Archive for the ‘Life as a Translator’ Category

Hibernation is over

February 8, 2009

I haven’t done much translation work in the past month. The Pantsuit of Justice (c)  ALMOST made its appearance when I was offered an assignment that I was able to accept.  Unfortunately, a few days before it was to take place, it got canceled. I was also approached by a potential client, but so far, as of this date, nothing has materialized.

During this hiatus, I have taken the time to focus on some of my interests that are not related to translation (hint: Ravelry). I have also realized that apparently, perfectly sane people above the age of 21 are on Facebook. My dad! My brother! Former high school classmates! That kid who lived next door! I am sure it could be used for translation-related networking there, but I am not there yet.

However, my sabbatical is about to come to an end. I am currently working on a couple of projects. While it took me a while to get started, it feels like I never stopped.

My dad sends me a news clipping

January 4, 2009

The other day, I got a letter from my dad, featuring two newspaper clippings from the December 24, 2008 issue of El Nuevo Día (for the unfamiliar, a Puerto Rican newspaper). One featured an autistic teenager who had learned how to make jewelry from an artisan. As my daughter is autistic, he figured (correctly) that this would be of interest to me. The other one featured the following headline:

Ayuda francesa a defensa de Brasil (French aid to Brazil’s defense)

And of course, I was left to wonder as to why my dad felt the need to send me this particular news item. Until I flipped it over, and read the following headline:

Tribunales de EE.UU. necesitan más intérpretes (US tribunals need more interpreters).

The original article, a very good translation of the original article written by Jean Ortiz, not only features one of my fellow certified interpreters (I sent her a copy)  but it outlines a rather important point: how, in a place like my home state of Nebraska, which used to have a rather homogeneous population until recently, there is a growing need for interpreters.

Unfortunately, I cannot provide a link to the Spanish-language article from El Nuevo Día (their archive requires a subscription), but I can provide a link to the one that appeared in the Lincoln Journal-Star.


November 15, 2008

Today is about dealing.

Dealing with the fact that I have to balance my translation workload vs. the urgent need for clean laundry, dishes, dinner, etc.

Dealing with the fact that I have earned a reputation as a “speed demon” when it comes to my translations, and worrying about how to keep it without compromising on quality.

Dealing with the departure of a dear friend. Last week, my beloved cat Sugar passed away in her sleep.

Sugar (1996?-November 2008)

Sugar (1996?-November 2008)

Go in peace, puss. Sorry about all the times I projected my own insecurities and made remarks about your “childbearing hips”. Particularly insensitive, considering that little operation we made you have. You will be missed.

Desperate times call for desperate measures

September 19, 2008

I have a tendency to misplace things.

So, far, this year, I have managed to misplace/permanently lose:

  • keys
  • cell phone
  • earrings
  • cash (OUCH)
  • my Preferred Customer card from a local coffeehouse
  • socks (mine, my daughter’s, my husband’s)
  • shoes
  • too many others

One of my most lamented losses includes my nift flash drive/pen. Somehow, I managed to make it to 35+ without owning one. However, during the most recent phase, I realized I needed to get one. At a nearby store, I purchased a combination pen/flash drive. I wasn’t impressed with the writing quality of the pen part, but it kept the data storage part safe. The drive allowed me to do quick exchanges of data with my partner during the most recent phase of the Ongoing Major Project.

Unfortunately, I managed to lose it.

Today, during my lunch hour, I stepped in to the store to pretend I could justify buying a leather clipboard. And it turns out that they were selling the pen/flash drive.


Of course I had to buy it. And this time, I will be rigging a device so it is not so easily lost.

So what did you do last week?

August 26, 2008

Let’s see:

  1. Worked like crazy with my trusty partner on the Major Group Project (which should probably be renamed Ongoing Major Group Project)
  2. Attended the swearing-in ceremony of the newest member of the list of court-certified translators in Nebraska and took many pictures. Most of those are not fit for posting, due to a) not getting anybody to sign a release form or give permission to have his/her picture taken and posted for publication (a bit difficult when you don’t ask) and b) the quality of my camera/my lack of skill in photography. Hey, it’s called Life of a Translator, not Life of a Photographer for good reason.
  3. Gathered with other translators, their loved ones at a dinner to celebrate item 2 over Italian food. Find out exactly how much calamari I can eat. Ponder upon the fact that in a roundabout way, the Major Group Project led to my trying calamari for the first time.
  4. Overheard tales of reverse discrimination from English-Spanish translators who happen to be of non-Hispanic ancestry and have to try harder to establish their credibility and competence. Dang.

In the heat of the night

August 3, 2008

On Friday night, rather late, I started work on a translation. Last night, rather late, I continued work on the same translation. Today, I actually got to glance at the translation.

Oy. Words that don’t exist (coret instead of corte). Dreadful errors in subject-verb agreement that are not worthy of a native speaker. Mind you, this is just an initial draft, but dang!

I’ll be honest. I am not a night owl. I’d rather get up early than stay up late. Back in college, I tried to avoid allnighters because I knew that falling asleep in the middle of a midterm was unproductive.

So, what exactly made me think it would be a good idea now?

Group meeting at my house! AAACK

July 2, 2008

So, another meeting of the Major Group Project took place. Our first meeting took place at a coffee house with lovely ambiance, Wi-Fi access, and a quiet study area, but burned-tasting coffee. Since my plans for childcare fell through, we had no choice (OK, we had a choice, but all other options were undesirable) but to meet at…



Me confessing to being a poor housekeeper is one thing; inviting a witness to the mess is another. Preparing for the upcoming guest to my place required major cleaning (by my admittedly low standards). And still by the time the other group member arrived…

I better shut up. Despite the squalor, we managed to get some work done.

Once again a featured translator at

June 22, 2008

“So what’s new with you?”

Well, I have played catch-up with work at my day job. I also completed a small job. Today, I have a meeting with members from the Major Group Project.  And today, I found out that I was a featured member at Again. This would make me a little more ecstatic if it occurred at hours where I was actually awake, let alone at my computer. I don’t want to put down the opportunity, but seriously, 2:00 a.m.?

Slow clap for medical translators: A tale of Jo-Hanna’s vacation

June 13, 2008

“So where have you been, Jo-Hanna?”

Well, since you asked so nicely…

If you want to skip the parts not directly relevant to translation, skip over to the last two paragraphs. My feelings won’t be hurt. OK, they would be, but I will never know that you skipped most of the post.

My daughter and I have been in La Isla del Encanto (Puerto Rico) for a week and a half. We spent 4.5 days by the beach in Boquerón, Cabo Rojo., along with my parents, my sister, and her two daughters. Time was spent avoiding the sun (We have never been interested in tanning, even before we were aware of skin cancer and other dangers. The paler members of our family, a subset that includes me, are unable to tan, and the other ones don’t need to), eating, watching the children watch Barney videos, and bonding. After the beach, I bought a lovely dictionary, spent time with loved ones, and witnessed my daughter eating her first empanadilla. Good times

After that, all hell broke loose. The day before we were scheduled to come back, my daughter became horribly ill. We had to rush her to the ER in my hometown, where she was treated and finally discharged by midnight.  Since she was in no shape to fly the next day, we were forced to reschedule our flight. Then the flight was late coming in, due to the tornado watch/thunderstorms, so we didn’t get home until 3:00 a.m. on Thursday.

And on Friday, my husband and I took her to the doctor. I had the documents generated from the ER visit and decided to write a quick-and-dirty translation of the doctor’s notes. Except the good doctor’s handwriting corresponded to the stereotype. My translation went something like this: “Patient presented with [unintelligible], had a [unintelligible] of 97 and a [unintelligible] of 31. Levels are [unintelligible].

So here’s to you, medical translators who manage to figure out not just the terminology, but the handwriting. Seriously. Do they teach seminars on that at the ATA convention?

Envy is not favorite sin

May 23, 2008

For the past few months, I have worked on multiple projects for a single client through an agency. These projects involve the translation of copy for a catalog of <redacted>.

In the interest of preserving confidentiality, let’s say it is a shoe catalog. It is not, but let’s say it is. The particular “shoes” are far above my price range because I am a cheapskate when it comes to this.

Imagine translating copy for a catalog of Manolo Blahniks while wearing a pair of flip-flops from the dollar store.

It is not fun.