What I learned in June 2016

That the free in freelancer means just that. Free to do a test or not. Free to refuse if you feel unwell, have no time, or just don’t like the look of the test (why do some agencies insist on using a cutting from a newspaper that has absolutely nothing to do with the types of texts you will supposedly end up translating for them?). And, of course, as I discussed with Elena Tereschenkova and Dmitry Kornyukov when they kindly invited me to chat with them one Wednesday on their live Blab chat show on translation called “Blabbing Translators“, free to pick and choose the advice we are bombarded with in this profession on social media without worrying about ignoring something often portrayed as essential.

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What I learned in May 2016

Unfortunately, I learned in May, and not for the first time either, that some clients show no respect for me at all. After chasing payment from a direct client for three months and listening patiently to their promises and excuses, I decided to send them another invoice detailing the late interest* now due. This is the second time I’ve had to reissue an invoice and demonstrate to a direct client that I mean business. But it’s also the second time that interest has not been paid.

Although in both cases the new invoice met with an immediate response (agreed new payment date one week later that was met, and same-day payment), I’m rather dismayed that the interest I added (which, let’s face it, is a paltry sum) was totally ignored. Besides complete non-payment and ignoring reminder emails, nothing else feels like such a slap in the face.

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What I learned in April 2016

April was completely overshadowed by my female greyhound, Lara, being ill from start to finish. We noticed she was limping badly and had a swollen back leg with a strange lump on her foot over the Easter weekend. The vet thought she had an abscess, so she lanced it, but instead it turned out to be a strange case of blood vessels that had somehow clumped together and risen to the surface. As it wouldn’t stop bleeding (she’d cut an artery), we had to take her to the Queen Mother Hospital in north London where she stayed for a couple of days.

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Resources Galore and the Danger of Sweeping Generalisations

Library4Among the scores of posts published on translation blogs every day, very few manage to reach out and grab my full attention as much as Kevin Fernandez’s on The Open Mic. Provocatively entitled Why I Don’t Use Bilingual Dictionaries and Why You Shouldn’t Either, I knew I wasn’t going to agree with the content before I even started reading it. And although he softens the initial impact of his title by assuring us that he isn’t actually advocating that “we should never use them”, the beast had already been unleashed, sending everyone scurrying off to defend their respective corners.

I can appreciate that excessive use of a bilingual dictionary as a prop without exploring whether its suggestions are appropriate for the context in question is not helpful. This is especially true if you are a language student trying to get to grips with the intricacies of a language. But giving impressionable young professional translators the idea that it is wrong to even use a bilingual dictionary for their work is counterproductive.

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What I learned in March 2016

As I’m not the most tech-savvy of people, it usually takes me a while to pick up the basics, let alone the niceties, of any program. In March I finally learned a few more commands in DNS (Dragon NaturallySpeaking), specifically how to underline, put in italics and make bold. For example, in the previous sentence, if you want to put “specifically” in italics, you say “select specifically” followed by “italicise that”. If you want to underline it, you select it and then say “underline that” and (I’m sure you’ve got the idea by now) if you want it to be bold, you say “bold that”.

Made a mistake and want to reverse what you’ve done? Just select the word again and repeat the same commands. In other words, if specifically is already in italics and you say “select specifically, italicise that”, it will revert back to normal Roman type. I also tried this with “All caps that” (the command to capitalise a word or phrase you’ve previously selected), but unfortunately it didn’t work.

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What I learned in February 2016

In February I learned that LinkedIn lets you classify your connections using a feature called tagging. By using simple keywords, you can group people by where you met them, the language combination they translate, whether they interpret, live in your country, etc. I must admit I haven’t tried this yet, but it does sound quite useful.

If you’d like to find out more about how to get the most out of LinkedIn, please see my miniseries on the topic. I’ve written five parts so far and I still have at least two more to go. As with most things connected with my blog, my problem is not finding the ideas, but the time, especially as I’ve been spending a lot more it with my family recently.

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What I learned in January 2016

In January I learned that Twitter has removed the cap on the number of accounts you can add to lists (it used to be 500) and the number of lists you can have (it used to be 20). This probably happened ages ago, so I’d been missing out on making the most of Twitter, since the limits were one of the major reasons why I never bothered with lists.

Now that you can add up to 5000 accounts to your lists and create up to 1000 lists, I’ll be using Hootsuite a lot more often to keep a tab on everything that’s going on.

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2016: Here We Come!

First and foremost, I’d like to wish you all a happy, successful 2016. Times are hard for many across the globe and I’m sure this is no exception for some translator and interpreter colleagues, especially those living in or working for countries still suffering the effects of the great recession.

Machine translation (MT) is also increasingly impacting on our businesses, and certainly not always in a positive way. While many have embraced PEMT (post-editing of machine translation), I hope out of choice rather than necessity (it’s certainly not something I want to do), others, like myself, shy away from MT altogether. Whatever our feelings about MT, however, it is an area we need to keep an eye on and decide how to deal with. A guest post in the pipeline should help us to do just that.

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Books on My Shelves – 101 Things a Translator Needs to Know

Perhaps the first thing you should do when you open your copy of 101 Things a Translator Needs to Know is skip to the final few pages and be awed by the credentials and careers of the colleagues that put it together. Eighteen contributors are listed, although apparently the WLF Think Tank behind the book includes more members. Once you discover who you’re dealing with, then you can turn back to the beginning with the realisation that this is a meatier tome than the simplistic cover and drawings might lead you to believe.

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Turn-of-the-year Reflections and Resolutions

DSCF3406In many respects, 2013 was quite a good year professionally. After spending many years chained to the house as a result of childcare duties, I was finally allowed a pass to attend my first ever conference (although that probably had a lot to do with the venue only being a few miles or so up the road). The conference also inspired me to get around to writing something for the blog at long last (my take on the IAPTI event in London). I had such a good time and found the experience so rewarding that I cannot wait to find an opportunity to escape again in 2014. There are quite a few events to choose from, and which one (or ones—I can live in hope) I end up at will no doubt depend on family circumstances, since we have quite a lot in the pipeline this year. Under consideration so far are:

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