Tag Archives: translation

Bad Water at My Doorstep

The sign on the door of my hole-in-the wall company (with holes in its walls) read Globally Empowering Language Solutions. The paint was chipped and flaking, and so was I. I’d been through a lot. I was old enough to remember when translations were done by skilled human professionals. But all of that was changed, and I’d learned to live with it. Changes come with the territory, and I was not about to buck the tide. I arrived at the office around 10 am. I would say my desk was in serious disarray but disarray was too kind a word. The phone rang. I managed “Sanjay Noir. What can I … Continue reading

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30 Years Plus Two Days Ago Today

The time was 1988, just before the Internet happened to us. Numerous people already had computers of sorts, but nobody was incessantly connected to and talking with (and at) everybody else. And certainly few could have foreseen the arrival of social media and other aspects of the Internet that would be brought to us by technology and the never-ending quest for wealth. The place was a lodge in Snoqualmie, at which I was attending a gathering of the American Translators Association in connection with the conference they were holding in Seattle. After breakfast, we gathered in a room and were greeted by the sight of a US Navy color guard … Continue reading

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Real “Snail” Mail from a Totally Incompetent Chinese Bottomfeeder

About once a week we receive an offer to do translations from a totally clueless Chinese bottomfeeding agent calling itself CCJK. I don’t think we’ve gotten two emails consecutively using the same sender name. They all appear to be sent from gmail accounts (thereby effectively screaming “nonsubstantial”), although the company apparently has a domain. Perhaps the people sending these are clueless freelancers this bucketshop uses to drum up business. Not so much marching by me to that drumbeat, I am afraid. Anyway,  here is the note and some comments (not made to the snail, of course, because he/she/it would surely not understand them). Dear friend, I am not and will … Continue reading

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The Ugly Underbelly of the Translation Industry and the Value of ISO Certification

Ok, it starts again from these Chinese cretins. This sleazy Chinese translation broker, CCJK, must actually be operated by people who have escaped from a home for the terminally stupid. And they claim to have ISO 9001 certification. That very statement is powerful, since, taken together with the laughable content of this email, it demonstrates how meaningless the ISO certification is. I get about one of these ridiculous offers of translation service from CCJK per week. They arrive from people using various names and are almost all (including this one) sent from a gmail address. The last four times they vomited this shit at me they received a newly created generic … Continue reading

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Futility

Effective immediately, I will no longer suggest to Japanese-to-English translators who have posed questions on various fora that they ask the author. The reason is simple: almost no translators have access to the author, either directly or via an agent/broker. Suggestions to contact the author not only are not useful but also annoy translators by reminding them of their position on the food chain. It is clear that the desirable situation is one in which, faced with a problem in understanding what the author meant, the translator can ask the author. Almost no translators are in that situation, hence this decision to stop the annoying comments.

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Harsh Realities for Beginning Translators

I have on numerous occasions had that warm feeling of being thanked by new translators for advice I purported to give. But it is always accompanied by the stark reality, mostly unspoken by me, that the person who is thanking me is very unlikely to be able take away anything from my advice beyond the extreme difficulty of succeeding in a translation market in which there is nowhere to go but down for most translators. Today, however, I will speak of that reality. Unless you: are highly skilled in a number of areas (including, but certainly not limited to, source-language comprehension, target-language writing, and subject-specific expertise) and are willing to … Continue reading

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Supply-side Tiers: A Different Way of Looking at the Translation Business

Translators often classify clients as agency clients and direct clients. Regarding the supply side of the translation business, Neil Langdon Inglis many years ago posited that there was a de facto caste system among translators. Another approach is to discuss the translation supply side in terms of tiers, employing terminology that is commonly used in fields such as the auto industry, which might be useful in looking at the differences between translation and other businesses. Tier One.  In the translation supply chain, tier one (T1) is populated by translation providers (including agencies and some individuals) selling translations to translation consumers (as opposed to other translation sellers). Tier Two.  Translation providers that sell … Continue reading

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Taking More Money for Your Translations

(Adopted with minor changes from comments I made in a panel discussion at the IJET-9 Conference, held in Yokohama way back in 1998. Nothing much has changed to invalidate these comments.) I would like to present a few ideas on how you can take more money for your translation, focusing on the act of taking. My comments are basically directed at non-Japanese translators trying to make more money translating in Japan, but they should have value to translators in other situations as well. The suggestions given below for making more money include some generalities. Naturally, there are exceptions that can be pointed out. Remember, however, that what we call wisdom … Continue reading

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Some Thoughts on Japanese Reading and Comprehension

Just how well do you need to read Japanese to be a JA-to-EN translator? I have heard this question from beginners, and thought I would make a few comments, which could perhaps be of some interest even to experienced translators. Naturally, I am directing my comments to NES (native English speaker) translators, the group that has the highest potential of achieving professional-level translation ability in JA-to-EN translation. Starting Out Many translators, and particularly the vast majority of translators working in the bulk market, are fortunate in that most translation situations allow them to hide from their clients, translating in the seclusion of their workplace, without the danger of being discovered scampering through … Continue reading

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Pressing Flesh is not Just for Politicians: The Value of Face-to-Face Sales for Translators

As a follow-up to comments directed at translators who have declared or are about to declare defeat to translation market forces or some imagined structural impediments that they think hold them back from advancing from the bottom end of the market into premium translation, here is an example of some chain-reaction encounters that can happen if you hang out in the right places. It goes without saying that what follows is a personal experience, but I think it worthwhile to relate what can happen when you get out from in front of your computer, look up from your small screen, and press the flesh. To start off with some background, … Continue reading

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