Donnerstag, 31. März 2011

25 Things Translators Should Never Do

(originally published by yndigo)

I happened upon a New York Times blog post listing the 100 things restaurant staffers should never do — part one and two — and thought the idea good enough to steal (somehow, “no stealing” wasn’t high on our list). Despite the title, many of the don’ts apply more to agencies and their staff. Some to individual translators. And some to any service related job.
  1. Never forget to thank the client for requesting a quote (even if you don’t get the assignment).
  2. Never assume a new client has used translation services before, or the converse. Some customers are new to the experience, and some are savvier than you’d imagine.
  3. Never leave a request for information without a response. If you were on vacation/your computer crashed/you’re thinking of a career change, respond to all inquiries no matter how late. “I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I hope everything worked out alright,” confirms your reputation as a professional.
  4. Never try to impress a client by using industry jargon or acronyms. TRADOS often means little to those in the outside world. In emails and conversations, always use the full explanation of a term the first time it is mentioned.
  5. Never tell a client, “That turnaround time is not possible.” Instead try, “Here’s what I can do in that time,” or offer to start delivering parts of the project within the deadline. Chances are good that your client’s deadline isn’t wholly within their control. Instead of relaying to their manager that you said the deadline isn’t possible, they will pick up the phone and call another provider.
  6. On the other hand, never promise a deadline you know you can’t meet. You wouldn’t want a plumber promising to fix your only toilet within a few hours knowing he can’t do it until three days later.
  7. If a deadline seems tight, do not forget to inquire why it is so. If your client needs to quickly review a document for content, you may be able to deliver a translation “For Informational Purposes Only” by their deadline, and follow up with an edited version shortly after.
  8. Never respond to a request for services with an emphasis on how busy you already are with other assignments. You might succeed in showing how in demand you are, but you will likely make them think twice about calling again. Thank the caller for their consideration and drop them a note when your workload lightens up.
  9. Never hesitate to be truthful when necessary. “You may need to use another vendor for that assignment,” shows sincere concern for your client’s project and will encourage them to contact you again. This applies to individual translators — who are more accustomed to the practice of referring colleagues — and to agencies too. Offer a lead if you are able.
  10. Never let your client hear you denigrate other translators or agencies. Although it is important to get today’s assignment, it is vital to leave a positive impression if you want the client to recommend your services to others.
  11. Never miss the chance to show respect for your client’s knowledge of their industry. Focusing primarily on your knowledge of translation may indirectly belittle their input.
  12. Never assume you already know everything you need to know about your language pair(s) or specialty(ies). Translation is one of those professions where you can continue to learn and grow if you remain open-minded.
  13. Never make excuses for your rate; you are offering a professional service. Do the homework to make sure your rates are within industry standards.
  14. Never increase your rate based solely on your perception of the client’s wealth or budget. Their budget is subject to change from month to month, and you might unwittingly price yourself out of a long-term relationship.
  15. Don’t be too rigid about turnaround times or pricing. After an initial quote, there are often ways to negotiate your services to save the client money. Ask the client to prioritize price, schedule, and quality, and offer to work around those priorities.
  16. Never offer a firm quote without looking at the WHOLE source text.
  17. Never forget to ask a client for a style preference or style sheet on especially long or ongoing assignments. It is your job to know that these exist.
  18. Never wait to look at the source text. Examine it as soon as possible even if you are in the middle of another assignment. Two hours before the deadline is too late to ask for a more legible copy.
  19. Never assume your client has thoroughly examined the source text. You may discover text already in the target language, which is good news; or you may discover text in a third language, which is not.
  20. Never contact the client the first time you come across a discrepancy in the source file. The answer you seek may lie somewhere later on in the file.
  21. Never barrage your client with petty questions, like “Which do you prefer, “AM” or “A.M.”? Have your own default in-house style guide. If you want to check the client’s preference for small stylistic issues, send a note with the finished translation leaving the client the option of not responding. For example, “I used ‘AM’ in the translation. Let me know if you’d like me to change it.” Although you may be finished with the project, it’s probable that your client is not and does not have time to discuss such matters.
  22. Never let the client intimidate you into changing a translation you know is correct. Offer to consult a colleague regarding the proposed changes.
  23. As a translator, never charge for reviewing your own translation. It’s a given. As an agency, be clear about what your price includes in terms of editing, proofreading and other QC procedures.
  24. Never forget to ask the client to confirm receipt of the delivered translation.
  25. Never forget that human translation is an organic product. Be open to reviewing completed translations, be willing to admit mistakes, and be prepared to defend yourself with solid resources beyond, “I’ve been doing this a long time.” You may have been doing it wrong for a long time.

Freitag, 25. März 2011

Multi-tasking - yes or no?

To do two things at once is to do neither. (Publius Syrus)

We all know the saying that women can multi-task and men cannot. And we all know that this is not necessarily true and probably also know more than one example for the complete opposite.
Personally, I am a bit torn about this. On the one hand, I have been multi-tasking since long before I ever heard of it (and no, I don't mean being able to chew gum and cross the street at the same time.) I like to be as efficient as possible, making the best use of my (and others') time and resources.
On the other hand, I often feel that it can be discourteous too. I'm sure you have had this happen to you before: you are talking with someone who is not even looking at you but rather glued to his mobile device, thumbs rapidly moving across the display, while nodding as if listening. But is he really? Talking on the phone while searching for something on the computer, for example, may be helpful if what you are looking for has something to do with the conversation. But if we are honest, oftentimes it doesn't. And that basically means I am only giving the person I am talking to part of my attention, which is something I don't like people doing to me, whether on the phone or in person. Yet I find myself doing it again and again.
Or what about constantly switching between two (or more) tasks? Not exactly doing several things at once, but in a way it is. Can we really give the individual tasks the necessary attention to do them well? Sometimes I wonder...
Interestingly, though, for me it is rare that I can work and listen to music without being distracted by it, but that may have more to do with the fact that I am a musician than with anything else, yet I know of many people who cannot imagine working without something going on in the background. I prefer silence, complete, if possible, and I know I function best when I have it.
I have come across several studies (sorry, can't remember where now) indicating that doing one thing after the other produces better results than multi-tasking, and that even the apparent time savings are lost again having to correct errors that would not have happened if the tasks had been tackled one at a time.
So what are your thoughts? Experiences? Habits? I'm sure there are tasks that are suited very well to be done together, but is it alway the best way?

Freitag, 18. März 2011

Die Entscheidung ist gefallen

Und zwar die, keinen Sprachunterricht mehr anzubieten. Überlegt hatte ich es schon länger, und nicht nur, weil nur sehr selten Anfragen dafür kamen. Als ich gestern an der Firma vorbei fuhr, in der ich zuletzt Business English unterrichtet hatte (was inzwischen bald schon wieder zwei Jahre her ist), hing dort ein Schild "Zu verkaufen" - traurige Konsequenz der Wirtschaftskrise, denn der Aufschwung ist eben doch nicht überall angekommen, bzw. nicht rechtzeitig.
Ich bringe Anderen zwar gerne etwas bei, aber der Aufwand fürs Unterrichten (Vorbereitung, Nachbereitung etc.) stand irgendwie nie im Verhältnis zum Verdienst. Da ich außerdem auf dem Land wohne, ist auch eine Tätigkeit in der Stadt, die vielleicht lukrativer wäre, keine wirkliche Option, denn die Fahrtzeit muss ich ja im Aufwand auch mitrechnen.
Letztes Jahr hatte ich ein paar Mal Gelegenheit Workshops bzw. Seminare zu halten, und die Impromptu-Einführung zu memoQ beim letzten BDÜ-Stammtisch hat meine noch keimende Idee bekräftigt, dass ich mich mehr darauf konzentrieren will. Themen habe ich ja bereits einige gesammelt, alle im Zusammenhang mit Computer bzw. Internet/Web 2.0, und dafür besteht definitiv Interesse. Anfragen gab es auch schon, sogar aus dem Nachbar-Landesverband, es ist also vermutlich nur eine Frage der Zeit, bis ich wieder ein Seminar halten darf. Und das löst in mir Vorfreude aus, im Gegensatz zum Unterrichten, was zuletzt ein eher gestresstes Seufzen zur Folge hat.

Donnerstag, 10. März 2011

New love apparently shows...

The faithful readers of my blog will remember how I broke up with  my long-time partner, SDL Trados, in December to welcome a new CAT tool into my heart: memoQ. And I must say, I have not looked back or regretted that step one single moment since. 

Since I am one of those "click every button and see what happens" kind of persons and taking advantage of the many free webinars offered by Kilgray, I have been discovering new and exciting features regularly and fallen ever more in love. I mean, for those of you who know it, how could I not? It is so customizable, lovable, wonderful... everything a translator would want from a tool and more! Well, ok, not quite, but they're pretty close and constantly working on getting even closer.

Last night at the monthly get-together of the local chapter of my translator's association BDÜ, the conversation shifted to CAT tools and the various stages of frustration several colleagues are experiencing with theirs, which presented an excellent opportunity for me to share about my new love, I mean, tool. And since I had brought my notebook (I had wanted to introduce Tradeshift, but we never got that far), I ended up giving an impromptu miniature introduction to memoQ. No preparation whatsoever, but apparently my enthusiasm more than made up for it, since one colleague suggested that I should check with Kilgray to become an official salesperson, or at least give seminars, since I was so knowledgeable about this tool?! (Considering that I have only been working with it for 3 months, that's saying something!)

So, over there at Kilgray, how about it? :)

But seriously, I think I would like introducing others to memoQ, and since (as I am finding out) I really enjoy giving seminars, why not? We'll just have to see where this goes... so stay tuned for more on this topic!

Freitag, 4. März 2011

Eine Kuh sagt "Moo"...

Eben kam ein kleines Paket aus England bei mir an, das ich schon sehnsüchtig erwartet hatte, Absender: Moo Print Limited. Wem das nichts sagt, der sollte sich mal hier umsehen - es lohnt sich!

Normalerweise drucke ich meine Visitenkarten nach Bedarf selber, mit einer speziellen Software von Sigel und dem dazugehörigen Papier. Sie sehen auch gut aus, man sieht ihnen nicht an, dass sie nicht von einer Druckerei kommen, sondern aus meinem Samsung CLX. Aber sie sind leider nicht so beständig, wie ich zu meinem Bedauern letztes Jahr auf einer Konferenz in Barcelona feststellen musste - als ich meine extra für diesen Anlass in spanischer Version gedruckten Visitenkarten verteilen wollte, hatte sich die Schrift halb gelöst und auf den Rückseiten der nächsten Karten niedergelassen. Vermutlich hatte ich sie nicht lange genug trocknen lassen. 

Als ich kürzlich über den Blog einer Kollegin auf Moo kam, war ich sofort begeistert und habe mir jeweils  100 Mini-Visitenkarten für Deutsch, Englisch und Spanisch drucken lassen und gleich noch einen schicken Visitenkartenhalter für den Schlüsselbund dazu bestellt. So habe ich immer eine Karte dabei, mit der ich Eindruck schinden kann! :) 
Bleibt nur die Frage, welche ich den nun da hineinstecke, bei der Auswahl...

Ich finde die Idee der Mini-Visitenkarten sehr cool - damit fällt man auf und bleibt potentiellen Kunden länger im Gedächtnis (hoffe ich zumindest...)!
Man kann sich die Vorderseite der Karten selber aussuchen und beliebig variieren, die Abnahmemengen sind meiner Meinung nach auch sehr zuvorkommend (was will ich mit 1000 Visitenkarten, von denen ich später die meisten wegwerfen kann, weil sich etwas geändert hat?), und der Preis ist mehr als in Ordnung.
Was mir außerdem gefällt ist, dass das Ganze umweltfreundlich ist, und die Lieferung war sogar schneller als angegeben!

Für die ersten drei Interessierten hätte ich auch noch einen Gutschein für 15% Rabatt für den ersten Einkauf, also Kommentar hinterlassen und abräumen!