Sunday, May 22, 2005

Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach, in meiner Brust

Various translations of this quote online:
Two souls dwell, alas! in my breast
Two souls, alas! reside within my breast.
Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast.
Two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast.
Two souls, alas! are lodg'd within my breast.
Damn squatters. Faust should have charged both souls rent. It's not like the space is free or anything.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Imparting Pearls Of Utter Foolishness

After slogging through 250 pages of why ISDN H-channels are not the same as N x 64 channels, my brain, like a recalcitrant pony, is balking at the sheer thought of reading another page. It's not the best behaved brain in the world, mind you. After 250 pages, it always balks. It's like clockwork. I've tried caressing it, feeding it tasty oats and taking it for a trot in the morning, but right now it looks a little fagged. Maybe I should put it out to pasture.

However, I have learned some valuable lessons from reading Telecommunications: A Beginner's Guide, which I would like to share with you, dear reader.
  1. There is a reason why Cisco's marketing materials sound like they were written by an army of monkeys on crack. Because they were.
  2. These are probably the same goddamn monkeys who invented English pronunciation rules, or rather the lack thereof.
  3. Switches are essentially modern-day witchcraft, and anyone who understands them has probably sold his soul to the devil.
  4. This joke is still not funny:
    Q: What did the data terminal equipment say to the data circuit terminating equipment?
    A: 10101001110001010010100100100101000100111!
  5. All work and no play makes Trench an unspeakably dull boy.
  6. When I'm reading this bilge, I can't get no inspiration. But I try. And I try. And I try. And I try.
  7. The next textbook I read will have pictures, color-by-numbers and crossword puzzles. You know, something like "Pokémon Visits the Polymer Processing Plant".
  8. Whoever wrote the ISDN chapter is guilty of committing acts of gross boredom and should be boiled in oil. Feet-first.
  9. Advanced Intelligent Networks are pretty cool, actually.
  10. I used to say that the best thing about being a translator was the fact that you were constantly learning. Now, I think it's a toss-up between learning and writing. God, I missed blogging.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

My Scheduler

Since there are no project management applications just for freelance translators, I'’ve had to set up my own as an Excel table. It consists of three parts:

  1. A calendar (Columns A-H)
  2. A speed calculator (Columns I and J)
  3. A notes section (Columns K-ZZZ)

The calendar section turns blue when you enter a number in it. Take B21, for example. I have a job that I want to finish on Monday by 6 p.m. So I enter 209 lines (the number of lines for the job) and set aside the next hour for proofreading. The job propagates up through the table until it reaches zero.

It also warns you if you have a scheduling conflict. In E23, I'’ve inserted a job, but it overlaps with the next job down. I’'ll have to fix this later.

The Lines and Speed columns tell me if I'’m translating fast enough to make my deadlines. In the calendar, my target rate is 20 lines per half-hour. In the speed column, I've set down 25 lines per half hour. The extra 5 lines per half-hour is my planning slack.

In this case, I translated fast enough from 11:00 to 11:30, but was a little slow from 11:30 to 12:30. I did fine from 2:00 to 2:30, but I obviously was distracted or really slow from 2:30 to 3:00.

The Notes section begins at column K. I use a formula to calculate the number of lines I have left based on a character count. I also enter any pending quotes so I don'’t book time I'’ve agreed to reserve provisionally for another client.

You can't drag and drop cells or move entire columns back and forth because of the scheduling conflict formula I had to use. Other than that, this little spreadsheet does almost everything I want.

My Schedule

If you're interested in using it for yourself, e-mail me your Yahoo address. I've got it in my Briefcase, but I need a Yahoo handle to share it. If you're in a rush, just add a comment telling me you've sent me an e-mail. I'll be sure to check my e-mail then.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Driving Myself Crazy

I have a theory that alongside the drive for sex, recognition and companionship, everyone has a built-in, plug ‘'n play linguistic drive. I know I do. The only problem is that my linguistic drive seems to have two gears: intake and output. Right now, I'm absorbing a book on telecommunications. My brain is so focused on Media Access Control addresses and synchronous payload envelopes that it’'s uninterested in producing anything creative.

Don'’t laugh -– I'’m serious. My wife thinks I'’m nuts for actually enjoying this stuff, but what can I say? The moment I stop learning at my job is the moment I'’ll give it up and drive a cab for a living.

Just so you get an idea of what I mean by absorb, here's a book page before I mark it up:

In all its naked glory

And here's one after I mark it up:

Pretty, ain't it?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Sense Of Humor, Anyone? - Part 2

ProZ has a funnybone!

Sense Of Humor, Anyone?

While it doesn't even come near the weapons of mass lawyer humor stockpiled around the 'net, I did find a page devoted to translation jokes. Here's my current favorite:
Translator gets 400 words to translate.
Client : How long will it take?
Translator : About a week.
Client : A whole week for just 400 words? God created the world in 6 days.
Translator : Then just take a look at this world and afterwards take a look at my translation.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Bigwig Bitching

Might just be the world's greatest translation for "Jammern auf hohem Niveau"*.

I dare you to use it. No, I double-dog dare you. No, you first. No, you first.

* Literally "Complaining at a high level." Means that high-powered politicians and executives in Germany are running around complaining that the sky is falling and it's everyone else's fault but theirs.

Update: I was wrong, obviously. All it means is that people are complaining before they really need to. sigh Sometimes I think I'm never going to learn German.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Tongue-Tied? Try This Trick.

Let's say you have the tagline "Unlocking Value Through Integrated Supply Chains". Okay, this may not seem like a tough nut to crack, but try coming up with something snappy. It's harder than you might think. So what do I normally do?

First, I try coming up the basic concept (or proposition, if you want to split hairs). So I might write “We Interconnect All Your Logistics Operations So You Don’t Have To And Can Make More Money In Your Core Business.”

It’s not snappy. It’s not supposed to be. It just gives me a starting point in English. By absorbing the ideas, I spend less time trying to translate the word "unlock” and more time developing a native-sounding solution. Once I've gotten the basic concept down, often the ideas really start flowing. And the best thing is that these ideas sound American.

If that doesn’t work, I often start having fun with (or maybe making fun of) the tagline. Bear with me here. I may write, “We Want To Take Over Your Company. We Totally Rock And Everyone Else Sucks. We Will Send Your Stuff To, Like China And Stuff."

I’m not disrespecting the tagline. All I’m doing is reasserting my personality so I can write something creative and express an idea that I’ve thought. This is really good if I’m working on a high-pressure job for a high-profile client. I let off a little steam and realize, hey, it’s just another job. And haven’t I done plenty of these before? And wasn’t I happy with the results?

One last thing: I always write out my ideas. They won’t do any good in my head. I have to see it black on white, right next to the real text. Only then will these two techniques work their magic.

Let me know if you try them out - and if they work!