Are We Missing Something?

Have you been receiving strange, unsolicited job applications, even if you are just a one-person business and are not looking to hire? We've received a large amount of these lately, and we are curious to hear whether our dear fellow linguists have also received these messages. We've been getting junk mail/spam by supposed translators who supposedly want to collaborate with us. These messages are all quite unprofessional, come from free e-mail addresses and are full of grammar and spelling mistakes. All these message do have a résumé attached, making them seem somewhat legitimate at first glance. However, common sense and a quick Google search tell us that the schools where the alleged linguists studied do not exist and that the positions these folks have allegedly held sound less than believable. 

So, sure, we hit the delete button. But the question remains: who are these people? What do they want from us? Scammers look for a way to make money, so perhaps these folks really think someone will hire them and they can do a Google translate job and then charge for a translation? Perhaps. In that case, though, they'd be better off contacting unsuspecting small businesses. Why would they e-mail professional "colleagues" who can see that these folks are impostors in 30 seconds? Very odd. If we were scammers, we wouldn't try to scam the folks who know the particular business model really well. It's analogous to a seller of fake purses contacting Gucci and trying to sell them fake Gucci purses. Or are we completely missing something here? (It's happened before.) Any thoughts, readers? 

For your Friday entertainment, here are excerpts from applications/résumés. Enjoy!

I am a super organized and responsible person, what you would call a perfectionist, always looking after the details and things to be perfectly executed and for yesterday. I love the follow up of every issue already on the way/began and have them done. I am very good at setting up meetings and a scheduled time-table. I am looking for a position, where I can work on full time basis, from home. I am a highly motivated woman, very energetic, organized, responsible and with a keen ability to multitask. I learn fast and like to learn new things. I love debate and discussion.  

I do translation in the following areas: Business Letters; Tenders; Biddings; Contracts & Agreements; Brochures; Handbooks; User´s Manuals; Training material; Technical areas; Catalogues; Software applications; Articles; General letters & texts.
My rates are flexible according to the turnaround time, specialization involved and also for large volume of short texts. I am also available to work after-hours at no extra charges.

A ♥ for Language Blogs: Thank You!

Last month, we encouraged fellow bloggers to share lists of their favorite blogs and asked them to title the blog post "A ♥ for Language Blogs." The idea was to discover new blogs to add to all our RSS feeds. On Twitter, this is called Follow Friday, but on the blogging side, we don't really have a similar tool. Hence our little initiative.We were overwhelmed by the response. Our techie guru made a graphic showing you who participated and how we are all connected (click on the image to enlarge it). We'd like to thank everyone who participated. We discovered a lot of fantastic new blogs; we have some reading to catch up on!
As promised, we've randomly chosen two winners who will receive a copy of our book. We tried to get Judy's dog, Luna, to point to a blog on a print-out of the image, but her paws are too big, so Judy rolled the dice (it's Vegas, baby!) and the dice landed on: Catherine Translates (Catherine Jan) and Linguist Blog (Alexandra Milcic Radovanovic). Congratulations, Catherine and Alexandra! We will be contacting you to get your mailing addresses. 

Certificate Program in Localization: University of Washington

 We recently reserved this information about a certificate program in localization at the University of Washington. It looks interesting, so if you have been thinking about obtaining formal localization training, read on! For any questions about the program, please contact the University of Washington

The University of Washington Professional & Continuing Education is offering a Certificate program in Localization which provides an overview of and practical experience with this rapidly growing field through a 3-course, 9-month program. The courses are offered in the evening and can be taken in the classroom as well as online. They provide a strong foundation in terms of concepts and tools, engineering practices, and project management. Students gain valuable practical experience, hear from guest speakers working in the industry, research and use current translation & localization tools, as well as delve into both the engineering and the project management side. The classroom section is a traditional offering while the online section uses AdobeConnect to allow online students to hear the instructor live, see the instructor’s presentation, and interact with the class via chat. Online sessions are also recorded.

General program areas include linguistics & translation, business norms & cultural issues, user-interface design, formatting, project workflow & roles and an overview of the technology & tools. In addition, the program includes guest speakers and a panel of practitioners some of whom graduated from the program to talk about their career and what is needed to get a job in the field. Specific consideration is given to topics such as alphabets & scripts, character encoding, text processing, graphical representation of text, spelling variants for different countries where the same language is spoken, cultural appropriateness, language translations, symbols, aesthetics, local content as well as customs considerations.

Past students have come from diverse backgrounds, including foreign language learners, translators, software testers, technical writers, linguistics, software developers, project managers, and localization engineers.

The program has an advisory board which includes UW faculty & staff, as well as industry representatives from Microsoft, Lionbridge, Adobe, Getty Images, Google, MultiLingual Magazine, Adaquest, and several others. Students who complete all three courses receive a Certificate from UW Professional & Continuing Education. From a career perspective we can also attest to the fact that students who enrolled in the program received both internships & jobs soon after completing the program. These positions included companies such as Microsoft, Real Networks,, SDL, Big Fish, Nintendo, Übermind, and Moravia.

Applications are now being accepted for the program starting October 5, 2011. Additional program details and course descriptions can be found here:

Summer Book Discount: Entrepreneurial Linguist

We hope everyone is having a great summer! We've been spending time together in Vienna. We are working hard, but the year's hottest days sure are a distraction. We are tempted to head to the pool with a good book, but we have resisted (at least this week). Speaking of books -- we just received a 20% discount code on our book, The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation and we wanted to pass it along to our wonderful readers. The book has been very-well received by readers and reviewers around the world and has sold some 1,500 copies since it was published last year.

There's no catch and you don't need to sign up for anything. Simply enter code BIG305 when you are ready to check-out. This code is only available on and not valid on Amazon. To purchase, please click here.

The Complaint Club

We recently hired a contractor for a professional service (not related to translation). This person happened to be an acquaintance of ours and we were familiar with his work -- let's just say he's a graphic designer (he's not). Last week, we received a phone call from him that made us decide that we wouldn't work with him again. Why? Ready for some tough love? Read on. 

He called during our workday to ask us to help him with some profession-specific problems that we cannot solve. Still, we took time out of our day to give him some pointers. They were difficult issues, but that's what we are paying him for. In addition, we think it's simply unprofessional to take the clients' time in situations like these. His main concerns were things that he should have foreseen before accepting the project. The conversation revealed that he simply wasn't ready to deal with some details related to the project, which didn't exactly make us feel warm and fuzzy. The bottom line: As the client, we don't want to hear about a contractor's business issues (unless his computer dies and our files are lost). That's what colleagues and friends are for. We've always strongly advocated having a "complaint club" and not complaining to your clients  -- unless it is a very specific question that only the client can answer, of course. Now that we were on the receiving end of the contractor's complaints, we feel even stronger about the need for a complaint club. Let us explain.

Choose two of three colleagues whom you like and feel very comfortable with. Friends are fine, too, but they should probably understand your business. Then, ask them if they'd like to be your complaint club. It's a small, exclusive club of people you can call when you need to vent, simply want to talk, or need solid advice on how to solve a business-related problem. We have a complaint club, too. In addition to the two of us, it has three honorary members, and those are the folks we call for advice and help. Naturally, we don't call our clients to vent or complain, but you'd be surprised how many people do (including this morning's contractor). Your clients don't care about whatever issues might arise during the translation process. They pay us to translate, interpret, copywrite and to solve their problems. Think about it: do you want your lawyer to call you to complain that she is unable to upload a large file to her system? Venting and asking for advice is important, healthy, and part of any business -- but choose your complaint club wisely. We think a big part of the professionalization of our profession is presenting ourselves as what we are: independent service providers who can tackle difficult issues. 

Who's in your complaint club? We'd love to hear about it!

Oddball Scam

The e-mail that we received this week has scam written all over it.  The tell-tale signs include the Hotmail address of the sender, lack of e-mail signature, vague details about the actual project, grammar and punctuation mistakes, etc. We saw the red flags immediately, including some funny stuff, like the sender wanting us to print, bind and deliver thousands of pamphlets to Germany -- hilarious, right? Here's the e-mail:


My name is Charles B whittaker, an executive Managing Director and the Western Region Leader at Frank Crystal & Company. I got a contract, in which I am needing help in translation. The project is about translating the attached document I sent you to a Germany language, print them out in thousands of copies, bind them in form of pamphlets and to deliver them to our company in Germany I will need your help in the translation. Please, let me know how this will work out, and email me the total price we are paying you for the translation. I want you to know as well, we are needing the assignment done on or before August 20th. I attached the document, sent to you in MS and PDF files. Please, kindly acknowledge my proposal, and get back to me as soon as possible. 

Sincerely, Charles.

We dug a bit deeper. The company Charles claims to work for, Frank Crystal & Company, does indeed exist, and we bet they are not happy that their company name is being used in this way. They are an important insurance brokerage firm in the U.S. While one can never be 100% sure that a scam is a scam until one has actually been scammed, we'll go out on a limb (not really) and say this is a scam. However, how is it a scam? Is it the classic scam where they will assign the project, offer to pay ahead of time, then send too much money and ask for us to wire the difference back (that's an old one, and turns out the initial wire was not legit)?

We took a quick look at the attachment (always dangerous), and a Google search with the first paragraph of the text yielded what we expected: the text was taken, verbatim, from this website.  It is crystal-clear to us that this is a hilarious scam, but we are puzzled as to how this scam could potentially work for the scammers.

Any ideas, readers? Have you heard about this one? We'd love to hear from you.

Upcoming Fall Conferences and Webinars

Time flies - it's already July! That means that the conference season is almost upon us. Time for a short list of U.S.-based events that you might or might not have heard about.

XIX FIT (International Federation of Translators) World Congress in San Francisco, CA. This international federation of translators and interpreters has more than 100 member associations around the world. This congress is rarely held in the U.S., so this is a fantastic opportunity. Dates: August 1-4, 2011.

Translate in the Catskills in Maplecrest, NY. Organized by translation industry guru Chris Durban and held in the scenic Catskills, this new seminar is back by popular demand. Now in its second year, "Style in Translation" will focus on polishing translator's writing skills in their target language. Some workshops focus on the French/English language pair, but it's all about writing -- all language combinations are welcome. Dates: August 12-14, 2011.

AAIT (Atlanta Association of Interpreters and Translators) 5th Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This year marks the organization's 30th anniversary and its 5th conference, so there is a lot to celebrate! This year's topic is "Industry Transformation and Trends." Held at the Doubletree Hotel, this two-day conference will feature several well-known speakers, including Marcela Jenney and one Jenner twin. Have a look at the program here. Dates: September 24-25, 2011.

eCPD webinars -- worldwide. Organized and hosted by our wonderful colleagues Lucy Brooks and Sarah Dillon, eCPD webinars are a great way to get professional development without leaving the house. The fall schedule includes a fantastic line-up, including Note-Taking for Interpreters on September 1, Working as a Literary Translator on September 13, Pricing Strategies for Translators on October 17, which Judy is quite excited to present, Nataly Kelly's Getting Started with Telephone Interpreting on October 26, and about a dozen other high-level workshops. Cost is very reasonable, and all you need is an internet connection -- accessing the webinar after you've registered is a breeze.

ATA 52nd Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. So we might be a little biased,  but this is our favorite conference of the year. Not only do we get to meet up with all our friends and colleagues, enjoy dinner and drinks together, but we also attend dozens of interesting seminars and workshops. See you in Boston?
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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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