When Bad Translations Happen to Good People

I received an assignment from a long-standing client last week that made my Spidey-sense tingle as soon as I read the instructions. It was billed as a super easy review of a translation done in-house at a hospital which should take no more than half an hour. Uh-huh. A quick glance at the translation told me that this was going to take a lot more than thirty minutes, especially since they also wanted me to explain every change I made and check the terminology against a reference document. I explained I’d only be able to scratch the surface in that time, so the agency agreed to pay me for an hour and asked me to do what I could within that time frame.

It was a textbook case of You Get What You Pay for and Why the #&!! Did You Not Hire a Professional in the First Place. Continue reading

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Blogs – What Are They Good For

Blogging, what is it good for

Image by Mike Licht on Flickr

If your response to this title is “Absolutely nothing, HUH! (say it again y’all),” to the tune of War, What is it Good For, you are probably thinking in terms of how effective blogs are as marketing tools. A common complaint is that blogs do nothing to bring in new clients and are therefore a waste of time.

It’s an interesting debate which surely does not just apply to the translation industry, so out of curiosity I decided to look at a few other professions to see how their practitioners use blogs. Continue reading

Why I Hate the Phone (and other thoughts on business communication)

relationsipsThis is the first time I’ve posted a blog in a while, as my social media activities have been on the back burner for the past month. Nothing against y’all, but I’ve had family from the Netherlands staying with me and there is only so much of myself to go around. I did keep tabs on other people’s posts and tweets so I know I have a lot of good stuff to catch up on, but I’ve mostly been confined to lurker status.

During this period of social abstinence a few thoughts occurred to me about my usual forms of interaction.

If you’ve read some of my other posts you know I’m not a fan of the phone call. Continue reading

Deal With it: Developing Thicker Skin as a Translator

feedbackAs translators we spend a lot of time in the safety and comfort of our office, and those of us who are also introverts are just fine with that. (If you agree that e-mail is the best invention since the answering machine you know what I’m talking about.) So while we’re not exactly out there putting our fragile selves on the line like stand-up comics in front of a tough crowd, there are some aspects of our profession that do require thick skin. Here are two I’ve had to deal with. Continue reading

“We’re Very Sorry to Hear about Your Problem ….” – Retaining Your Sanity in a 24/7 Economy

clockI’m starting to feel like I’ve wandered into some sort of Customer Service Bermuda Triangle. I place orders, submit my payment, and the item inexplicably disappears. Last week I wrote about a run-in with a local company. Yesterday I checked on an online order I placed with a different company two weeks ago, only to discover that unbeknownst to me, it had been cancelled because the order form was apparently incomplete.

Fair enough, but my question to them is: you had my email, so why did no one bother to tell me that the order had been cancelled, or better yet, ask me for the missing information so the order could be completed? Their only response was that they were very sorry to hear about my problem, and that next time perhaps I should order by phone so a representative can place the order for me. Translation: “You are clearly an idiot who should not be using a computer. Next time pick up the phone. Can you handle that?” Thank you, but I don’t think there will be a next time. Continue reading