The importance of appearing confident

I've been neglecting this blog for some time, but thanks to a nice reminder from a reader, I'm back. As translators, we need to be humble about our work. Translation spans so many fields, from foreign-language study, to writing, to subject-matter knowledge–not to mention the actual skill of translation–that it's nearly impossible to fully master […]

Going to work for the (short, Italian) Man

Last week, I took a job as a technical translator at Nintendo of America. I'll be moving to Redmond, Washington at the end of February, and my family will move out there permanently in June. While it'll be hard to leave behind my life of relative freedom in sunny, laid-back Okinawa for the corporate world […]

The Dunning–Kruger effect and you

According to Wikipedia, The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to realize their mistakes. The more ignorant you are about a subject, the easier it seems to you. When I was starting out as a translator, […]

Long-term outlook for translation industry

I recently read two books with rather gloomy outlooks for our future civilization: The Ecotechnic Future and The Long Descent. Both books predict that when the petroleum runs out, human civilization will go back to pre-industrial levels. While I don't necessarily agree with all the conclusions of these books, other than the obvious fact that […]

Some numbers

A freelance translator's income can be calculated by the following formula: r * p * h * d * w where: r = rate p = pages per hour h = hour worked per day d = days worked per week w = weeks worked per year Let's try plugging in some numbers. Say that […]

Rates: Barbarians at the gate

This is kind of a follow-up to my recent post about the 2010 work situation. It seems to me that a lot of translation buyers are shopping around for extremely cheap rates — as in a third or less of what I normally charge. That in itself isn't so unusual, as there are always cut-rate […]

Work situation 2010

How has 2010 been shaping up for you? I've been pretty busy. 2009 was fairly slow. I earned about 10% less than my average, although I also took a lot of time off (about two months total). But right around the beginning of 2010, my work started to pick up, even more than average years. […]

Simultaneous interpreting course, day 4

I'm back from the fourth day of my intensive simultaneous interpreting course. Being halfway through the course, I'd thought I'd put down some thoughts while they're fresh. Today, we had our first live day of simultaneous interpreting, with a guest speaker. The manuscript he gave us beforehand would take about 15 minutes to read, and […]

Taking a simultaneous interpreting course

Starting next Monday (August 2), I'll be taking an eight-day, intensive simultaneous interpreting course at Okinawa Christian University. My friend and colleague David Ulvog is one of the instructors, and I think that I heard about the course from him. I'm not really interested in becoming an interpreter, simultaneous or otherwise, but the profession has […]

Ignoring reference translations

A few weeks ago, a translation agency asked me to do a trial translation for a potential new client. They sent me a short text to translate, and a few past translations that the potential client had commissioned before to serve as a reference. (The agency paid me for this trial, incidentally. An agency that […]