There are days when I hate my job, but if there’s one thing I hate more, it’s when people complain about their job in front of customers. I walked into a drugstore at the weekend to the sound of a bitching employee and almost walked right back out.

Things have been quiet around here for two reasons: time, that part of life none of us ever seem to have enough of, and attitude. I don’t want this blog to be a place where people go to help me bitch and moan about everything that’s wrong with the translation industry. I want it to be a place where people go to find out how other people deal with clueless customers, bad translators and incompetent agencies, without bitching about them. Bitching and moaning never got anyone anywhere. So bear with me while I turn a few interesting and a few negative experiences into something we can all benefit from, and finish the write-ups on two interesting workshops I attended at the beginning of the year.

2 Replies to “I hate my job”

  • Dear Diane,

    I still remember how I got the opportunity to know about you. It was when you were in the Linkedin Group of Localization Professionals and wrote in a comment that our industry is full of emotions and power plays. Yes, there are times when we hate our jobs as freelance translators, especially when we are subject to arbitrary power plays (wenn man uns deutlich zeigt, wer die Hosen an hat). However, we are grateful that there are still some reasonable clients who appreciate our works, so that we can make a decent living along with their prosperous fair businesses.

    I still remember your guest blog article in three parts at Kevin’s Translation Tribulations: The Future Is Here… and it becomes immediately history. How time goes by!

    We do some thoughts on translation. We muse over our industry. We enjoy different views on and philosophies of doing translation business. From capitalistic translation enterpreneurs to miserable translators with poverty cult, we know all of them and we find our positions somewhere in between, surely not between Machine Translation and Human Translation, for we are always among human translators. Thank God that we are human translators who can make use of all kinds of tools to achieve the aims that we set for ourselves in solving communication problems that our clients expect us to resolve.

    Correctly, bitching and moaning never got anyone anywhere. I appreciate your writing style. Your blog is not just another translator’s blog. It is valuable and I’ll keep on reading each new post. Your experiences, your views and your thoughts are interesting and valuable not only for translation colleagues, but also for translation consumers, including translation buyers who are our clients.

    I wish you all the best!

    Best regards,

    • Dear Wenjer,

      Thank you so much for your kind message; you really made my day! I remember that post on LinkedIn: it’s actually one of the issues I’ve been pondering: For example, how do you tell a customer in the nicest possible terms that they’re probably not qualified to be revising texts? How do you tell a customer that you are impressed that they know English grammar by heart, but that it still doesn’t mean that their English is flawless? How do you tell a customer that having had ‘some French in school’ doesn’t mean that they can necessarily tell that a French translation is wrong and enable you to determine whether the result returned by Google is actually correct? To date I’ve been dealing with Dutch customers who feel compelled to correct my English by revising their comments, giving them free lessons in English (not very business savvy, I know) where necessary and thanking them for their suggestions where called for. The other clients usually end up realizing that their attempts to deal with a language they do not speak are futile when they receive my corrections to the ‘corrections’ they made and come to me when they need something. I mean, I don’t send my books to an accountant because I know how to do his job better than he does, now do I? And then there are the clients who are appreciative of what we do and enjoy working with us to perfect both our and their texts. These are the customers we all like best because they are the least work, but it’s the others, the tedious ones, that need our attention most and that we need to focus on.

      The race to the bottom will end one day, and I will continue to do what I can to help it end. One of my customers recently put a Dutch advertising agency in its place for thinking it was competent enough to write English marketing material and delivering a file riddled with errors. The customer told the agency that ‘we need to set the tone in Dutch and leave the translation to the professionals.’ Wenjer, ‘leave the translation to the professionals’! That had a very sweet ring to it!

      ‘… the problems our customers expect us to solve.’ Indeed, what do our customers expect of us? Are they actually aware of how we can help them? In addition to being language specialists, we have invaluable knowledge in the business fields we work in, of the tools we use, and years of experience that give us unique insight into our customers’ needs and ways of meeting them. There’s so much we could do to help them, if only they’d let us. And having said that, I’m sure there are loads of customers out there still waiting for the promises they were made to be met. Tja, how do you choose the right vendor if you don’t know what to look for?

      I recently finished a large project with a wonderful client I’m hoping will co-author on a few posts. The project dotted many i’s and crossed numerous t’s for me in the areas of translator selection, quality, QA and feedback. I hope to have some thoughts on paper soon.

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