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Warren Smith

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May 5, 2021, 6:20:52 PMMay 5
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Honyaku has been mighty quiet lately (at least for me -- perhaps it is being sorted to a trash bin or something...)

 

Anybody out there?

 

Warren Smith

Jon Johanning

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May 5, 2021, 6:31:26 PMMay 5
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Hi Warren, I'm here, but not much to contribute right now. I'm doing a series of proofreading jobs for an agency who seems to like to hire native Japanese translators (or maybe just one) to go Japanese to English, for some strange reason. (Are they cheap?) In any case, besides their poor facility with English and their sloppiness (leaving out sentences or whole paragraphs etc.), they try to do mirror translations of journal articles into Word docs, with headers and footers, two-column sections, and figures and tables imported from the source docs in some peculiar ways, all of which they don't seem to know how to do well at all, so I'm straightening out some pretty big messes. Well, there are harder ways to make a living.

Jon Johanning
jjoha...@igc.rg

Warren Smith

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May 5, 2021, 7:17:56 PMMay 5
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Yech! That sounds miserable.

 

Personally, while I have fits of extreme busyness (punctuated by down times) lately, I am spending much of my time trying to transition out of translation at present. I think that after 40 million words I have reached a state of profound burn-out!

 

W

 


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Matthew Schlecht

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May 5, 2021, 9:04:26 PMMay 5
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On Wed, May 5, 2021 at 7:17 PM Warren Smith <Warren...@comcast.net> wrote:

Yech! That sounds miserable.

 

Personally, while I have fits of extreme busyness (punctuated by down times) lately, I am spending much of my time trying to transition out of translation at present. I think that after 40 million words I have reached a state of profound burn-out!


Must admit that that idea's been bouncing around in my brain, too. Though, I'm pretty sure that I'm shy of 40MM words by a substantial margin...
What would you transition to?

Matthew Schlecht, PhD
Word Alchemy Translation, Inc.
Newark, DE, USA
wordalchemytranslation.com

Matthew Schlecht

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May 5, 2021, 9:12:33 PMMay 5
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On Wed, May 5, 2021 at 6:31 PM Jon Johanning <jjoha...@igc.org> wrote:
Hi Warren, I'm here, but not much to contribute right now. I'm doing a series of proofreading jobs for an agency who seems to like to hire native Japanese translators (or maybe just one) to go Japanese to English, for some strange reason. (Are they cheap?) In any case, besides their poor facility with English and their sloppiness (leaving out sentences or whole paragraphs etc.), they try to do mirror translations of journal articles into Word docs, with headers and footers, two-column sections, and figures and tables imported from the source docs in some peculiar ways, all of which they don't seem to know how to do well at all, so I'm straightening out some pretty big messes.

Are you sure that your client wants you to spend your time fixing up the formatting?
I do proofreading of documents like what you describe, but I focus only on the linguistic matters. I also charge by the hour, and would recommend that you do likewise, especially if you're doing format-fixing which isn't reflected in moji/word counts.
I have found that even what I judge are native English speakers (based on their names which get included in the email threads) are often submitting just a first draft without benefit of a spell check, let alone much terminology research and/or consistency. Not all, but some do. I wonder if lower translation rates justifies less effort in their minds. 

Warren Smith

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May 5, 2021, 9:21:17 PMMay 5
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What would you transition to?

------------

I found my dream job: There was an opening in the competitive strategy group at Royal Philips in Amsterdam, helping forge technology and market strategy for the US and Asian markets. It would have been a wonderful position, using my doctorate in business, my [now defunct] technical skills (but, "once an engineer, always an engineer"), and language skills as well.

 

Too bad they didn't offer me the position!

 

In the mean time, I am still a "fulltime translator" (which lately means "part time"), while also doing some strategic consulting for a data analytics/economic forecasting firm.

 

Translation has been a good life, and has paid well... but between fatigue with it all, and the changes in the competitive environment making it less lucrative, I am feeling that it is time to abandon ship.

 

W

Jon Johanning

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May 5, 2021, 10:36:59 PMMay 5
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It is clear that the translators (I think there are more than one, because the styles seem different) are native Japanese speakers with very poor English skills, not native English speakers, because they make the usual mistakes with plurals, "the" and "a," random capitalization, and so on. But they are also obviously very inexperienced in the translation profession, because they are so sloppy with leaving out sentences, etc. I do notice that they have a fair amount of familiarity with medical terminology, so it seems they are people with some medical training who are under the illusion that they are translators. 

I am in fact charging by the hour, but I haven't been keeping careful track of the time on most of these things, because they have been very small files. But a while ago I got a real horror show to deal with, which they estimated would take me 3 hours. I did take the trouble to record the time on that one and it turned out to take me 10 hours. They paid me for that amount, so they are willing to go beyond their estimates, and the PM has expressed great appreciation to me for my efforts. It looks as though they are hiring native Japanese translators who are grossly under-qualified and counting on me to clean up the messes, instead of giving me the translation end. It must be because it's cheaper for them to do it that way.

What I will do from now on is to charge them for my actual work times, and as long as they cheerfully pay me those ridiculous sums, why should I complain? At least I am making some money increasing my word-processing knowledge and learning interesting things about some of the more obscure features of Word.

Jon Johanning

John Stroman

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May 6, 2021, 2:42:28 AMMay 6
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Warren,
I hit burnout once in the mid-1990s. I took a six-month "sabbatical," and it worked wonders. 

By taking time away from work to analyze what I was really doing, I discovered how to maintain the solid triangular relationship among what I have dubbed the three fundamental foundations of freelancing: quality, profitability, and sustainability. Quality refers to satisfying customer needs and generating repeat business (right, Mr. Johanning?); profitability refers to calculating all your work (including bookkeeping, etc.) in dollars/hour to see if the remuneration is worth the effort (return on investment); and sustainability refers to long-term maintenance of the business (now called "life-work balance" in popular jargon). 

I was only jittery for the first few days of fax machine silence as I stared at my navel, and then I laid out a plan for running the business end of translation such as working regular business hours in a rented office that was far enough away from my home that I would not be tempted to make the trip more than once a day.

To be honest, given my quirky personality and odd mixture of academic degrees in disparate subjects, I learned that the only job I am really suited for is freelance translator.

So don't be afraid to tell your regular customers that something personal has come up that will require you to suspend your translation services for X months. Stuff happens all the time, such as an illness in the family. No need to explain further. Your customers aren't going anywhere, and if they really value your work, they will be happy to take you back. After I was severely incapacitated for nearly a year in 2014 with an autoimmune disorder, I learned which of my customers actually valued my contribution to their businesses, and which ones considered translators as interchangeable parts in their machine. Since then I have worked almost exclusively for the former, and they have been more than happy to fill my schedule since they know they have me firmly in their fold. In the meantime, explore your other options such as the consulting gig. Try on a few different hats to see how they fit. 

In short, overcoming burnout involves a careful look at how you have been conducting your business and personal affairs, and then making conscious choices to follow the path that will give your life more personal value. Treat yourself kindly, man. None of us is twenty-five anymore and chomping at the bit.

John Stroman
----------------


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Jon Johanning

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May 6, 2021, 9:47:33 AMMay 6
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John S. - Your advice is very much to the point. I think that a big reason some of us keep at it is just that we love all the challenges and opportunities to solve puzzles that translation provides. It's like all the arts - music, painting, writing, and the rest. There are difficulties in figuring out how to play a particular passage in a composition just right, or how best to word a sentence in an essay, but also a great amount of satisfaction when you finally get it right.

Jon Johanning

Warren Smith

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May 6, 2021, 11:11:19 AMMay 6
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You speak wisdom, John. (I am leaving the full quote below, because it is worth repeating!)

 

One line struck me especially: "To be honest, given my quirky personality and odd mixture of academic degrees in disparate subjects, I learned that the only job I am really suited for is freelance translator."

 

Yesterday I spoke with a recruiter from a Japanese company. He had reviewed my resume, and said, "I can't figure you out. Are you a translator? An engineer? A business strategist?" The answer is that I (like many of us in this forum) are impossible to pigeon-hole.

 

People with odd combinations of skills can add great value in the right position, but those positions are hard to find (because our odd eclectics of skills are unusual enough that people don't "spec jobs" for the likes of us). Given the variety of fields we must be familiar with as freelance translators, this is a pretty good home for us... but sometimes I want to climb out of my basement and interact with humans for a change, and -- more than that -- have the joy of solving *different sets of problems* than just turning kanji into money...

 

Warren

 


From: hon...@googlegroups.com [mailto:hon...@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of John Stroman
Sent: Thursday, May 06, 2021 2:42 AM
To: hon...@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Test

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