Keep It Short

As entrepreneurs, the only resource we have is our time. We know this is not the first time you've heard this, but it's important that we use our time efficiently. One of our favorite -- yet very simple -- strategies is to write short business e-mails. Whenever we can, we try to keep them to no more than three paragraphs, and we use pre-written templates whenever we can. Think about it: with the amount of e-mail that gets sent these days, we could spend all day just answering e-mail, and that wouldn't be very good for our business.

Dagy is infinitely better at this than Judy, who tends to be a bit more verbose. However, we both try to keep it short. This not only save us time, but also benefits our clients and colleagues, who are also quite busy. After all, who wants to have to scroll down when reading an e-mail? In addition, as translators, we are also writers, so we might as well demonstrate our abilities by writing concise and to-the-point messages. Looking for another way to get the most out of your time when writing e-mail? Become a faster typist. There are a lot of great online programs that will help you do just that. To find out your current speed, try TypingTest

A ♥ for Language Blogs

We've been thinking about how we find new blogs, especially language blogs, and in particular those written by fellow translators and interpreters. We hear about them at conferences, read about them on Lexiophiles, and find them via Twitter.  New blog owners also e-mail us to let us know they've launched a blog. Sometimes they ask us to add their blog to our blogroll, which we gladly do after a few months of following that particular blog. In terms of spreading the word about blogs we like, we have our handy blogroll, but what else is there? On Twitter, we have #followfriday, and for the blogosphere, we thought we'd do the following.

Below is a list (with links) of 10 of our favorite language blogs, in no particular order, followed by a brief description. We'll then ask our blogging readers to do the same on their blogs (don't forget to link to the blogs so everyone can find them!) and title the blog entry A ♥ for Language Blogs. The idea behind this exercise is to spread the word about new blogs that we all benefit from reading. Because we like raffles, we'll raffle off one of our books to anyone who does a blog posting. In a few weeks, we'll do a Google search for A ♥ for Language Blogs and choose a winner (randomly). How does that sound? Are you in?  By the way: there are significantly more than 10 blogs that we love, but we just chose the top 10 that we feel engage us the most. 

1. Thoughts on Translation: Our wonderful friend and colleague Corinne McKay, who lives in Colorado, pens beautifully written articles about our industry. Highly interactive with lots of comments.

2. Mox's Blog: We really enjoy Alejandro Moreno-Ramos' hilarious cartoons about the world of translation and interpreting. He sees the funny side in our business, and we are huge fans of Mox, the underpaid translator, and Mina, the smarty-pants turtle. Alejandro is both a translator and a cartoonist.

3. About Translation: Italian translator Riccardo Schiaffino has been blogging for a long time, and his comments and insight are a very worthwhile read. He's also based in Colorado, where he also teaches translation.

4. Translate This!: Our friend Michael Wahlster, who is based in Southern California, is a true language blog pioneer. His blog has been around since 2003, and he frequently blogs about technology.

5. Musings from an overworked translator: A very busy German-to-English translator, our friend Jill Sommer runs one of the most popular language blogs. She's always generous with her insight. Our favorite blog post is the one about certified translations for the U.S. market.

6. Separated by a common language: American linguist Lynne Murphy, who lives and teaches in the U.K., provides priceless insight into the differences between American and British English.

7. Brave new words: Globetrotting linguist B.J. Epstein hails from Chicago, lived in Sweden for many years, and now teaches at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. We met her in Vienna a few years ago, and really enjoy her posts, especially those about literary translation.

8. Translation Tribulations: Our colleague Kevin Lossner, based in Germany, is one of our few cyberfriends we have not met (we will try to change that soon). We particularly enjoy his insightful posts on translation technology, and Kevin is a witty and gifted writer.

9. There's something about translation: Sarah Dillon, who's Irish and lives in Australia, runs one of the most beautifully designed blogs we've ever seen. While she doesn't post as frequently as others, her posts are a great read. She's an expert on all things web 2.0.

10. Words to good effect: A newcomer to our list of favorite blogs! Marian Dougan lives in Glasgow, Scotland, and Judy had the pleasure of meeting her a few weeks ago. Thoughtful, thought-provoking posts. 

Dancing Translators

The most fun Judy has had on a dancefloor in quite a while took place during the ITI Scottish Network's wonderful three-day summer meeting in Stirling, Scotland, where she was lucky enough to be the guest speaker. The program included a Scottish ceilidh, which is much more than a dance. Judy had been a tiny bit afraid of the ceilidh -- yes, there's some anxiety when one must perform unknown dances -- that turned out to be completely unfounded. The very fun and talented live band gave easy instructions, and one needs no experience to do this. Who knew it would end up on YouTube, though? Watch us dance! This specific dance is called the Shetland Wedding Reel, and Judy is wearing a black and orange kimono-style dress (and high heels, for some reason). Keep an eye out for the tall male dancer -- he's fantastic, and he's wearing a traditional Scottish kilt. Enjoy!

What Time Is It in Montevideo?

As our readers might know, we unfortunately live in different countries (but see each other all the time) and have clients on three continents. While we can certainly easily figure out what time it is in Vienna -- currently Pacific + 9 -- things get complicated when we collaborate with a client who's in neither one of our time zones. While it's simple math, time zones can be difficult to figure out, and we've received plenty of late (or early) phone calls from folks who don't do their math right. As services providers, we want to make sure we don't wake anyone up, so we have to determine precisely what time it is in our customer's city. The best free online tool  out to figure what time and date it is anywhere in the world that we've found is We've tested it many times, in tricky situations, in countries that might or might not observe Daylight Savings Time (quite a challenge when we were in Chile and the switch was postponed by a month), and the site always gets it right. It's free and there's nothing to download. Before you call a customer, check the website to see if it's a good time to call. If your customer's signature or website does not tell you his or her place of residence, try googling the area and/or country code.  

By the way, it's now 9:02 in Montevideo, and 2:02 p.m. in Vienna, where we are happily working together. 

Interpret This!

Have you seen EU interpreters at work? We love to hear and see them in action online (all sessions of the European Parliament are available live and as a video stream), and they are incredibly impressive, especially given the speed of most speakers. Our hats are off to these highly qualified colleagues (accredited freelance interpreters or staff interpreters) who ensure that communication between the 27 member states is as smooth and efficient as it can be. Curious about how to become an EU interpreter? Not surprisingly, the European institutions only accept the very best interpreters, and they are actually actively looking for freelance interpreters for the German booth (meaning you have to interpret from at least three languages into native German) as well as other booths. If you think you have what it takes to work at the European Commission, the European Parliament or the European Court of Justice, check out this link to start the application process.

If you'd like to know more about the much-feared interpreting exam (commonly referred to as "test"), have a look at the following videos. The EU has made them available on YouTube. The source text is read in French and the second video consists of the (fake) applicant interpreting into English. It's long consecutive, and we mean really long -- about six minutes. Find out if the applicant passed the test at the end of the second video. 

Part 2:

Protect Your Vision

If you are like us, you probably spend way too much time glued to your computer screen. As our optometrists constantly tell us, it's not good for your eyes, and we should take frequent breaks (which we don't, we will admit it). Luckily, our web guru just found this nifty tool that should help us take care of our precious eyes a bit better. It's a simple and free online tool that will black out the screen at pre-defined intervals. You can either set up a custom break rule, meaning that you tell the system how long of a break you'd like to take every X minutes, or you can use some of their pre-defined rules. Try the 20-20-20 or 60-5 rule. The 20-20-20 rule means a 20-second break after 20 minutes of work,. During the break, you should focus eyes on something that’s 20 feet away. The 60-5 rule means a five-minute break after 60 minutes of work. We chose the latter, and we like it.

Evo, a cute little robot, will be your personal vision-protecting assistant. The program is completely free to use. Get started here. There's also a handy section for eye gymnastics. However, if you have serious problems with your vision, be sure to visit your doctor!
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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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