In general, each country or region has its own association. Some of the most famous ones are ATA ("American Translators Association") in the United States; Asetrad ("Asociación Española de Traductores, Correctores e Intérpretes") and Atrae ("Asociación de Traducción y Adaptación Audiovisual de España") in Spain; BDÜ ("Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer") in Germany; AITI ("Associazione Italiana Traduttori e Interpreti") in Italy or SFT ("Société française des traducteurs") in France.
Membership is neither compulsory nor necessary to make a living from translation, but these associations often have quite demanding entry requirements, including exams, so being in an association can mean that you are working professionally.
But membership does not automatically mean more work, more clients, or more money for your services. It can help, but a business does not thrive just by having a label, you have to put in the time and take advantage of all they offer, and not just pay the membership fee and wait.
These associations are usually a meeting point for translators of a country or a target language, where professionals can discuss their doubts or concerns, where they can find out about the latest developments in the sector. There is also usually a database to search for translators and interpreters for people who do not know where to look for professionals in the sector.
Many often offer courses or training, legal assistance, invoice templates, private forums with colleagues... These associations are also concerned with raising the profile of the profession and fighting for more favourable working conditions. They are like a trade union that ensures security and stability in the sector.
But in the end it's a personal decision, we have to see what they can bring us and what they take away from us.
Did you know about these associations, would you join them, why or why not?
Women have been in the shadows of society for a long time. In fact, without all the women who dedicated themselves to translating books into their language, today we would not have many books that we consider indispensable classics.
In reality, the history of translation is a very complex and somewhat diffuse subject, as the definition of translation has varied over the centuries. In the Ancient and Middle Ages, translations were what we now call "transcreation", i.e. writing in other words a text that has been read. In many cases, translations were a new interpretation of a text, which could be adapted to the country to which it was addressed, or they could even change the ending of the story if they did not like it. Sometimes they would even write a story from a book they had read, but didn't physically own, only remembered. In general, it was a bit like the broken telephone, but on a large scale.
And what do women have to do with this story? Well, a lot. Women were not allowed to write. Or, if they did write, their writings were hardly ever published.
Some decided to take the plunge and sign under a male pseudonym, such as Mary Ann Evans (George Elliot), Cecilia Böhl de Faber y Ruiz de Larrea (Fernán Caballero), Louisa May Alcott (A. M. Barnard) or Mary Shelley (at first she did not sign her most famous novel, Frankenstein, and everyone thought it was her husband's).
Others decided to become translators, but not all of them could. Translation was considered a man's job, especially for writers and monks. But some managed to sell their books as translations. In this way they gained respectability, because they were not the "authors", and thus had a certain freedom. What many have in common, unfortunately, is anonymity.
Some important female translators were Margaret Tyler (16th century), the first translator of chivalry books in England; Giuseppa Barbapiccola (17th century), translator of Descartes; Julia Evelina Smith (18th-19th century), translator of the Bible; Emilia Pardo Bazán (19th-20th century), also a naturalist writer, or Charlotte Hughes Bruner (20th century), who fought for African culture and only translated novels by African women writers.
Unfortunately, the path of many books is unknown and it is very difficult to research which books were translated by whom, especially in the Ancient and Middle Ages, where authorship was not as relevant as it is now. But we can always follow the clues and, in many cases, we will surely find the traces of a woman. Thanks to all of them.
We've arrived, so the odyssey is over, right? Unfortunately not, Ulysses also had a lot of work to do when he arrived in Ithaca.
First we have to send the document by the deadline, plus all the documents or information we have established beforehand, such as translation memories or terminology, if the client has requested them. I usually also send some comments, such as whether there are spelling mistakes, whether the numbering is correct, whether the formatting is uniform... Depending on how many comments I have, I send them in a separate Word document or in the body of the email itself.
But that's not the end of the project, neither for me nor for the client. I also have to send the invoice (and check that payment has been made).
But it doesn't stop there either.
Sometimes, the client may have doubts or comments about our translation, or perhaps they have decided that a concept should be called in a certain way. It is always good for the customer to give us feedback to avoid comments in the future. If, for example, they have comments on terminology, it is best to update the terminology. This way, in the next project, we will use the desired terminology from the beginning. If there are comments on style, we should update the translation memories. If necessary and if there are many comments from the client, we can send the document again, either the new terminology list or the updated translation memory.
In other cases, the clients themselves have changed some parts of the source text, either because the first text they sent had to be revised, or because they added or deleted some sentences or changed certain expressions. If there are too many changes, it should be seen as a new project and practically start the odyssey all over again from the beginning.
For now, we will stay in Ithaca until the next trip.
If you have a translation project and would like me to help you with your private odyssey, don't hesitate to contact me without obligation.
We have finally set sail and are on the high seas. This part of the journey is usually the longest and not without its dangers.
First of all, we have to make sure that we have everything we need: we have created the project, we have the style guide, the references, the translation memories, the terminology... Then it's time to use them.
An unseen part of a translation is the research. You have to look for all the concepts that you don't understand, the names of international organisations, if the company has a website already translated, there may be some product names already translated... The internet is a very valuable resource and you have to know how to use it, know where to look and, if you don't find anything, you have to know where to ask. We can ask either in forums specific to the subject we are translating (for example, if it is a legal translation, we can go to forums about law), or ask qualified people (someone who works in a law office). We can also ask the client if it is something very specific, or propose several ideas so that the client can choose the one that suits them best.
But don't forget that a boat does not run itself. When we are at sea, it is good to ask for help. Sometimes, the client already has the answer and simply forgot to give it to us or didn't think it was important. It is better to ask several times than not to ask at all and the client is not satisfied with our translation. In some cases, you can even organise a visit to a factory or company to see what machines are used and how. It is much easier to translate something if you know what it is, rather than trying to imagine it.
When all the doubts have been resolved and the text has been translated, we move on to the revision phase. Personally, and if the text and time allow, I like to do two revisions. The first is a revision comparing the source text with the target text to check that I have not forgotten anything or that the meaning of the text has not been changed. The second revision is monolingual, i.e. I just read the target text, usually out loud, and check if it "sounds like Spanish", as sometimes we get too attached to the translation and the more idiomatic solutions do not stand out as much. For this second revision, the best thing to do is to let the text rest, ideally for 1 or 2 days, as this way you can see many more things than if you correct the text just after translating it.
We are almost there, we can now shout "land in sight". All that remains are the finishing touches, such as the layout, if necessary, or final details such as page numbers, images... The text we deliver to the client has to be "clean", with the formatting as close as possible to the target text.
Finally we are entering the port. But it doesn't end here, there is still a long way to go, so keep an eye out!
The odyssey goes on here.
First of all, it is essential that the client and the translator meet. This can happen in an infinite number of ways, both analog and digital. Analogically, for example, they can meet through recommendations or word of mouth, from talking to people at conferences, from friends or family... But many times this encounter happens digitally, for example, through the website, through specific translation or job sites, such as LinkedIn or ProZ, or even through social networks. In a more active way, the translator can actively search and send resumes to companies, placing ads on google or social networks or when a company writes an ad with a specific project.
In any case, the encounter has taken place: a client or a company has found a translation professional, or vice versa. The next step would be to send the document(s) to be translated, along with other documents that may be relevant to the project. If the client already has several translation projects behind them, it is likely that they have translation memories, specific terminology or style guides. This will help the translator estimate the amount of work.
Now it is time for the translator to prepare the quote. It should include the price per word, per hour worked or per project, the delivery date and the delivery format, whether it is in Word, PDF, printed... It should also indicate whether "extras" will be provided, such as translation memories or terminology. Something very important, which can sometimes be forgotten, is to indicate how long we can wait in order to meet the delivery date indicated. For example, if we estimate 3 working days, we should indicate that those three days are from the client's confirmation and not from the quotation. Or, if for example the client writes a week later and we have other projects, it is likely that we will not be able to meet the deadline.
The customer must then decide whether to accept the quotation and the deadline. Let's say they accept it. Great, we can let go, but we have a little while to go before we set sail. Most projects are done with CAT tools, so the last step would be to create the project in the appropriate CAT tool. Here we must include the client's terminology and translation memories, if they have been provided.
Now we set sail!
Let's continue the odyssey here.
I have a system of four tables, one below the other, in a document that I keep open and modify throughout my workday.
The first table is current projects. I order the projects chronologically so I know which one to work on first. Client comments are usually terminology notes, or words/products that should not be translated, or the number of pages that should or should not be translated. In the comments for the client I write questions, spelling mistakes, any improvement in style or formatting.... Anything that might be of interest to the client.
Comments from client
Comments for client
13/2 9 h
p. 6, "Delikatssen" instead of "Delikatessen"
13/2 16 h
15/2 13 h
16/2 20 h
The second table is for follow-up. Here I collect all the companies I have contacted, the translation tests I have done and sometimes also potential clients I can write to.
|waiting for answer|
The third table is for projects that are delivered and for which I need to make an invoice. Personally I prefer to write invoices at the end of the month, especially with agencies I often work with, but some people prefer to send one invoice per project. Simply, when I deliver the project, I copy the row from the first table into this table, sorted by company.
|Company 1||Project 2||13/2||x||transfer|
At the end of the month, when I write the invoices, I make a new row in the last table. I write the invoice number (year, month, invoice number of the month) and the net and gross payment (with tax if necessary), to save me work when doing the tax return.
When I have collected an invoice, I copy the line from the table and paste it into another table with all the company's payments and promissory notes.
There are also some applications that help with project management, but I find it quite handy to have it all at a glance.
How do you organize yourself?
There are many ways to freelance, so I'll speak mostly from my perspective. Yes, as a freelancer you can decide a lot of things: your schedule, where you work, how much you work each day... In short, it seems like you are free. But (there's always a but) there are many things you can't choose, like how much (paid) work you will have. You also can't choose when the job will come to you, nor how much you will get paid per month, with some companies, you also don't decide when you will get paid. Also, don't forget that with great power comes great responsibility. You have to know how to organize your time, be constant and not give up, see your work as a business, as a company that you have to take care of and nurture.
That's a lot of hours, but I'm not spending all that time translating or proofreading, not all the work is paid, and I think this is one of the main differences between a freelancer and an employee. An employee gets paid for the hours they work (at least in theory), while a freelancer can work long hours and not get paid in return, for example, when looking for new clients, marketing, writing invoices, checking accounting.... All these things are necessary and take time, so the rates should take this into account. I also give private Spanish lessons and some days I go to an office to help a translation agency, so in the end my day is quite varied. All in all, you have to be very consistent and make yourself known every week, because work can take a while to come.
As a freelancer, you are your own boss. That may sound good at first, but I also have to be strict with myself and not relax too much. As I said, you have to be very consistent for all the effort to pay off. It is true that I can rest for a few days if I need to without having to ask for days off, but I have to be aware that I have to continue where I left off and not forget the most important tasks, even if sometimes I don't like them too much.
One of the hardest things for me is actually the frustration that you can feel as a freelancer. When we are starting out, many people advise us not to get frustrated if a project is rejected. I have to admit that at the beginning it hurt more, but with time I realized that it doesn't depend on me, sometimes the client is looking for people with other characteristics or lower rates, and, although it's hard, I don't take it as personally as I did at the beginning. What no one said was the frustration you feel when you don't get a response, when you send a quote to a client who has already contacted you, you wait and.... nothing. After a few days you contact the client again asking if he is interested or if he has doubts about the estimate and... nothing.
For me, all these aspects are two sides of the same coin. Some things are more enjoyable than others, but all are equally important. The important thing is to find the balance.
All in all, I believe that freelancing is not for everyone. There are people who prefer to be able to completely disconnect when they leave work, or who prefer to have someone tell them exactly what to do. In my particular case, I think I made the right decision and the one that suited me best, with its pluses and minuses.
- in Spanish: sobremesa: according to the RAE, it means "time spent at the table after having eaten". In Spain and in Hispanic countries, the meal is of great social importance, and sometimes the sobremesa is even longer than the meal itself.
- in German: Feierabend: means both the free time after work and the end of the working day. It is one of my favourite German words (especially after a hard day's work).
- in English: bromance: I'm sure many people have heard this term, especially in some series or films. It is used to define a very peculiar friendship between two men, without being a romantic relationship.
- in Italian: meriggiare: to be at rest, in the open air and in a shady place, during the warm hours of midday. This word could have an equivalence in other warm regions, but never in areas where the midday heat is unknown. But, as I said, that does not mean that other countries with very low temperatures cannot understand this concept after explaining it.
What other difficult-to-translate words do you know, and which word do you like best?
However, the @ originally had other meanings. In Europe it was also a unit of measurement, about 26 litres or the equivalent of an amphora.
In the United States, the spelling @ continued to be used in some contexts, such as replacing "at" in prices (as in "1 bottle @ 5 dolars").
And not so long ago, in 1971, when email was invented, engineer Ray Tomilson had to choose a symbol to separate the name from the address, and @ was the only symbol that was free and not ambiguous. Thus, the at symbol became part of the computer world and has accompanied us on many other occasions.
Did you know this story?
- To get at least two direct clients this year. I will explain the differences between direct clients and agencies soon.
- To write every week, either on the blog, in a diary, short stories... But don't stop writing.
- Not to accept all the work that comes my way. Sometimes it's hard to stop and slow down a bit and in the last few months I've worked too much and too fast. This year I will accept only what interests me and what I can do with the quality I want to offer.
- To respect my "office hours". It seems easier than it looks, because I always open my email for other things and I end up answering work emails in my free time.
- Spa/massage day
- Trip/short getaway
- Sightseeing tour: even in the city where you live, there are now many interesting tours, such as scary, medieval, cycling, gastronomic tours...
- Theatre/cinema/musical/concert/museum tickets...
- Tickets for a festival
- Amusement parks
- Multi-adventure parks
- Does it have to be first-hand? There are many portals that sell second-hand products in perfect condition. You can first see if you can find the gift you are looking for on one of these portals or apps.
- Ecosia has compiled a list of sustainable businesses in the form of a map, which is very useful. You can find it if you have the Ecosia extension by searching on maps or on https://www.treeday.net/.
- Shop local. You can take a walk and support small businesses.
- Bring your own bag and avoid plastic bags.
There are many crafts that you can give as gifts, but here are some ideas:
- Origami: for example, Christmas decorations, animals, characters from series or films... It's amazing what you can do with just a piece of paper and a bit of patience.
- Jewellery: in many shops there are sets of thread with pearls (better if they are made of wood), or you can also make bracelets or necklaces with just thread. You can also use your imagination and make jewellery with macaroni, shells, bottle caps, paper clips...
- Soaps: soaps are a bit more complicated to make and take more time, but it is a very useful and customisable gift.
- Candles: easier to make than soaps, it is a very fun activity and you can even recycle old candles.
- Collages: with photos, song lyrics, passages from books, cinema tickets... Surely you share many things with a special person and a collage will help you remember all those moments.
What else can you think of? What handicrafts have you given as gifts?
- Books: sometimes we start a book that we don't like, or we only needed it for a certain period of time, or maybe we have been given it as a gift and we know we are not going to read it. We can give it to someone else who will like it or who can use it.
- Clothes: as long as they are in good condition, clothes are a very good option. This saves resources, money, dyes, materials... If you no longer wear it, you can give it away or sell it and help the planet.
- Musical instruments: sometimes we start with an instrument and end up giving it up, but that doesn't have to be the end of it. Someone may want to learn an instrument and that guitar/violin/piano... that we never play deserves a second chance.
In general, the most important thing is to prioritise quality over quantity and to be original and use our imagination. The best gifts, in most cases, are personal gifts that show that we appreciate the person we are giving. And for that you don't need to buy anything.
I will be completing the articles over the next few weeks, but here are a few ideas. Here we go!
First of all, you need to read the text quickly, just to know what it is about. You can also point out some terms that may be problematic or some intertextual references, i.e. within the text itself, to take into account when translating. Depending on the length of the text, this first contact may be more or less in-depth.
Then it is time to translate. Translating does not only mean transferring the words from one language to another, but also researching on the internet to make sure you choose the right term, consulting any linguistic doubts that may arise, taking into account and updating existing terminology or creating new ones... In the case of a post-editing assignment, this step is skipped, although research is still necessary.
When the translation is finished, I like to read the whole text once more in comparison with the source language to make sure that nothing has been forgotten or added and that the meaning is the same.
But this is not all. If time permits, it is a good idea to let the target text rest and read it the next day, without comparing it with the original. This last "lap" is used to recognise errors in the style, polish the last details and leave the text formatted and ready to be sent.
Did you know that a translation had so many steps?
Here are some of the false friends in Spanish, German and English that I find funny or interesting.
|Meaning ES||ES||DE||Meaning DE|
|Meaning ES||ES||EN||Meaning EN|
|🤲🏾 (de donar)||done||done||✅|
Do you know all of them? What other false friends do you know?
- If the water is salted, you can use it to wash the dishes or to remove the leftovers before putting the dishes in the dishwasher.
- If you have not added salt to the water, let the water cool down first. If you put it in the fridge, you can even eat it because it resembles jelly. That water is simply clean water with a lot of starch in it.
- You can also water the plants. Starch is a natural fertiliser, two in one! For that make sure it is salt-free.
- Another option is to use it as a hair mask. Starch strengthens the hair and makes it shiny. You can leave it on for a few minutes and then wash it out normally. Free conditioner!
One of the tricks that helped me to stop eating meat was to reduce consumption by changing recipes: instead of "eating meat with..." it is useful to eat something "with meat". For example, instead of preparing "steak with potatoes", it would be better to cook "vegetable stew with meat". In this way, the same amount of meat is spread over several portions.
Many people think that in order to eat vegetarian or vegan food, you have to buy new and exotic ingredients, or eat salad. Not at all! There are some dishes that are vegetarian or even vegan: ratatouille, tomato soup, pasta, pizza...
Another tip is to save food, for example, with the Too Good To Go app, where you can buy food that would otherwise go to waste. You can save a lot of money and also try new things that you might not otherwise buy.
Can you think of anything else to start being more sustainable in the kitchen?
First of all, I have to point out that what I am about to tell you is a personal and subjective experience. Having said that, I took a Master's degree in Translation Sciences at the University of Heidelberg, with the combination Spanish-German. The study focused a lot on new technologies, such as CAT tools or terminology bases, with some seminars on the steps to take in order to work independently and establish oneself in the world. I learned how to use tools that I didn't even know before and gained some courage to change the text (if you try to translate any text, at the beginning it will probably be very similar to the original and therefore not very idiomatic or with somewhat forced syntax). We also took a brief look at the history of translation and the different and numerous theories of how to translate a text.
On the other hand, there were some things that I would have liked to go deeper into but we didn't have the chance, such as marketing or post-editing, i.e. correcting a text that has been previously translated by a machine translation, which, by the way, is a bit more complicated than it seems at the beginning.
In short: the master's degree is a great help, but, in reality, you can also take some courses that prepare you in the same way. Translation, like many services, is a world in which you don't really need to have a degree, although it never hurts, but what matters is demonstrable experience and dealing with clients.
Have you done any degree, master's degree or course? What was your experience like?