Proofreader or proof reader – it’s a dog’s life

Proofreader or proof reader is a strange breed

The Proofreader or Proof Reader is a Sick Puppy

They say that every proofreader or proof reader suffers from OCD. Do they? Jokes aside, being thorough is a fundamental condition for those who long to pursue this profession.

In addition to the high degree of attention to detail, liking reading should also be part of the package. But liking alone is not enough – you must love it. Unconditionally. After all, your days of proofreading texts could alternate between so many topics: vampires, zombies (that’s right, it happened to me. Dealing with the topic, I mean), chemical formulas, maps, cake recipes, sadomasochistic millionaires and there’s no way for you to escape!

The Proofreader or Proof Reader is a Suspicious Dog

It is also recommended that the proofreader or proof reader should have a chip on his/her shoulder: doubting everything and everyone. No data or spelling can be beaten. At the slightest sign of mistrust, one must leave all the supposed certainties behind and search as if there were no tomorrow.

“Seetle down” – Why and When to Seek

And this is leading to a delicate point in the process: how to know when (and to define a real need) to intervene in the text and the time to respect the choices of others?

* dramatic pause *

Proofreaders are a Strange Breed

Reviewers are definitely a breed on their own. Why is that? Because they need to take a critical look at a text and at the same time accept other people’s choices, even if they do not agree with them.

How do they do that? Common sense.

Is that easy? Um … more or less.

“Don’t Touch”

When reviewing, practice does not lead to perfection, but at least it teaches us to make some more conscious and mature decisions, such a bit of detachment. Yes, it is difficult for the proofreader or proof reader to understand/accept that he does not necessarily have to tinker with everything (show that is doing something and that the service is justified, while making sure it is not a dog and pony show). But also if you do not fiddle with anything you should be wary that there is something wrong (there will always be mistakes!). This middle ground is what embeds everything and sometimes ends up leaving authors/translators angry!

Let sleeping dogs lie (or in Doubt, Don’t Do Anything)

But let’s calm down, people! After a few years of experience, I basically learned that: whenever it is optional, leave it as it is; if you want to include some suggestion that you consider relevant, a pencil post (or comment) does not hurt anyone, but when there is ERROR … there you can use the red Stabilo with utter joy!

Proofreader or proof reader – a critical role (pun intended!)

Finally, we need to keep in mind that every professional has his role in the editorial process, which seems obvious, but in practice it is not quite so. The reviewer is the first reader of a text. A more critical reader, a kind of filter for the public. It is he who will choose words, adjust phrases, correct vices of language, finally, leave the fluid text in the native language of the common reader.

A careful review, that’s what’s needed.

“Wait”

In a (very) general way, the proofreader or proof reader’s job is to correct spelling and grammatical errors.

Oh, if only that… * deep sigh *

Now, reviewing includes much more than that: checking for cohesion and coherence, eliminating lingering traits of the foreign language, ambiguities, repetitions and vices of language, analysing the layout of the elements on the page (if there is no hole or overflow), checking the weights of the titles and pagination, beat the summary with the kernel, hit the font size, etc.

Phew!

See, people? It is not just switching ‘There’ to ‘Their’, no!

“Watch me”: You’d think that’s all there is to it

And it is important to mention that the works cited above, most of the time, are divided into stages: preparation (copydesk), first review, second review, re-reading and quality control. Not all of them are contemplated in the process, either for lack of budget or term, which makes it impossible to divide the auditor’s role exactly in each one.

Every Dog Has his Day (any chance of a job for me?)

The field of activity of the proofreader or proof reader is extensive: publishers (books in general, magazines, newspapers, educational material), advertising agencies, universities, schools, translation agencies, publishing companies, graphics, etc.

Literary publishers (proofreader or proof reader’s dream: 9 out of 10 reviewers) usually do not have internal staff. Usually, the work is outsourced, through the contracting of freelancers. In publishing houses working with textbooks, it is very common to have a contracted team working internally.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Hope this gets this strange breed better understood.

Are there any other proofreaders out there that would like to add something? Please feel free to share your thoughts.

The Beginning & Remember Why You Started

Talking about translation and the beginning of a translation business is the easiest and most difficult thing for me to do. Easier because it is one of my favourite subjects (please don’t judge 😊) and harder, because there are so many things to talk about, still so many things to experience that I barely know where to start.

So let’s start with … the beginning:

Do you need to train in translation to become a translator?

I have been participating in groups, forums, email lists about the translation industry for many years and there have always been people wanting to join the career, but having doubts about how to go about it. The main one being always – ”Do I need to train in translation to become a translator?”. Well, let’s face it, if we are only talking about the practicality of things, you simply don’t.

Translation Is Not a Regulated Profession

Regardless of all the controversies in this regard, translation is not a regulated profession, like so many others in which you need a degree in the field to be a translator. Whoever is in the translation market knows that regulating the translation industry between so many different languages would be somewhat difficult. But that’s another matter, right?

Translator as a Choice or as a Change of Career

For this very reason, starting a career as a translator is very particular. There are translators (yours truly) who knew very soon that they wanted to be a translator. I remember I was about 12 years old and I loved studying English and Spanish. When I was 15, my dad was posted as an expatriate in (English-speaking) Nigeria, so languages were always something very present in my life. And so just a few years later, I decided I would become a translator (obviously, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but here I was).

Many Reasons as to Why You Want to Be a Translator

There are also those who come across translation during their career. Many of these translators already have another profession and, for some reason, decide to translate materials from their area of expertise (or not).

Prepare Yourself for a Smooth Ride and Being Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The possibilities are many and very specific to each translator. It is likely that for every translator to whom you ask the following question: “How did you get started in the profession?” you could well receive a different or a similar answer, but probably none will be exactly the same.

The most important thing is to know that, regardless of how we started in the profession, there are some basic things we should know. We should know about the market, about values, about the differences between freelancer vs. internal translator, technical, literary, sworn translation, about CAT tools, about terminology, about corpora, about a myriad of things. That is, we have to prepare ourselves not only in the matter of professional practice, but also on everything that involves our profession so that the beginning in the profession is both smooth and promising.

Enjoy it

However and whenever you start, and for whatever reason you decided to become a translator, my advice is simple: don’t forget to enjoy it. Just like any other business, there might be many pitfalls, but just like you enjoyed the beginning, you should and enjoy the end and the continuation in between.

…Not That Kind of Professional Translator

novel translator - professional translator

When I say I am a Professional Translator…

Oh, you’re a professional translator?
You translate books?
Can you translate this song for me?
A friend: Can you translate this email for me? (You answer yes, and get pretty much an entire report from a chemical company to translate…)

A Very Vague Idea of Translation

After I graduated, I became accustomed to always explaining what my profession really is, but I would not judge. When I was in University, I also had a very different and vague idea of what ​​the real world of the translation was and everything it involved. In my imagination, I thought I would graduate and translate books (novels, of course!).

The Hidden Translator

Also, when facing questions from people curious about the profession, in their defence, I also think that the professional translator is always a little hidden, and many people forget that behind the movies, books, manuals, magazines, articles, there is always someone who is shaking their head so that they always receive exactly the message that the author wants to communicate.

Translating to Learn New Things Every Day

The reality, and what I think is fantastic, is that quite contrary to what I used to think, the translation profession allows us to learn new things every day, from the most varied subjects. And that boy who hated technology, today loves the more technical subjects and those manuals that before seemed impossible to be understood.

The Professional Translator Has a Responsibility

The translator has the responsibility to translate not only words, but ideas and thoughts in the most faithful way possible, and for that, dictionaries are not enough. It takes a lot of culture, a lot of sensitivity and a lot of knowledge. He must respect the structure of the source text, always keep in mind the target audience and have patience to search for specific terms and grammatical structures, thus maintaining the fluency of the text.

Any mistake, however small, can completely change the meaning of the original text, so it is very important that the professional translator remains extremely focused during his work.

Keeping the text alive

In addition, the language is alive, so we must always be following its changes. And when I think about machine translation! No, they are not the dream of any translator. In fact, they can even be a nightmare! A text translated by an automatic tool requires much more time for revision, since the choice of words, the grammatical structure and the ideas did not start from a brain, but from a program. A machine does not follow the language evolution and cannot interpret the author’s emotions and intentions. We have to think a lot, so that the same message is passed, regardless of the language in which it is written.

Translation – Not Something to Improvise

Many people, when they come back from a season abroad, begin translating to earn a little ‘buck’. I have just mentioned a few examples that prove how complex our profession is and how it is not enough to know, for example, English and French very well. This applies to any area, really. A person might think that they can run a restaurant because they like cooking. But like any profession, translation requires professionals. Any other way and the text, and the ideas that need to become communicated die with a bad translation. And, we do not want that to happen, right?

Translation Project Manager – a Busy Bee

translation project manager is a busy bee

What a Translation Project Manager does

Much is said of the Translation Project Manager (the so-called PM) as the person who has control over everything that is happening inside a translation agency. It is believed that he or she is responsible for every aspect of the translation project, ranging from selecting the right translator to the translator’s payment date. The fact of the matter is that – more often than not – the person behind the PM position is not directly involved in all processes until delivery to the end client. As a matter of fact, many other people participate and have an even more determining role than the individual in charge of managing the project. Still, you’ll find out that your PM is a busy bee.

So Many Bits and Bobs Before a Translation Starts

As translators, when we receive a translation request from a PM, we usually do not think of everything that happened back then until our name is chosen for that particular project. We do not think about the negotiations that had to take place between the customer and the agency, all the bits and pieces that were put in place before the actual project went through.

In an ideal world, the PM Would Have His Say Over the Value of a Translation

For that client to have reached the agency, he had to be contacted by the agency’s sales man or had to contact the translation agency. Then, a negotiation of value ​​(with the customer not always thinking that the translation is worth the price mentioned) and terms too (the customer sometimes thinking it can be done in a shorter time) had to take place.

It is only after that that the project reaches the PM. You might think that, at the stage, it is the PM who determines the value of a translation. This is hardly the case. Usually, this is​​ determined by the owner of the agency and, in some cases, with margins negotiated by the sales representative. There are rare cases where the PM has control over the amount to be paid for a translation.

In an ideal agency, the PM would work with the sales department to determine the value of each text according to its linguistic complexity and layout, timing, and other relevant factors. However, most agencies work with closed – non-negotiable – values, with some difference in value for shorter deadlines (the so-called “emergency rate”).

Translation Agency Owner Has the Final Word

In addition, you might think that it is the PM who determines a price per word for the translator. Again, the owner of the agency intervenes. The PM may be able to negotiate an increase in tariffs, but the final word is never his.

Regarding the choice of the translator for a project, it is true that the decision is almost entirely the PM’s. It is the PM who decides which translator to allocate for a given job. However, other factors may influence their decision, such as negotiated discounts with the client (which will consequently change the value of the translator), customer choice, among others.

Translator Reputation – Yet critical – Is Just the Beginning

The translator’s reputation in terms of quality, timely delivery and specialty in the subject are fundamental aspects when making the decision. Even so, a PM may decide to choose another translator for different reasons. Many agencies prefer to work with the same translator for a particular client (using that old maxim that “do not mess with a winning team”). Many translators are experts in the subject, but won’t accept the fee paid by the agency and the PM may not always interfere in this process.

An Organised PM Will Keep All the Good Resumes Handy

Another misconception is about selecting new translators. The difficulty of getting an answer (be it positive or negative) from an agency is not always related to the PM’s lack of interest in hiring new talent for his agency. Often, the PM might receive a CV from another translator that fits the agency’s needs perfectly at that time; or that project did not go through; or the PM is involved in another project with a higher priority. An organised PM will keep the resumes sent so that they can contact the translators when the time comes. When I used to apply to translation agencies, I submitted resumes and sometimes would receive an immediate response, but more often than not, I would receive an answer months after I sent my resume to agencies.

“Hi, Honey, I’m home!”

Are you kidding me? There is still Review, DTP, Comments, possible Crisis to manage

Anyway, let’s get back to that translation project of ours. You think it ends here? Not at all! After delivery by the translator comes the review phase, layout (if applicable) and delivery to the customer. And after all that is done, you still have to wait to see if the customer has any comments, suggestions or criticism about the work delivered. It is up to the PM to receive the client’s feedback and pass it on to the translator and/or reviewer, as the case may be, for future adjustments. Then, it might be necessary for the PM to manage a possible crisis (when the translator does not deliver the translation in time or deliver later than what was agreed, when the client does not approve the translation or when the client does not pay, just to name a few).

PMs Need to Be Flexible

What freelance translators need to understand is that the PM function requires much more than simple language knowledge. The PM needs, first of all, to be flexible, to know how to solve problems quickly and to deal with the various human elements involved in a translation project. Just as we translators might sometimes complain when a client is insistently asking if the contracted project is ready, the PM also finds it inconvenient for translators to ask about their submitted CVs, deadlines for payment, ask for an advance, etc.

The PM is a Busy bee – Take Care of Your PM

So next time you do not receive a response straight away to a resume you’ve submitted, instead of thinking that it has ended up in the bin, think about all the other tasks that the Translation Project Manager has to perform during the day. Write, but use your good judgement to know when and how to write. After all, the PM is a busy bee. If you remember that, you’ll go a long way with your Translation project Manager.

Natural Born (Dubbing) Translators

Woody Harrelson from Natural Born Killers to illustrate dubbing

Dubbing for the French Market

Dubbing – Netflix: “I thought a bond developed between us!”*

For many years, dubbing has been part of the lives of many French moviegoers. Today it remains very strong and present in national TV stations sometimes, and in other vehicles such as Netflix, which already has conquered thousands of fans around the world. There is a lot to be said about this segment that involves a large chain of professionals, but first, I believe that a good way to introduce this theme is to give a brief definition of dubbing. There are many definitions, but for more didactic purposes, we can say that it is the process in which the original dialogues of a production are re-recorded with dialogues spoken in the target language.

Dubbing – ”I don’t think I’m gonna make it. I feel so cold.”*

However, this transposition from one language to another does not happen magically, let alone in as a simple way as we can imagine. In fact, in addition to several other professionals working in dubbing studios, there is a once special character responsible for translating/adapting the lines of the most varied audiovisual productions into our language and creating a script for the voice actors to interpret: the translator responsible for dubbing. I like to say that such translator is a kind of storyteller, because it is his duty to try to keep the tone and the essence present in the original version of the audiovisual product is in charge of translating. He should try to capture the language style of the characters and carry out this transposition into French in the best possible way.

Dubbing translator – ”You’re gonna make it, Mal. Get mad.”*

This translation segment, which until now was relatively unknown by the general public – better known now because of DVDs, Blu-rays and YouTube videos containing subtitles – is part of audiovisual translation, which also includes translation for subtitles (subtitling), voiceover and audio description (for the visually impaired). However, the translator is only one of the agents of a long chain. In addition to it, there are dubbing directors and voice actors, professionals who will give life and voice to the text produced by the translator and that will give their personal and artistic touch at the time of the recording. Another important and noteworthy feature is that the translators of this branch are freelancers and no longer act within dubbing studios.

Woody Harrelson lookalike in Natural born killers

A Work File, a Video and a Script –  “You make every day feel like kindergarten.”*

Now, in a little more technical aspects, the text translated by the translator is done in Microsoft Word, and does not require the use of more specific software such as Subtitle Workshop and Horse. In addition to the file in which he will translate, he receives the video he is translating and, in most cases, a script with the transcriptions of the speeches in the source language (English, French, Spanish…). These three elements are what I like to call the translator’s tripod, and with them in hand, the translator is ready to do his work.

Preparation for Dubbing – “The whole world’s comin’ to an end, Mal!’*

The preparation of a good translation for dubbing is very complex and there are countless factors that must be taken into account to perform it with mastery.

Obviously, any specific terms of an area of expertise, such as medicine or law, must be properly researched and translated correctly, and the translator can never lose sight of the fact that the text he is translating/adapting must be natural and fluid in our language, since he will be performed in the studio. In addition, there are several signs that need to be present in the translated script: the buzz of a scene in a restaurant or a stadium, for example, and the reactions performed by the characters, such as a laugh, a sigh or crying. On top of that, the translator must assess the length of the speech, that is, see if the translated lines are too big or too short to adjust to the moves made by the characters’ mouth and try to combine this with correct lip synchronism.

Dubbing Industry – “I realized my true calling in life.”*

Like other translation modalities, it is necessary to prepare to enter this market that lacks trained professionals and understand how the French version works. Our dubbing is considered one of the best in the world and we need more and more translators who are aware of their work and who are looking to excel in this job.

* Quotes from Natural Born Killers, a 1994 film by Oliver Stone

Work Translation with Agencies, Companies, LSPs – neither fish nor fowl

Work Translation between Agencies, LSPs and translators

Prioritising Clients You Are Best Suited With

One of the main questions professional translators ask is: Should I work translation for direct clients or translation agencies? Undoubtedly, working for direct clients is more profitable, but it can often mean having to perform more tasks outside the scope of the translation itself: budget, file preparation, DTP (layout and formatting), final review, and more. Agencies pay less, but they take care of all of the collateral tasks of the project, and the translator can focus on his greatest talent: translating. In both situations, there are pros and cons, and it is up to each professional to prioritise the type of client they are best suited to work with. To do so, we must understand who our customers are, their role in the supply chain within the translation market and where we, as linguistic providers, position ourselves in that chain.

Translation Agencies – What are They?

There are two main types of clients: direct customers and translation agencies. Direct clients are individuals or companies that hire independent professionals or translation agencies for translation projects. Translation agencies can be global companies that operate in multiple languages ​​and have offices in several countries OR small translation agencies that work translation with a limited number of languages ​​and provide services to both direct clients and global agencies.

What on earth? Translation agencies working for other translation agencies?

But how so? Translation agencies working with translation agencies? Sounds complicated? Well, not so much. As a matter-of-fact, small agencies, besides being clients of independent translators, are also linguistic providers for direct clients and global agencies, placing them in two market positions: as agencies and LSPs.

Translation Agencies Supply Bigger Fish

Small translation agencies are structured to suit both direct customers and global translation agencies. Direct clients are supplied with all the items pertaining to the translation project (from a detailed budget to the finished product, be it a website, a subtitled video or a simple document), since they have a diverse portfolio of collaborators taking care of translation, revision, editing, subtitling, among others. For global translation agencies, these companies provide what we call TEP (translation, editing, proofreading), which is nothing more than a revised and verified translation in its final format: three process steps guaranteed by a single supplier, in addition to a customised project management infrastructure.

Big Translation Agencies Rely on Smaller Fish for Local Translators

What is the advantage for global agencies in working with small translation service providers? While global agencies have many independent translation and proofreading professionals in their workflows, hiring them as translators, proofreaders, quality control specialists, project leaders and many other functions, they also rely on the small translation agencies based in the countries where the contracted target language is spoken.

Small Agencies Assist in the Translation Process

The role of these small businesses as LSPs is not only to provide TEP, but also to provide infrastructure and workflow support, especially in large accounts projects, for which it is difficult to get as many resources with the specific account profile and manage quality control efficiency at the same time. Small translation agencies then act as partners for global agencies, assisting the translation process, supplying revision teams, controlling quality to apply LQAs (language quality assurance), manage glossaries, and act as an intermediary between client and translators, etc., and relying on a team of project managers specifically dedicated to these accounts.

Working With Freelancers – Easier on the Wallet

But for small agencies, is it advantageous to have these customers? If the global agency pays a fair price for such an important and complex partnership, that’s fine. As we know, in France, legal entities are submitted to a large tax and health insurance burden. That makes it very complex for companies to hire employees to perform some of the functions that require a greater commitment to work translation. Working with independent professionals (or freelancers) is a way out, but as these professionals have numerous clients, it becomes complicated to require a quasi-exclusive commitment from them if they have other fish to fry.

Working With the Biggest Translation Agencies to Be Better Trained

Still, it is advantageous to work translation with global agencies, not only for turnover, but also for the opportunity to learn more about the latest tools and trends in the marketplace. Depending on the partnership that translation agencies have with global agencies, their employees are trained, deal with their direct clients on some tasks, and even travel to other countries to test products and perform specific projects. On the other hand, it may be difficult for the small business to handle the volumes of this type of customer, since maintaining a portfolio of available employees can be challenging. And, in general, global agencies specify minimum weekly contract volumes, so you have to prepare well to combine time and quality.

Smaller translation agencies – a Better Understanding of Freelance Translators

For the independent translator, having a small translation agency as a client is a way for them to work translation with professionals who could potentially understand the role of translators and the difficulties they encounter with specific projects. It is the chance to work with those who already went through these difficulties and probably already have solutions for some of them. The ultimate goal being: keep the customer happy.

We Are All in the Same Boat

The truth of the matter is: we are all in the same boat. So we all need – translators, proofreaders, agencies – to leave prejudices aside and try to maintain a healthy relationship, always, communicating as much as we can about the role of each party in this relationship and tariffs, the real taboo between us. Keep in mind that our goals are the same, so if we have a good relationship, we all profit, both in revenue and in knowledge. To reach this point, it is necessary to think about which role each party play in the translation industry and, rather than competing, trying to improve our partnerships.

Translator Productivity – Why haven’t you taken care of this yet?

translator's productivity - a man sleeping

What is your Translator Productivity IQ?

Let’s talk a bit about translator productivity, organisation and quality of life.

You have a small translation job that, from your experience, should not take more than 2 hours, with a 5 day deadline. When would you start the project?

I’ll start right away unless….

If your answer is: “Right away. However, I will stop whenever there is a message notification on Facebook or I get a text message. After all, there is still plenty of time OR I know the subject by heart. Anyway, I have no reason to worry.”

If this is your answer. You’re not alone.

Got plenty of time, right?

If your answer was: “On the morning of the deadline, I open the file and start translating. I do not want to deliver the project to the customer too soon in advance. Translation is not like Domino Pizza. The customer will not value my work if I deliver too fast. And they’ll think it was too easy to do.”

Well, you’d be surprised to know that many translators and other freelancers think just like that. Again, you’re not alone. Anyway, keep reading, it’s getting interesting.

I’ll Start Translating Immediately and Deliver ASAP

You answered that you would start the translation immediately and deliver the very same day? Then you are part of a very disciplined minority. Yet, even though you are in that category, keep on reading – I have some tips for you too.

Why do we procrastinate? You know you have something to do. You know you have a deadline. You have a rough idea of ​​how long the translation project will take. Yet, you’ll assume a casual attitude. You’re calm. “It’s all right, I have everything under control”. And the reason for this is simple: you do not have an organised routine and you often lose focus.

Having an Organised Routine Is Crucial

As a matter of fact, having an organised routine is crucial so that you are in control not only of your work, but of your time. I know, I know. You already knew that.

The problem is to put the organisation into practice, to get used to having a calendar (and to use it!). To have a strategy in place so as to set priorities and even to decide what does not need your attention and should be left behind. Because yes, there are things you can stop doing, which will not have a negative impact on your life.

During my 25+ year as a freelance translator, I had to learn how to organise myself in order to respond to my customers’ requests, the inherent needs of our work, how to prospect new clients, keep up to date and, above all, pay attention to friends and family.

Yet, I admit it is not easy to organise and keep my focus, but it is less difficult than you can imagine.

Getting organised is a learning process

Something very important that you need to know: no one gets organised from day one, or by just reading about it or just taking a course. Organisation is learning and building habits. It is a slow process, but always subject to improvement. The definition I like best, taken from some of the many books and articles I have read, is: organisation is a process of reduction and selection. You reduce the number of events that really need your attention and select the ones that should get your attention first. There are many tools to help you with this process. Here are some tips for anyone who wants to start getting organised. Simple but very efficient tips.

Find Out Where Your Time’s Wasting

The first is: find out what you spend your time on. You will certainly be surprised to find that you waste a lot of your time in front of your computer with things that are not part of your work routine. You can do this with paper and pen or install some software that captures which programmes, websites and other activities are performed on the computer and for how long. If you use Mac, my suggestion is timing. For PC, Toggl is a good option. Install one of these tools on your computer and use it for a week. You will probably find that social networks, messengers, and emails are the most time-consuming villains that steal time from professional freelancers. You may be thinking: but I need to “take some time off a little” to be more productive, have an escape valve… The problem is that this valve needs to be well regulated and should only be open at the right times. In my case, the ideal is when this valve is somewhere else, away from my computer. A walk, a conversation with some friends, a series on TV. Anything that makes you get up from your chair and move around can improve not only your translator productivity but also your health.

Set Your Priorities Right

The second tip is about setting priorities. One of the most basic and practical tools for those who want to organise themselves is the Eisenhower Matrix. Credited to the general and former US President Dwight Eisenhower, who needed to make quick decisions during World War II, this tool will help you define where to put your efforts, what to delegate, what to schedule and what not to do next. Click on the previous link to find out how to use this tool or start organising your work day.

Set Up a Workflow

Another way to organise yourself is to develop workflows. Document the sequence of steps you perform to work efficiently in a list. Even for those jobs you’re doing with your eyes closed, writing a workflow can help you realise where you are wasting time and what could improve. In addition, you may also find out an opportunity to automate something in your process. Don’t forget: your computer should work for you, not the other way around.

Get Some Sleep for Crying out loud

A very important tip I ignored for a long time: sleep well. It is almost impossible to stay focused and be organised if you do not give your brain the rest it needs. Develop a routine to relax and recuperate for the next day. Always sleeping at the same time makes your body better prepared and makes it easier to go to sleep. What I did when I started to implement this routine was, I used the alarm clock in reverse: I would set up my phone to trigger an alarm at 10:30 p.m. As soon as the alarm would trigger, I was getting ready to go to sleep. It did not take long for this to become my routine. Of course, as they say out there: there’s an app for that! And you can use them to monitor and better understand your sleep. I currently use Sleep as Android, which offers 14 days of free trial.

To conclude, 3 quick tips for you:

  • Emails are very important, but they can also consume a lot of your time. To stay focused, turn off notifications and set a specific time to deal with them. As for emails that you need to respond to quickly, create notifications using filters.
  • If you Gmail, learn how to use filters.
  • Find what kind of music improves your translator productivity. I use Focus@will, which uses neuroscience and really works for me.

In conclusion, there are many tools and methods that promise to improve your productivity and organisation. There is no one method that works for everyone and you may find that one works well for you while another does not The ideal is to test and find out what works for you.

After all, organisation and productivity are a personal thing.

Freelance interpreter – Kill those “Faux Pas”

Freelance interpreter feeling like Sisyphus

Understanding freelance interpreters: Sisyphus myth or an opportunity for bonding?

Getting people to understand interpreting is something I do often when quoting an event, with both novice and veteran contractors. Yet, for a long time, I admit I felt a bit frustrated. I felt that explaining and defending my practices as a freelance interpreter closely resembled the task of Sisyphus. The myth of Sisyphus, belonging to Greek mythology, results from the posthumous punishment of Sisyphus for treason to the gods. In the land of the dead, he was forced to push a rock to the top of the mountain, from where it would roll back to the starting point. In the past, I used to feel that explaining my best practice would never really end.

A New Approach in Explaining Best Practice in Interpreting

Over the past few years, I decided to change my approach to explaining good practice. I began to think that I would put forward the benefits of real interpreting; defend good practices and negotiate in a favourable way for both parties with a guarantee of good working conditions for the good of the event. This new approach made me see this as an opportunity to strengthen my ties with potential contractors. This is how I did it and the actions I took in each situation detailed below:

1. I do not need a professional, only a person who is fluent in French and English

The right approach: “The event has strategic value for the positioning of its company within its field of activity. Therefore, it is important to ensure the quality of the message to be passed to the audience that needs simultaneous interpretation. Freelance interpreters are essential to mediate communication between people who are not fluent in the same languages. Count on my professional interpreting services to meet the communication needs of the event. ”

Result: Approved budget and scheduled event.

2. I do not need a professional … speaking both languages ​​is enough. The meeting will be informal

The right approach: “The timing of a product presentation to potential customers is unique and deserves careful planning in every detail, from the assembly of the list of guests to the choice of the buffet. So a well-prepared event will be more effective with the work of professional interpreters to serve as bridges of communication between people who do not speak the same language. My company is able to offer the simultaneous interpreting services necessary to the success of your event. ”

Result: Success.

3. The interpretation lasts only 4 hours, an interpreter alone will suffice

The right approach: “According to most European Legal Interpreters and Translators Associations, interpreters should work alone for a limit of 1 hour in a conference and 2 hours in external accompaniments. This recommendation is the result of studies that demonstrate the performance of the interpreters and loss of message quality after the periods mentioned above. That way, to ensure the quality of communication in the event, it is necessary that two interpreters relay each other. ”

Result: approved budget, scheduled event and customer loyalty that contracted services in 2018 and this year.

4. Is there no difference in the rate for hiring 2 or 6 hours of work?

“When booking an event, unfortunately, I am unable to book other events with other customers. It is simply impossible to ‘fit’ two or more customers over a day’s work. Therefore, the daily rate is unchanged if the actual working period is less than a 6-hour indivisible journey, sorry. ”

Result: approved budget, scheduled event and customer loyalty that contracted services in 2019.

In conclusion, when business practices are discussed, it is an opportunity to improve the quality of your communication with your customers. It is particularly helpful in strengthening your professional ties with them.

All of the above customer arguments were helpful in changing my approach. You can do it too. Being able to provide the customer with a better understanding of the work and practices of interpreters will no longer be a Sisyphus task but an opportunity to bond with your customers.

The Technical Language Translator – It all Comes Back to Translating

metal items to picture the area of expertise of the technical language translator

What makes it interesting and challenging for the technical language translator?

Put simply, it is the translator’s job to – at least – understand the source text, right? To convey the information it intends to communicate in a complete, accurate and appropriate way in the target language, while keeping in mind the function of the text and the audience.

Translators must convey the information as if it was written in the target language

Translators have to reproduce the messages and intentions of the original. Translations made for publication should be read as if they were written in the target language and even documents intended for less public uses should be convincing and legible. This requires a unique set of skills and aptitudes, and the complexity of the task is often underestimated. Inexperienced translators, and even subject-area experts, tend to produce literal or word-for-word translations that follow patterns of the source language rather than finding a more natural form of expression in the target language.

Technical Language Translators Must Be Curious

As a basic requirement, technical translators, for one, need to have an in-depth knowledge of the source language (including notion of their specific rhetorical patterns and speech structures). They must have native or near-target fluency, a vocation to write, and highly developed information compilation skills. Technical translators really need to be curious about three types of things: about the language, the subject, and the way the experts talk and write about it. Combining all three, the more a technical language translator knows the more specialised his language is, the easier the task gets and the better the result.

What Scientific Translators Bring to the Table

How can scientists contribute to translation? Apart from the in-depth knowledge and experience of their own specialty, they offer a broader scientific base, the innate curiosity of scientists, and the insight of understanding how science and scientific discourse work. They also bring very specific research skills to compile information and to find the literature needed. Last but not least, they bring their knowledge of the Specific language of science. However, scientists who are thinking of becoming technical translators need to carefully analyse their language and writing skills. And they should certainly consider formal language training – the best and certainly the fastest way to develop professional-level skills. Since few translators can afford to focus on strict specialisation, scientists pursuing a career as a freelance technical translator should also prepare to expand their knowledge of their own subject matter in other areas.

Many Areas of Technical Translation

The translation market is as diverse as the areas where customers operate. For example, the technical translation needs of a large pharmaceutical company goes through a wide field, from R & D, patents, manufacturing (chemical production, pharmaceutical formulation and packaging), and regulatory issues to product information, marketing and scientific communication, with subjects ranging from chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, pharmacology, toxicology, diagnostics and medicine, to chemical and process engineering, and environmental protection.

What Planet Technical Language Translators Come From

Translation services are provided by freelancers (the bulk of the profession), internal translators employed by companies and institutions, small and large translation companies (employing both salaried technical language translators and freelancers), and translation agencies or language service providers (who outsource work to translators, freelancers or other translation companies). The market is highly fragmented, with large parts of it showing all the characteristics of a ‘backyard’ type operation: the vast majority of technical translators work on their own or in the informal trade for rates that vary widely from one project to another. (Remuneration is typically by word or page or line of text, although some top professionals can negotiate hourly rates.) Only a handful of translation companies have international reach. This makes it difficult to find salaried employment. Yet, the size of the market shows that there are plenty of opportunities for skilled freelance work. It’s just a matter of going out looking for him.

Translating: what’s the point for scientists?

What are the benefits? In Europe, the vast majority of technical translators employed in the industry earn well, comparable to the salary of other professionals. The situation of freelancers varies considerably, depending on your skills and the market you choose to work. Competent technical translators with essential scientific and technical qualifications are highly sought after by industry, translation companies and agencies. As a technical language translator you may not be creating knowledge, but you are sure to be using your talents creatively to help spread it.

Computer-Assisted Translation & Machine Translation – Resistance is Futile

Machine Translation

Once again, a discussion took place on technological issues – in particular, the joint use of Machine Translation and Computer-Assisted Translation or Computer-Aided Translation as translation tools used by professional translators.

Machine translation – A bit of context

The attempt to manufacture automatic translation systems (MT – Machine Translation, or AT) emerged after the Second World War. By the 1970s, it was already quite clear that no computer was able to replicate all human reasoning behind decoding, translating, and recoding texts except those texts with extremely limited structure and vocabulary.

Computer-Assisted Translation Tools Have Flourished

In the last two decades, CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation – Tools) have flourished. They are optimised databases, originally integrated with text editors such as MS Word, then stand alone translation software. Those save everything a person translates – original source text and translation – and offers tools to manage glossaries. The idea is to accelerate translation work with research and typing, reusing terms and previously translated passages.

Most Machine Translation software is free  –  Wanna Know Why?

As of MT programs, we all know about those, mainly the free ones (Babelfish/Altavista, Systran, and, of course, Google Translate, among others). What has always been very obvious is that they are weak, making grammatical errors and gross terminology, serving only to have a vague idea of ​​what a site addresses, for example. Yet, no self-respecting professional would even look at such a program.

MT and CAT – A marriage of convenience

But technology has been evolving, and anyone who has been ignoring these applications for some years may have been surprised to find Google Translate to be unintended and that it is a lot smarter than we thought.

Then, one day, at a ATA Congress, a couple of translators presented a research combining MT and CAT: translation memory to store and reuse excerpts and expressions, and Google Translate for segments still to be translated, all monitored and reviewed by the translator. The results were amazing as far as speed and quality were concerned. A Presentation slide was made available, which I didn’t see at that time but I would follow some of the authors’ e-mail exchanges on the ATA mailing list. Again at the time, it was the kind of application for which I had the highest expectation.

Everybody’s Talking About It

Interestingly, almost 11 years ago, I wrote a monograph on machine translation. Part of my essay told the story and evolution of systems, and another part presented a test with software that existed at the time. This second part is totally obsolete – the system no longer exists and, frankly, the research was very weak, just a test without much scientific basis. I only left the text available on the internet until today because it is still quite cited because of the historical summary. What I find curious is that the discussion about MT is coming back in terms not very different from the ones I used in this article, after the CATs had gained their well-deserved space in history – much of which occurred well after this work.

Machine Translation Born of an Impossible Ideal

In short: MT was born of an impossible ideal. It was relegated to a by-product that does not affect the lives of translators. Suddenly, it comes around as something that yes, can be very useful, but raises a lot of questions, professional and ethical.

If, on the one hand, there are serious research and experiments, there is also the world of ordinary people. The translation market continues to grow. There is an increasing demand and more and more people wanting to be a translator. People wanting to learn and improve themselves, and also people wanting “easy” money (note the quotes).

Everybody’s – Still – Talking About It

Because of all this, discussions about market trends are boiling over on the “new” application of free MT software. Will many unprepared people use these applications without discretion? Do they even pose a threat to the “big” translators or do they even need to worry?

You will find many discussions on this topic in the Localisation professional group on Facebook.

In my opinion, those days, we can no longer bury our heads in the sand and fail to take notice and participate in this discussion. If several tools have already led us to increase productivity, quality and consistency of translations, the pressure for high productivity will only increase with the new generation of tools. The differential translators who believe they deserve to earn well for their work will have to account for this productivity, in addition to a quality far above the market average, since productivity without much quality is easy to achieve.

Borg Queen in Star Treck New generation

Machine Translation & Computer-Aided Translation – Resistance is Futile

The pessimists used to say that soon we would be proofreaders of the machines. Well, it is very much the case now.

Anyway, I want those machines to be my partners – it makes no sense to be afraid of them or to fight them.

“Resistance is futile”