Sunday, March 09, 2014

I submitted my presentation proposal for ATA55

I have just submitted my presentation proposal for the 55th ATA Conference. If the ATA accepts my proposal, I'll give an advanced-level presentation on Xbench for Translation Management and Translation QA.

...and since Corinne McKay had the idea for a badge, and French/Hungarian>English translator Carolyn Yohn created one and made it available, I'll also proudly display it

Friday, March 07, 2014

Mafalda, Libertad and translation

I've always liked Quino's Mafalda: I think it's much better than Peanuts. One of my favorite strips has always been this, about translators...

 (click on the strip to open a larger version in a new window) 

For those who don't know Spanish:
Mafalda: "What's your mom typing?"
Libertad: "Translations of books, because what my dad makes only pays for the rent. My mum knows French. The French write books in French, my mom copies them the way we speak, and with what that brings in she buys noodles and stuff like that. There's this guy... wait, what's his name? Yanpol... Yanpol Belmondo... no, Yanpol... Sastre, is it?"
Mafalda: "Ah! Sartre?"
Libertad: "That one! The last chicken we ate was written by him!"
(Translation adapted from the one posted in Bob's Comics Reviews)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

15 tips on how to increase your chances when contacting translation companies

Our tiny translation company does not advertise for translators, since we do most work internally or with the help of a small group of trusted colleagues. Yet, every day I receive on average a dozen messages from translators offering their services for various language combinations. Unfortunately, most of these messages are written in a way that ensures they end in the junk mail folder.
Here are some tips you might find useful to increase your chances of success:
  1. Research your prospects.
    Find out who they are and to whom your message should be addressed. If you are sending your message without specifying to whom it is addressed, your message will be treated as spam. If most of your prospects are translation companies, find out if they prefer new translators to contact them by email: many translation companies prefer candidates to fill a form on their website. If that is their preferred way to collect information from freelancers, usually contacting them by email instead is a waste of time.
  2. Find out what kind of translations they do.
    You need to know what specializations they need from their translators. This will help you craft a more targeted and more successful message: for a translation company it is much more interesting to receive a message that says “I’m an English into Italian translator with a degree in mechanical engineering and over ten years’ experience translating maintenance manuals for naval turbines” than a generic “I translate from English French, German and Portuguese into Italian”.
  3. Keep the Subject of your message brief and to the point.
    A good subject, for example, could be “English > Italian translator with 10 years of experience, specialized in mechanical engineering”. That is better than, for example “Spanish Freelance Translator/Proofreader” , and much better than “Searching better opportunity at your respective company” (an actual subject line from a misguided translator.)
  4. Write your message very carefully.
    If you are writing in a language that is not your native one, I recommend you have a native speaker edit it. Remember: the purpose of your message is to entice your prospect in opening your résumé.
  5. Don’t say that you translate from your native language into a foreign one.
    Doing so ensure you will be treated as an amateur. If you are one of those rare people who are native speakers of more than one language (true bilingual), do say so, but be prepared to say how exactly you came to be a true bilingual (“I traveled and studied in X country” won’t do, but “My mother is English, my father Italian, each only speaks to me in their native language, and, while living in Italy, I studied from first grade through high school in an international school where most classes were taught in English” might.)
  6. Write your name and language pair in the heading of your résumé.
    For example, “Mario Rossi, English into Italian translator”.
  7. Keep your résumé brief.
    No more than one page if you don’t have extensive experience, no more than two in all other instances.
  8. Don’t include your rates in your email message or in your résumé. Talking about rates comes later.
  9. Don't include your references.
    Providing them, if asked, comes later.
  10. Make sure your résumé is written flawlessly.
    Again, if it is not in your native language, consider having it edited by a native speaker.
  11. Localize your résumé for your target market.
    For instance a résumé for a French prospect should include your photo, but a résumé for an American company should not.
  12. Make sure your résumé contains all the necessary information, but no irrelevant details. If you have minimal experience, it’s OK to include in your résumé information about other kind of work, but, as soon as you do gain some translation experience, remove the extraneous information.
  13. Make sure that all the information you provide in your message and in your résumé is verifiable.
  14. What you should include in your résumé: Your working language pairs, how best to contact you, your translation experience, other relevant work experience, education, expertise with specific software programs (for example, CAT tools or DTP programs: don’t include in the list of programs that you know how to use Word or Excel – it is assumed that everybody knows how to handle them), and platform (PC or Mac.)
  15. What you should not include in your résumé: personal information such as your age or marital status (normally: see above – if a résumé for your target market usually does include such information, use your best judgment about whether to include that information or not). Also not to be included: your hobbies and personal interests. An exception to this is if your hobbies contribute to your specialization. So “I am a passionate skier, and I have competed at international level. This experience has helped me when I translated technical manuals for Rossignol” is OK, while “I like reading and classical music” is not.
Finally, very important:
Remember: it’s you who decides what your rates are, not the translation companies. Conversely, translation companies are free to accept your rates, reject them, or try to get you to lower them.

P.S. to New commenting policy – Anonymous spammers

After publishing the new commenting policy a few days ago, the spammers have really stepped up their pointless efforts: About Translation is now receiving several dozen comments a day from “Anonymous”. All these comments go directly to spam (and deservedly so).

Unfortunately this means that when you leave a comment here, if you do it anonymously, it is most most unlikely that I’ll retrieve it from the spam folder and publish it.

If you have something interesting to say, please do so under your own name, or (if you really must), use some alias.

I’m sorry: I also preferred this blog when comments were published immediately. This is no longer possible, thanks to the stupidity and greed of these anonymous trolls.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

New commenting policy

It used to be that, in order to have a more immediate discussion, you could leave commenting open on a blog.

Then spam comments begun to appear. At first they were an infrequent, minor nuisance, and a bit of clean-up once in a while was enough for keeping a blog clean.

Spam comments grew in frequency, which lead many bloggers to impose stricter moderation policies.

In this blog I started by leaving all comments open, but after a few years I had to impose moderation on all comments older than a certain date. Still, I tried to keep open commenting for the most recent posts.

But spam comments now have grown to the point that even for the most recent posts it is necessary to moderate all comments. I’m sorry for this, but I now have to direct all comments through the moderation queue.

I’ll try to post all legitimate comments as soon as possible, but some will end up being delayed – especially if they are written when I’m not at the computer.