What do you translate?

When I go out to networking events or when I talk about my work with friends and family, I find it hard to explain what I do. One of the reasons for this is that the content of my work changes on a weekly, if not daily, basis. One day I’ll be translating press releases, the next I’ll be doing a guidebook or content for a hotel’s website.

To give you an overview, here’s a selection of some of the work I’ve done over the past few months.

September 2016

stonesGerman to English translation of website content for a luxury spa hotel

travelGerman to English translation of hotel descriptions for a corporate event booking

August 2016

map-of-roadsGerman to English translation of a mini tourist guide on Helsinki

cutleryGerman to English translation of website texts for a consultancy company specialising in hospitality

earth-globeGerman to English translation of a group of press releases evaluating the results of an international comparison of OECD countries

billboardGerman to English translation of an analysis of several campaigns undertaken by a German advertising agency

July 2016

usbGerman to English translation of a compilation of press releases written in 2015 for a cable manufacturer

newspaperGerman to English translation of a newspaper article about an American actor that appeared in a weekly German newspaper

job-transitionGerman to English translation of a transcript for a video made by a national postal company on the results of their employee satisfaction survey

June 2016

dictionary-book-with-letters-a-to-zGerman to English translation of an A-Z of useful information for a hotel

consulting-messageGerman to English translation of a letter from the owners of a hotel asking guests for feedback and online reviews

travel-1German to English translation of a blog post by a national postal company on travel destinations and local culinary delights


A beginner’s guide to conferences

I recently attended the BP Translation Conference in Zagreb. It was my first conference and initially I had no idea what to expect. I did my research and as it turns out, I came over-prepared. This blog post presents my tips for a successful conference.

**Please note, seasoned conference-goers are likely to know this stuff like the back of their hand**


Before the conference
Business cards at the ready!
If you have business cards already, great. If you don’t, get some designed (or design them yourself). They will be handed out to new people you meet so that you can keep in touch, so they are an asset. Good business card websites include VistaPrint and MOO.

Get your profile on the conference’s attendees list
This is something I didn’t do until last minute, so my profile didn’t actually end up on the website. If your conference has an “Attendees” section, submit a professional picture of yourself and say a few words about you and your work. This will attract the attention of anybody who happens to come across the website, not just fellow translators.

Connect on twitter
Visit the conference’s website and look at the attendees list. As you browse through, check whether any of them have linked their twitter accounts and follow them. Have a look on twitter to see who is tweeting about your conference and interact with them by replying, retweeting or following them.

Check out the programme
You will probably have looked at the programme before you paid to attend, but go back and have another look at which talk is on at what time and plan which one you want to go to. There may be more than one talk scheduled at a time, so it pays to be prepared.

What to pack?
This was one of the focuses of my pre-conference research. I suggest: business cards, pens, paper (although this was provided at BP15), a business card wallet for the cards you get from fellow attendees, your tablet (optional, I never ended up using mine) and smart outfits.

What to wear?
This was another one of my pre-conference focuses. Conferences vary, so try to find out about the dress code beforehand. Search for pictures of the previous years’ conferences to give yourself an idea of what to wear. If, like me, your feet suffer in new shoes, get foot plasters or make sure your shoes are well-and-truly broken in before wearing them to a conference.

Where to stay?
I’d recommend staying at the conference hotel. This was a lesson I learned once I got there. I stayed at a hotel down the road and found myself getting jealous when fellow conference attendees decided they needed a break and retreated to their hotel rooms. If you forget anything, you can also just pop upstairs. It also makes getting to the conference a lot easier. I was almost late on the first day as I hadn’t allowed for the fact that 1st May is a Bank Holiday in Croatia, so I was still stood waiting for a tram at 8:50 when the conference started at 9.

Fringe activities
If attending the conference isn’t enough for you, conferences usually have a couple of days on either side where they organise activities: workshops, day trips to popular tourist destinations, dinners, evening entertainment, etc. Have a look through these offerings before you go and sign up to the ones you find interesting.


During the conference
Be sociable
Get to know as many people as you can, even if you are shy and quiet like me. This was pretty easy at the BP Translation Conference as many of the talks were interactive. There were also several coffee breaks (and of course lunch) which allowed for plenty of time to get to know your colleagues.

Take good notes
If you hear something noteworthy, write it down. You are more likely to remember it if you put it in writing rather than hearing something and trying to keep it in mind.

Hand out business cards
If you meet interesting people you want to keep in contact with, give them your card and ask for theirs in return.

Enjoy it
Although conferences are a business function, they can also be fun. Relax and enjoy networking with your peers!


After the conference
Touch base with the people you met
Have a look through the business cards you were given and find a way to contact those colleagues, be it through Twitter, LinkedIn or by dropping them a line via email.

Ask for presentation slides
If you went to a brilliant talk and you find your notes don’t do it justice, get in touch with the speaker and politely ask them for their presentation slides.

Read this article


Do you love going to conferences? What would you add to this list?

What to look for in a freelance translator

Are you looking to have your work translated and have opted for a freelancer, but you’re lost in the jungle of search results? Don’t be put off by the masses of information that search engines throw at you. The translation industry is not regulated, so knowing what to look for can be a bit of a minefield. This blog post contains some specifics to help you in your search.

Qualifications are an important factor – a translator should produce good-quality work if they have a master’s degree in translation from a university or if they hold another equivalent qualification, such as the DipTrans. It should, however, be noted that not all translators have translation-specific qualifications. If your translator doesn’t, check whether they are a member of any professional translator associations, as some of these, such as the ITI, require translators to pass their entrance exam.

It goes without saying that a translator who has many years of experience should be good at their job. When searching for a translator, look at how long they have been working in translation, whether they have worked in-house or just freelanced, and the types of documents they have translated. These factors will give you a better picture of your translator’s abilities.

A translator’s qualifications and experience in the industry is not where your search should end. What type of text do you need to have translated? Is it a legal, medical, marketing or technical text, for example? A translator’s website should contain information on their specialisms, so when searching for “translator in [insert language pair here]” in a search engine, you should also include the type of text, e.g. “translator German to English business” to make sure your translator has the necessary knowledge to translate your text.

Professional translator associations
As with most industries, the translation industry has a set of professional associations, e.g. IAPTI and the ITI. If a translator is a member of one (or more) of these associations, it may reveal information about his or her business. Professional translator associations will have some form of code of conduct that they will expect their members to observe. Some translator associations will also expect their members to take a translation exam to verify that they have the appropriate skills to be a translator. So if your translator is a member of a professional translator association, you should expect professionalism and quality.

Translator portals
If you find your perfect translator via their business website but would like more information, you could search to see if he or she has a profile on a translator portal. Most translators will have a profile on one or more portals, even if it just contains basic information. Some will have spent time on their profile, and it may contain information that you cannot find on their website, e.g. rates and feedback. If you want further information before contacting your chosen translator, it may be worth cross-referencing their website with their profile, for example on ProZ.com or translatorscafe.com. These are just two of a wide range of portals you could search through.

Feedback on your translator
Before you enquire about a translation with your chosen translator, it may also be worth reading feedback and testimonials about the translator written by the translator’s clients. This may be included on the translator’s website, but some portals also have this feature. Feedback may contain information on quality, client satisfaction, and reliability, which will be helpful in your search.

There you have some tips to get you started. Happy hunting!

Feel free to add your comments and questions below.

Tips on using ProZ.com from my personal experience (part one)

ProZ.com is a networking site for translators. It can be used to find new clients, apply for jobs, ask terminology questions, and much more. It can be a great resource for freelance translators and interpreters, especially if you are willing to pay for membership, but there are also some pitfalls to be avoided. This blog post offers some tips from my personal experience of using the site as a paying member.

I joined ProZ.com about four years ago, and started paying for membership about three years ago. The site has been a great resource for me as a number of my clients have come through this channel. Clients, usually agencies, can search for freelance translators in the site’s database once a profile has been set up and the freelancer’s basic information has been entered, e.g. language pair and specialisms. As many ProZ.com representatives will tell you (as I’ve learnt from attending their webinars): most of the jobs offered to freelancers come about by the client/agency searching the translator and interpreter directories and reviewing profiles. So my first tip of this blog post is: keep your ProZ.com profile up to date.

ProZ.com features a terminology database: KudoZ. Answering questions on KudoZ also helps to improve your ranking in the directories: the more KudoZ points you have, the higher up in the rankings you will be placed. So if you feel confident that you can suggest an appropriate term, propose an answer. Be prepared to back up your suggestion with references and links as well.

If a term comes up in your translation and you can’t find a target equivalent for it, KudoZ is a Mecca for obscure and/or technical terms. Be sure to use the “Term search” function to look for the term before you ask a terminology question – answerers don’t like it if they find a similar entry in the database already (and who can blame them?). Once this search returns no results and you decide to ask a terminology question on KudoZ, try to provide as much information as you can about the term without breaking confidentiality rules: a couple of sentences of the source text to give context (redacting any client-specific information and personal data), the target audience, and intended use of the text can come in very handy for someone trying to help you.

When starting to collaborate with an agency, the ProZ.com Blue Board is a great source of information. Enter the agency’s name, and a rating between 1 and 5 (1 being “do not waste your time” and 5 being “no qualms”) appears with brief feedback from translators. Always check this rating before taking work from a new source: it may save you time and stress if it turns out your new favourite client is a non-payer. However, these ratings should sometimes be taken with a pinch of salt. Sometimes you see a page full of excellent ratings, but the company turns out to be a low payer, or sometimes you’ll find the odd bad rating that was just a one-off.

The site also has a rating system for freelancers called the Willingness to Work Again (WWA) rating. Here, potential clients can see feedback from some of your clients. It is shown on your freelancer profile, so potential clients will be able to see the number of positive/negative entries. They will also be able to see more detailed feedback if they click on the WWA’s hyperlink. This is a great way to showcase your strengths, and to attract new clients. So request feedback from as many sources as possible.

This blog has presented you with some tips that focus on the more positive aspects of ProZ.com. Stay tuned for part two, which offers some advice on the more negative aspects of the site.

Are you a translator who has used ProZ.com? Do you have anything to add?