Sunday, August 30, 2009

Click for a Cause

For every new Facebook fan that In Every Language gets during the month of September, we will make a donation to the Center for Women and Families, a Louisville, Ky based shelter for the abused and battered.

Link to In Every Language's Facebook page here.
Click for more information about the Center here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tippecanoe and Jorge, Too

Please find below a blurb from "Court Translation Services Spotty, But Less So Locally," an article written by Sophia Voravong that ran in the August 13th issue of Lafayette Journal & Courier:

Courts in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, offer translation and interpreting services for people who find it difficult to understand or speak English. However, a recent study found that some state-level courts do not provide such services. The study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's School of Law examined 35 states that have higher proportions of people with limited English language skills. The study found that many state-level courts breach federal civil rights laws by failing to provide interpreters for people who require one. The study also looked at state mandates and competency requirements for individual interpreters. Indiana has a statewide registry of certified interpreters, even though certified interpreters are not mandatory. Certification is only required for the county's head interpreter as part of a $16,500 foreign language interpreter grant received annually from the Indiana Supreme Court, says Tippecanoe Superior Court 6 Judge Michael Morrissey. The grant also requires the county to track and report how interpreters have been used. For instance, interpreters helped in 1,493 cases from May 31, 2008, to June 30, 2009.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ATA, TCD, & Conferences in General

Today my translation project manager and I spent a lot of time pouring over the schedule of seminars for the upcoming American Translators Association (ATA) conference in New York City. After attending the conference last year, I wasn't really overwhelmed with a great need to go again this year, but after attending the Translation Company Division (TCD) conference in Quebec this summer, I'm reconsidering. One of the reasons I had elected not to go to this year's ATA was that the sessions just aren't built for language service provider (LSP) owners. And that's okay. The ATA's purpose isn't really to help us, no matter how hard the TCD may try. The ATA is for the freelancer. I agree with Ted Wozniack, German translator and active ATA member, when he says that the ATA should drop corporate memberships all together--that the Association of Language Companies (ALC) should represent LSPs while the ATA represents freelancers, and that the ALC and the ATA should represent the profession as a whole. But I meander.

Simply put, while the ATA conference might be fun, it's not at all educational for LSP execs. This year's schedule, for example, is packed full of such money-making thrillers as "U.S. and European Union Translation Quality International Standards" and "The Translation Service Market in China as Seen from Local Language Services Providers." Utterly enthralling and very applicable to running a more profitable business, I know. (Please note the sarcasm in my tone.)

So then why am I even thinking about going? Because I've finally learned what a conference is all about. Call me a silly girl, but when I went to my first translating & interpreting conference in 2006, I went to learn. Did I learn there, and have I learned at others since? Yes. Lesson one? You don't go to conferences to learn. You go to network.

Networking is a historically ugly word, conjuring up images of chiropractors and realtors huddling around the cheese table at your local chamber of commerce event, pushing off glossy business cards with their photos printed on them, pronouncing your name wrong as they say, "Call me," and shove the rectangular piece of paper stock in your hand. But networking at a conference--when done right--is entirely different than at chamber mixers, 100% of which I now make a forcible effort to avoid. At a conference, you can spend one-on-one time with people who actually do what you do (rare in our profession) and openly discuss ideas to help you both grow and learn. If you do it right, as I finally learned how to do at this year's TCD, then a freeflow of ideas is created, leading to the innovation that will see translating & interpreting through the crowdsourcing panic and beyond the fear and doubt caused by the continuing improvement of machine translation. These conferences then become the place where you can individually assure yourself and collectively improve. If there are truly any new thought leaders being born in our profession, then conferences are the places where they are grown.

So, all that said, will I be at ATA? I think we both know, if I am, it sure won't be for the sessions.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Preview Our New Site

In Every Language is launching a new website Monday morning, but to thank our Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and blog readers, we're letting y'all preview it early, starting tonight at 7 pm EST. Please drop by and let us know what you think!

Our web address is

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

DV Certification Process Gets National Attention

August 4th, I posted a copy of a press release on this blog about our recent efforts toward developing the nation's first-ever interpreter certification for domestic violence situations. Today, I found out on Twitter--of all places--that Ode Magazine has featured the story on their website. While their coverage doesn't include any information not already available on this blog, we think being on their home page is a pretty cool deal and would just like to thank them publically.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wordfast Group Buy

Greetings, translators. In Every Language is in the process of negotiating a group buy with Wordfast, the translation memory tool that we use here in-house. If you currently contract with us, or are in our database as an approved linguist, then you should receive an email from Project Manager Brandi Miller giving you the link and the password to get in on it if you want.

Good news, though, for those of you who don't contract with us currently. There is a way for your to participate. Apply! If we do decide to add you to our system, you'll receive an email letting you know how to participate in the group buy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Linking In and Face(book)ing Off

When it comes to social networking, where's the line between personal and professional? My answer, in form of the article "Linking In and Face(book)ing Off," recently ran in Multilingual . Feel free to read it below:

From LinkedIn to Facebook, we as individuals are much more visible on-line than we used to be. The opportunities to see and be seen grow every day as sites like XING, Ryze and Spoke enter the scene alongside more personal social networking websites like MySpace and What this means for a translator is that instead of your cleverly crafted page or the well-written biographical paragraph on your company website, prospective clients could very well stumble upon pictures of you at your cousin’s bachelorette party instead. And even if you keep your social networking page risqué-photo free, that’s not to say your cousin might not put those pictures online herself, which means that snapshot of you drinking beer in nothing but a cowboy hat would be just as findable in for clients. Before, the running joke was you only had to watch out for things like that if you ran for office. But now, thanks to the internet, all those youthful party nights could be posted and searchable, whether you inhaled or not.

The fact of the matter is, whereas prospective clients used to learn more about you from you or other human references, such as mutual acquaintances, they now tend to Google search you as an individual. Yes, if you work for a language service provider, they’ll most likely Google the LSP, too, but first they’re going to Google you. Combine that with the fact that most people don’t fully understand their Facebook or MySpace privacy settings, and those pictures you only meant for your friends to see might come up in a prospective client’s search long before any well-prepared, professional information you may have posted. And with a search spider that changes its algorithms with the will of the gods, the way Google determines what web surfers see and the order in which they see it is unpredictable at best, meaning you don’t know which hits the searcher will get to first.
Of course, if you followed my mother’s advice, you would act with decorum at all times, meaning there wouldn’t be anything that a prospective client could find that you wouldn’t want him to see. Drunk college photos wouldn’t exist and there’d be nothing embarrassing for you or your cousin to post to begin with. But, no matter who you are, dear reader, I’m willing to guess that at some point in your life, you’ve done at least one thing you wouldn’t want your mother to know about. Rule number one: If you wouldn’t want your mother to know about it, don’t put it on Facebook (or any other similar site). Period.

Rule number two: If you wouldn’t put it on your Facebook page, don’t let your friends put it on their pages either. How do you find out if this has been done? Facebook should tell you you’ve been tagged (Facebook lingo for “labeled” or “named”) in a photograph. It’s a default setting that can’t be changed. If this happens, simply click on the link telling you this has happened. It should bring you to the picture, where you can click “untag.” Once you’ve untagged yourself, no one can tag you back. It won’t remove the picture, but it will remove your name from it, which is the important part. Names are what’s searchable.

But for those of you who like to do embarrassing things on a regular basis and who want to put pictures up for the internet world to see--hey, those folks are out there--there are ways to get around this. They all boil down to rule number three: keep your private and your professional lives separate. On or off-line, this is simply a good guideline to follow. The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care recommends a similar division as part of its code of ethics for interpreters; the French live it out as a national way of life. Just as no prospective client wants to see you at your cousin’s bachelorette, no friend wants to hear you go on about work all the time. It’s simply a good rule. But when we switch on that computer, some of us forget. And like the eye of Sauron in Lord of the Rings, the lidless eye of Google sees all.

This brings me to rule number three: use an alias for personal networking and your real name for professional networking. In the least, it’s a chance to get creative. You can make up a regular-sounding pen name (ex, Suzanne Smith) or take your initials and turn them into a name—for example, my initials “TB,” could be “Tee Bee” online. Or, you could pay tribute to a historical or literary figure you like (ex, Annie Oakley or Frodo Baggins). Again, names are what are searchable here. Using a pseudonym will allow you to maintain a personal profile without inadvertently mixing in your professional life and without having unwelcome hits from prospective clients on your personal page. It’s also much safer should you ever be stalked.

Rule number four: Know which networking sites are personal and which are professional. LinkedIn, XING, Ryze and Spoke are all professional. Facebook, MySpace and Friendster are personal. Keep them that way. Currently, I have 97 Facebook “friends.” Only three of them were originally work contacts and I thought long and hard before adding each one. Simply put, as the CEO of an LSP, it does nothing for my or my company’s image for prospective clients or contractors to see pictures of me dancing the Electric Slide at my cousin’s wedding--note I did NOT say bachelorette party. The three work contacts I have on Facebook are individuals who I would consider friends in real life, contractors--note I did not say clients--who I’ve come to know and who I would be proud to Electric Slide with in real life any day.

Rule number five: When it comes to your career, Link(ed)In and Face(book) off. The LSP owner or freelance linguist who does not make good use of online social marketing is missing out on a globally-sized chance to get her name out there. Clients Google your name because they want to know more about you. Meet their need and give them the information they desire. Just control what information is out there.

Having a strong LinkedIn profile allows you the opportunity to get more information in front of your target market. LinkedIn will allow you to post your educational background, client recommendations and any type of awards or honors you might have received. A LinkedIn page presents more information than a paragraph-long biography from your company site and it is less industry-specific than a profile, which uses abbreviations and terminology, such as ”WWA” or “Kudoz,” which can occasionally be confusing to clients from outside the language services industry.

The biggest benefit to LinkedIn is that it’s primarily a computerized version of the Good Ole Boy Network. A Southern US term for an international phenomenon, the Good Ole Boy Network is social networking at its best and most efficient—the simple rule of doing business with those you know before you do business with a stranger. People were loyal to their friends and family first long before Al Gore did or didn’t invent the internet. Before the web, however, you had to keep in your head who knew whom that did what. Now, thanks to LinkedIn, it’s all on a computer. Need a lawyer in the Greater Atlanta area? Well, you know Amy who knows Jason who’s Georgia Bar certified. The flip side of this is that Jason may need legal translation, so with the click of a button, LinkedIn will tell him that he knows Amy who knows you and that you’re a legal translator. The more contacts you have on your account, the better, as the more individuals the site is able to link you to. But beware adding too many connections, or you’ll break rule number six.

Rule number six: Only link to people you actually know. There are scammers on LinkedIn who only want access to your information so they can junk email you. Because here’s the thing, see: when you add someone as a contact on LinkedIn, he gets access to your email address, which is generally not viewable to someone unless he’s a contact. Also, email address privacy protection aside, when you add someone as a contact you are publically saying, “Yes, I know this person.” To share some more of my mother’s advice, birds of a feather flock together. You are who you run with. You’re known by the company you keep. Feel free to insert your own appropriate adage here. Do you want to run the risk that you take when you link yourself online to a complete and utter stranger?

That being said, there are different groups on LinkedIn, such as “TopLinked (Open Networkers),” and “MyLink500 (Open Networkers),” which promise that all members will accept any invitation to link profiles from anyone, no questions asked. Obviously, the thousands of members of these groups would disagree with me. But another piece of advice my momma gave me was that quality beats quantity any day of the week. It’s better to have a solidified network of those you know than a weaker network of those you don’t.

Rule number seven would then be obvious, I would think: Don’t click to add me on Facebook or LinkedIn just because you read this article.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Who Do Amateurs Practice On?

No long post today, just a couple of ideas for thought:

We've all seen bilinguals looking to get their "start" as interpreters. But my question is, who are they starting on? And what are they starting with?

All these thoughts tonight got started when I found where I'd written down a Cynthia Roat quote after hearing her speak at a medical interpreters' conference in Lexington, Ky. I put it here below, then leave you with that:

"The emergency room, the courtroom, these are not the places to be practicing!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Courier-Journal Profiles Company

The Courier-Journal, Kentucky's statewide newspaper published in Louisville, profiled In Every Language above the fold in today's paper. While we encourage you to click through the the article on the Courier's website here, I'm also blogging the text from the article, written by Paula Burba, below:

"Snapshots of people at work: re: Terena Bell, translating interpreting"
August 10, 2009

Four years ago this month, Terena Bell started In Every Language Translating & Interpreting Services — (502) 213-0317, — in her home. Business boomed and she recently relocated to new offices at 812 E. Market St. in the NuLu District downtown.

Ditching dictionaries: “I called Kentucky Refugee Ministries offering to volunteer six years ago and showed up out there with a dictionary. The first mark of an amateur is bringing a dictionary with you.”

From the French: “I had been a French freelance interpreter, so I built it off of that. Starting out in her guest bedroom, "It got very, very hectic,” as it moved into the dining room and soon took over the living room. “When we moved into the kitchen, I said, ‘That's it.'”

Translate vs. interpret: "Language service provider — that's what you call what we do. We offer services on site and over the telephone, all over the southeastern U.S. … Translation is written; interpreting is oral.”

Territories: “Anywhere from here to Cincinnati to Atlanta to Raleigh (N.C.) — if it's in the South, we can help you.” On-site interpreters don't go too far north of Cincinnati or Indianapolis.

Certifiable: The company belongs to the American Translators Association, Association of Language Companies and the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care, which “has a very clear code of ethics and standards of practice.”

Navigating health care: “Within healthcare, we do a lot of individual patient appointments. … A lot of surgeries, where the patient needs to know exactly what is going on.”

Not all legality: “We're very much more about the difference (we can make in the world) than about the dollar. … If we didn't do as much community service, I'd be a much richer woman, but I wouldn't sleep well at night.”

--Paula Burba

Terena's Note: I thought it was a nice little piece. Thanks, Courier!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why Translators Aren't Respected

Google “respect” and the first five hits you’ll find are for Aretha Franklin. I must admit, each time I sat down to write this article, I heard that alto voice rolling “Re, re, re, respect” over and over again in my mind. When it comes to respect, I think we all have to admit Aretha’s got the market cornered. As a matter of fact, when it comes to talking about respect in a positive light, you just don’t get any better.

But when you move from Motown to Downtown, respect starts to change. The song goes away and conversations about the subject start to shift toward the negative. The beat is gone and no matter how loudly you wail, you still might not get what you ask for.

From one convention to the next, if you have a group of freelance translators gathering, odds are, somewhere, someone is talking about respect: Companies don’t respect freelancers. Clients don’t respect any of us. Unilingual people think our job is easy. In the translation world, respect is spoken of more often than theory and this year, it seems to be making its way out of everyday conversation and into the news. In March, it all started with an article from Gianni Davico (“Respect versus money in the translation business”) published in Multilingual. Respect here is part of the old freelancer versus LSP debate. To Davico, the debate breaks down to what he thinks contractors and companies crave most: respect versus money respectively.

Lately, though, both contractor and company have found themselves on the same side of our industry’s battleground for respect, with Twitter users from either camp Tweeting furiously against summer crowdsourcing efforts by LinkedIn. While most of these Tweets seem to come from freelancers, many LSP owners and employees have also written Tweets speaking out against or raising awareness of LinkedIn’s request for users to translate its site for free. And it’s not just my company and similarly-sized businesses either. Big names like Lionbridge are joining in the Twitter storm. The uniting point behind this sudden burst of micro-blogging? Money and respect.

In this case, it’s working, or at least it seems to be. June 29th, the New York Times ran an article entitled “Translators Wanted at LinkedIn. The Pay? $0 an Hour” by Andrew Adam Newman. Business Week wasn’t far behind with its July 1st article, “Mozilla's Crowdsourcing Mystique” by Douglas MacMillan, which again mentions what is now called “LinkedInFail.” This comes after the June 30th press release that the ATA itself issued.

For those of you unfamiliar with the controversy, to quote the ATA release, LinkedInFail is a “controversy [that] came to light after a ‘survey’ was circulated by LinkedIn to its members who identified themselves as translators. The survey turned out to be an attempt to find the lure that would identify translators willing to translate LinkedIn materials for free.”

Neither of the articles nor the release itself addressed respect. But I guarantee that somewhere in this world, where two or more translators were gathered, respect was the topic and they weren’t singing along to Aretha.

In fact, you can say that companies want more money and that contractors want more respect, but the truth is, the two are intricately linked. LinkedInFail has proven that, if nothing else.

If you listen to industry guru Renato Beninatto, crowdsourcing, the official term for the group translation technique LinkedIn wanted to employ, is the wave of the future. I, for one, agree with him. But crowdsourcing is not the issue. Respect is. Listing reasons why LinkedInFail generated such an uproar, Common Sense Advisory researcher Nataly Kelly pegs it in the blog Global Watchtower when she writes, “Most people don’t value what translators do.”

Kelly continues to write, “Freelancers are guarded, and understandably so. As individuals who are in business for themselves, freelancers have to watch out for their best interests, as they can be a particularly vulnerable group. Stories of freelancers who were not paid for their work – either by end clients or language service providers are common in the industry. So, any organization that approaches these once-bitten-twice-shy professionals is likely to raise suspicion if there is any implication that work will be carried out without pay.”

To sum, as an industry, we feel underappreciated, misunderstood, and used. Three different feelings with one central issue, the pain is like a prism: one polygon twisted to show different lights from different angles. The problem itself is every human’s need for respect and the angles are created when an impertinent world illuminates the core issues of money, fear, and self-worth.

My solution to this problem may not go over well. My opinion will most likely not be popular. I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard it spoken at a conference or circulated on Twitter. The lack of respect shown to our industry by those outside of our industry is our own fault. No one can fix it but us.

As a child, I was taught that everyone warranted respect. But like Aretha’s, this song was sung before the shift to post-modernism was complete, before Presidents slept with interns--or at least before they got caught. A jaded adult would say I was a gullible child, to think that certain people or certain positions were above error, but as a child, I simply believed what I was taught. In fact, we can learn a lot from what a culture teaches its children.

In Search of Character, published by Live Wire Media, does exactly that: teaches middle-schoolers about respect. A lesson plan series, it covers ten virtues designed to mold children into better adults. The respect lesson provides the self-evaluation quiz below which encourages young people to act respectfully as individuals:

True False
? ? I treat other people the way I want to be treated.
? ? I am considerate of other people.
? ? I treat people with civility, courtesy, and dignity.
? ? I never intentionally ridicule, embarrass, or hurt other people.

If our industry were to take this test, how well do you think it would fair? Poorly, at times, I fear. In case you can’t tell, this is where we get to the unpopular opinion in my article. Remember when I said that the lack of respect shown to our industry by those on the outside is our own fault? Well, I meant it. In order to be treated with respect, translators must first act respectfully.

While there are exceptions, Kelly had the US, freelance pool pegged when she wrote that many translators were “once-bitten-twice-shy.” Having been paid less than we’re worth (and sometimes nothing at all) has understandably made freelance translators weary. The pain of being disrespected is not nearly as deep as the pain of having been wronged. Perhaps this pain has hardened our industry’s heart. Perhaps we strike out not at those who actually have wounded us, but at those who are simply unfortunate enough to be next in line. Instead of allowing our cumulative hearts to heal, we have created that prism of pain.
Do we as a profession treat others the way we want to be treated? When we joke about clients being cheap or stupid, is that acting in a respectful manner? Would we want them to say the same of us? When we make fun of or speak poorly of clients who know less about our industry than we do, aren’t we “intentionally [ridiculing, embarrassing], or [hurting] other people?”

A well-meaning PM I know once posted an open call for translators on ProZ, asking particular language pairs to submit resumes with rates. As a result, one translator sent her hate e-mail full of words we teach our children not to use. He accused her of being disrespectful by asking for rates sight unseen. When she asked my advice, I asked her who had sent the email. Turns out it was anonymous. A man who had just accused her of being disrespectful wasn’t even respectful enough to give his name. Clearly, he is not the cream of the translation crop. But had she been a client trying to find a translator for the first time, how much respect would she then have had for our industry? True or false statement number two from our quiz is “I am considerate of other people.” Number three: “I treat people with civility, courtesy, and dignity.”

The line between true translators and bilingual hacks is unfortunately not as clear to those outside our profession, and that’s part of the problem. But, remember, I said the real problem was us. We do not agree amongst ourselves and when we try to make a difference, egos and division get in the way more often than they should. In order for LinkedIn to think it could get its site translated for free, there had to be registered professionals who LinkedIn thought would do it. LinkedInFail would have never happened if the division between those who said yes and those who said no didn’t exist.

We need greater standards, including a wider-spread national certification program. The ATA has gone to outstanding lengths toward this. But the fact that certification is still not out there for certain languages or for interpreting allows unprofessionals to pose as professionals, making it harder for us to project a positive image of our industry to the world. In fact, where interpreting is concerned, two organizations have recently created further division by breaking off into a separate camp, right when interpreting certification was so close we could taste it. We will not gain respect from outsiders by having different standards for different languages or by dividing amongst ourselves for what looks like personal profit.

We must unite. We must work to rid our industry of unprofessional behavior, to present a uniform front of what is right and what is wrong. We must help the ATA in its efforts at certification for more languages, and we must reprimand those who threaten these efforts.

Most importantly, we must let go of our grudges. We must realize that former errors might not be repeated by the next client in line. We must in fact hope that they won’t be. We must look at the respect we’ve already gained and when we gather, we must discuss it positively.

The time has come for the prism to stop shining on its pain and to let the more beautiful colors through. The time is here and the time is now, be you in Motown or Downtown, to stand for change, no longer injured by what we don’t have, but proudly singing instead about what we do, just as assertively as Aretha always has.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

In Every Language and Ky Domestic Violence Association Work Toward Certification

Check out the following press release we issued this morning:

In Every Language, a Louisville-based interpreting and translating provider, has joined the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association’s council for the development of domestic violence interpreting certification. As there is currently no domestic violence interpreting certification available in the United States, the certification will be the first of its kind. Lead by Isela Arras with the KDVA, the Interpreter Certification Project hopes that its certification model, once complete, can be used to qualify or certify domestic violence interpreters in other states. This project therefore only not impacts victims of domestic violence in Kentucky, but has the capability to help people throughout the nation.

A separate certification for interpreting in domestic violence situations is needed due to domestic violence interpreting’s highly-specialized nature. The field is quite different from interpreting for other situations due to the job knowledge, personal sensitivity, and bilingual vocabulary it requires. While resembling medical interpreting in its confidential nature, domestic violence interpreting also requires legal and community interpreting expertise, as well as skill-sets not involved in other interpreting specializations. The council is also writing a training manual and continuing education modules that will serve as aids in certification preparation and maintenance. Once completed, a database of those interpreters in Kentucky both trained and certified for domestic violence situations will be available to KDVA’s shelter programs in the Commonwealth.

The Interpreter Certification Project has grown out of KDVA’s existing Immigrant and Refugee Women Project, a statewide task force working to ensure immigrants and refugees receive equal access to domestic and sexual violence services in Kentucky. In Every Language was selected for the council because of the company’s commitment to community outreach and service.

In Every Language is located in Louisville, Ky, where it works to provide quality translating and interpreting services for social-service and social-entrepreneurial situations throughout the Southeastern United States. The company’s website is

Based in Frankfort, Ky, the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association works to ensure that the right to live free of any form of domestic abuse is valued, protected, and defended in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The KDVA can be found online at