Freitag, 28. März 2014

10-year leap in 1 day

I don't know about you, but I don't need to go with the latest fashion in all things, be it clothes, hairstyle or electronic gadgets. I do believe in staying up-to-date when it comes to the tools I need to work well, though, and that includes both software and hardware.
I try to stay updated with the important software such as my CAT tools, my accounting software etc. One thing, though, I resisted updating and upgrading for quite a while. Because I was happy with the functions. Because I was familiar with the look and feel of it. Because I worked well and fast with it. And because it was stable.
I'm talking about MS Office. 2003. Yes. I know. That's ancient in software years. But it worked well, never gave me any trouble and was compatible with just about anything.
When 2007 came along, I was just disgusted at the changed look, and how not-intuitive the interface with the silly ribbons was to me. So I downloaded the compatibility patch and was a happy camper for a few more years.
Then, 2010 was released, but nothing really earth-shaking new in that version. Same with 2013. And still my trusty 2003 served me well and without troubles of any kind.
Then Microsoft came up with the SAAS idea (well, ok, they didn't come up with it, but they finally switched all their products to it), and you now basically have to rent the software and pay an annual fee for using it. Yeah, yeah, always up-to-date, and all that good stuff, but I liked that even less than those goofy ribbons!

Well, and now we're in 2014, and support for my beloved 2003 is running out in a few days. And maybe I'm imagining things (although I think not), but the programs suddenly started acting up, freezing, shutting down for no apparent reason etc. What a strange coincidence! I'm not usually a conspiracy theory kinda girl, but this just seems too convenient to me...
However, be that as it may, the fact of the matter was that I had to switch from 2003 to something newer. I had known that of course, I had just put it off for as long as I could.
Not wanting to subscribe to that whole annual-fee thing, I purchased a license key for the 2013 version through a popular auction site, downloaded the files and violá - time-warped forward a decade in less than a day.
So now I'm having to get used to a new look, a new feel, trying to find my way around these darn ribbons, where (imho) nothing is where it should be, and deal with the imperfections of the upgrade. (Oh, how I miss my colored flags in Outlook!)

I know, I'll get used to it all in rather less time than I expect most likely, but still! New is not always better! Why couldn't they have at least included the option to make it look like 2003? I thought retro was hip...?!

Freitag, 21. März 2014


Gestern war Frühlingsanfang, und zumindest hier war er so, wie man ihn sich vorstellt: sonnig und warm. Ich saß bei offenem Fenster, im T-Shirt und barfuß an meinem Schreibtisch - was die Tatsache, dass ich arbeiten musste, erträglich gemacht hat, obwohl ich viel lieber dem Frühling auf zwei (motorisierten) Rädern gehuldigt hätte…
Normalerweise hätte ich das auch gemacht, aber nachdem ich heute früh raus musste um rechtzeitig beim Seminar über Zeitmanagement und Büro- und Selbstorganisation in München zu sein, war eine Verschiebung der Arbeit auf heute leider nicht möglich.

Warum ich zu diesem Seminar fahre? Wer mich kennt, wird sich wundern, denn eigentlich bin ich ziemlich gut darin meine Zeit und mich zu organisieren, und zwar so, dass ich nicht lebe um zu arbeiten. Aber erstens ist es nie verkehrt sich weiter zu bilden und jede mögliche Gelegenheit wahrzunehmen etwas dazu zu lernen, und zweitens waren die letzten Monate für mich so unglaublich voll gepackt und stressig, dass ich ohne Probleme noch 10 zusätzliche Stunden pro Tag hätte gut nutzen können ohne mich zu langweilen.

Inzwischen hat sich der Stress etwas gelegt, aber auch nur insofern, dass ich jetzt unter der Woche nicht mehr regelmäßig bis nach Mitternacht im Büro sitze, sondern zu halbwegs humanen Zeiten zu sperren kann. Samstage sind immer noch Arbeitstage, und bis zu den Sommerferien wird sich wohl auch nicht wirklich viel an meinem Arbeitspensum ändern, weshalb ich hoffe, heute ein paar Tipps zu bekommen, wie ich das durchhalte ohne auszubrennen und wie ich eine gute Balance zwischen Arbeit und Freizeit (wieder) finde und erhalte.

Freitag, 14. März 2014

Prices and costs

I came across an excellent article on prices and costs over at Ferris Translations this week, and I wanted to share it with you:

Dumping costs? What?!?
Posted on February 10, 2014 by Michael Ferris
Within the language industry, like any industry, there are also translators and language service providers that offer dumping prices. What are dumping prices? These are prices that are considered "unfair" to the competition because they falsely misrepresent current pricing, thus causing overall price pressure on the market along with false assumptions and expectations. It is my intention in this article to set things right by informing you what translation pricing entails. Said in short, it is by no means wrong to work with an agency offering cheap prices, you just have to be aware of what you are buying and what is realistic.

To start, let's examine why companies look for the cheapest of the cheap.
Along with it being a sign of the times to increase quality and productivity and lower costs, the effort behind translation work is often misjudged. Furthermore, texts in general tend to be associated with very little value due to the fact that there is much of it. Today's world is getting more and more cluttered. Just look at how complex bureaucracy has become. A lot of documentation is required to be translated into several different languages as a matter of conformity and principle and not necessarily according to need. When I think of how many hours a translator sits on a single translation or how much a customer is required to pay for a "handbook of guideline structures" or "statistical project documentation" for example, just to have it archived somewhere, never to be touched again. It is only understandable that many companies nowadays are saying, "I don't care who does it or how good it is, let's just get it translated." On the other side of the spectrum, translations are often the first line of communication to the outside world, do a lot for corporate image, and should therefore be treated with the utmost care.

In order to understand how dumping prices are achieved and what challenges are behind these methods, it is firstly important to define the roles required to perform translation services:
1. The project manager acts as an interface between the customers and organizes the translation services. In some agencies this role is split between a salesman and a project manager in the background managing the project itself.
2. The translator performs the translation and a quality control
3. The proofreader(s) carry(ies) out quality assurance to ensure that nothing of bad quality gets sent to the customer.

Here are some of the techniques involved with achieving the "cheapest" translations possible:

Machine translations
Contrary to belief, language service providers rarely feed text into a machine and send it onto the customer. What does often happen entails the usage of an API (Application Programming Interface) to have segments of the translation translated automatically. These segments are proofread and, in the case of error, corrected.  This method can be effective in finishing a translation quickly at a reduced level of effort, although depending on the language combination, the topic at hand, and the ability of the "proofreader", such translations are often riddled with errors. Part of this has to do with the speed at which the translation is done and carelessness on the one hand. On the other hand, the aspect of performing re-work has to be taken into account. When a good translator translates, he/she writes the text from scratch. If you have to go through correcting texts that have been automatically generated, the room for error is increased to a great extent.
In this connection, I would like to present a parallel in the construction industry. Would it be more efficient to build a house from scratch, making sure that it is of 100% from the foundation up, or would it be more efficient to have robots build the house with a lot of structural faults and try to fix it? Rework is always less efficient than doing something right the first time.

Cheap Translators
Due to the price pressure on the translations industry, some agencies have found a solution to this by finding translators located in low-cost countries. There are, for example, many Indian nationals that speak English very well for example asking a fraction of the cost a UK national would ask for. This strategy is associated with great challenges and risk. The challenge has to do with finding an experienced translator that works for these prices among so many people that are trying to do exactly the same. I would like to draw a parallel to English to Chinese translations. There are millions of Chinese translators that translate into this language combination and incredibly inexpensive prices can be found, but only a small fraction actual translate at a professional level. The good ones are normally not so inexpensive. Since numerous corrections are required in order to assure the best quality, this is one reason why the market rate of Chinese translations at agencies tends to be so high.
On another note, keep in mind that you do not need a license to be a translator. Anyone with a computer who possesses knowledge of a second language can be a translator, but that does not mean that they can translate well or at a very professional level. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the population has little understanding for this. This is why good agencies require documented proof of extensive experience, an education in translation and even ask for test translations. Even then, constant evaluation has to be made in order to maintain a continuously high level of quality.

Leaving out the proofreader
The easiest way for your supplier to save on translations costs is to leave out the proofreader or work with unqualified proofreaders, assuming that the translation has already been checked by the translator. In the case of common languages, to save costs, agencies often only have the target text read without looking at the source.
This may ensure that the translated language has no errors in it, but this does not ensure that no mistranslations have been made.

All in all, it is not wrong to go with cheap translations, but it is important to know what you are getting yourself into and that there is a very high risk of errors being made. Let's not forget the good old saying, "You get what you pay for."

Freitag, 7. März 2014

Es wird langsam...

Die Berufsbezeichnungen "Dolmetscher" und Übersetzer sind ja leider nicht geschützt, weshalb es ein großes Anliegen des BDÜ ist, auf die Bedeutung von Qualifikation und Ausbildung aufmerksam zu machen. Nun scheinen unsere Bemühungen langsam Früchte zu tragen: Die IHK München hat einen sehr positiven Artikel auf ihrer Webseite zum Thema Export veröffentlicht, in dem sie deutlich darauf hinweist, wie wichtig es ist qualifizierte Übersetzer und Dolmetscher zu engagieren. Und: der BDÜ steht gleich an erster Stelle der genannten Datenbanken! Da freut sich mein BDÜ-Herz... ;-)

Und hier ist der Artikel:

Wie finde ich qualifizierte Übersetzer oder Dolmetscher?

Die Berufsbezeichnungen „Konferenzdolmetscher“, „Dolmetscher“ und „Übersetzer“ sind nicht geschützt! Achten Sie bei der Suche nach Dolmetschern (für mündliche Sprachmittlung) und Übersetzern (für schriftliche Übersetzungen) deshalb nicht in erster Linie auf den Preis! Denn mangelhafte Übersetzungen können erheblichen Schaden anrichten. Hingegen kann ein ausgezeichneter Dolmetscher z.B. viel zum Erfolg einer Verhandlung oder Veranstaltung beitragen.

Wichtige Kriterien bei der Suche nach Übersetzern oder Dolmetschern sind:
- Qualifikation (beeidigt oder nicht beeidigt)
- Fachgebiete (z. B. Recht, Verträge, Urkunden, Technik, Webseiten)
- Welche Art von Dolmetscher wird benötigt (Simultan-, Konsekutiv-, Verhandlungs- oder Gerichtsdolmetscher)
- der direkte Kontakt zum Übersetzer

Auf den nachfolgenden Internetseiten finden Sie hilfreiche Tipps und Informationen inklusive Datenbanken mit vielen Selektionsmöglichkeiten:

- Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer e.V. (BDÜ)
- Verband der Konferenzdolmetscher
- Verein öffentlich bestellter und beeidigter Dolmetscher und Übersetzer Bayern e.V.
- Bayerisches Staatsministerium der Justiz (Gerichtsdolmetscher und -übersetzer)

Öffentliche Bestellung
Voraussetzung hierzu ist die staatliche Prüfung zum Übersetzer und Dolmetscher.
Auf der Homepage des Bayerischen Staatsministeriums für Bildung und Kultus,
Wissenschaft und Kunst finden Sie Ausführliches: 

Quelle: IHK München