The Joys of Working From Home

Earlier today, during a spontaneous mid-morning break from my work, I found myself questioning whether or not, after several years of working almost exclusively from home as a freelance translator and researcher, I could go back to working in the ‘real world’ of offices, 9-5 and all that jazz.

While the obvious answer is yes, of course I could, it struck me that the longer I’ve been working from home, the more certain I’ve become that the transition back would be a slow, painful one.

From the freedom to take mid-morning breaks that lead to blog posts like this to the increased productivity associated with working in such a tailored environment, working from home has played a huge part in my personal development.

With that in mind, here are ten conclusions that I’ve drawn based on my adventure so far (with tongue planted firmly in cheek).

  • Family members / friends will never quite understand that ‘at home’ does not equate to ‘doing nothing and likely to be grateful for a call/surprise visit’.
  • Lengthy conversations with pets are entirely normal.
  • My clothing habits have gone beyond the point of no return and I’m OK with that.

  • Caffeine can be used to solve most work-related issues.
  • At this point, my own personal schedule has become so deeply engrained that having to adhere to anybody else’s timekeeping rules would most probably cause my brain to cease functioning.
  • The degradation of social skills is a very real thing.

  • With the vast majority of communication revolving around email conversations, it is essential to become adept at utilising subtle variations in tone, from the ‘I’m really not happy’ staccato sentences to the all-powerful smiley face.
  • These days, anyone complaining about their dreaded commute is automatically met with a smug inward grin as I picture my five-second saunter from bed to office.

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  • Internet connection issues are always cause for unmitigated panic.
  • My boss is pretty awesome.

Guest Post: Ten common French-English false friends

Today we have a real treat in the form of a guest post courtesy of the team at Textualis, a linguistic services company based in Montreal. So, without further ado, let’s get into the post!


False friends, or “faux amis”, are an obstacle that many of us encounter when we negotiate the vagaries of another language. We may think we are confident of the meaning of a word but often we are sadly mistaken.

So what exactly is a false friend, and what vocabulary dangers do they present? Despite being a Germanic language, English nonetheless has many words in common with French, a Romance language. While words like “intelligence” and “accident” present no issues as they are extremely similar in both languages (minus the nuances in pronunciation of course), this simplicity invites us down a dangerous path as it can lead us to believe that we understand more than we actually do. Indeed, not all words that appear to be the same in French and English actually are and, in many cases, the meanings are miles apart.

How does the false friend phenomenon occur?

The Oxford English Dictionary refers to three types of false friend, two of which are true false friends and one of which is a partial false friend.

True false friends occur either when words have the same root but have taken different paths to adopt non-congruent meanings over the years, or when words have no root in common but look alike by coincidence.

Partial false friends can potentially be even more confusing as they have a common root and some common meaning but other areas of their meaning differ.

What sort of words can present a difficulty?

While there are so many false friends out there just waiting to trip us up, a good place to start is getting to know ten of the most common ones between French and English. Of course, hiring a professional translation company or freelancer can help you avoid any confusion.

Demander – In French this means “to ask for” but in English has very different connotations. If you demand a meeting with someone it suggests a sense of urgency, determination, and possibly a certain amount of ire or concern.

Bribes – This could definitely be a source of some embarrassment as in French bribes means “fragments” while it has very different connotations in English, being something that is given to extort an action or favor. The root of the word actually comes from the French for small amounts of bread that were given as alms.

Fabrique – An English person looking at this word may assume that it means fabric, as in a material from which items such as clothing can be made but in French it’s actually the building within which such creation takes place i.e. une fabrique is a factory.

Chair – You would not be sitting on this in France, unless you want to sit on “flesh” of course. The actual French translation of the English chair is chaise, which is not a million miles away.

Librairie – In summoning up the English word “library” you are not that far away as this means “bookshop” in France. However, you may not fare too well if you try to borrow a book from a librairie without paying… If you want to borrow a book without engaging in criminal activity, you need to find yourself a bibliothèque.

Patron – If you are a patron in France then you are the boss, whereas in England you are a client or customer; completely different ends of the spectrum.

Chauffeur – This word is a partial false friend as it can have the same meaning in both French and English but in French can also mean any driver, whether employed to do so or not.

Porc – If you like your meat then you will recognize the relation between this word and the English version, pork. In France it also means the pig itself and pigskin. Another partial false friend.

Actuel – A very common false friend which in French means current or present, not real or authentic as in the English word “actual”.

Préservatif – The final false friend in this list is one that you definitely wouldn’t want to get confused. If you’re looking at the word and thinking of the English “preservative” then think again. In French if you’re asking for a préservatif you are asking for a condom.

From these examples alone you can see how easy it is for confusion to occur, so always be aware of false friends. Any other common false friends (or more interesting, funny ones!) you’ve come across in French/English translation? Feel free to leave a comment!

Top of the Blogs

In the world of professional translation we’re extremely fortunate to have a whole range of excellent bloggers out there constantly producing innovative, interesting posts to keep us entertained during our down time and today I want to pay tribute to ten of my personal favourites.

With the Top 25 Language Professional Blogs section of bab.la’s annual Top 100 Language Lovers competition already providing a great (and somewhat more objectively ranked) opportunity to discover blogs you weren’t previously familiar with, I decided to add a few constraints to make compiling a list of my own a more valuable exercise:

 – I’ve included no blogs that feature in the 2014 Top 25 Language Professional Blogs: Looking beyond this list not only allows me to include ‘hidden gems’ so to speak but also demonstrates the strength in depth of blogging in the translation industry.

 – The blogs I’ve chosen are written by an individual rather than on behalf of a larger company: As an individual blogger myself I guess this is partly driven by a desire to be a champion of the ‘little guy’ but more importantly it made it a lot easier to narrow my list down to just ten selections!

 – The primary language of all of the blogs is English: Once again, this was purely to make the list a little easier to compile. I regularly read excellent translation blogs written in French, Italian and even Spanish (check out En la luna de Babel and Traducir es descubrir in particular) and it would have been a nightmare to choose between them all.

Ultimately, all of the blogs chosen consistently produce compelling posts that I just can’t resist sharing. As well as including a short overview of what each blog offers, I’ve also added a Recommended post for each entry that is typical of the unique treats provided by that particular blogger.

Of course, it almost goes without saying that there are so many other blogs that I would have loved to feature and I found it extremely tough to stop at just ten (in fact, I think that another post is already on the cards to feature those that I couldn’t squeeze in this time around). As it is, however, the chosen ten have caught my attention in recent weeks and months and I feel that they provide a strong account of what is on offer in the world of translation blogging. (Note: the blogs are in no particular order, this order simply worked well with the formatting of the post)

So go on, read a new blog today, and why not share your favourites in the comments section or on your own blog? Enjoy!

 


 

Balance your words: Taking a close look at the best ways to market yourself as a translator, the ever-increasing importance of social media in our profession, methods of maximising productivity and ultimately how to achieve balance in your career, Sara always produces top quality posts drawn from her wealth of experience in the industry.

Recommended post: 7 social media tips to help the busy translator

 


 

In Touch Translations: Emeline’s blog strikes a perfect balance between a range of topics with posts touching on everything from branding to personal reflections on life as a freelance translator. Be sure to check out her ‘What’s in a brand?’ series in particular (in which a different translation professional discusses their approach to branding in each post).

Recommended post: 4 ways you can reconnect to your business

 


 

Carol’s Adventures in Translation: Blogging in both English and Portuguese, Caroline’s blog offers a range of tips from personal experience as well as an impressive array of guest posts from professionals working throughout all areas of the translation industry. Her tips for newcomers to the industry are particularly handy.

Recommended post: Dear beginner

 


 

Which Translates To…: ‘Translation is embedded into life, art, emotions, actions. For everything we do, there’s a translation.’

With its personal, engaging posts providing you with a glimpse into the inner workings of life as a freelance translator and the world of writing, Magda’s blog is always a source of information and inspiration.

Recommended post: Why are freelance translators so good at branding?

 


 

Tranix Translations: With tips, reviews, resources and recommendations, Nikki’s blog is a veritable treasure trove of goodies! I could spend hours going through the links gathered on her regular ‘Posts of the day’ entries and I recommend that you do just that.

Recommended post: Warning about Google Translate

 


 

Your Professional Translator Blog: Olga puts it better than I ever could: “I blog about translation, marketing for translators, foreign language learning or teaching, Russian culture and traditions, my native city Vladimir and sometimes about my fam or me.” Be sure to keep up to date with her ‘Meet the linguist’ series.

Recommended post: 10 worst mistakes I made as a freelancer

 


 

Translation Wordshop: ‘Shoptalk about language, business and culture’.

The Translation Wordshop represents a recent discovery for me but it is already blog that I count among my favourites. Marie’s incisive explorations of important topics in the industry are packed with valuable, authoritative advice and the fact that I’ve only recently discovered her blog goes to show that there’s always more great content for us to find online.

Recommended post: Rebranding the translation profession

 


 

Patenttranslator’s Blog: Billed as the ‘diary of a mad patent translator’, Steve Vitek’s blog is the place to go if you’re looking for an entertaining read on a whole host of translation-related topics and beyond. Expect everything from neurotic rants to eternal truths and much, much more!

Recommended post: A Gaping Hole in the Curriculum for Translation Studies

 


 

Translation Matters: ‘Life, business, family – a blog about having it all.’

In Marion’s excellent blog you can expect insightful tips and a refreshing take on the translation industry from someone simply sharing their experiences in the profession.

Recommended post: Is Translator a Good Career? You Bet!

 


 

Transgalator: Introduced with the famous George Steiner quote “Every language is a world. Without translation, we would inhabit countries bordering on silence”, Gala’s blog goes about breaking that silence in its own unique way. Unlike the text-based blog’s above, Gala offers up a video blog in which she provides tips, advice, interviews and more. The innovative format only serves to demonstrate the range of options available to translation enthusiasts.

Recommended post: Video blogs for translators and interpreters


 

Twittering Translators

While today’s post perhaps represents a departure from my usual blog articles which revolve around exploring a certain part of the translation act with accompanying examples, it is probably a more conventional use of a blogging space in that it more closely resembles the form of an opinion piece.

That said, however, it is something that still ties in very closely with the translation profession and helps to give a more well-rounded view of what it takes to be a translator. The topic of address for today is the use of Twitter as part of the professional translator’s working life.

In what was the biggest coincidence of my Monday, while I was thinking this post over I discovered that our friends over at Inbox Translation had actually covered the exact same topic in their latest blog and, while initially considering dropping the post all together, upon reading the post and seeing the different approach they had adopted as well as the different opinions held, I decided that it would actually be even more interesting to write this post in order for it to be read in tandem with the views of another fairly recently initiated twitterer. (Their article – ‘A Few Thoughts on Twitter’ – obviously shares some common ground but tackles interesting issues surrounding followers rather than the points I want to address)

Initially, despite the many recommendations I was given to create a professional twitter account, I was skeptical about what value it could offer – I was happily getting on with translation tasks without the aid of social media and (largely thanks to Facebook) I thought that it would perhaps prove more of a distraction than anything else. I was completely wrong.

While the translation act is obviously key for a professional translator, one cannot underestimate the importance of the translator as a human being and the importance of their mentality in a profession which can often leave members feeling lost in what can be a daunting and isolated role. Of course being alone, especially while working, is not a synonym for being lonely or isolated and for many people the benefits of being their own boss and not having to deal with annoying colleagues on a daily basis far outweighs this negative aspects, but it is important to get the balance right and this is where Twitter plays one of its trump cards.

Upon getting started you quickly discover a ready-made network of welcoming, professional and knowledgeable translators working in any number of language pairs who are going through or have dealt with the problems that you will undoubtedly face. While I am still fairly new to the freelancing game, it is now hard to imagine a time when I wasn’t involved in this network and the use of Twitter has greatly eased the transition into this new mode of working.

Yet beyond just a way of gathering reassurances while finding your way into an often unforgiving profession and fighting potential solitude, Twitter represents a site of opportunity for continual development for the already-established translator – I could honestly fill an entire day reading the fascinating articles shared on translation, linguistics and languages every day, and the discovery of many excellent translation blogs has opened up a new world of translation resources that I otherwise would have completely missed. Add to this an endless stream of humourous posts and pictures and the constant sharing of more traditional resources (tutorials, glossaries, termbanks etc.) and you really have a great tool.

While I am not going to address questions of how to use twitter or social media (many excellent articles are out there such as this ‘Practical Guide to Social Media for Translators’ or ‘Getting started with Twitter – A Translator’s Journey’) as I feel that it is a very personal topic based upon an individual’s desire to seek out additional information or connect with other like-minded professionals and their amount time free to invest, I personally feel that regular interaction within the professional group has greatly developed my understanding of the profession as well as providing a base to recharge when a five-minute break is sorely needed.

And what about it doing nothing more than adding yet another distraction to your working day? There is certainly the potential for this to be the case with the array of bits and pieces on offer, but this is true with just about everything on the internet – it just offers the same challenges of self-discipline as anything else and I have not found it to be a problem so far…

On a final note, I realise that a fair chunk of my blog traffic does indeed come from Twitter and as such I am preaching to the choir in many cases, but I would love to hear some different takes on this issue – whether sharing my opinions or in total opposition – and hopefully my views will convince a few of you out there to either take the Twitter plunge or dust off that hashtag key and give it another shot.

Before I head off here are ten of my favourite translation-based twitter accounts posting in a variety of languages; I have gained so much useful information from these guys over the course of the last few months, with regular blog updates and a constant stream of interesting articles being shared, and this is the least I can do to thank them. Here’s to you!

(edit – I have to add that there were so many other accounts that I could’ve easily included in this list and keeping it down to just ten was a real trial. In the end I pretty much went for the ten accounts that I seem to retweet most often)

@LinguaGreca                                                                      @InboxTranslate

@Smart_Translate                                                                 @qctranslator

@translartisan                                                                       @ALTA_USA

@sc_translations                                                                   @earthlang

@Scheherezade_SL                                                              @estrans

And finally, you definitely can’t go wrong in checking out each and every one of the Top 25 Language Twitterers 2013 if you’re looking for a few new faces to follow. Happy tweeting!