Five practices of agencies that “get it”

Translation agencies tend to bear the brunt of translator complaints, but there are some great agencies out there that truly "get it." I want to list 5 things that agencies can do to win the loyalty and commitment of their translators. 1. Offer to raise rates without being asked Of course, everybody likes to make […]

Translation clients and the reverse auction

In an auction, buyers compete to offer the highest buying price; in a reverse auction, sellers compete to offer the lowest selling price. Reverse auctions are one of the ways that big corporations cut their expenses down to the bone. They know that everybody wants a "big" client, and they take advantage of this fact […]

Japanese website

One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to create a Japanese-language website. I waited until November, but I managed to get one up by year's end. Here it is: My goal for the site is to give pointers on technical-English writing to Japanese native speakers, while creating a presence that will help […]

Filling in the blanks

The other day, I wrote about when translators should leave information in the original out of their translations. Today, I want to write about the opposite case: when you should add information not included in the original. This often happens when the grammar of the target language requires certain information to be explicit that's optional […]

If translation were rocket science

What if the Japanese-to-English translation industry were the rocket-science industry? What if instead of clients with dubious English skills "incorrecting" your translations on the authority of high-school English textbooks and long-retired sempai, they used hoary old physics textbooks to correct your equations? I think it might be something like this. Acme Rocket Industries: Hi, Joe. […]

Translation agency warns translators not to use Google Translator Toolkit

A couple of days ago, I got an email from one of the translation agencies I work for, addressed to all their freelancers. The email warned translators not to use Google Translator Toolkit (GTT) for any work done for that agency. The reason they gave was confidentiality: they said that even if you don't save […]

Working while sick: A downside of freelancing

Last Friday morning, I woke up with a bad cold. All I wanted to do was lie in bed and be miserable, but I had a deadline; so I had to drag myself out of bed, translate a few paragraphs, go lie down again, and go back and translate a little more. By this process, […]

Unreliable email

On Monday morning, I got a call from a client. "How's the translation coming?" she asked. "Fine," I replied. "I'll be sending you the translation a few hours early." "Really?" she asked. "Even that second set of files I sent you?" At this point I began to feel the symptoms of panic setting in. "What […]

The ethics of intermediaries

I lost a really great potential job today due to a series of misunderstandings. A couple of days ago, another translator gave me a referral to an attorney, who was looking for an IT translator. The attorney sent me several files, and asked for an estimate, CCing his client. The client then emailed me and […]

Should we care how much other translators charge?

A recent discussion on the Honyaku mailing list about low rates, and the clients who offer them and the translators who accept them, had me asking myself: should we care how much other translators charge? I generally have no problem with what other translators want to charge, and wouldn't take kindly to other translators trying […]