Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Those unfamiliar to the freelance translation profession usually think that freelance translators have more freedom with regard to their working hours and that they can work when and if they want! People seem to be under the impression that working from home without a boss is a wonderful existence!
Time and Time Management are key for the Freelance translator
Now let’s suppose that the freelance translator’s career is well on track with an established client base. Time management now becomes the key to the working life of the freelancer. If time is not managed correctly the life of the freelancer can become a living hell.
Working as a freelancer does not mean disrespecting normal working hours. On the contrary it requires a lot more discipline to organize the working day. If not, it could mean a disorganized working schedule with no personal life.It often happens that freelancers at the start of their careers, place too much importance on the amount of work they need to do which of course is justified. OK, they have chosen this profession to do what they love, don’t have to go to the office, depend on others, work in other places etc. but there have to be boundaries, limits and rules to this working freedom by establishing concrete working hours that need to be adhered to rigidly. The following are a number of time management tips:
What are the working peaks and troughs of a freelance translator's day?
Often the freelance translator works better a certain times of the day. For instance in the mornings between 9 and 12 the translator may work more efficiently so we refer to this period as a peak work time. After lunch, for instance between 2 and 4 we find ourselves more lethargic and lacking energy. How do we organize our working time around these physical peak and trough working times? There are a number of workarounds but a suggestion is to do the more mentally taxing tasks such as translation at peak working times and then other less mentally taxing tasks such as administration and emails between 2pm and 4pm! Its only a suggestion and everyone works differently but its important to find your own rhythm for more efficiency!
How many times should the freelance translator check email?
Its important for the freelance translator to revise emails frequently especially if not doing so runs the risk of missing an important deadline or urgent text to translate, but a tough human habit to avoid is reading mails every time that the email dialogue pops up. Throughout the day this can be very time consuming and much better managed time wise if we revise the emails we receive periodically, say for instance, every two hours in one swoop, so to say. This avoids breaks in concentration and allows the translator to get into "email mode" which in essence is a different thought process than say, translation. I say two hours as a general rule of thumb and I think it’s an acceptable period within which to get back to a client. Alternatively, if the old habit is too hard to break why not program your inbox to “Send/Receive” every two hours.
Freelance translators working with different zones?
Given the nature of freelance Translation work many clients or Translation services companies are located in different time zones throughout the world: it’s important to establish this with the client at the onset of a working relationship. It can work to our advantage but in other cases for instance a Spanish Translator working for an Asian client, the freelancer has to be very clear at the start of the Project about the deadline and take the time difference loss into consideration when establishing it. Another suggestion is for the freelancer to program the email messenger to auto respond to the client or perspective client with the working hours and when to expect a response. This makes the client aware that there is a time zone issue
Freelance Translators should try Not to Work at Weekends?
I understand that this is easier said than done as most freelance translator deadlines tend to be yesterday and are always urgent but detaching from work is imperative to refresh the mind and body leaving us motivated and rearing to go on Monday morning. Granted, there are times where we haven’t planned correctly or a deadline’s urgency is unavoidable and we have to work on a Sunday. However, if this is the case it’s important to re-balance the work play barometer and take some time off on the Monday morning.
Its important to budget our time correctly and dedicate the appropriate amount of time to the multiple facets of Translation freelancer life for instance, Translation, administration, attending seminars, marketing, learning the latest tools etc…... What may help is keeping a task diary. Simply sit down on the Sunday evening and map out the task Schedule for the week while also taking into consideration peak and trough working times. Ensure that the task schedule is not over-ambitious and realistic, leaving enough time for a healthy personal life.
Workloads may also influence the task Schedule for instance, there may be extremely busy periods and tight deadlines for the freelance translator when there is no time for self-learning or attending seminars. Its important to take advantage of the less busy working periods and of course, managing them efficiently will lead to a greater sense of fulfillment, more opportunities and better professional development. During these periods we can revise Glossaries, do more marketing or study for exams. It’s important not to switch off during the less busy periods and keep the impetus and good working habits we have now established going. Apart from the bread and butter translation and administration work we have, we need to set professional objectives and gear our weekly tasks to achieving the objectives!
Managing Freelance translator Administration and Time
When working as a freelance translator, organization of administration tasks is very important. One has to establish an operative protocol that defines the delivery dates, invoicing, filing, procedures, query files, software maintenance, etc.
In general a rule of thumb is to send Translation invoices at the end of each month, in a way you can group small as well as large projects together and avoid minimal fees that tend to jeopardize the client relationship. But this is not the case very often as it may depend on each client and their requirements: some require invoices at the end of each Project, others at the end of the month, others when a certain sum of money is reached and so and so. If you are just starting out try using our Translation invoice template here. Simply fill in your details and you should be covered from all angles. It covers the client side contact details and fiscal details, your details such as address, fiscal details and bank account details and the project details such as the invoice date and due date, Word counts, Language combinations, taxes…etc… If you are dealing with an international transfer be sure to include your IBAN number and Swift code!
Given that invoicing is so important it’s important to simplify the process as much as possible. What we often recommend is that you request a Purchase order from the client. This is a great record of the project details agreed between the freelancer and client before translation commenced such as the rate agreed, the Language combination, delivery date, translation memory word counts and translation rates etc… If the project budget deviates significantly from the PO during the project its good to inform the client and request an updated PO which ensures that both are in total agreement with the extra works and the client will not get a nasty shock when they receive the final bill.
Some times administration can be boring as it is not a creative process but it is necessary. One has to invest the time in developing the efficiency of the administration processes to save time and also instill more confidence in the client!
I hope that this advice has been useful and saves you at least, some time that allows you a more active personal life. Of course any comments are welcome!
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Mark Kieran, CEO, One Stop Shop Translations
One Stop Shop Translations is a translation services company based in Madrid, Spain that hires translators on a freelance basis. We offer economically unbeatable translation quotes in most common language combinations of the world and fields of industry.Try One Stop Shop Translations for Quality, price and timeliness!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
The differences between Latin American Spanish and European Spanish are in many respects similar to the differences between American and English meaning that Latin American Spanish speakers and European Spanish speakers have no difficulties understanding each other. The major differences between the two spoken dialects are as follows:
Spaniards tend to pronounce the z and the c before i or e like the "th" in "thick," while many Latin Americans pronounce it as the s. Also, some South Americans and in Argentina in particular, often pronounce the ll and y like the "s" in "measure." They also tend to drop s sounds, so está sounds like etá. In parts of South America, the j sounds like the "ch" in "loch" while in others it sounds like the English "h." Finally, the l and the r at the end of a word can sometimes sound alike. All of these pronunciation differences coupled with a slower pace and softer tone when speaking Latin American Spanish enable is to tell very easily where someone is from.
When it comes to South American Spanish translation and Spanish translation the differences are again very subtle and a Spaniard will generally have no problems understanding a South American text but there are some differences on grammar and vocabulary making it more logical to employ a native South American Spanish translator to translate texts specific to a particular South American market.
On grammar, two of the major differences that the Spanish translator will take into consideration are the leísmo of Spain and the use of the pronoun vos in some areas instead of tú. Secondly, vosotros is often used as the plural of tú (the singular familiar "you") in Spain, while in Latin American ustedes is used.
Vocabulary is where the major differences lie and can differ vastly even within South America emphasising again the importance of hiring a translator native to a particular locale or market. As they say there is no substitute for local knowledge.
Here are some of the misunderstandings that can arise from not hiring a native speaking translator to a specific market.
A Spanish translator may translate "to step on" as "pisar" while this maybe understood as "to have sex" in Latin American Spanish. A Spanish translator may translate "car" as "coche" while this maybe understood as "baby stroller" in Latin American Spanish. A "lápiz" is a pencil or crayon everywhere, but a "lapicero" is a pencil holder in some areas, a mechanical pencil in others, and a ball-point pen in others. There are also a number of blatant differences, such as a computer being an "ordenador" in Spain but a "computadora" in Latin America. Even within Latin Spanish we have the example where a Chinese restaurant is called a "chifa" in Peru and Chile but this word is very uncommon in other dialects of South American Spanish.
All in all, when sub-contracting your translation services for Latin Spanish do your research and ensure that your translator is not only a native South American Spanish translator but also native to the particular area/locale for which your text is being translated.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Simultaneous interpreters must have very versatile backgrounds. A strong business background may be extremely useful to the simultaneous translator. Many companies offer 60 hours worth of training for these translators once hired. To become a technical translator, applicants must pass an exam and receive special certification. These translators must also posses excellent technical writing skills. Thankfully, many companies offer test preparation classes to ready applicants for the exams. Court translators generally need to be certified by the governments of their countries and need to pass exams for this certification. Other translators work in academic fields either studying or interpreting foreign texts. This is where there is often the most room for creative expression. However, it is also the area most likely to be widely scrutinized.
The route into translation is very structured and predictable, particularly for employment in the United Nations or other government agency. Those seeking the greatest opportunities for employment should be fluent in English and in one of the official languages of the United Nations; French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, or Chinese. There are, however, numerous job opportunities for those possessing fluency in other languages. Applicants should have a language degree, preferably a B.S., B.A., or Masters. Employers prefer candidates who have exceptional fluency in at least two languages, though; many language combinations can often be off-putting for an employer due to the lack of specialization in a combination they are looking for. This may often also be the case for the field a translator may specialize in. A translator specialized in a particular field and language combination for ten years is often more likely to be chosen over a translator who has several working combinations and fields for the last ten years.
Candidates should be fluent in at least two cultures. Cultural study is an area that potential translators cannot overlook as it is invaluable to understanding the nuances of any work to be translated. However there is no substitute for living in the particular target language country.
During the first year of employment an average of only five percent of translators leaves the field. This incredibly low drop-out rate is due largely to the fact that translators often sign two-year contracts with their employers. Otherwise, the effort exerted in obtaining the job is often enough incentive to remain. Finally, there are few surprises in a career in translation, as the applicant is well prepared for this position from his experience in school, the tests and interviews, and the training programs for new interpreters.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Typical problems often ignored include differing file formats requiring different engineering tasks and ensuing costs. On the linguistic side there are many considerations to be taken into account to ensure quality such as the volume and deadline, the translation agency quality procedures and the flavor of the language into which the document is being translated.
The following is a series of questions and answers to consider when outsourcing your translation services needs:
1. What is the source language and target of the document? One must bear in mind that certain language combinations are harder to come by than others which has a bearing on availability and cost. Translating from English to French is a much easier outsourcing process than from Zulu to French.
2. What is the flavor of the target language? For instance a French translator from Paris translating into Algerian French can lead to a lot of quality issues.
3. What is the reason for the translation? For instance in the case of a legal translation, does the translation need to be sworn or certified.
4. What is the standard required for the translation? Will it be published and be the corporate face of the company or is it just for internal purposes only?
5. Is there a particular style of the translation? For instance does it have to adhere to an in-house style guide? Are there particular terms for the translation to adhere to? Perhaps the layout has to adhere to a particular in-house style?
6. What is the field of translation? Is it a legal, business or medical translation? In this case ensure the translator has the relevant experience translating in this particular field, ask the agency for a translator profile.
7. Check and see if you can provide the translation services company reference material such as previous translations, glossaries etc.
8. What format is the document in? Depending on the format there maybe additional engineering costs for the target language. Do you have the capacity to do these tasks in-house or is it more cost beneficial and realistic to outsource these tasks? Ask for a quote and ensure that you understand the additional engineering costs that are involved and decide from there. If you have done your homework in advance you will often get a feel for the level of professionalism and expertise that the client has.
9. Be aware of the translation metrics involved in translation and it’s engineering tasks. If your deadline is too soon you may have to realize that this will have an effect on quality and consistency
10. Will you have to send updates of the files after the agency has started translating? Has there been a system devised to cope with these updates between you and the client. Are you prepared for an elevated translation quote due to the updates and advised your boss?
11. Do you require Translation Memory technology to be used by the vendor? Are their Translation memory rates as competitive as other vendors? Shop around and get other translation quotes.
12. It often helps to proofread the source text before being sent to translation. This avoids updates and poorly written texts which lead to poor translations
13. Is copyright to be retained or transferred?
14. What are the payment terms?
15. Is there a set of business terms and conditions?