The Seven-Year Itch in Translation

The most dangerous drivers, statistically, are those who have had their license for about a year. They start feeling comfortable and relax their vigilance even though they are actually not that experienced yet, leading to a higher accident rate. Similarly, the seven-year mark is reportedly a tricky time in a relationship. The thrill of conquest and romance has worn off and gradually gets replaced, it seems, by bills, annoying nose-blowing habits and demanding in-laws.

Translation careers go through phases as well, some exciting and some not so much, and it’s good to be aware and prepared so you don’t wreck your career through misplaced confidence or throw it all to the wind when difficult times (inevitably) arrive. Continue reading

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The Translator’s Dilemma

prisonersThere is a famous scenario in game theory called The Prisoner’s Dilemma. In this scenario, two suspects are arrested and brought in for questioning in separate rooms. As it stands, the prosecutors don’t have enough evidence to convict the pair on the principal charges, so they really need at least one of the two to confess. Continue reading

All About the Rates

I can’t get rid of this catchy Meghan Trainor earworm, except in my head it goes “It’s all about the rates, ‘bout the rates, no trouble”. This is not true, of course, because where rates are discussed trouble is not far behind, or so we are told, but what the heck. I’ll start.

I started my translation career working for $0.05/word on, where else, Proz.com. I just bumped into the site one day while job hunting, and I was beyond thrilled that here, apparently, was a way back into the profession I had thought I’d had to give up for good when I abandoned my Translation studies at the University of Amsterdam to move to the agricultural Central Valley of California. So when I found Proz and realized that physical location no longer mattered, I set up a profile faster than you can say “bulk-versus-premium market” and happily jumped into the bidding fray. Continue reading

Rants and raves from the translation desk

aggravationDo you ever have one of those weeks that is filled with small setbacks whose power to aggravate is completely out of proportion to their significance? It’s been one of those for me.

One project was a series of transcripts for a nurse who wants to work in California. The translations had to be printed, certified, notarized and sent by registered mail. I had several deadlines looming over me and all these steps were eating up precious time, and of course every. single. time I printed out one page I would find a tiny error, or an inconsistency, or a better term I could have used. After about the fifth time I just about lost it and the only reason the printer didn’t go sailing out the window is because I didn’t want to pay for another one. Continue reading

Professional Feedback

Feedback

The best feedback I ever received was in response to a translation for a new agency several years ago. The proofreader had a problem with the terminology I had used, explaining that the most authoritative reference in this field was this particular lexicon which I had obviously not used. I was fairly new to the field, so I immediately went out and got my hands on this holy grail of terminology, which has been a life-saver on more than a few occasions since. So even though the critique stung a bit, I am grateful for it because it told me something I really needed to know in a straightforward, non-offensive way.

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