Connect with confidence: 5 networking tips for language translators

Posted on Fri, Jun 07, 2013 @ 14:06 PM

describe the imageOne of the most important things language translators can do is network with others in the profession. While there are plenty of blogs offering networking tips, a good deal of these have to do with using social-media to connect. Lest we forget, there is a life beyond the computer, so the next time you’re attending a translation conference, and find yourself in a room of strangers, put a few of these networking tips into play. They just might help you turn strangers into professional connections and friends. 

Connect with confidence: 5 networking tips for language translators

Don’t worry about whether or not people like you
In school many of us worried about whether or not people liked us. Now that you’re a professional, you should be more concerned about finding common areas of interest and earning respect. Likeability follows respectability. That said, if you find yourself being rejected in a conversation, forget about it and move on— don’t retreat to a corner.

Talking vs. Connecting
Talking to another person is cake, but truly connecting with him or her is an art form. While there aren’t any rules to the connection game—outside of the obvious no swearing, no getting sloshed—there are a few best-practices:

  • When you meet someone new, you should have a genuine desire to learn something about him or her.
  • Ask questions that prompt the other person to share information about his or her life, values and interests (professional and otherwise). Once the person shares information, dig into your own experiences: Do you belong to similar organizations? Do you have a shared interest? Connect over these things.

Avoid griping
We said there weren’t any networking rules outside of no swearing and no getting sloshed. There’s one more: no griping. Unless you’re at a Sesame Street conference and talking to Oscar the Grouch, keep your gripes to yourself. Language translators can leave an impression by being positive—not petulant.

Assume the role of a host
The best networkers act like the host even when they aren’t. Hosts don’t hide in the kitchen or retreat upstairs to watch TV. Nope, they do their best to make sure that everyone feels comfortable. They mingle, make the rounds, connect with others and make sure others are connecting too. Here are a couple of ways to assume the role of host:

  • When you meet someone new, take a mental note of at least two things about him or her. When you meet someone else with similar interests, introduce him or her to your new friend.
  • Does someone look lost or confused? You may not be able to help, but a simple, “Did you need help finding something/someone?” is one of the easiest ways to start a conversation.

Who are the key players?
Language translators should know ahead of time who is presenting at the conference. Take time to investigate them. Have they written any books, published any articles in the ATA journal? Do they maintain a blog or website? Read their work and use it to create talking points for when you meet them in person.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of conferences for language translators, click here.

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Topics: Modern Language Translation, Spanish Translation Course, French Translation Certification, Online Translation Certification Arabic, freelance translation, freelance translator, Translation and interpretation studies, language translators, networking tips

Language translators can learn a lot from Jerry Seinfeld

Posted on Fri, May 31, 2013 @ 11:05 AM

language translatorsA successful translation business certainly hinges on the quality of our work, but equally important is making the time to increase our visibility. Building up a roster of steady clients takes time and without an online presence, it’ll take even longer. We know this.

We also know that increasing our online visibility means blogging, leaving comments on other language translation blogs, Tweeting, using Facebook and LinkedIn. But how do we find the time and energy to do all of this when we’re so busy trying to do our job: translate?

Language translators can learn a lot from Jerry Seinfeld

We recently discovered a productivity secret called “Don’t break the chain.” Strangely enough, we have to thank comedian Jerry Seinfeld for this one. Here’s how it works:

First, set your goal(s)—and make sure they are feasible. Write them down and hang the list in a prominent place on the wall. Next to your list of goals, you’ll hang a wall calendar.

Every day that you accomplish all of your goals you get to put a big X over that day on your calendar. If you are consistent, the Xs turn into a chain that continues to grow as long as you continue to meet your goals. The goal is never to break the chain.

Seeing this chain grow is rewarding; it feels good to flip through the pages and reflect on all of your progress. And once your chain is a few weeks long, you’ll notice that you are less tempted to cheat or skip a day.  

While we prefer hanging a hard copy calendar on the wall—there’s a satisfaction in taking a Sharpie and making dark hard lines on it at the end of the day—you can find a digital Don’t-Break-the-Chain Calendar here.

If you’re looking for a few more productivity tips for language translators, check out two of our other blogs, 5 Time Management Tips Every Freelance Translator Should Know and 10 Networking Tips for the Freelance Translator.

Photo Credit: Alan Light


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Topics: Modern Language Translation, Translation and interpretation studies, time management tips for translators, Translation Classes Online, translation business

Rituals and routines: tips for language translators

Posted on Thu, May 23, 2013 @ 08:05 AM

language translatorWe wish creativity and motivation were formulaic, but every writer—or in our case, language translator—has to find his or her own way of tapping into them. We’ve always been fascinated by the creative rituals of others, so we thought we’d share a few of our own. While we can’t guarantee that these will work for you, we hope that you’ll at least find them interesting.

Dress the part
A colleague of ours—and a fellow translator who used to work a nine-to-five—recently told us an amusing story. Before she exited the corporate world and went freelance, she was expected to show up every morning in a two-piece business suit. And each morning as she slipped into it, she resented it. The first thing she did after going freelance was wad up her power suits, throw them in a black trash bag and drop them off at the local Salvation Army.

Here’s the funny thing: Working from home in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt was liberating, but she believed that—in some strange, psychological way—the new wardrobe impacted her output and quality of work. Although you won’t find her in a business suit, the wardrobe that replaced it isn’t a far cry from the one hanging on the racks in the Salvation Army. Her conclusion: “Dressing up” is a necessary ritual and when she doesn’t do it, her work suffers.

Warm up and stretch your mental muscles
You’ll never go to a professional sporting event and find an empty field. Hours before the action begins, the athletes can be found running, taping their wrists, stretching, strategizing, throwing, etc. Language translators are linguistic athletes and as with physical activity, we’ve found that warming up and stretching is a necessary part of our routine.  

Before we dive into the rigors of our daily work, we log into our Penzu account, an online journal platform that actually looks like a real journal. We may only write 100 words, but we never scrutinize it, never revise and never care how it sounds. We simply write enough to stretch our mind and ease into the day’s work.

Find an accountability partner
Our friends, spouses and partners may sympathize with the stress that comes with being a language translator, but they’ll never fully understand it. We’ve found it necessary to have an accountability partner—that is, a fellow language translator we “check in” with at least once a day. Our partner is someone we call or email in the morning and let them know what we’re going to be working on for the next four or five hours. Around lunchtime, we speak over the phone and give a brief “account” of what we’ve accomplished.

It may sound like a strange practice, but we’ve found it works wonders for our productivity and mental health.

You have a bedtime routine. Why don’t you have a translating routine?
We recently read a biography on novelist Stephen King. Amongst other things, we learned a bit about his philosophy on creative routines. For him, creative routines are no “different than a bedtime routine.” Here’s a quote from the book:

“Do you go to bed a different way every night? Is there a certain side you sleep on? I mean I brush my teeth, I wash my hands. Why would anybody wash their hands before they go to bed? I don’t know. And the pillows are supposed to be pointed a certain way. The open side of the pillowcase is supposed to be pointed in toward the other side of the bed. I don’t know why.”

Put together a morning ritual and follow it the same way every day. Like pulling back the covers on your bed before getting into it, the final step of your creative routine may make beginning your translation work a painless, almost reflexive final step.


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Topics: writing strategies, writing skills, Modern Language Translation, Translation and interpretation studies, time management tips for translators, Translation Classes Online, language translators, writing rituals, creative rituals

Missed deadlines? A few tips for language translators

Posted on Fri, May 17, 2013 @ 09:05 AM

language translatorYou may be a perfectly responsible language translator who plans ahead and sticks to a schedule. Even so, you’ve found that you simply can’t meet a deadline. It happens, even to the best translators. Although missing deadlines can damage your reputation, there are several ways to minimize this damage and still make clients happy. 

Make sure that “the deadline” is really the deadline.
We’ve accepted last-minute assignments from frantic clients claiming that they “needed the translation yesterday.” And we’ve worked into the early hours of the morning to turn our translations around and meet nearly impossible deadlines. Once the translation was emailed on Monday morning, we were surprised not to hear back from the client—the same one who “needed the translation yesterday.” So we make a phone call only to find out, “Yes, I received it, but I won’t be able to review it until Friday.” 

Deadlines are frequently artificial. Before you run yourself ragged trying to meet a deadline, ask if there is any wiggle room with it. Does the project really need to be in by such and such time?

Always contact your client sooner than later
Figuring out that you’re not going to meet a deadline rarely happens on the day the project is due. Most language translators know that they're in deep water early on. Never wait until a couple hours before the deadline to contact your client and ask for an extension. If you give an advanced warning, your client is more likely to be understanding and may even be able to push the deadline back.

Outsource the work when you have no other choice
So you can’t meet the deadline and know that there’s no hope for an extension. This is the time to turn to a friend. Always have at least one trustworthy language translator you can outsource work to when you are overbooked. Backing out of a project after accepting it is going to cost you a client—but so will turning in shoddy translations. Your brand is your reputation; never put it in the hands of someone whose work you’ve never seen.

Keep in mind that outsourcing work means that you’re going to take a financial hit since you didn’t factor in this expense when quoting the project.  

Take it on the chin and learn from it
Having to ask for an extension won’t end your career, especially if you submit an impeccable final product. Granted, informing clients that you’re unable to meet a deadline won’t be an easy email to send or phone call to make, but you’ll both live to see another day. In the future, aim to under-promise and over-deliver.


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Topics: Modern Language Translation, Spanish Translation Course, French Translation Certification, Online Translation Certification Arabic, freelance translation, Translation and interpretation studies, language translators

How Do I Set My Rates? Hourly rate calculator for language translators

Posted on Thu, Apr 04, 2013 @ 10:04 AM

language translatorsHow do I set my rates? Should I charge by the word or by the hour? These are two questions most anyone new to the language translation profession would ask themselves. 

Generally speaking, language translators are paid by the word, but there are some cases where you might choose instead to bill by the hour.

One advantage of charging by the hour instead of by the word is that there’s little risk of losing money. Here’s an example Corinne McKay gives in one of her blogs: Say you charge $50 an hour and spend ten hours translating a document, you’ll earn $500. However, if you charge 20 cents a word, estimating that you’ll be able to translate 600 words an hour, but find that you can actually only translate 250 words an hour, ouch…you’re going to lose money.

If you’re new to the translation profession and still trying to figure out whether to charge by the hour or the word, the easiest way to remove the anxiety from this decision is to gather some objective data. To help you do this, stop by Freelance Switch, an hourly rate calculator. It’s simple to use and should only take five to ten minutes to complete.

language translators2

 Freelance Switch takes into account real-life factors—office rent, hardware and software costs, legal fees, daily expenses, vacation time, travel expenses, etc.—to help you determine your ideal hourly rate and your break-even hourly rate. Of course the app can only provide you with a loose approximation since it cannot factor in such things as your skill or experience level, demand and industry standards.

Also worth keeping in mind when trying to figure out how much to charge for a translation is that it is best to think about the whole, as opposed to the parts of a translation. If a translation job has complex structure and obscure vocabulary the translator needs to factor in the time it will take to research words and expressions, how much time it will take to produce a quality product as opposed to how fast words can be put together.

If you’re a freelance translator and looking for tips on how to brand yourself or better manage your time, check out two of our blogs, 5 Do's and Don'ts When Branding Yourself for a Translation Agency and 5 Time Management Secrets Everyone in the Translation Profession Should Know.


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Topics: Modern Language Translation, Spanish Translation Course, French Translation Certification, freelance translation, freelance translator, Translation and interpretation studies, Translation Classes Online

5 Time Management Tips Every Freelance Translator Should Know

Posted on Fri, Nov 09, 2012 @ 15:11 PM

freelance translator time managementMaking vows to become more efficient at time management are a bit like making vows to keep New Year’s resolutions, aren’t they? On January 1, you the freelance translator, immediately spring into action to stop or start doing (insert bad habit/good habit here). You start strong, but quickly exhaust yourself. Invariably, the new habit doesn’t stick and you default to your old ways. But not this time around! To help you turn over a new leaf, we’re offering a few simple steps you can take to create a time management strategy that you start and keep.

5 Time Management Tips Every Freelance Translator Should Know

Figure out how you are spending your time
We can’t effectively change a behavior if we don’t know what’s causing it. One way to track your use of time is by keeping a time journal. It sounds hokey, but the results speak for themselves. The best way to do this is in Excel. Each day of the week and all 24 hours of the day can be segmented into half hour increments (you can segment your time into whatever increments you like). Once you’ve done that, print it and keep it with you during the day, jotting down your activities and the amount of time you spend on each one. At the end of the week, total how much time you spent on the activities you can categorize. You’ll be astonished at how much time you’re spending watching TV and updating Facebook.

Put Everything in Writing
There’s a lot crammed into a freelance translator’s head and oftentimes in several languages! Give your brain a rest: Start writing down the things you need to accomplish. Freeing up some of that space in your head will allow more room for the creative energy you need. No doubt, you have a long list of things to do, which might seem overwhelming. That’s why we keep two lists. One is a master list where, on Sunday evening before bed, you log everything you need to accomplish for the week. After you’ve done that, assign the tasks to your second list, the one where you document your daily tasks. Having separate logs will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and help you stay on schedule.

Be honest: do you really work better under pressure?
The ability to work well under pressure has become a sort of badge of honor. We put it on our resumes and brag about it, but if you’re honest with yourself, saying, “I work better under pressure” is little more than a socially-respectable form of procrastination, one that many of us picked up in college. Remember “pulling an all-nighter?” Was it ever really necessary? And was our work actually better for it? Probably not.

If you’re a freelance translator who has a habit of working “better” under pressure (i.e. procrastinating), go back and review your work once you’ve had time to get some sleep, shower and eat a decent meal. It’s not always true, but more often than not, the work could’ve been better had you given yourself sufficient time and rest.

Rethink the way you spend your idle time
Down time is essential to your health and sanity, but many of us squander it on impulsive (as opposed to substantial) indulgences. Take time-sucker websites like Facebook, Pinterest, Tumbler and YouTube. For many of us, typing in the URL to these sites has become a reflexive act: we don’t even know we’re doing it. What’s worse, we passively spend hours a week on these sites without being able to recall a single moment of it. Why not skip passive activities like this for more quality engagement with family, friends, our pets and ourselves? Should you blacklist your favorite websites and blogs? Nah, but it might be wise to figure out how much time you’re spending on them and calculate the cost/reward ratio of your Internet perusal habit.

Make that time you spend waiting around count
We spend a lot of time waiting around. Say, for example, that you get weekly allergy shots (like me). More often than not, I end up sitting in the office for at least ten to fifteen minutes, sometimes more. Instead of watching CNN (guilty) or passively soaking up the looping doctor’s-office health video (guilty) you’ve seen 300 times, bring some work with you. That’s fifteen minutes of quality time you can reclaim later on in the day when you need it most.  

Every translation project is different, but as you try to make the most of your time, set goals for yourself. An experienced translator should be able to translate somewhere around 300 words an hour (2400 words a day). If you’re spending a lot of time researching terminology (which tends to eat up a lot of time), try shooting for 1600 words per day. 

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Topics: Modern Language Translation, French Translation Certification, Online Translation Certification Arabic, freelance translation, Translation and interpretation studies, time management tips for translators

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Freelance Translator

Posted on Fri, Nov 02, 2012 @ 09:11 AM

freelance translatorLife as a freelance translator sounds appealing, especially for those of us who prefer to make our own hours, work from home and wear whatever we like. There’s no doubt about it, translation is a rewarding and potentially lucrative line of work, but before you dive head first into a new career as a freelance translator, you might ask yourself these five questions:

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Freelance Translator

Do you speak the “right” language?
Before anything, honestly evaluate your skill set in both your source and target languages. Is your vocabulary (in both languages) equal to that of a native speaker? After you answer that question, consider how widely spoken the languages are. You may have expertise in another language, but if that language is Siberian Ket, odds of you finding full-time (or any) employment is going to be slim. On the other hand, if you have an expertise in Russian, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese or Arabic, you may be on to something.

Are you culturally literate?
Language does not live in isolation. It is a product of a living, breathing culture that not only fluctuates, but also has deeply enmeshed beliefs. Many folks presume that translation is a simple currency exchange, a “one-for-one” deal where one word in X language is simply changed into another word in Y language. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Translators need to be language experts, of course, but they also need to speak the cultural language and be able to translate all of its diverse and complicated nuances.

Are you able to evolve with the language?
Language never stands still; it’s always in a state of fluctuation, so translators must be able to grow with that language. Let’s illustrate the point:

After the Grammy Awards, Toby Keith, a country music singer said, "I think country gets dumped on across the board by the Grammys."

A culturally illiterate translation of Keith’s complaint could give us some very amusing variations, but it’s unlikely that they’d be accurate if the translator was unaware of the fact that:

  • Toby Keith is an American musician
  • Country is a genre of music with a small, but loyal following
  • The Grammys are a widely respected American music award ceremony
  • That the common American colloquialisms “dumped on” and “across the board” have several meanings

Language is complicated. Culture is equally complicated.

Are you able to translate in more than one area of knowledge?
As with most professions, it helps to have a diverse skill set. A graphic designer who is also a proficient writer is going to have a wider range of choices than the writer whose skill set ends with his or her own palate. The same goes for translators: If your specialty is literature and only literature, the chances of you finding full-time employment are slim to none. However, if you learn to translate in a variety of fields, your chances of finding steady work drastically improves. It’s worth noting that you don’t have to be a doctor to translate medical documents any more than you need to be a Vietnamese restaurant owner to translate a Vietnamese dinner menu. You will, however, need to have a natural curiosity and the tenacity to acquire the vocabulary used by those fields.

No translator is an island. 
As a freelance translator, you’ll be working from home; this has obvious perks, but it also means that you need to successfully manage your time, network with other translators and stay productive. When you aren’t translating, you’ll probably be looking for more work, but job hunting doesn’t simple mean that you’re calling and emailing translation agencies. You need to be creative and aggressive when marketing yourself. Start a blog like our friends over at Lingua Greca. You don’t have to post every day—try updating once a week at first. Write about your translating experiences; repost translation blogs that you’ve found helpful; comment on other translation blogs. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your blog will grow and how many interesting—and potentially lucrative—contacts you’ll make.

Like any profession, translation takes practice, experience and proper training—and if you were to ask ten translators how they got into the translation profession, you’d hear ten different stories. There’s no one way to do it, but something that will give you the necessary experience and help distinguish you from all the other freelance translators is Marygrove College’s online program in Modern Language Translation. In our program, students will not only study the linguistic and cultural aspects of language transfer, but they will take a hands-on approach to translating journalistic, commercial, legal, and scientific texts.

You should also know that Marygrove College has reduced tuition rates for this online graduate program by 19 percent! This is one step—amongst a few others—that the college is taking to ensure that a Marygrove education is an achievable, financially-sustainable investment.

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Topics: Modern Language Translation, Spanish Translation Course, French Translation Certification, Online Translation Certification Arabic, freelance translation, Translation and interpretation studies, Translation Classes Online

10 Networking Tips for the Freelance Translator

Posted on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 @ 15:09 PM

networkingBeing a successful freelance translator is a fabulous thing! You get to set your own schedule, create a palette of regular clients with whom you work well, and can often work in your pajamas for the entire day. The flip side to freelance work is that without proper attention and maintenance, your network, your skills and job viability can begin to shrink.

10 Networking Tips for the Freelance Translator

  1. Help Others. You know the old saying, "You learn the best when you teach others?" Well, you network the best when you are networking for others. The more that you work with, and assist, your fellow freelance translators, the more likely they will be to think of you - or provide requested assistance - when it's your turn to need a helping hand.

  2. Invite Guest Bloggers. One of the best networking tools is to read and share your favorite translation blogs and/or websites. Find a handful of freelance translators with great websites and then offer your appreciation of their work by inviting them to guest blog. Then offer to do the same for them. This is a win-win for everyone.

  3. Travel. Unless you are a native speaker of your target-language, it's imperative you keep up with the times, cultural changes, and idioms. Maintaining your language skills is key to your success as a freelance translator. There's no better way to do this than to hop on a plane and immerse yourself. Aaaaah. While there, look up professional freelance translators of English and grow your network.

  4. Identify Your True "Friends." While your 8,756 LinkedIn friends are impressive, we wonder how many of them are truly beneficial. When it comes to professional networking and contacts, quality is much more important than quantity. Cull your contacts to accurately represent the network you want to work within.

  5. Hone Your Initial Contact Skills. Don't you just love long-winded introductory phone calls, or spending 10 minutes reading novel-length emails from strangers? Right. Nor do the people you're contacting for the first time. Keep introductions brief, get to the point, and respect their time by asking, "is this a good time?" If not, they'll be more likely to re-schedule.

  6. Pass it On. Did you read a great book you know Translator X would love? Did you just learn a new trick others in your network would benefit from? Send them a copy. Pass helpful links via email. Share your tricks and lucky finds so others will keep you in the loop when they have helpful materials to share.

  7. Forge Connections. Introduce people in your network whom you know would benefit from one another. Connect like-minded people. Share contacts in Foreign Country A with someone you know who is traveling there.

  8. Follow Up. Did you just make a new connection? Follow up a day or two later with an email or voice mail to express your appreciation for the conversation about ________, and re-invigorate their impression of you.

  9. No Offense. Don't take, "No" as an insult. It might just mean the person is busy and really can't help you. Or you might have caught them on an "off" day. Try again, or send an email thanking them anyway and offering for them to get in contact if/when they are able to in the future.

  10. Volunteer. When you put yourself out there in the community, or in someone else's community, it's provides the prime opportunity to forge new relationships with people you might not have met otherwise.

Building a healthy professional network can be the key to keeping viable work coming your way, and ensuring you deliver the most current and professional translation work for your clients.


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Topics: Modern Language Translation, Spanish Translation Course, Online Translation Certification Arabic, freelance translation, career success, Translation and interpretation studies, Translation Classes Online

5 Painless Ways to Maintain Foreign Language Skills

Posted on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 @ 14:09 PM

Foreign Language IllustrationSince language is a translators’ livelihood, they can’t afford not to maintain their foreign language skills. Sure, translators regularly work with their target/source language, but time constraints and never-ending deadlines often keep them from keeping up with the latest colloquialisms and cultural trends. Here are 5 simple ways you can keep your second, third or fourth language skills sharp:  

5 Painless Ways to Maintain Foreign Language Skills

Watch foreign films
Translators are in front of text—whether digital or print—all day long, so taking a break with a foreign film and a big glass of red wine is a great way to wind down the day. Netflix has taken quite a beating in the media over the last year, but I still stand by them. For $8 USD, you can stream thousands of foreign films. Although you can’t directly search by language, you can go to the foreign section (under the genres drop down menu), select languages and then choose your language preference. In my experience, Netflix doesn’t always have the exact film I’m looking for, but more often than not, this has been a blessing in disguise that’s exposed me to countless foreign gems that I wouldn’t usually watch.  

Listen to international music
Thanks to the Internet, finding great foreign music has never been easier—or more economical. Try Spotify, a completely free music-streaming service that gives you unlimited access to more music than your ears will ever have time to take in. The catch? You’ll have to put up with an ad or two for the service—unless you download Blockify, an app that will sit snug in your system tray and mute Spotify whenever it detects an audio ad. Once it’s over, you can get back to the music.

Read online newspapers and magazines
The Internet also offers a variety of newspapers, trade magazines and journals that will help keep you informed on your specialty and help learn new expressions.  One example is, which offers “thousands of world newspapers at your fingertips.” Say your specialty is medical translation, you can visit and find tons of articles from pediatrics to gerontology. 

Network with other translators
Very often, translation is solitary work, which is precisely why many of us took up the profession in the first place! But interacting with people who speak your second language is crucial for maintaining your foreign language skills. An added bonus is that you’ll meet like-to network in a tasteful and genuine way:

  • Don’t expect anything
    Recently I received a mystery email that said, “Hi, I just wrote a blog post on such and such and I’d love it if you reposted it to your site.” This is a poor attempt at networking. I would have been glad to give this blogger a “shout out” had she not initiated our “relationship” by asking for a favor. A much better approach would have been to say, “Hey, I’ve been enjoying your blog. I am interested in similar issues and if you’re interested, I would love to guest blog for you sometime. If you’d like to see my work, check here.”
  • Get to know the right people
    Have you ever noticed how many Facebook or LinkedIn “friends” people collect? I’ve seen people with hundreds, even thousands of “friends” and “connections.” Networking isn’t about quantity so much as it is quality. Find 10 people who share your interests and nurture a relationship with them instead of the 100 people you may (or may not) know by name. For 24 other tips on networking, visit James Clear’s website, Passive Panda.

Plan a yearly visit to a foreign country
It’s easier said than done, but international travel is important for your professional development—and your sanity. If you hire an accountant like we recommended in our earlier post, you should be able to deduct some of the costs by simply attending a conference or visiting a client or two. Also, the American Translators Association (ATA) offers their annual conference in October in a different US city. The Language and Regional Divisions also offer affordable opportunities to learn and network.

You don’t have to go into debt to travel either. If you’d like some advice on how to cheaply, try TripAdvisor or Virtual Tourist—and if you’re traveling to the states, check out Yelp. Not only are these sites FREE, they cover any destination or travel style. Lonely Planet guides are good, but not always up to date.   

For more advice on cheap lodging, you might check out an article from Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.


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Topics: Modern Language Translation, Spanish Translation Course, French Translation Certification, Online Translation Certification Arabic, freelance translation, Translation Agencies, Translation and interpretation studies, Translation Classes Online

10 Elusive and Untranslatable Words When You Find Yourself Speechless

Posted on Fri, Sep 14, 2012 @ 09:09 AM

Unreadable textLanguage, of course, is the translator’s specialty. Despite their expertise and linguistic dexterity, however, they often encounter elusive or untranslatable words that simply don’t have an equivalent counterpart in the other language.

When all else fails, the translator has to do the best s/he can to explain the word. Depending on the cultural differences and the complexity of the word, though, this can prove to be challenging.

If you ever find yourself cringing over the sound your husband makes when he eats his tomato soup or feeling tongue-tied when someone lays on you a scathing remark, look no further: Here are 10 more nearly untranslatable words that’ll come in handy when you find yourself speechless:

10 Elusive and Untranslatable Words for When You Find Yourself Speechless

    1. Saper vivere (Italian)
    (suh-pear VEE-Vair-ay)
    Literally translated, Knows how to live.
    Ever meet someone so amenable that she could tolerate and appease even the most intolerable people with grace and poise? Then you know someone with the gift of saper vivere.

    2. Mbuki-mvuki (Bantu)
    The Bantus know how to party. Literally translated, mbuki-mvuki means to shake off one’s clothes in order to dance. Here’s an interesting factoid about mbuki-mvuki courtesy of Howard Rheingold: long ago, mbuki-mvuki migrated up the Mississippi to become the direct precursor to what is now known as boogie woogie.

    3. Suilk (Scottish)
    Two things I’ll never forget about dinner with my great grandfather: One, he mixed Italian and Ranch dressing on his salad; two, much to my grandmother’s dismay, he would suilk any liquid—coffee, red wine, tomato soup—he encountered. Literally translated, suilk (which rhymes with "milk") means to make excessive slobbering sounds when eating or drinking.

    4. Epater les bourgeois (French)
    (“Eh-pah-TAY lay boor-JWAH”)
    Literally translated: To amaze the middle class. Raucous behavior and uniquely placed body piercings are only the tip of the iceberg. To epater les bourgeois, you would have to deliberately offend.

    5. Far secco qualcuno (Italian)
    Literally translated: To leave someone dry.
    In one exchange between Lady Astor—the first woman to sit as a Conservative Member of Parliament—and Winston Churchill, Astor said, “Winston, if you were my husband, I’d put poison in your coffee.” His retort: “Nancy, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.” I don’t know how Astor responded, but my guess is that she experienced far secco qualcuno and then said nothing.

    6. Drachenfutter (German)
    It’s Saturday morning. There’s a pleasant smell of French roasted coffee and pancakes in the air, but your gut tells you something is amiss. Then it hits you: You’ve forgotten your anniversary. Now you better polish your silver tongue and offer a drachenfutter. Literally translated: A peace offering from a guilty husband.

    7. Frotteur (French)
    Man who rubs up against strangers in crowds. We could say more, but won’t.

    8. Yugen (Japanese)

    Literally translated: An awareness of the universe that triggers feelings too deep to be put into words. Back in graduate school, I tried reading Jacques Lacan’s Seminars. I never made it, but I do remember what he said about The Real: It’s a state of nature that we’ll never experience once we’ve acquired language because the very entrance into language marks our irrevocable separation from it. Maybe I’m forcing a connection, but both The Real and Yugen get at the heart of a linguistic truth: Language is a great tool, but it has severe limitations and inadequacies.

    9. Kolleh (Yiddish)

    There’s a saying that “every bride is beautiful”—or in this case, “every bride is a Kolleh. Whether or not that’s true, I’ll leave you to decide, but kolleh literally translated means beautiful bride. 

    10. Lagom (Swedish)
    Refers to an unidentified state between polarities. In other words, it’s not “too much” and not “too little,” but it is just right.

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