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Merry Christmas and Farewell!

December 23rd, 2017

As we approach the end of 2017, I am sad to announce that Which Word Translations will also be wrapping up. I am taking on a new full-time position at Rubric (Edinburgh) from January 2018 and will no longer be offering freelance translation for the foreseeable future.

For over a decade you have entrusted me with your words and it has been a great joy and privilege to work with so many inspiring people in the translation and localisation industry. I am hoping that there may be an opportunity to continue working with some of you in my new role in project management.

Happy Christmas and farewell!




It’s a question of trust

September 4th, 2017

As a freelancer you open yourself up to potential dubious job requests and enquiries. In the past, I have received fake PayPal account closure warnings and other attempts to elicit login information for various services and sites. Recently though, I have received a project enquiry, which went beyond the usual cursory efforts to scam. The email seemed coherent, polite and informative. After an introduction of a Vendor Manager it promised a large amount of work across various fields. It also contained a link to a Google form for registering further details in the supposed recruiter’s database. There were however several things about it that made me pause.

The name of the company was Trusted Polish and it was consistent with the domain of the sender’s e-mail address. However, the very word “trusted” made me immediately distrustful. The project promised 20 million words of documents in various fields, including Law, Finance,
IT, Computers/Software, and Web Localization. This seemed too broad and unspecific to be real. The final part of the message contained a link to a Google form to be filled out by interested freelancers.

Luckily, I have recently read an article on the risks of the Autofill feature, which allows for confidential information to be stolen through invisible fields in the browser’s window. I do not now for sure if this was such an attempt, but it looked like it could have been one.

Before proceeding, I emailed back requesting further details about the company, it’s website and location. Before taking up any projects, I also always look up Proz.com’s Blue Board to check if there is any feedback about the outsourcer. There was no mention of a company called Trusted Polish. A few hours later I received a message that my email couldn’t be delivered to the recipient.

Look out in case you get approached by companies called “Trusted Spanish” or “Trusted Dutch” and remember to keep your guard up!




This year, Proz.com’s celebration of the International Translation Day stretches over a whole week. It seems that the ambition and vision of the Proz.com staff has no boundaries and they keep raising the game.

While there is nothing better than a face to face interaction – these virtual conferences are an exciting addition (in the last 3 years) to the already broad range of networking/learning opportunities offered by Proz. We have seen by now two days of events focused around the site itself and issues of online promotion/collaboration of translators, while today is a big recruitment day.

It is not too late to join yet – we are currently starting day 3 with some more big events on the horizon. I am particularly looking forward to several sessions presented on the last day – 30th September – at the 2011 ProZ.com freelance translator virtual conference:

Data backup for translators – by Marek Buchtel
Creating a Marketing Plan for Freelance Translators – by Tess Whitty
Be Special II in a Nutshell – by Suzanne Deliscar
Negotiation – a little effort goes a long way – by Konstantin Kisin

I will be also interested to see other translators’ advice on SEO (Ioana Mihailas and Stanslaw Czech) and online promotion (Marcela Jenney, Tess Whitty, Stanislaw Czech).

See you there!




Non-Literary No-Brainer?

November 30th, 2010

A year ago, while living in Germany, I applied to become a member of the Kuenstlersozialkasse (KSK) – an association of freelance artists, journalists and writers, which supports them financially by subsidising their state health care contributions (a significant expense in Germany) proportionally to their income. From what I heard, translators would normally be included in the ‘Artiste’ category as people who work creatively with language.

Does technical translation belong to the domain of the left brain hemisphere?

Does technical translation belong to the domain of the left brain hemisphere?

As a part-time freelancer, it seemed like a perfect solution for me and so I produced tons of documentation to prove my translator qualifications, professional memberships, samples of work, project history, etc., etc. – as stipulated by the KSK application guidelines. After some 2 months I received a request for some further details, which I duly sent back, and then received another request for even more details one of them being the following question:

What is the % breakdown of the types of translations that you normally carry out:
a) literary texts
b) journalistic/editorial texts
c) specialised texts, manuals, company reports
d) contracts, legal texts, private correspondence as well as interpreting.

Being primarily a technical translator, I marked c) 90% and d) 10% assuming that translation of specialised websites and software would most likely fit in the ‘specialised’ (fachbezogene) category. I do not translate literature nor do I translate for the press.

The reply to this last letter came very quickly. ‘We are very sorry, but we must turn down your application due to the lack of artistic/journalistic quality of your work (fehlender Kunstler-/ Publizisteneigenschaft).

What???

First of all, why didn’t you spare me the several hours it took to put documents together by asking this question sooner rather than later in the application process? Secondly, by asking a tricky question which I could have easily interpreted differently (websites=published (publizistisch) material after all) you disqualified me outright. Not only that, just because I do not translate Joyce or Yeats, you made me feel like my work was mechanical, brainless and had no creative qualities whatsoever.

It still makes me angry when I think about this, and I regret now not contesting this decision. I was so fed up by then that I had no appetite for further correspondence with KSK. It took about 7 months to get to this stage and by then we knew we were leaving Germany back for the UK in autumn, so I just put the letter to the bottom of the drawer and counted it as a lost battle with German bureaucracy.