Fun Memory Exercise

Today we'd like to continue our tradition of quick posts with very simple tips that are easy to implement. As all of us are in the middle of the holiday season, we figured we'd keep it short. This blog post should take you no more than three minutes to read.

Interpreters are constantly working on their memory, as having great memory is key, especially for consecutive interpreting. We keep our memory sharp with all sorts of exercises, and one of our favorite ones is also quite fun, but it's actually harder than it looks. 

Here's how it works: next time you go to the movies, keep track of the previews that are shown before the actual movie starts. Here in the United States it's usually five previews, but it can be up to eight. Don't write anything down (as that's sort of cheating!) and try to remember all previews in the right sequence until the end of the movie. Can you do it? We usually accomplish it by remembering keywords ("stupid movie based on a cartoon" or "lovely movie based on a best-selling novel" or "horror movie for teenagers") and traditionally do quite well on this. It's become a sport, and anyone who comes to the movies with us gets drawn into this, like it or not!

What do you think about this memory exercise, dear friends and colleagues? If you have other exercises to share, please do so by leaving a comment below.

Quick Interpreting Tip

As our lovely readers and colleagues in the US get ready for Thanksgiving (in the rest of the world, it's just another Thursday), we wanted to share a quick interpreting tip that comes in very handy during practice.

Take a speech from your favorite source (Speechpool, TED, etc.), interpret it simultaneously (consecutive works, too), and record it using a recording software (we use Audacity). We think it's key to record your practice sessions, so it's good to get into the habit of doing so. After doing the recording, try to turn off the memory you have of the source recording and just listen to the target recording. Ask yourself: 

  • Does this recording make sense? 
  • Would I understand this if I didn't speak the source language? 
  • Can I summarize the content of this recording? 
Ideally, once in a while, you'd give the recording to a friend who truly doesn't speak the source language, have him/her listen to it, and have the person to answer the questions we've listed above. In simul interpreting, that is exactly the case - the person(s) you are interpreting for doesn't speak the source language, which is why they need an interpreter. However, so often when we grade exams, the recordings and live performances are disjointed, incoherent and oftentimes consist of fragments rather than entire sentences. Once in a while, if we had not heard the source recording, we would not be able to make sense of the interpretation, which of course is defeating the purpose of having an interpreter to enable communication. 

So next time you listen to your interpreting recording, take off your multilingual hat and listen pretending you only speak the target language. This simple and easy trick has helped us identify weaknesses in our own recordings, such as bad syntax, idioms that didn't quite make sense, etc.

We hope you enjoy this quick tip, dear colleagues! We'd love to hear other tips as well.

Following Instructions

Today's brief post is about something very simple that can make you very popular with clients: following their instructions. This should be easy enough, but the reality is that some client instructions are relatively complex (some can be several pages long), and can be hard to follow. However, you can really set yourself apart from your colleagues by doing a very thorough job at following these instructions. 

We are oftentimes clients ourselves, as we frequently outsource work to our superstar colleagues, and naturally, we tend to work with linguists (always the same people; not accepting applications!) who are not only extraordinary translators and communicators, but are also great at following the instructions we pass along from the client. Some of these instructions can be quite cumbersome (don't translate the text in red; all headlines need to be font 13 and not 12, etc.), but we pay our contractors well, and hence expect them to follow instructions carefully. We've oftentimes heard from our clients that they like working with us because we make 100% sure all client wishes and requirements are always met, the first time.

Doing so has absolutely nothing to do with translation itself, but it's all about customer service. Even though some customer requirements might be quite elaborate (we do charge an extra fee if additional work is needed), we are here to make our clients happy. Without clients, we've got nothing. While it's completely fine to occasionally feel frustrated by client instructions/requirements, we also need to keep in mind that our businesses exist because we have clients.

What about you, dear colleagues? Have you run into unreasonable customer requirements? How do you handle them? We would love to hear from you!

Print It Out!

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Today's quick tip to improve any translation is a seemingly simple one, yet it's a step that's oftentimes forgotten: printing out the final translation to proofread it on paper. Yes, we are tree-huggers and don't like paper as much as the next environmentalist, but for our careers' sake, we print out every single translation we work on, sometimes multiple times. That said, we print on recycled paper (readily available at most office supply stores) and also print on both sides of the paper. We then shred everything and recycle the shredded bits.

We don't know why, but it's truly amazing that the human eye catches many mistakes on paper that it doesn't on screen, and skipping the step of proofing our work on paper would definitely decrease the quality of our translations. We usually sit down with the printed out target text, without the source text, move away from the computer, and grab a red pen. We have caught many typos and factual errors this way. In addition, printing out our work is also essential to make sure the formatting is entirely correct.

Happy printing and translating! What about you, dear colleagues? Does this simple technique work for you?

Where to Find Us: ATA Conference in Chicago

It's our favorite time of the year! Well, we like the holiday season as well, but the annual American Translators Association conference, which wil be held in Chicago this year, is one of the best weeks of the years for us. We get to spend it together and we have the chance to share a fantastic four days of conference with all our friends, colleagues, subcontractors, and clients. We cannot wait! Come tomorrow morning, we will both be on a plane. Dagy will be coming in from Vienna, while Judy is making the shorter trip from Las Vegas.

We truly enjoy spending time with our friends and colleagues, but with 175 sessions, dinners, lunches, networking events, and a busy exhibit hall, it's sometimes hard to meet up. We therefore wanted to give you an overview of where we will be in case you want to meet up and say hi -- we'd very much enjoy it!

  1. Buddies Welcome Newbies (Wednesday, November 5, 5:15 to 6 p.m.): We know how hard it is to attend this big conference for the first time, so we have volunteered to be buddies for a newbie. 
  2. Welcome reception (Wednesday, November 5, 6 to 7 p.m.): It is amazing how much fun you can pack into an hour! We always really look forward to seeing everyone for the first time at this event.
  3. "Quote This! 7 Essential Elements of a Language Services Price Quote": Judy will be giving this session (IC-13) on Saturday, November 8, 2014, at 10 a.m. Things usually get really busy before and after the session, but we'd love for you to come attend it! Judy's sessions are usually held in one of the bigger rooms with plenty of seating for everyone.
  4. "German Orthography for Experienced Linguists" (presented in German; G-5) on Friday, November 7, 2014, at 2:30 p.m. Every year, we present one German-language session and usually have a lot of fun. While the topic can be dry, we strive to make it entertaining. If German is one of your working languages, you might enjoy this session!
  5. InTrans Book Service booth: Our favorite bookseller, Freek Lankhof, will be on his farewell tour (yes, we will cry), and we plan on spending as much time as possible at his booth (6/7 in the exhibit hall). We are also doing a book signing on Friday from 3:45 to 4:45. Stop by and see us! We will be signing copies of our popular The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation book, which will be available for sale from Freek.
  6. The Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association (NITA) table. All ATA chapters and affiliate groups usually have tables (location to be announced) with information about the organizations, and since Judy is the immediate past president of NITA, she will be helping staff the table. It's the ideal place to find us in between sessions!
  7. Spanish Language Division dinner (Friday evening) and German Language Division dinner (Thursday evening): We will be attending both events! 
  8. The lobby bar: There's nothing quite like sharing a glass of wine with friends and colleagues. Look for us in the bar. We should be easy to spot, as we are usually the only set of twins.
We look forward to seeing you there!
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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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