Yesterday’s guest post, Language, music, and me, by Elisa Bonora, was about listening to music while you work. It sparked quite a discussion on Twitter, between those, like Elisa, who find music an inspiration and those, like me, who (sadly) find it a distraction.
What about you? Take our poll and let us know. And if you’ve got time, let us know your favourite “music while you work” tracks in the comments. Thanks!
Other posts you might like:
For a clear New Year: a musical style guide from the EU Commission. (A great example of how to combine music and writing!)
Do you listen to music while you’re working? I’d love to be able to, but sadly I can’t – my brain just doesn’t work that way. When I’m reading or writing – even just a simple email – the music distracts me and I just can’t focus. I know that lots of people do manage to enjoy music as they work, and even find that it boosts their productivity and/or creativity. Elisa Bonora, an Italian translator, is one of them. She’s very kindly written a guest post on the subject. Here it is.
Language, music, and me, by Elisa Bonora
Some things have always been with you, as simple as that. I was born with a curiosity for words and their hues of meaning, in my native language and in foreign ones. And I was born with a deep love of music, a language in itself.
Music, for me, is a universal but also very personal language. It resonates deeply with me, putting me in the right frame of mind to tune into my creativity and enhancing my productivity, or my mood.
I’ve been studying music since I was a child and it’s part of my everyday life and routine. When it comes to my job as a linguist, it helps me unplug from the world and focus on words. The way I see it, translating is an art: it’s very much about finding the right feel between two worlds and languages, and music can be my key to connect with them, almost by magic.
Which music for which work?
There are no set rules as to which music I listen to for each different type or stage of work; sometimes it just depends on the mood I’m in. However, I tend to choose something quiet and calming when I’m working long hours on a big project and I need to be focused and relaxed, with no distractions. Upbeat music gives me extra energy and a boost when I feel I need it – it might unlock the right idea for creative challenges. It also works well with less demanding tasks, or for the first draft.
In any case, it has to be something that really speaks to me: I need to feel a connection with what I’m listening to.
Of course silence is an option too, for example when I’m working on a very complex task with many issues requiring attention. For re-reading and final polishing, when I need to make sure that the text reads flawlessly, I usually prefer peaceful tunes or no music at all.
A personal playlist
Here is a very short playlist of some of my favourite music for work. It is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a general idea of my tastes. A couple of notes (a play on words! Oops, another one! ): although I am a huge Beatles fan, I find I can’t listen to them while translating because they inevitably trigger a “sing along” reaction in me, and however good at multitasking I may be, that would be a bit too much – I don’t think any of my clients would want to have the lyrics of Ticket to Ride incorporated in their text. I also enjoy classical music, but I prefer to listen to it when I’m in a meditative mood and doing absolutely nothing else. And if you’re wondering what I’m listening to while writing this post… just the rain on my office window
- Shadow of the Moon (Blackmore’s Night)
- Delicate Sound of Thunder (Pink Floyd)
- The Lord of the Rings soundtrack (Howard Shore)
- The Hobbit soundtrack (Howard Shore)
- The Mystery of Time (Avantasia)
- Windows (Amanda Somerville)
- The Very Best of The Eagles (Eagles)
- Winery Dogs (Winery Dogs)
Elisa Bonora, owner of Millefolia Translations, is a translator and editor working from English and Spanish into Italian.
Elisa has been involved with classical and modern music all her life. With a strong background in natural sciences, wildlife and the environment, she is committed to a green lifestyle and believes that “communication makes all the difference in the world”.
She also believes in providing “Italian translation, editing, and language consulting with a smile”.
Today is Burns Day, when Scots (here in Scotland and just about everywhere else in the world) celebrate the life and work of Robert (Rabbie) Burns. The celebrations often take the form of a Burns Supper at which the haggis takes pride of place, along with poetry and, of course, whisky.
Here’s a wee round-up of Burns-related stories.
Burns Night Treat Ends In Airport Alert As Ian Blake’s Haggis Is Mistaken For Plastic Explosives. The title of this article from the Huffington Post is self-explanatory. Don’t miss Ian’s poem at the bottom of the article: “On Being Hauled Out Of The Line By Security At Birmingham Airport ‘Because The Scan Shows You Have Plastic Explosive In Your Luggage, Sir’”.
Kate o Shanter’s Tale: the Tam o’Shanter story told from his wife Kate’s point of view. Tam is described in Wikepedia as “a farmer who often gets drunk with his friends in a public house in the Scottish town of Ayr, and his thoughtless ways, specifically towards his wife, who is waiting at home for him, angry”. Judging by Kate’s reaction in the poem, “angry” isn’t the half of it.
How to strengthen your voice – with Robert Burns! A blog post by Cordelia (aka Dilly) Ditton on how not to be a cow’rin, tim’rous beastie when you have to speak in public. Useful advice for anyone who gives talks or presentations.
Dilly’s post also features the beautiful “Ae Fond Kiss”, with a link to a BBC webpage about the poem. It’s sung in the video above by Rachel Sermanni, a Scottish singer whose grandfather came from Barga, in Tuscany. And here’s another Burns poem sung by an Italian-Scot, Paolo Nutini, whose family was also from Barga: A Man’s a Man for A’ That (what is it about Italian-Scots and Burns, I wonder?).
Other posts you might like:
And, last but certainly not least (watch your back Rabbie Burns!): The translators’ poet laureate (and rapper!)
One of my first ever posts, “Translators’ time-warp“, was about the confusion that arises when you work with clients in different time zones and with different public holidays from your own.
Well, it’s happening again today. It’s bad enough getting back into work mode after the Christmas and New Year period (although to be honest I’ll be glad to get back to normal. And so will my waistline). But here in Scotland we’re out of kilter today not just with Europe and the rest of the world but with the rest of the UK too. That’s because 2 January is a Scottish bank holiday – no doubt the powers that be decided there was no point opening for business when most of the staff would still be nursing their Hogmanay (31 December) and Ne’erday (1 January) hangovers.
So, I’m working on my first projects of 2014 and today am “on call” for an Italian client, while the rest of the country is still on holiday. Then Monday 6 January will be a public holiday in Italy (the Epiphany or, in its modern incarnation, the “Befana“), but not here. What’s a translator to do?
Other posts you might like:
Do you ever get annoyed with your clients’ manners? I often do, for example when they don’t acknowledge, far less thank me for, a translation I’ve delivered by email. If I were to walk into the client’s office and hand over the translation in paper format, I’m sure they’d say “Thanks”. So what happens to their manners when the translation arrives via their inbox?
As it turns out, dodgy email manners aren’t all on the clients’ side. I’ve contacted fellow translators, several of them ITI members, a couple of times in the last few months to ask for a quote for a project I was coordinating. Over the same period, a non-translator friend of mine, Laura, also contacted a number of translators and agencies/companies for a project involving non-European languages. She shared the results with me.
Our email request
First, here’s an amalgam of the messages we sent:
I’d be grateful if you could send me a quote for a translation from English to Italian of the attached will. The translation is needed by lunchtime, Friday 8 November. I’m not sure right now but I may require a certified translation. Could you let me know if that would involve an additional charge, and if so, how much? By the way, I found your name in the ITI Directory.
I’d appreciate it if you could reply by return and in the meantime I look forward to hearing from you.
Many thanks and best regards,
[followed by email signature with full name, contact info and company details]
Most of the replies were absolutely fine: courteous and providing all of the relevant pricing and timing information. But three took my breath away, and not in a good way. Here they are, exactly as we received them (but with the names/initials changed):
Reply no. 1:
Who are you? What is the name and address of the company?
[followed by email signature with full contact details]
Reply no. 2:
Unfortunately have no availability at the moment. TOD
[TOD = translator's initials. No name or other contact details provided]
Reply no. 3:
Sorry, not possible. Regards. Fred bloggs
Sent from my iPhone
[Fred bloggs wasn't the translator's real name, obviously, but the name was written just like that: lower case surname. No other contact details provided]
What do you think, bearing in mind that these replies are to potential new clients? Potential new direct clients, in at least one case? Potential new clients who might be sending you a lot of work in the future? Let us know in the comments.
PS I’ve put the “Q” quality mark to this post, although it’s mainly about poor quality. To my mind, anyway. Maybe I should ask Zoë to design a “Q” with a whopping great “X” through it.
Other posts you might like:
What do you think of the Oxford English Dictionary’s choice of “selfie” as Word of the Year for 2013?
I’m not mad about the word itself, although that’s probably an age/generational thing. In my young day (indeed, in most people’s young day) the technology for selfies wasn’t available: you took a photo of yourself, alone or with our friends, in a photo booth. And that was that. You couldn’t post the photo online or publicise it.
Here’s my choice of word of the year, in honour of 50 years of Dr. Who: TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), used as a term to describe a building that looks small on the outside but is, or looks, much bigger once you’re inside. Again, this might be a generational thing: I was a big Dr Who fan during the 1960s (and had nightmares about the Daleks). So now it comes naturally to me to use TARDIS in that way.
One TARDIS-like building that comes to mind is the Maggie’s Centre at Glasgow’s Western Infirmary, by Page/Park architects. Quite an amazing building, I think.
What do you think of the OED’s choice of “selfie”? What would you have chosen?
PS: If you really want to know, the TARDIS onesie is available from RED5.
Other posts you might like:
Twitter can be a great source of inspiration for blog posts.
I spent some time this afternoon looking at Italian websites for a project I was working on and found only one that included the translators’ names among the credits. Indeed, with most Italian sites if you click the “Credits” link in the footer you’re whisked straight to the web developer’s site. No-one else gets a mention.
Annoyed, I tweeted indignantly about this lack of credit and recognition for translators. But other translators on Twitter were quick to point out that having your name on a website translation isn’t necessarily a good thing. First, because the translations are sometimes the work of more than one translator, so you could be viewed as responsible for someone else’s mistakes (as they could be for yours – not that I, or the readers of this blog, ever make mistakes…). And second, because, as Isabel Hurtado de Mendoza pointed out, “Too many people (non-linguists included) tamper with website text”. Which makes it potentially risky to put your name to your translation.
Chris Durban* recommends that translators should “sign” their translations as standard practice: we should be proud to put our names to our work. But that’s easier to do with printed publications than it is for the web, which is fluid and ever-changing, and more open to interference than print is.
It’s a pity, isn’t it, and a missed marketing opportunity. I sometimes include a link in my marketing material to a specific web-page (an article or speech, say) that I’ve translated (having first checked that no-one’s messed it up).
What about you, readers? Have any of you found a way to prevent people tampering with your web translations?
Up-date: Chris has pointed out in the comments that she does not advocate signing website translations: the risk of interference is too high.
Today is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg address, delivered by Abraham Lincoln on 19 November 1863. Cordelia (aka Dilly or Dill) Ditton, a Glasgow-based actress, director and communication coach, wrote an interesting blog post about the Address back in February, entitled “Abraham Lincoln, the power of sound and maybe the greatest speech ever written“. Dilly’s post contains some good advice on writing (and translating, which is, after all, a form of writing): the power of the sound of the words, the importance of listening to what you’re writing.
Dilly also mentions another important element of good writing: brevity. Here she compares the speech given by Edward Everett, the “keynote speaker” at Gettysburg, and that given by Lincoln:
Edward Everett spoke for 2 hours, as was the custom at the time. No-one remembers his speech. Lincoln spoke for 2 minutes, his speech consisted of just 10 sentences and holds some of the most famous phrases in the English Language.
In speech-making, more is not necessarily more.
Other posts you might like:
Small-business owners and freelancers talk, and worry, a lot about pricing: how to charge a decent rate without frightening potential clients away. Price is certainly important, but it’s not the only factor motivating clients.
I had confirmation of this recently from a new client. An Italian company had contacted me for an urgent translation of documents they needed to submit for a tender in the US. When I’d delivered the translation I asked my contact in the company, Antonella, how they’d found me. She replied that they’d done some internet research and had found my website to be clear and professional looking. She got the impression the site had been written and produced by “people who know what they’re doing”. Antonella had contacted other translators/agencies too, but I was the only one who replied promptly and came over in my emails as helpful and competent, and with a good customer-relations manner (her words, not mine).
So: clients don’t just judge us on price. Our professionalism, or the lack of it, comes over in all sorts of ways: in our internet presence (and that includes Twitter and the other social media!) and the way we communicate with clients. Each and every phone call, letter, email, quote or invoice counts.
PS The “Q” at the top of this post is my “quality mark”, which I’ll be using (when I remember!) for posts focusing on quality and professionalism.
If you’re interested in fonts, and especially if you don’t like Arial but do like having your prejudices confirmed, you might enjoy a couple of articles written by typeface designer Mark Simonson. He describes Arial as:
actually rather homely. Not that homeliness is necessarily a bad thing for a typeface. With typefaces, character and history are just as important. Arial, however, has a rather dubious history and not much character. In fact, Arial is little more than a shameless impostor.
Here’s the full post: The Scourge of Arial.
In another post, How to Spot Arial, Mark compares Arial, Helvetica and Grotesque. Both posts were written in 2001, so before the film Helvetica was made. Indeed, thanks to that film his closing hypothesis
I can almost hear young designers now saying, “Helvetica? That’s that font that looks kinda like Arial, right?”
is now a bit less likely.