups. Do you have an idea that would benefit the community? Do you want to become a mentor to the next generation of language professionals? Do you want to share your expertise, links, material, tutorials, or articles? Are you part of a small initiative and need more exposure? Then please share your knowledge with all of us!

Remember, if you have any ideas and/or suggestions regarding helpful resources or tools you would like to see featured, please e-mail Jost Zetzsche at jzetzsche@internationalwriters.com.


Jeannette Stewart is a co-founder of Translation Commons. She has a BS in business administration and her early career was in advertising and marketing. She is the founder and former chief executive officer of CommuniCare, a translation company specializing in life sciences. She created a series of workshops on language specialization and participates in industry associations and at conferences as a speaker and advocate for the language industry. She writes articles on language community initiatives for Multilingual Magazine. Contact: jeannette@translationcommons.org.

My personal style guide for the ATA translation exam into Spanish

This post was originally published on the Gaucha Translations blog. It is reposted with permission from the author.

Based on the comments from a failed exam. I am writing this to help others not fail the same way!

  1. Include necessary clarifying information to reduce ambiguity. (register former inmates/registrar para votar a los que habían sido…) (spread the word to thousands… /informarles la decisión a decenas de miles…) Keep it to a minimum. The translation should stand on its own. Sometimes a cultural point needs to be made or an explanation given, but the passages are carefully selected so that does NOT have to be done.
  2. Make sure caps and punctuation follow Spanish rules. Double check RAE resources in case of doubt. (el partido demócrata: capitalize. Es nombre propio. Partido Demócrata)
  3. Get your quote marks in the Spanish order! Dijo, “Esto no me gusta un comino”. (las comillas van antes de las comas y los puntos en castellano, al revés que en inglés.
  4. Words in the RAE dictionary count for sure. Word creation counts, even using Spanish morphology rules, but they have to follow accepted Spanish morphology rules, and words shouldn’t be created when other words already exist in the dictionaries of reference. (former prisoners/excarcelados: corrected to exreclusos, antiguos reos).
  5. Maintain the register.
  6. Use proper Spanish syntax. (reconoce es posible: reconoce que es posible)
  7. Word Reference is a good starting terminology resource. Verify its terms with a second source.
  8. Don’t get more creative than necessary. Often a literal translation is the best. (might soften their image/que posiblemente matice su imagen:corrected to suavice)
  9. Check the monolingual dictionary, but not just for the meaning of a word. Check it for usage: is it transitive? How does it fit in a sentence? (spread the word to thousands… /informarles a miles… : informarles la decisión a decenas de miles…) informar is a transitive verb.
  10. Don’t stutter! (presos en las prisiones)
  11. Spelling! (libertado condicional: libertad condicional)
  12. Faux ami (non violent drug offenses/ofensas no violentas: delitos no violentos) Las ofensas son algo totalmente distinto en castellano.
  13. Printed resources are another reliable choice. Having printed resources also keeps you from going back and forth from your document to another screen, which is hard with the laptop. My favorites:
    • Alcaraz-Varó legal and business (those are two separate dictionaries), but the Merl Bilingual Law Dictionary by Cuauthemoc Gallegos actually had the best answers in all cases and was easier to sort through the answers. The Business Spanish Dictionary, by Peter Collin Publishing is equivalent to the Merl in my opinion. For the general texts, we shouldn’t need anything in greater depth than these dictionaries. Cabanellas is great, but they are unidirectional volumes, so you have to buy both volumes to have both directions.
    • CLAVE (monolingual Spanish), DELE (Diccionario de la Lengua Española – latest version of the RAE dictionary): take them both.
    • Webster’s New World International Spanish Dictionary. I like this dictionary because it includes a lot of technical terminology, so most technical terms we run into are likely to be here.
    • El buen uso del español. This book has a two-page spread on the main issues of Spanish grammar and spelling. It was published by RAE in 2013, after all the new Gramática and Ortografía works of 2010 were completed, with the intention of being a quick reference.
    • Ortografía escolar de la lengua española. Published by RAE for students in 2013 as a quick reference.
    • The American Heritage College Dictionary (English monolingual)
  14. Remember, the general text can have a lot of specialist content in it. Don’t count on general texts not including technical vocabulary. Be ready for basic technical vocabulary. What you won’t have to do is deal with formulaic technical texts.
  15. Good book for learning Spanish writing: Curso de Redacción – Teoría y Practica, by Gonzalo Martín Vivaldi
  16. Now, go and beat it! May this experience help you!

Image source: Pixabay

Spider marketing – How to get clients to come to you

Reblogged from SJB Translations’ blog, with permission (incl. the image)

How to get clients to come to you

Adapted from my presentation at METM 16 entitled “Spinning your web”

Last year at METM15 in Coimbra I was inspired by a presentation by a very experienced translator called Graham Cross, which I wrote about here. Graham was talking about churn, the marketing concept that dictates how many of our clients end up disappearing for one reason or another, and his basic point was that, because of this seemingly inevitable factor, investing large amounts of time and money in marketing is a waste because, even if you do find new clients, it is highly unlikely that they will earn you enough to repay your effort.

This attracted my interest because it was certainly my experience that a great deal of time and effort can be wasted on marketing. Last year, for example, I went to a big trade fair in an attempt to sell my services. I had leaflets printed and went round meeting people handing them out all over the place. Some of the responses were quite encouraging but, despite this, the effort won me no new customers at all. The year before I went to a networking event for entrepreneurs in a bar in Barcelona. I prepared myself, got up on a stool and presented my business for two minutes, which is the format for these meetings. The reaction was very good and it was a fantastic exercise in getting out of my comfort zone, as I’ve never considered myself a public speaker. But once again, in terms of winning new customers it was an absolute failure.

My point isn’t that going out and selling yourself is never worthwhile. I’m sure the way I went about things in those two examples can be dissected and the reasons for my failure laid bare. What I am saying is that it is possible, and even quite likely, to spend lots of time and energy on it for little or no result.

Back to Graham Cross. He was asked the very reasonable question: “If marketing is a waste of time then how do you find clients?” He replied by explaining the two theories of capturing clients: the “Tiger” and the “Spider”. The Tiger represented going out and hunting for them, with the risk that you might chase a juicy deer and end up with a rabbit or a rat. But he identified with the spider, waiting for the clients to come to him.

Networks

So, how does being a spider work? Well, on this one I’m not with Graham, who was such a technophobe he dictated all his translations and had them typed up by a secretary to avoid having to have a computer. This is the 21st century and we have all sorts of electronic means within our grasp. First of all, there are the social networks. I’m not going to spend too much time on this because we all know about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and so on. All I will say about them is that, in my opinion, it doesn’t really matter which ones you use as long as you’re there somewhere. If you know me, you will know that I can be found on Facebook, for example, but, until very recently, not on Twitter. This has been a personal choice. I know many people who use Twitter very successfully. I simply have limited time to spend looking at and dealing with social media and have chosen to ignore it until an experiment which I’m currently carrying out and will no doubt report here at some point. All the networks have their peculiarities. Facebook lately seems to have been trying to discourage business pages; LinkedIn, as always, seems to be full of potential but never quite lives up to it and Google+ is dying on its feet. You can post across several of them using Buffer or Hootsuite, but my advice is to make sure sure the content you post is good and worthwhile.

Have I won clients through social networks? Yes I have, and one or two good ones, but to be honest not that many. A good spider’s web needs to have other strands. One of those, of course, is the online profile. There are many kinds of online profile on sites like ProZ and others and some of these may be worth having, particularly if you’re not ready to take the step of having your own website. They can attract offers of work, although often the conditions will be so poor they won’t be worth considering.

To my mind there really isn’t any substitute for having a website of your own, although I have to confess that mine hasn’t brought me huge numbers of clients. As much as anything, I see it as an electronic business card where I can direct potential clients to find more information and I know for a fact that my site has helped convince clients to entrust their translations to me. I believe the most important thing is that you try to connect with your customers, with a message that says a bit more than “Here I am, I’m very good at my job”. Mine, for example, makes the point that if you hire me, as a freelance rather than an agency, you know exactly who is doing your translations. You will no doubt either have found or will find a message of your own.

So, here are my website tips. First of all, as I have said: connect with your customers. That would include making sure you have your site in their language or languages. Then, use a professional designer. There are plenty of programs that allow you to do it yourself but I don’t see how we can in one breath ask people to use professional translators and, in the next, say we’re going to build our own websites. But even when you use a professional, make the style your own. There are lots of possibilities, but your site should be original and reflect your personality or the personality you want to put across. Tying in with that is the content: make sure it’s well written and don’t try to artificially fill it with keywords. Now, keywords are related to search engine optimisation, which means getting your site to appear high up when someone makes a search with Google or another search engine. As I’m not an expert on the subject, I asked a more knowledgeable colleague what she thought and I was greatly encouraged because many of her tips turned out to be very similar to mine. That means Google is now set up so it actually rewards things it ought to be rewarding. But she also had some other advice I thought I’d share.

Selling

First of all, she made the very important point that you should concentrate on the experience visitors have on your page, and, following on from this, pointed out that conversions matter more than clicks. In other words, it’s all very well getting people to your page, but it’s no good if they then don’t buy your services. Then there were two other points: consider all elements of SEO and use Google Analytics to make sure it’s working. Finally, there were some suggestions there for getting more information on SEO: visit https://moz.com/learn/seo, read Search Engine Optimization for Dummies or simply google “SEO basics”.

Moving on, there are also translators who have a blog. I’m one of them, of course, and blogs can be used for selling, although I’m the first to admit that mine actually isn’t. It’s written in English and talks about translation. If I was really going to use it for selling I’d write it in my source languages and write it about subjects of interest to clients. At the moment that’s a future project, although I have the capability to do it, as my website is multilingual. Strangely, my English blog has actually helped to win me some clients. I know this, because they have mentioned to me that they picked me because they liked my writing style, which only goes to show that you can’t always predict the results of what you do online.

Everything I’ve mentioned so far accounts for what you might consider to be the main strands of a spider marketer’s web. Nowhere, though, have I given examples of anything that has attracted lots of new clients. To explain why, let’s go back for the last time to Graham Cross. Right at the end of his talk he was asked another good question: “Where are my clients going to come from?” to which he replied “The people sitting next to you: your colleagues”. This set me thinking. The marketing initiatives I’d launched had largely failed. I had what I considered to be a good website, but it wasn’t bringing in lots of customers, and yet I considered myself reasonably successful, with plenty of work. So I did something I’d never done before and started looking at who my own clients were and where I’d found them.

First of all, I was amazed to discover that 85% of my clients had come to me, rather than me going to them looking for work. It turns out that I really am a spider. Then I was surprised at how many direct clients I have – they make up 36% of the total, followed by colleagues at 31% and agencies in third place at 29%. This year’s figures would show a different proportion, with agencies dropping still further after I put my rates up again at the beginning of the year.

Relationship

Looking a bit more deeply I realised that a lot of the direct clients had also, in fact, come via colleagues. Taking this into account, colleagues were clearly my most important source of work, just as Graham Cross had predicted. So what is it that makes our colleagues such good clients? One reason is, as I have suggested, that they often bring us into contact with direct clients. More importantly, they bring us into contact with direct clients at a time when those clients need translations. Maybe if we’d run into that same client at some event or other they’d have taken our business card and by the time they needed work doing they’d have lost or forgotten about it. But if we’re introduced by a colleague it’s because that end client needs a translation now. If we do it well, we have a good chance of keeping the client. Not only that, but if our colleague has a relationship with the client, it probably means that the client is a low risk in terms of non-payments, something else it could otherwise be difficult to discover.

And even if the colleague does not put us in direct contact with the end client and decides to act as an intermediary, the rate we can obtain is often better than an agency rate. This is because, generally, our colleagues are not motivated by profit when passing translations on to us. What they are usually concerned about is solving a problem for their client. Sometimes they don’t even make money on these jobs, they just want to help the client by getting them a good translation with as little fuss as possible. Their profit will come from the translations they regularly do for the same client.

This is one reason why colleagues make up such a large proportion of my clients nowadays. My rates are becoming too high for many agencies to pay, but colleagues’ clients can still afford me provided the colleague is not concerned to make money from the job. Colleagues who work in this way are also generally reliable payers. I have some who pay within a day of receiving the invoice. Why do they do this? It’s obvious really. They know exactly what it’s like having to wait for payment themselves.

So where can we find these colleagues who are going to bring us all this work? It’s possible to find them online, of course, but I’ve found the best source is in translators’ associations. My survey of my own clients showed up clearly where a large proportion (31%) come from: my membership of APTIC, the Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters of Catalonia. Why is this the case? Well, it’s because most of its members work in precisely the opposite language combination to me. A colleague in the same language combination will only send you work when she’s rushed off her feet. But when those working in a reverse combination are asked for a translation into English, they are professionals, who don’t want to translate into a language that’s not their own, and they look for someone who they think can do the translation well. The trick is, to be the person they think of when they’re looking.

Events

There are various ways of being that person. You should, first, appear in the association’s directory of members. You can also, for example, participate in the association’s mailing lists and forums so that people get to know your name. Then you can go to its social events and get to know members. Just to give an example, I make a point of going to the APTIC Christmas party and chatting to people I know and people I don’t know there. You might think this is a trivial point, but when I went to my first one, several years ago now, I was sitting on a table with three other people. I still work for those colleagues and they are still recommending me to other potential clients. I should stress that I have done none of these things consciously, or at best with vague desire for “networking”, but I can vouch for the fact that they really do work.

Another way you can make the most of associations (and this is more the spider venturing out of its web once in a while) is by chasing after jobs advertised to members. This I would advise you to do as often as you can, provided it’s a job you can do well. But when you do it, be quick. With this sort of job offer it’s definitely the early spider that catches the fly. It isn’t necessarily the job that’s advertised which you’re interested in, though, it’s more the long-term connection with the client concerned, often a direct client. The job isn’t always what it seems, anyway, as demonstrated by this example. Last year I saw quite an interesting job advertised on the APTIC e-mail list. I wrote in response – it was a 3,000-word French translation related to history, one of my specialist areas. After speaking to the client, it turned out that what really had to be translated was an exhibition catalogue amounting to almost 100,000 words of Catalan and French – one of my biggest and best jobs of last year.

Of course, once you have managed to get orders for work from colleagues or other clients, you need to keep those clients and, just as importantly, find ways of getting them to recommend you to others. 11% of my clients, I discovered, came through this kind of recommendation, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a good number of the 44% of clients whose origin I don’t know or can’t remember also came in this way. So how can this be done?

Dating

I started writing down some tips, based on my own ideas and conversations with some of my colleagues and clients, and I can only apologise for the fact the headings sound a lot like the kind of dating advice you might receive from your mother:

  • Be different. Sometimes it helps if you can offer something different – an unusual language combination or specialist area, for example. Mine is French-English, which isn’t an unusual combination except in Spain, but has opened a lot of doors for me.
  • Be yourself.  Remember not to work outside your specialist areas. You won’t impress if you mess up a translation you’re not really suited for.
  • Be available. Sometimes you need to make a bit of extra effort to secure this type of client, working the odd evening or weekend, especially at the start. You can set boundaries later, but you want the client to come back.
  • Be good. I can’t stress this one enough. Be the best translator you can be, taking advantage of all possible forms of self-improvement, including conferences like this. And it’s not just me saying that, I want to reinforce it with a comment left on my blog earlier this year from no less than Chris Durban, who many of you will have heard of as someone who has, in the past, stressed the need for translators to adopt business-like attitudes. She said: “I would dearly like to hear more support for the hottest tip I know of for translators looking to build their business. Ready? Here we go: *Become a better translator.*”
  • Be on time. Deadlines matter, but it’s amazing how many translators don’t realise this. How do I know? Because some clients have been astonished simply at the fact that I always deliver on time. To me as a former journalist it’s second nature. Make sure it’s second nature to you too.
  • Be nice. This can take whatever form you like, but it takes your relationship on to another level. In my case, I just try to be friendly and make my e-mails a little more personal, especially if the other person takes the lead. Others make homemade Christmas gifts. One thing I do is think about who might become a potential client in the future. Project managers, for example, often leave agencies and set up on their own. If you find out one is leaving, write her a message wishing her luck. Next week she may need a translator into English…
  • Be reciprocal. Pass on work you can’t do to colleagues. It helps make them think of you when they need something doing.

Follow these principles and I can’t promise you’ll find Mr. or Miss Right, but you should satisfy your colleagues and clients and win more recommendations, which is the point of the exercise.

So, I would say that’s mostly what there is to being a successful spider. It’s a strategy that perhaps won’t take you to the very top of the profession. After all, a spider is unlikely to catch big game. What it will do is provide you with a good base to build on with clients who will pay you reasonably well and reliably and who will help you break out of the agency market – and that’s something well worth considering.