Happy New Year/Guten Rutsch/Próspero Año Nuevo

As 2009 is less than 30 minutes away for my twin Dagy Jenner in Vienna, Austria, we wanted to check in and wish all our fellow linguists, friends, business partners and clients around the world a fantastic New Year. Thanks for your business, trust, friendship, feedback, great blogs, and awesome camaraderie on the WWW (Wild Wild West) that is the Internet.

2008 was a fantastic year for us, as I finally joined Dagy full-time in our translation business. It's been wonderful thus far, in spite of the worldwide economic troubles.

Happy 2009 from Judy Jenner in Vegas and Dagy Jenner in Vienna, who is about to welcome 2009 with open arms! We hope you do the same -- here's to a successful and profitable 2009!

One More Business Expense

I recently received a membership renewal reminder from the American Translators Association (ATA). I am glad they reminded me: I will pay my dues for 2009 and thus claim the tax deduction for 2008. For those of you who have not thought about renewing in the middle of the busy holiday season, now is a good time to do so. The ATA allows you to renew your membership online. Contact your local or national organization to claim the year's last business expense.

Have a great start into 2009!

My Worst Typo of the Year

It's time to poke some fun at ourselves! While we are both usually hyper-aware of grammar and spelling in our four languages, we, just like the Sunday New York Times, make mistakes. Unfortunately, my recent one has embarrassed me so much that I've literally lost sleep over it.

As a board member of the newly formed Nevada Translators and Interpreters Association (NITA), I am trying to increase our membership. We wanted to include sign-language interpreters, so I sent an e-mail to all the sign-language interpreters in our state registered with their professional organization. My goal was to invite them to join our organization. Unfortunately, in my e-mail, I wrote "Interpreters for the death" instead of "Interpreters for the deaf". Trust me, I am cringing as I type this.

However, several members were gracious enough to respond to my awful e-mail anyway -- but of course pointed out my horrendous mistake, to which I responded with heartfelt apologies. I am happy to report NITA now has a few new members; and I better watch what my fingers do on the keyboard these days!

Translations for Peace

On Sundays, we read the paper of record. This week's New York Times held a special surprise.

On page 29, there was a full-page ad with one line of text, in varying fonts and sizes (and alphabets, for that matter) stating: Imagine peace. The English line was surrounded by more than 20 other languages, many of which we can't identify. We found our other three languages (Spanish, German, French): all perfectly translated.

We had a hunch who might have taken out this fantastic peace-promoting ad during the holiday season where sometimes materialism and stress take over a time that should be peaceful and harmonious. Two simple words, all in lower case, at the bottom of the page confirmed our intuition. It simply reads"love, yoko". We have never been more touched by a simple line of translated text and the sentiment that followed it. John Lennon would be proud.

Happy holidays, indeed!

What I Learned in Business School -- Part 1.0

Cèline over at Naked Translations had a very interesting post asking readers to give advice to beginning translators. I left a lengthy (perhaps too lengthy!) comment with some of our own hard-earned lessons, which I am summarizing here. These recommendations center on the business (and not linguistic) side of things, as I have this handy M.B.A., which I figured I could use to share some of my business tips. Most of these can be grouped into economics/finance/marketing/accounting/statistics/entrepreneurship.

In future posts, I will follow-up with more lessons (in no particular order). I am also developing a presentation for the annual American Translators Association (ATA) conference, which I hope I will have the opportunity to present.

  • Look professional. This starts with your website. If you have no faith in your ability to produce a good site, don't do it. Find a professional; even someone at the local community college who's taking some basic design and XML classes. Barter if you have to.
  • Look professional in your images. Don't put vacation pictures with sunglasses in your hair on your website or on your marketing materials (or LinkedIn or Proz). Find a friend who's a good photographer and take some nice close-up shots, preferably with good lighting and minimal background distractions. Put your friend's name on the picture (Photo by: XYZ) so he/she can get business. Being an entrepreneur is all about referrals, and it goes both ways.
  • Unless you are very accounting-savy, hire an affordable accountant/CPA, whom you probably won't have to pay until he/she does your taxes. Get advice on whether you should incorporate or not. Leave it to the pros.
  • Keep good records. There's no need to pay a bookkeeper to organize your receipts and show up with a box full of receipts. Do it yourself by making a very simple spreadsheet where you log the expenses/income, with exact dates, purpose, etc.
  • Go visit your local Small Business Administration to get started on all the paperwork you need to file. In Nevada, a very business-friendly state, this was actually more involved than I thought: you need the IRS number, a business license, a Nevada tax ID number, a home occupancy permit, a certificate from the secreatary of state, etc. etc.
  • Don't skimp on your "face" to the world. Don't get the free VistaPrint cards: fork over the $50 or so for business cards that don't say they were free on the back. VistaPrint does those, too, and they are actually quite nice.
  • Reduce your expenses. Do you need a laptop and a PC? In the beginning, probably not. Do you really need a Blackberry? Sure, you want one, but will you get $50/month of revenue/business/use out of it? Do you have a Costco membership? Consider becoming one; they have great deals on office stuff, everything from Herman Miller chairs to computer paper, excellent shredders, Sharpies, and of course, all electronic equipment.
  • Don't compromise on price, if you can stand the pressure and have a bit of a cushion. Set a price and stick to it.
To come in post 2.0:
  • Take risks.
  • Volunteer. Give back.
  • Build strong networks with other professionals.
  • Grow the profession.

Everybody Can English: Denglish Atrocities

For Friday amusement for our fellow German speakers, we can't help but briefly address a gigantic language pitfall in German-speaking countries: Denglish. For the uninitiated, that's an atrocious combination of German (Deutsch in German) and English = Denglish. While most of our direct clients in Europe have a fairly good command of the English language, they are usually not experts, which is why they hire us. However, once in a while a client wants to correct something that turns out to be, well, wrong. Trying to convince them of the contrary is sometimes quite a challenge. Here are some of our favorite examples from the past weeks.

  • For one of our translations, we wrote about the author's "late father" (verstorbener Vater in German). However, our client insisted on using "dead father". He was adamant that "late" was not correct.
  • Prepositions in English are tricky, and unfortunately, cannot be translated literally from German. Some of our favorite are "she died ON cancer" when we were insisting that someone dies "OF" cancer. The top prize goes to "she called him ON" (German: sie rief ihn an).
  • We had another client who was offended by our use of "ordinary" (as in average, normal) in one of his texts. He was saying that the translation of this was "ordinär" (vulgar). Of course, it's not, but he just wouldn't take our word or the dictionary's for it.
Unfortunately, the customer is not always right; and it's a fine line which can be difficult to deal with in our profession. Usually, when a question comes up, we give the customer our linguistic and grammatical reasoning, cite from relevant sources, or explain the word's common usage. If all else fails, we say that we feel very comfortable with our recommendation, but that the final decision is, of course, up to the client. However, this could be dangerous as an atrocious term could appear in a translation associated with us. Luckily, thus far, most clients have taken our advice (at least that we know of). How does everyone else deal with this balancing act?

We know that Denglish examples abound, and they are always good for a chuckle, especially on a Friday afernoon. We'd love to hear your recent highlights!

Where Have the Good Old Phone Calls Gone?

Communication in the 21st century is easier than ever. While we don’t even want to picture what life as a translator must have been like without PCs and without the Internet, the new communication channels seem to have completely taken over, much to the detriment of, well, somehow old-fashioned but still highly useful means of communication like…the good old phone! Talking on the phone seems to be something you did as a teenager who had nothing to say but talked for hours anyway. Today, you don’t call, but you send e-mails or leave messages on social networking sites instead. But let’s not forget that communication is supposed to make both one’s personal and one’s professional life easier and we feel that e-mail writing sometimes defeats this very purpose. It is not unusual to receive an e-mail like this one:

I need a translation. How much does it cost?

To this we typically respond saying that we need to know the source and the target language and that we need to see the actual source text and that we would have to talk about the deadline. Since the potential client didn’t provide his or her phone number, we send an e-mail.

It’s English to German and it’s very short.

No attachment.
Now we need to write another e-mail asking about the document again.

In the end, we might end up exchanging dozens of e-mails to define deadlines, learn about the target group, inquire about existing glossaries or desired corporate wording etc. while we could easily have clarified all details in a short phone conversation.

In 2007, 58% of all people who contacted Dagy for the first time sent her an e-mail. Only 25% called her landline, while 16% called her cell. And yes, a few people sent a fax.

Since there seem to be people out there who have quit the habit of talking on the phone, we must try to guess whether our customers truly dislike spoken communication or not. If we feel somebody just does not want to talk on the phone – fine, we will send dozens of e-mails. But if there’s reason to believe that the potential client has a healthy relationshipwith his or her phone, we will just give that person a call. Or ask them to call us! Those teenage years are long gone, but speaking to somebody directly sure beats any other means of communication. As our Mexican friends would say: hablando se entiende la gente.

Tax Tip of the Week

A dear friend recently gave us a book (Sandy Botkin's Lower Your Taxes -- Bit Time!) on how to take advantage of many pro-small business tax rules and regulations here in the U.S. Mr. Botkin's book is thorough and well written, and might be worth checking out from your local library (we have no affiliation with the author whatsoever).

To save you the time or the trouble, here's our highlight from said book:
  • If your home is your main place of business (which it is for virtually all the freelancers we know), then all your mileage for business is tax-deductible starting from your house. This does not apply to part-time freelancers, who can ergo not deduct a trip to the bank that's on the way to their non-translation employment. The 2008 IRS reimbursement rate is $0.585 per business mile driven. For 2009, this rate will go down to $0.55. For five years, while working as an in-house translator for a company that reimbursed mileage, I did not take advantage of this; now I am kicking myself for not having done so. It sure adds up; every trip to the bank or the post office does. Be sure to write the miles down (you might want to keep a small notebook in your car for that purpose).
While trying to design a decent spreadsheet to keep this data and keep the IRS happy in case of an audit, I discovered that the book's author, in a shameless attempt at self-promotion, was selling a rudimentary spreadsheet that took me about five minutes to make. Feel free to e-mail me and I will send you my template.

The Intersection Between Translation and Running

Many times, being a language professional feels like being an endurance athlete. Your client sends you the document, you open it with nervous anticipation and see an enormous amount of words in a very difficult and research-intensive subject matter to be translated very, very quickly. At first, it seems like an overwhelming and impossible task. Here's where our endurance athlete attitude comes in. As they say in some ads: impossible is nothing.

The way we tackle projects that are very large, very difficult, or very challenging and have a fast turnaround is the same way we approach running: by putting one foot in front of the other. It's amazing how documents on say, hedge funding, water desalination plants, banking rating systems, esoteric management principles, and bone marrow reports don't seem as daunting once you have translated a few sentences.

I apply the same principle to my half marathon running. Every year, it seems completely impossible to make my legs run 13.1 miles. Now on year #4 and just having finished half marathon #6, I know it's definitely possible. It really does start with one step, literally or figuratively. I can't tell you that I was conjugating verbs in my head for fun as I was running my way towards my Las Vegas Half Marathon medal (in 2:16, for the record), but I did ponder, for 13.1 miles, how similar two of my passions are. Both translation and running are all about endurance, determination, getting it done, not getting discouraged, and pushing through it when things are hard. That, and not giving up. Quitting is not an option, neither during my half marathons (it's not like you can hail a cab) or with a project you have decided to take on.

Perhaps a study on running and translation is in order. How many translators are also endurance athletes? I have heard from many fellow translators that excercise is a big part of their life. For others, it's difficult to fit it in. What's your experience? Or is being a translator enough of an endurance sport that you don't need a second one?

Advertising Strategy of the Week

Just when you least expect it, someone makes a suggestion about how to get more business (which we can all always use), and it's a really good one. This week, a friend of mine suggested I get listed in our state's (Nevada) film directory. It's a government agency that coordinates all the film production companies that come into the state. The film management folks are given a hard copy and links to listings for photographers, extras, florists, models, make-up artists, and... translators and interpreters. This is truly something I had never thought of before. The fee to list in the online directory is only $25, and even though I have no data on how much traffic that site gets, it sure seems like that $25/year will be well spent. Check your state's film office to see if they have directories (offline or online or both) of the same kind, and who knows, maybe soon enough you will be doing some T&I work in the film industry.

Going Green and Greener

Both of us have always been pretty green, both at work and at play. Lately, we have started brainstorming about how, as home-based translators, we can become even more green. Not commuting to work is certainly a huge factor in cutting down our carbon footprint. Here's what we have done for a long time:

  • Dagy, who is based in Vienna, Austria, does not own a car
  • Judy, who is based in Vegas, has driven a Toyota Prius since 2005 (license plate: PLANETA, Spanish for Planet)
  • We recycle religiously
  • We keep stuff out of landfills by donating everything we don't want or use anymore. I even found a place to recycle my old laptop here in Vegas, which isn't a heaven for tree huggers
  • We buy locally, which is much easier in Vienna than in Vegas. Dagy gets a weekly "Organic box" full of locally grown veggies and goodies from an organic farm. Judy heads to farmers' markets and the two lone farms in town to buy eggs and vegetables
  • We get all our bank and credit card documents electronically.
  • We combine errands, thus reducing trips, time on the road, pollutants, and saving money
  • We bring our own recyclable cotton bags to the grocery store. This is nothing new in Vienna (plastic bags at check-out are for SALE), but in Vegas five years ago, people looked at me as if I were an alien (which in fact, I am, but a legal alien). Luckily, the trend has caught on.
  • Declining a bag for purchases at malls, etc. That's why we have large purses!
  • If we do need to take a plastic bag (for some reason, at Dillard's you must take one as proof of purchase, we found alternative future uses for it (mainly dog-related).
  • When going for our daily runs, we leave from home and run outside instead of driving somewhere and running inside. Saves gas, the planet, and lets us enjoy the outdoors.
  • For running events (10 K, half marathons, 5 K), Judy has restricted her events to local ones. Next year, she might run the Recycled! race, where everything, from the medals to the T-shirt, is recycled from previous races.

Here are a few new ways we have found to save our planet:
  • Judy is taking advantage of the spectacular weather in Vegas (temperature on December 1: 61 degrees) by drying pretty much all her laundry outside nine months out of the year. Clothes smell great, too!
  • Washing laundry in cold water
  • Using mainly biodegradable eco-friendly cleaning products (Trader Joe's has some good ones)
  • As much as we love owning books, we are cutting back on the consumption of paper by getting more books from the library and purchasing fewer books
  • We have always used plastic water bottles at least 5-10 times before recycling them, but we are taking it a step further by ceasing purchases of water bottles all together and drinking filtered water from the fridge in our Zion National Park water bottles. Doesn't taste as great, but it saves the planet.
  • When we stay at hotels, we use the same sheets for the whole time of our stay. There's really no need to have clean sheets every day. It's nice, sure, but saving the planet is nicer.
  • We joined www.care2.com and are actively signing petitions to support environmental issues that are close to our hearts.
These are only a few things we do -- and we are always looking for more green ideas! If you have any, translation-business related or just planet-related, we'd love to hear them. What are you doing to save the planet that we should know about? We are sure Abigail over at The Greener Word has some ideas that will put ours to shame!

Transatlantic Turkey Day: Just Another Thursday

While one half of our business -- the American side -- will come to a virtual standstill during the next few days because of the Thanksgiving holiday, all the cooking and houseguests that are involved, and all the sleeping in front of the fireplace that needs to be done, for our Austrian side (Dagmar in Vienna), it's business as usual. When you live in the U.S., where even fast food outlets are closed on Thanksgiving, it's sometimes hard to believe that nothing special is happening in Europe and elsewhere.

This is, of course, good for our clients who need to get something done and don't have time to wait for Judy to come out of the kitchen. However, while we are happy to help, we are always amazed at some folks' lack of planning. We got a frantic call on Tuesday evening PST from an agency we have never heard of (which isn't saying much, as we have only done one project with one agency in six years), desperately looking for a complex legal German->English translation due in less than 24 hours. This leads us to believe that their client is also European and doesn't care that Thanksgiving in the U.S. is, well, pretty holy. We felt bad for the desperate agency, and took a look at the document, which was far too involved and complicated to get done on short notice. We graciously declined, and perhaps what we could all learn is to communicate ahead of time with our foreign customers and clients letting them know about the upcoming American holiday and what that means for business: it stops. Now, if one of our regular customers calls with an urgent request, Dagy in Vienna will handle it. After all, she's not eating turkey or watching football. It's just another Thursday in Vienna.

Enjoy the holiday!

10 Lessons from the Trade Show Floor

Many of us have been talking about working with more direct clients lately. While a substantial number of freelancers really enjoy working with agencies who take care of the business of translation, many others enjoy the higher prices and direct contact associated with end consumers. We fall in the latter category, and decided to explore some new methods for finding new clients.

One of my dear friends here in Vegas, who works in the gaming industry, offered me a free pass to roam the exhibit halls at G2E, the Global Gaming Expo, which is the largest of its kind in the world. Gulp. Not to be intimated by the more than 750 exhibitors, I went to work. Here's what I learned:

  • Do your homework. Don't aimlessly wander around the halls. Research the companies ahead of time. Pick five to 15 (depending on how many days you can be there), look into the companies' product lines, their website, read their press releases, etc. Have something to say when you get to the booth.
  • Go to a trade show for an industry that you are familiar with or have worked in before. If you have previously worked with a client in the field, ask if you can use the client's name when you talk about your services.
  • Dress the part. If you are a girl, try not to get confused with the convention hostesses, which does not take much effort. In my experience, business casual on the creative-dressy side with a cute accent (in the form of a scarf, chunky necklace, etc) works great for females. The Gaming Expo happens to have a large majority of male exhibitors, and they are usually happy to see a girl with a smile heading their way who is not wearing a Coors Light shirt.
  • Be mindful of exhibitors' time. Some convention days are busier than others, and exhibitors have traveled from afar to make sales, so they might not be in mindset to buy services, unless you play your cards right. I found the last day of the expo and the 4 p.m. hour to be a good time. Sure, on the last day people are tired, but they are also not as busy and have some down time. Next time, I am bringing donuts. It works for the pharmaceutical reps.
  • Score a free pass to the exhibitor halls (mine would have cost $125) by volunteering for the event through your local Chamber of Commerce of Convention Bureau. Many times, all you have to do is work a few hours to get access to the convention, or at least the exhibit hall.
  • If your Convention Bureau offers it, sign up for an RSS feed announcing the upcoming conventions.
  • Don't take it personally. I am no good at this either, but it happens: company representatives are busy and overworked at these events. They don't get to sleep much, they are jet-lagged and sometimes grouchy. Most people will be very friendly, but don't get discouraged if they are not.
  • Don't do a hard sales pitch. For me, this works well, as I am not a natural salesperson. At the Gaming Expo, I realized several companies from Austria were there. Here in Vegas, I don't get to speak much German, so I was all about speaking "Austrian" with whomever I could. I really wasn't trying to sell these folks anything; I just wanted to say hello. Next thing I know, I get an e-mail from one of the Austrian companies they are gladly passing on my info to the rest of their company and that they would like to work with me.
  • Find a buddy. If you are like most people, walking up to strangers trying to sell them something is a daunting task. Bring a friend, whether he or she is a translator or not. Even better, bring a friend who is in the industry, is attending the conference, and can introduce you to some folks. I was lucky enough to have two highly respected people in the industry who did just that for me.
  • Follow up. As soon as you can, jot down notes on the back of people's business cards to help you remember them and what you talked about (Did you talk about the new industry publication? Do you share an alma mater?). All this information will also help remind your counterpart who you are once you follow up. It's a good idea to do this within a week.
Good luck, everyone! We'd love to hear about your experiences and the lessons you learned, which we will include in future posts.

The Business of Referrals

As the vast majority of translators and language professionals are self-employed, we all know the value of referrals. We have many other friends who are entrepreneurs in different fields -- lawyers, dentists, HR consultants, auto mechanics, owners of small restaurants -- and we gladly refer them, as we love their services. We are delighted to say that several fellow ATA members have referred us this week. On the other hand, we also referred several small projects to our translator friends for languages we don't translate into. It is wonderful to know that there is such a great, large group of highly talented people in the ATA -- and UNIVERSITAS in Austria -- and that we can all work together.

A very special thank you to our friend and fellow honorary Austrian (30 years in Austria makes you Austrian, doesn't it?) Nina Gettler from Seattle, who referred a large English->German legal translation to us this week. Thanks to fabulous international time differences, we were able to do this translation on short notice.

This week as proven to us, one more time, that we are all stronger when we work together. There's more than enough worldwide translation work for all of us, and it's fantastic to be part of a network of translators who are on top of their field. It's true, the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.

We Heart Our Direct Clients

It's time for an ode to our wonderful clients, which have been made up by 100% direct clients for six years minus a first-time agency experience last week. Here is why we like and enjoy working with you so much:

  • You really value our services as professionals
  • You pay us our regular rate and know that you shouldn't haggle as if you were at a Turkish spice market or Mexican tianguis
  • You don't send out mass e-mails looking for the cheapest translation rate
  • You understand the source text, as it's about your business, and you are happy to give us a quick overview of the project's background
  • You are responsive, easy to reach, and happy to hear from us when we call for clarification
  • You value your time and ours, and understand that quick turnaround comes at a premium
  • You are prompt at paying invoices
  • In the rare case of a dispute, you are fair and straightforward
  • You send us adorable thank-you notes
  • You know that we are providing a service you really need, and treat us accordingly
  • You are delighted to see that we have handed in a project ahead of time
  • You recommend us to your friends and business associates
  • You give us happy-customer quotes, references, and let us list your companies on our advertising materials
You get the idea: you are fantastic. We are truly lucky and happy to have long-time business relationships with many top companies in travel and tourism, marketing, management training, government services, iron and steel, IT, software, hardware, logistics, emerging technologies, etc. Without you, our company would not exist. So here's a heartfelt thank you to all our clients on both sides of the Atlantic who know we will go the extra mile for them. We are already thinking about good holiday presents for all of you...you know who you are, dear clients!

Unexpensive Translation?

As seen this morning on the Las Vegas edition of Craigs List under writing/editing/translations, this is another sad example of what the lack of barriers to entry has done to our profession. There are several things that are quite disturbing about this ad. First and foremost is the point that being bilingual does not make you a translator. Being bilingual is the minimum qualification; the lowest common denominator. Clearly, this person is not bilingual. There's a dictionary to look up terms, but no self-respecting translator needs one to look up "inexpensive".

Also, competing on price and offering the lowest possible rate is not a winning strategy for this person or anyone in our profession. Yes, translations can be expensive, because they are a professional service. Most good lawyers and doctors don't compete on price, and neither do qualified translators. We are also quite disturbed by the poster's insinuation that others overcharge for their services.

The good news is that, as professional translators, it is not difficult to differentiate ourselves from the folks who are posing as translators.

Of course, if you pay peanuts...

las vegas craigslist > write/edit/trans

Unexpensive Translations (English & Spanish)

Reply to: XYZ (removed to protect poster's privacy)
Date: 2008-11-16, 9:46PM PST

I am a bilingual Spanish and English speaker, I can do English- Spanish and Spanish- English Translations. I can send you work samples.

Reasonable rates! I know translation can be extremely expensive, I am not trying to take advantage, that's why I don't overcharge for my services.

If you are interested please email details on the material you need translated, so I can give you an accurate quote.

Proz Search Box for iGoogle

Just like many fellow translators, we love iGoogle. Now Dagy's boyfriend, Tom Gruber, our resident IT guru, website designer, go-to-techie-anything and one of the driving forces behind our company, programmed this nifty box that integrates the Proz search box into your iGoogle for easy searching. We use Proz pretty much exclusively for term searching, and it comes in very handy. Get the link on your iGoogle here or use the +iGoogle below.

ATA Bloggers' Lunch: Where's Masked Translator?

One of the many highlights of this year's ATA conference in Orlando, FL, was the bloggers' lunch that Jill Sommer and Corinne McKay organized. There are a few very active bloggers in the ATA, and as blogging for the translation world is a somewhat recent phenomenon, we wanted to meet other bloggers in person (although many of us had already met) and exchange ideas. In addition, blogging guru Corinne also presented a very well-attended session titled "Blogging: How and Why" during the conference.

The bloggers were represented by the technically very savy Michael Wahlster from Translate This!, the very specialized niche translator Abigail Dahlman from Environmental Translation, Jill Sommer from Musings from an overworked translator, Corinne McKay from Thoughts on Translation and yours truly, Judy Jenner, from Translation Times (my twin, Dagy, couldn't make it all the way from Vienna). Our lunch was also attended by non-blogging translators -- we don't discriminate. One of our colleagues, Susanne Aldridge, came to our lunch, and as of last weekend (we inspired her?), she also joined our blogging world with In-House Translators: A Dying Breed. Yes, you are a dying breed indeed: I was an in-house translator for five years, and I was definitely the exception, not the rule. Welcome Susanne! I would have loved to meet the author of one of my favorite blogs, Sarah Dillon from There's Something About Translation, but it's a far way from Brisbane, Australia.

We chatted about our blogs (Blogger vs. Wordpress), commenting etiquette (pet peeve: people promoting their services by leaving comments on our blogs) and microblogging (Twitter -- Michael is the expert). Good suggestions came up, and we briefly talked about the topics that we feature in our blogs and the time commitments required to maintain a blog. In general, we all post on translation and self-employment topics, with the occasional hilarious translation mistake or other fun stuff that's too good not to share.

We also talked about one of our favorite blogs by the anonymous Masked Translator. Of course, we have no idea who he/she is (we suspect it is a guy), but we want to tell you that we really like your blog. MT's unfiltered insight into our industry is priceless and very entertaining. As our own blogs are not anonymous, we mostly resist the temptation to vent and voice our frustrations. We are glad that MT has found a safe forum to do so, and we applaud his efforts. While we really want to know who he is (there was a lot of speculation going on), we understand that his blog would come to a crashing halt if MT's identity were revealed. So, MT, you are probably reading this, so thanks for your blog! Just tell us one thing: were you at the ATA conference or not? The curiosity is killing us.

Kennedy Space Center: Linguists Needed?

This Sunday, as a fantastic ending to the 49th annual ATA conference in Orlando (more to come on that), I headed to Kennedy Space Center, about one hour's drive from Orlando.

At KSC, it is all about the history of space exploration, its proudest moments, and, most importantly, about the people who pioneered the race for the stars. I had the chance to meet one of those human stars: a real, true astronaut. John Blaha flew several missions for NASA in the 90s and lived on Mir for several months.

I was starstruck and completely in awe. There are only a few hundred people on the face of this planet (or any planet, as far as we know) who have been in space, and there was one of them, as friendly and approachable as they come, just smarter than the rest of us. The odds of becoming an astronaut are so infinitely low that it's amazing to meet someone who has actually achieved this seemingly unreachable childhood dream. In order to get there, John Blaha flew 300 missions in Vietnam and obtained a graduate degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue. Impressive, indeed. NASA doesn't send slackers into space.

Since I was there, I just could not resist taking a few pictures of grammar and translation atrocities at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame (where of course, my new astronaut friend John Blaha was featured). Sure, NASA employs the most talented scientists in the world, but they appear to be a bit short on linguists. The use of the possessive pronoun in the third person seems to be as much of a mystery to NASA as growing artificial livers in space is a mystery to me.

There's also a fantastic German-language mistake revolving around the usage of the strange German letter "ß". What the heck, they couldn't find one, so they just used a capital B. I never thought I would feel smarter than an astronaut, or at least a NASA employee.

Thunderbird Auto-Responder Woes

As mentioned here and on all translator blogs in the last few weeks, the American Translators Association (ATA) Annual Conference starts tomorrow, November 4 (yes, election day) in Orlando, Florida. I will be leaving tomorrow morning to attend two very interesting pre-conference seminars and will attend all days of the regular conference through Saturday, November 8.

On my endless to-do list before tomorrow's bright and early departure, I noted that I needed to program an out-of-office message, which I have done hundreds of times before using Outlook. I now use Thunderbird, which I really like for its customization and security, but I never thought I would actually miss an Outlook feature.

After some research on the well-organized Mozilla help pages, I programed my auto-reply message by going through some cumbersome steps: creating a message filter, setting parameters, etc. Sure, it's easy enough, but it's a process with more than five steps. It's all set now, but the Mozilla folks reminded me on their help pages that the computer has to be left on for the entire time, otherwise the auto-responder message will not go out. There has to be a better way to do this! Now I have no choice but to leave the computer on, which isn't exactly in sync with my philosophy of saving the planet. I am not taking the time to further research it, as the instructions did the trick, but I am really surprised that Thunderbird has not made this process more user-friendly. If anyone has a better idea, I'd love to hear it!

Proof It!

There's no doubt that Spain's El País is one of the top newspapers in Europe, and we recently started reading it online. We also read Mexican newspapers online, but it's interesting to get the Spanish perspective (even though their Spanish is, well, funny!) on the news.

This week, El País reported on the widely discussed closure of the historic airport Tempelhof in Berlin, which resisted the Berlin Blockade by the Soviets. Tempelhof airport is the site of the Berlin Airlift, where Western Allies dropped 2.3 million tons of food in 1948 and 1949 during what was the largest humanitarian effort in the world. Thanks to a massive logistical and military operation, the Western Allies were able to feed the people of Berlin during the year of the blockade, which was lifted in May 1949.

The airport is spelled Tempelhof. In a photo caption, El País spells it Templehof. It goes to show that we are all human -- even editors at world-class newspapers. However, this German proper name word should probably be the first one to be correct. After all, it's the subject of the article, so it's analogous to spelling a famous person's name incorrectly.

The photo caption reads: Uno de los llamados 'candybombers' , un Douglas DC-3 estadounidense, despega del aeropuerto berlinés de Templehof- REUTERS. Unfortunately, the caption is of a picture that actually features the correct spelling of the airport -- its large sign, which reads Berlin - Tempelhof.

Read the entire Spanish-language article here.

Fishy: Strangest Translation Inquiry of the Year

Many of our fellow language professionals receive strange inquiries once in a while, ranging from someone willing to pay $30 for the translation of a 10-page aeronautical engineering document to someone's widow somewhere in Africa who needs documents translated into German (and no, it's not the Nigerian scam). Many times, our colleagues share these inquiries with us and give us a heads up on fishy inquiries. It's been relatively quiet on our bizarre inquiries front. However, this week, we received one that we want to share with our fellow translators. We are pretty sure no one would fall for this, but you never know. If you have also received this inquiry, we'd love to know.

We received an e-mail titled "Progress". Apparently, the sender has finished a book and needs help "writing, translating, and editing". The language pair is not specified. The sender goes on to state:

"I will be glad to send you the book by mail and its only 1170 pages."

Only 1170 pages? That's nothing. We can knock that out in an afternoon! Hard copy? No problem. We can scan 1170 pages.

"Let me know your charges for that.I graduated at the university of boston with a degree in writing and linguistics."

We doubt it.

"Also i will send you a deposit payment and then the balance later when the job is finished.

Let me have your address in making the payment so that we can begin work."

I don't think so!

"If you would like to travel, i will take full responsibility of your travel expenses so that you can get to meet some other people working for me towards the production of this book.You will be living comfortably in my home for 2 months and we all shall be working in my library."

Thank you very much, we don't want to live comfortably in your house. We have our own houses.

"Sorry , i don't make calls because i'm a stammerer so we can always communicate via email if thats not a problem but you can leave me a message."

Hm, maybe a little fishy?

We replied saying that we just don't have the bandwidth to take on a project of this magnitude at the moment. For *some* reason, we just don't feel comfortable sending our address to strangers and going to live in strangers' houses to work on a book with all travel expenses paid...

Interpreting Politics

Many times, there's an unsuspected intersection between politics and our profession. Although neither one of us in an American citizen, as our country of birth, Austria, does not allow double citizenship, but we are strong supporters of the party that does not feature an elephant.

As we have violated our self-imposed non-political-spending rule, we received an e-mail from the Obama folks that the candidate would be in Las Vegas this weekend. We headed to Bonanza High School and joined two friends and a crowd of 20,000 or so. You have to love Vegas weather -- it was a perfect fall day, with temperature in the 80s, which makes this a summer day elsewhere in the nation.

During Obama's powerful speech (during which, for some reason, he was not sweating like the rest of us), a sign language interpreter was moving her hands faster than a blackjack dealer at Bellagio (how's that for a Vegas reference?). It was quite impressive, and she even interpreted the few songs that preceded Obama's speech (who was, by the way, early). Talk about high-pressure simulatenous interpreting with all cameras on you, as she was standing right behind the presidential candidate, wearing a black business suit, the poor thing. It reminded me that there are so many different sides to our profession that we sometimes don't even think about. As blogged about in a previous post, high-quality language services are in demand!

Holocaust Translations

A few days ago, I discovered an article with my name that got indexed on my ZoomInfo professional networking site. The Internet is a wonderful thing, and I have run across many old press releases, newspaper articles, online comments, etc. that mention our past or current work. This one, however, is one I had not thought about it in quite some time, because it precedes my work as a professional translator and because it is about the bleakest subject one can possibly imagine: the Holocaust.

During my graduate days as an M.B.A. student at UNLV, I helped my friend and UNLV professor John Zimmerman with a project that is very dear to both our hearts: the rebuttal of completely unfounded conspiracy theories from an irrational group of Holocaust deniers, which he contributed to the Holocaust History Project. In spite of the unimaginable descriptions and lack of appreciation for human life that was painfully evident in the grim documents, I agreed to help John with the German into English translation and interpretation of texts written mostly in Amtsdeutsch (a needlessly formal language that is used in German government communications). John needed to know the content of these documents in order to substantiate his arguments and make his case, which is obvious to all normal people on this planet: the Holocaust did happen. Mainly, this involved digging through hundreds of pages of Nazi documentation, much of it in nearly indecipherable old German handwriting. As a native German speaker (there aren't many of us here in Vegas), I was a natural choice, but as an Austrian who is truly horrified of her country's involvement in one of the biggest atrocities in the history of humanity, I was a poor choice.

I am delighted to discover that John Zimmerman's work is an important part of the Holocaust History project, and while the words and translations still haunt me, I am proud to have played a tiny role in the fight against Holocaust deniers. You can read the study, which acknowledges the translator, here. In addition, John's work was published in book form, and he kindly acknowledges my contribution in the book's introduction. You can buy Holocaust Denial: Demographics, Testimonies and Ideologies here.

Joyce Carol Oates and Literary Translation in Vegas

One of America's preeminent writers and thinkers, prolific novelist Joyce Carol Oates, gave a reading at my alma mater, the University of Nevada Las Vegas on Saturday, hosted by UNLV's Black Mountain Institute. I was elated, as Vegas has infrequent visits by authors of her caliber.

Joyce Carol Oates is as thin and elegant as she appears on the back covers of her books, but there is nothing weak or frail in her voice, her wit, and her eloquence. Since she has been successfully publishing since the 60s, I was certain she must be past the age of 60, but had no idea she was actually 70 years young. She appears as fresh and sharp as a UNLV freshman (fresher, actually). She opened her reading by remarking she'd been in Vegas only 24 hours and had already lost 24 million dollars. Carol Harter, Executive Director of the Black Mountain Institute, introduced Oates, whom she'd known since the early 70s. The novelist read a part of a short story from her recent collection "Wild Nights!" in which she fictionalizes the last days of the lives of many notable authors and poets, including Hemingway, Dickinson, Twain, and Poe. In "EDickinsonRepliLux," a life-like mannequin of Emily Dickinson is purchased by a well-to-do suburban couple. It moves like Emily Dickinson, it talks like Emily Dickinson, but has no internal organs. Is what she writes real Emily Dickinson? The diminutive poet brings all sorts of problems into the house, and the husband finally says it: he hates poetry and he hates riddles.

Here in Las Vegas, I frequent places where one can run into supposed superstars from pop culture -- you name them, and they have been here. I couldn't care less about running into Pamela Anderson at Tryst or Britney Spears at Simon, but give me a famous author (Wole Soyinka, Tobias Wolff) and I am starstruck. I did muster up enough courage to have my two copies of Oates' most recent novel "My Sister, My Love" autographed. As always: one for me and one for Dagy. Oates was very gracious, and unlike many highly acclaimed authors (most recently, Paul Auster in Vienna) she even offered to inscribe the books while a journalist (you know who you are) was interviewing her during the autograph session.

On my way out I spoke to Doug Unger, interim chair of UNLV's English department, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 (although I am biased, I must say that I prefer Unger's work to Updike's), my undergraduate literature professor, Director of the Creative Writing Program at UNLV and my overall local literary hero. Doug and I briefly chatted about Black Mountain Institute's Rainmaker Translations, which seeks to translate works from underrepresented languages into English and bring translations of top international fiction to the United States. While none of our languages are exotic (German, Spanish, French), we would certainly be honored to participate in literary translations in academia and are thrilled that the Black Mountain Institute is involved in such a fantastic endeavor. However, in spite of our immense love of literature, we have thus far stayed away from poorly paid literary translations, but that can certainly be changed. As we mentioned in a previous post, our hats are off to our literary translation colleagues, especially to German translator Wibke Kuhn, who made Swedish author Stieg Larsson accessible to us.

MSNBC News Story: Lost in Translation/Interpretation

"In the beginning of the timing of the laws, I said there is no difficulties base." Huh? Rachel Maddow doesn't understand it either, and she's a Rhodes Scholar. Last night, I was watching her news program on MSNBC. I really like her show, and while her political stance (which I share) is hard to miss, she presents very interesting news. Last night, our profession was the topic of one news item. Check it out here -- it is priceless.

Apparently, the American government has not done a very good job at providing correct English<->Arabic interpretation for defendants in Guantánamo Bay. Rachel Maddow referred to "bad translations". While I certainly appreciate our profession and its importance being discussed and appreciated in the national news, it was clear to me that Ms. Maddow was talking about interpreters in court, not translators. Maybe the American Translators Association should send out a memo to all news stations: Translation = written word. Interpretation = spoken word. It's not that hard.

Basically, five key defendants charged in conjunction with 9/11 were moving towards jury trials, and their lawyers said that translations were done so on the cheap that they estimate that half of what defendants stated in the hearing room was mistranslated. That certainly doesn't make for a fair trial, does it? No wonder the State Department has been aggressively recruiting Arabic translators/interpreters.

Ms. Maddow mentioned another hilarious interpretation mishap. Somehow, "Osama bin Laden's driver" got interpreted as "Osama bin Laden's lawyer". With a smirk, she shrugged and said "Oh, what's the difference?" and cut to commercial break. So, thanks MSNBC for highlighting the importance (in this case, it really might be about life or death) of our profession. Next time, please do check the terminology, though.

Where Have All the Translators Gone?

Well, for the American translators and interpreters during election week in the U.S., that would be, drumroll, please: The 49th Annual ATA (American Translators Association) Conference in Orlando, Florida. From November 4 (yes, we know, election day) until November 8, several thousand language professionals will descend upon the Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort (really!) to partake in what is arguably the biggest exchange of translation information in the country.

Clients, consider yourselves warned: get your projects in before the end of October, as most of my fellow translators and I will be entering into heated language discussions, dissecting pronouns, false friends, and learning from each other, among other language-oriented activities in Orlando.

I will be attending several very interesting pre-conference seminars on November 4, and have decided, as I have done in previous years, to fully focus my energy on the conference (translation: taking no work with me). I will, after all, need a lot of energy, as I average four sessions a day, plus networking events, happy hours, division meetings, roaming around the exhibitor hall to score the latest and greatest dictionaries, etc. My Blackberry is not invited.

The ATA Conference will be my fifth in a row, and I can't sing its praises enough: the hundreds of sessions run the gamut from accounting principles for translators (taught by expert German translator Ted Wozniak) to dilemmas in translating Cormac McCarthy's work to Web 2.0 for translators, translation environment tools, etc. etc. Some of the sessions I am looking forward to the most this year are: Negotiating Skills and Tips and Techniques for Getting Media Coverage in Your Area. I have already planned out my schedule for the entire week, and needless to say, I have several sessions I would like to go to for each time slot. Next time I am bringing my twin, Dagy. I will have to look into discounted fees for twins.

As if all this is not enough, the entire conference is a bargain at around $300 for the three-day main conference for ATA members. I have been to marketing conferences that run $700 per day, so this really is a sweet deal. Of course, the icing on the cake is always the incredible time I have with my favorite translator friends. I also look forward to finally meeting some colleagues I have only met in the virtual world of ATA listservs and fellow translation bloggers.

For more information and to register for the conference, check out the ATA site.

Translating Nevada

It’s official! As of this week, I am a proud board member of the recently formed Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association (NITA). A few months ago, I was considering starting such an association, but luckily I heard through my colleague Karen Tkaczyx, a fellow translator who lives in northern Nevada, that NITA had been started earlier this year.

NITA is headquartered in Reno, and I am thrilled to be representing the organization in my neck of the woods (Las Vegas). As opposed to many other western states (mainly, California), Nevada has not had a strong statewide professional translation and interpretation association, and NITA is bound to change that! My fellow board members, including president Tracy Young, Rossana Bertrani-Roach, Álvaro Degives-Más, MariCarmen Cresci, Yovanna Estep and Karen Tkaczyx are committed to advancing and elevating the quality and availability of language services in the state of Nevada. NITA offers its members professional development opportunities, unique NITA e-mail addresses, access to the NITA ListServ, and much more. Our organization has experienced significant growth since its inception earlier this year, and if you are a language professional in the Silver State, we would love for you to join us. If you would like to get involved and help us grow, please drop me a line.

Here’s to our successful professional association in the Wild Wild West!

Paul Auster: Goose Bumps in Vienna

We are voracious readers of fiction in four languages, amateur self-appointed literature critics, and literature bloggers. We generally do not translate fiction, as translating serious literature is an enormous and complex task that is unfortunately mostly not very well paid. Our hats are off to our extremely talented literary translation colleagues. Thank you, translator Wibke Kuhn, for making Stieg Larsson’s fantastic Swedish-language books accessible to us in German (now available in English on Amazon).

We really like Paul Auster, the American novelist, and were thrilled to hear that he would be in Vienna to give a much-anticipated (and very well attended) reading from his new book “Man in the Dark.” The event’s organizer, a prominent figure in the Austrian literary scene, asked us to translate his German introduction speech for Mr. Auster into English. Here’s an excerpt from the text:

Via Paul Auster’s books I thus entered an eerie but incredibly attractive world of gamblers and compulsive gamblers, which closely resembles film noir, in which oftentimes chance also plays God and lets people stumble into inhumane destinies so they will finally understand that there is no God – unless they could recognize Dashiell Hammett as their creator, which of course comes with a kafkaesque Moebius strip.

This line is made for Vegas:
But not even the fractional disorder systems which were subject of such high praise during the heyday of the chaos theory helped my Auster heroes win in the gambling joints of their existence, because regardless of how cool of a player you are: strategy without luck is no good.

The reading was yesterday, October 1, at the venerable Ronacher theater in Vienna. Dagy was, of course, there (Judy wasn’t, due to a long commute from Vegas), and, for the very first time, heard one of our texts read by a professionally trained speaker (a native English speaker, thankfully) in front of 1,000 people. It gave her goose bumps, and we were pretty proud of our little project. After all, we don’t get to hear our translations read out aloud on a stage very often. Paul Auster might not know us, but we now know a bit more about Paul Auster. There is some more information on the novelist's reading on Dagy's German-language blog.

A Question of Grammar

By way of introduction: Dagy serves on the national board of directors of the Austrian equivalent of the American Translators Association (ATA), and is running into an interesting problem in the naming of the organization.
The Austrian Translators' and Interpreters' Association, formerly known as Österreichischer Übersetzer- und Dolmetscherverband UNIVERSITAS, is being renamed Universitas Austria – Berufsverband für Dolmetschen und Übersetzen – Interpreters' and Translators' Association (yes, all that; it's quite a mouthful).
While I won't get into the choice our members voted for, I do want to discuss a question of grammar. The Association's new name is to include an English translation (see above). While I think the use of the apostrophe is grammatically correct because we're dealing with a genitive plural, some associations in English-speaking countries do not use the apostrophe, first and foremost the American Translators Association. Then there are others who do, such as the Irish Translators' and Interpreters' Association. Judy is also a new member of another organization without an apostrophe: NITA (Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association).
So now we both wonder: which one is the correct version? What is the grammatical explanation for omitting the apostrophe? Is there one? Does it just look better? Please join the discussion by posting your comments below. We would love to hear fellow translators' and language professionals' opinions (please note our nice use of the apostrophe here) on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Bible for Freelance Translators

Surely many of you have heard of French->English translator, frequent American Translators Association (ATA) presenter and technology guru Corinne McKay. A big cornerstone of Corinne’s work is her fantastic self-published book “How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator”, for which she is currently writing the second edition. Full disclosure: Corinne is not only one of the most talented and most involved translators we know, but she’s also a good friend of Judy’s, who is often in awe of Corinne’s seemingly endless enthusiasm, expertise, and insight.
Whether you are just getting started in translation or are hoping to take your practice to the next level, Corinne’s book is a concise, easy-to-read, well-organized, and beautifully written manual on how to make it in the translation world. The chapters, which include overviews of the translation business, starting and growing your own business, home office setup, business growth, etc., contain lots of helpful information. Tips and suggestions range from important technology-related information (how to back-up your data on your computer, how to receive online faxes), to things you wouldn’t have thought of on your own (get a separate ringtone on your existing phone so you can identify the business call), to very essential aspects such as information on corporate identities, (which I found to be most helpful), tax planning, rates, invoicing, accounting, potential pitfalls, terms of service, etc. “10 ways to please a client” is also a good and important read for all of us. Under the book’s resource section, there’s a myriad of useful information on translation associations, U.S. government agencies that hire translators, etc.
As Corinne is very well versed in translation technologies, and specifically, open-source software, her chapters on translation home office technology, translation memory software, and non-Western characters set are a must-read. Judy learned from the author’s presentation at the 2005 ATA Conference in Seattle that it’s quite a necessity to get a second monitor for her computer to facilitate research and translation work. Who knew – all you need is a second video card. We had never thought about it before – and that’s where Corinne comes in with great ideas. To get your own copy, visit Corinne’s site.

The Translation Sample Dilemma

So far, we've been fortunate enough to work with direct clients only, steering clear of agencies. However, some potential direct clients seem to have adapted a controversial approach commonly used by agencies: sample translations. While nobody would think about asking a lawyer or a CPA for free work with the goal of verifying his or her qualifications, it is common practice with translators. Why is that?

We believe that part of the reason is our profession's low prestige (we might discuss this issue in the future). Be that as it may, while we usually decline to do a free sample translation, we offer to send the potential clients previous translations in the area of expertise that they are looking for. But hey, we do make occasional exceptions, especially when we are really interested in a project or if we feel that the client is just about to hire us if we just did the darn sample translation.

We draw the line at half a page, which does not stop potential clients (among others, the Austrian Umweltbundesamt, a public authority) from asking for several pages translated at no charge. While we do believe in accommodating our clients, we have no intention of becoming the Mother Teresa of translation. Why should we? After all, we are trying to run a business here.

To spend or not to spend?

A few days ago, I was telling a friend and business associate about my decision to join my twin in working full-time on our translation business and leave the corporate world behind.

The first question my friend asked me was whether I had an advertising and marketing budget. I was taken aback by this a bit -- what budget? As most of us who are self-employed and run very small businesses, our budgets are limited, to say the very least. In the beginning, we are keeping our so-called budget for the U.S. to a minimum to include:
  • American Translators Association (ATA) membership
  • Going to the ATA conference in Orlando in November
  • Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association membership
  • Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce membership, which includes an ad in their directory
  • Some local networking organizations
  • Creating company profiles to send out to potential customers (free, only my time)
  • Creating profiles on translator websites (free, only my time)
  • Some other random expenses
Other than that, that's it. We will mostly focus on search engine optimization, as that's largely free. Are we missing something? We have heard from several of you before saying your marketing strategies are pretty similar to ours. So what's your take? Do we need a marketing budget? My friend made me feel a bit silly for not having one, but I think I am on the right track. Dagy found an interesting option from Vistaprint. I am sure most of you are familiar with their services (free or inexpensive business cards, etc.), but we came across a free decal that you can order to place on your car, or minivan, or window, or scooter (I guess won't work that well on a bike). The first one is free, and you only pay shipping. Of course, Vistaprint offers a seemingly endless array of special offers during the checkout process, so it takes a few minutes to decline them all, but it's worth it (unless you are translating 10,000 words today, which I am not). The best part we got out of this offer was a coupon for $25 in Google ad words. I can't quite envision what it would actually look like on my Prius, but I figured it's worth a try. Marketing/advertising budget for today: $4.53.

¡Viva Hidalgo! ¡Viva Morelos! ¡Viva México!

We are delighted to see that today even the mighty Google is paying tribute to the most important Mexican celebration of the year: Mexican Independence Day (Día de la independencia mexicana), which is celebrated tonight. Google's logo is decorated in the colors of the Mexican flag and features the bell that Miguel Hidalgo rang for the first time in the early morning hours on September 16, 1810, signaling the beginning of a new era. It was a monumental day in the modern history of Mexico, and it's celebrated in grand style throughout North America.

For Las Vegas, this means thousands and thousands of Mexican visitors who have been coming to Vegas for decades for the festivities. And it makes sense, as the top Mexican entertainers are performing : Luis Miguel at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Alejandro Fernández at Mandalay Bay, legendary comedian Polo Polo at the House of Blues, and a few others.

Presidente Felipe Calderón will take to the balcony of the Zócalo (the main plaza in Mexico City) tonight to do the traditional grito de Dolores, shouting the famous words to tens of several hundred thousand people filling the Zócalo: ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! Those same
grito will be heard at every party, on every plaza in the smallest of towns, and from many rooftops, including ours. No translation needed.

Does the world need another translation blog?

Short answer: probably not. However, we are undeterred as we think that there are not enough translation blogs in cyberspace that are written by twins.

Yes, we really are twins. Identical. We love languages; several of them: Spanish, German, French and well, English. For simplicity's sake, we will be posting in English, perhaps with the occasional entry in another language. We also collect grammar and translation mistakes, and Dagy has a German bad translations blog for that. We also love literature in our four languages, and Dagy, a prolific blogger, shares her take on fiction on her German-language literature blog.
Judy lives in Las Vegas, NV and is not a showgirl or a cocktail waitress, but as you might have guessed, a translator. Dagy lives in Vienna, Austria, and has run her translation business for six years. Together we now run our small business, aptly named Twin Translations.
We hope that this translation blog becomes a forum for fellow translators and language enthusiasts. We will be sharing (hopefully) insightful things about the translation business, our work, our experiences, ask others to share information, or sometimes just post interesting tidbits of information that could be of interest for fellow translators and non-translators alike.
Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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