A Computer Journal For Translation Professionals
(the three hundred twenty first edition)
The Tongue Is the Strongest Muscle
"There are countries out there where people speak English. But not
like us—we have our own languages hidden in our carry-on luggage, in our
cosmetics bags, only ever using English when we travel, and then only
in foreign countries, to foreign people. It's hard to imagine, but
English is their real language! Oftentimes their only language. They
don’t have anything to fall back on or to turn to in moments of doubt.
"How lost they must feel in the world, where all instructions, all
the lyrics of all the stupidest possible songs, all the menus, all the
excruciating pamphlets and brochures—even the buttons in the
elevator!--are in their private language. They may be understood by
anyone at any moment, whenever they open their mouths. They must have to
write things down in special codes. Wherever they are, people have
unlimited access to them—they are accessible to everyone and everything!
I heard there are plans in the works to get them some little language
of their own, one of those dead ones no one else is using anyway, just
so that for once they can have something just for themselves."
(from: Flights by Olga Tokarczuk,
translated by Jennifer Croft, 2018, p. 176f.)
The Tongue Is the Strongest Muscle
Social Media and Translators
LanguageTool, your multilingual writing assistant (Column by Josh Goldsmith and Alex Drechsel)
This 'n' That
What Do I Want?
New Password for the Tool Box Archive
The Last Word on the Tool Box Journal
Online QA Service for Translators and LSP managers
Share QA reports and generate a CrossCheck® Seal of Quality
with an ISO-compatible tool shaped by 40 years of translation experience.
Social Media and Translators
Since the use of social media has become more and more important
for my business (and many of yours as well), I thought it would be a
good idea to write about what I do on "my" social media platform as well
as to ask some colleagues how they are faring on other platforms (more
on that below).
In preparation for this, I read an interesting book by Renée
Desjardins, a professor from the Université de Saint-Boniface in
Winnipeg, called Translation and Social Media
It was published in 2017 so it's a little outdated, but it was helpful
to read anyway because she analyzes the function and role of social
media for the translation profession and highlights some very
interesting facts (that most of us may know but have never heard
Here are some examples:
- Social media profiles of translators present an unprecedented
opportunity to have their voices heard right next to other professions
(and other branches of the world of translation) rather than clustered
in small discussion fora primarily concerned with topics of relevance
only to one specific kind of translator. (Note: there's nothing wrong
with the cluster, but it clearly serves a different purpose.)
- Social media platforms present a public space for translators to
combine their voices, acting as potential platforms for solidarity and
- Social media platforms provide individual translators and groups of
translators (like associations) space to represent their complete
portfolio of services and expertise.
- All this stands in sharp contrast to the presumed invisibility of
the translator. (Note that one of the most influential books in
Translation Studies was and still is Lawrence Venuti's The Translator's Invisibility.)
I found it exciting to look at this and realize (again) that our
participation in social media not only fulfills our own agendas (to find
jobs, to make friends, to be entertained) but that of our profession as
As mentioned above, I asked some colleagues to share their
experience on different platforms. Clearly there are more platforms than
those mentioned here, but Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter
seemed the most obvious, at least from a US-based perspective.
(Interestingly, you'll notice we have two colleagues talking about
Instagram. It was really hard to find translators or interpreters who
were using Instagram in a (business-) productive manner, and then
surprisingly two of them agreed almost simultaneously!)
It is often overlooked that Facebook is not just a social media
platform; it is also a search engine that helps people discover local
businesses. I have learned that firsthand, seeing that at least three to
five clients a week approach me and say that they found me through
Facebook. Some of them find me through my Facebook business page, others
through word-of-mouth referrals from their Facebook friends, and others
find me in several local Facebook groups where I am a member. That last
strategy has been particularly helpful, as group members who have
already used my services are often the first ones to respond when
someone is looking for a translator. Free advertising? Yes, please!
- I run a local preschool and want to translate my website into Chinese, Spanish, and Russian. Any recommendations?
- I highly recommend Veronika, here
is the link! She helped us translate our marketing materials into
Russian and recommended colleagues who work in other languages.
- I need to get my daughter's birth certificate translated into Russian and certified as soon as possible! Where do I go?
- Veronika translated and certified our kids' birth certificates, and we couldn't be happier. Here's her info.
I don't use my personal Facebook page much, but I keep my business
page on Facebook updated, respond to inquiries through Facebook
Messenger, and regularly check if there are any translation-related
questions in any local groups where I am a member. If there are any, I
respond to them and offer advice. With a time investment of about 30
minutes, I usually get two to three well-paid translation jobs a week
from clients who found me through Facebook. So, despite having beef with
Facebook's "content personalization" and targeted advertising, I think
it has been a great supplement to my marketing strategy.
I have a lot more to say about finding translation clients through
Facebook. Are all the clients there looking for fast and cheap? (No.) Do
they all need official document translations? (No.) What groups should I
join to find clients? What do I need to have on my business page? How
can I get more word-of-mouth referrals? I will be sharing more details
during the Smart Habits for Translators' webinar on January 22
Veronika Demichelis is an
ATA-certified English to Russian translator based in Katy, TX. She
serves as Director on the Board of Directors of American Translators
Association (ATA) and as Chair of ATA's Professional Development
Committee. She is an adjunct professor of the Translation and
Interpretation program at Houston Community College and a co-host of the
Smart Habits for Translators podcast. You can find her professional
Facebook listing right here.
LinkedIn has been one of the most powerful tools in my marketing
toolbox, especially in the past few years. Like many people, I used to
simply let my profile collect dust, connecting to new people every now
and then, but not really using it on a regular basis. Now it is one of
the main ways I build relationships with potential clients and build my
client base over time. I use the free version of LinkedIn, but I take
advantage of all the ways it can work for me: optimizing and opening my
profile so potential clients can find me more easily, reaching out to
potential clients who are likely to need my services and who I know I
can serve well for years to come, and using the direct messaging feature
to connect directly with those who hire and make decisions in their
business. Just last month a new client reached out to me, we set up a
Zoom call to talk about her needs for a freelancer, and I'm now working
on several projects for her through the first quarter of 2021.
I could go on and on about the power of LinkedIn, a social media
platform that is meant for those who are there to do business. Not only
is it a robust search engine, but Google recognizes it as a trusted
source of information, which means that most people's LinkedIn profiles
rank quite high in search results (often on the first page) when clients
are looking for them by name or using other specific keywords. Spending
a few minutes every day on this platform is a very small investment for
the return I have seen, which equates to thousands of dollars in
freelance income. I would recommend that every freelancer get
comfortable using LinkedIn regularly and connecting with their potential
clients through using Groups, messaging, and creating an optimized
For more information on doable, proven LinkedIn strategies, visit my blog
and enter "LinkedIn" in the search bar.
Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo, CT is ATA
president-elect and chairs the Governance and Communications Committee.
She is the owner of Accessible Translation Solutions and a
Spanish>English and ATA-certified Portuguese>English translator.
She has recently written about social media for the ATA Chronicle and her LinkedIn profile is right here.
I started my business account on Instagram in June 2019. My goal was to network and meet colleagues.
Recently I reached a little over 1,600 followers. For over a year I
posted daily, but starting this year I changed that to three posts per
week. So far, the change has not affected my statistics. I probably
spend about three to five hours per week planning the content I'll
publish the following week. In the platform itself, I try to spend at
least an hour per day, mainly engaging with other users, and answering
DMs and comments.
I believe Instagram has helped establish my brand and I am proud to
belong to an amazing community of translators, interpreters, linguists,
and freelancers in general. I've made great contacts there. Every day I
learn something new or refresh my knowledge!
Thanks to my Instagram account, I am a member of an affiliate and a
brand ambassador. I have also promoted other accounts, so these are
extra incomes that I had no idea I could get.
Ilduara Escobedo is a freelance translator for English and Spanish from Guatemala City, Guatemala. You can find her Instagram account right here.
I first set up my "professional" Instagram account in 2019 to share
my experience of working as a translation trainee at the Council of the
European Union. When I decided to go full-time freelance in May last
year, I began using the account to document my journey as a freelance
translator and subtitler and to share tips about freelancing and
languages in general.
The time I put into Instagram really does vary from week to week. I
try to post on my account a few times a week to keep my followers
engaged, but there are some weeks where I'm too busy to plan out posts
or feel as though I don't have anything interesting to say. I try to
spend a little time every day scrolling through my feed and engaging
with other people's posts and also dedicate some time creating or
planning out my own posts. Sometimes I have a good idea of what I want
to say and what image I want to use, other times I spend more time
researching, planning, and taking photographs.
I also use Instagram's story function to share inspirational posts
that I have seen. I'm also trying to use this function more to share
things about myself, my business, and the "bigger picture." For example,
just last week I hosted my first Q and A session on my stories where my
followers could ask me anything they wanted to know about translation,
freelancing, or my professional journey. It got really good feedback, so
it's definitely something I'll do again.
Most of my current followers are fellow freelance translators or
language professionals. I also like to follow accounts that give
marketing tips and that support freelancers. In future, I'd really like
to transition my account to attract more potential clients, especially
since I specialise in marketing and digital services. At the moment,
however, I enjoy connecting with other freelancers and sharing
experiences. Whilst my Instagram account hasn't yet directly attracted
clients in the same way that my LinkedIn page has, it has led to
referrals from other freelancers who have seen what I do and allowed me
to make meaningful connections with other people in the translation
Chloe Stout is a French and Italian into English translator and subtitler in Scotland. You can find her on Instagram right here.
I (Jost) use only LinkedIn
I'm happy with that limitation because it allows me a much more focused
use of my efforts, particularly on Twitter. I use LinkedIn more
passively, primarily to announce new books and projects -- wait to be
surprised in a few weeks!
Most of what I tweet is links to articles or resources. If I really
like them, I tend to spend quite a bit of time preparing those tweets,
including researching the Twitter handles of the authors or other people
who might be mentioned in the article or resource in question. My hope
is to start conversations with journalists or other stakeholders, which
happens rather frequently (and one of the reasons for that is that I
have a reasonably high number of followers which I think helps to get
noticed when you reach out to others). I see my function as a
cheerleader to communicate a better way of thinking and writing about
translation than how it is typically perceived by the outside world.
I actively shy away from discussions that get too heated -- usually
their outcome is in my opinion not very productive. The jobs I get
through my Twitter presence are based on potential clients' perception
of me as someone with industry knowledge. While some of those offers
have been translation jobs, more are in the area of consulting, speaking
engagements, and collaboration.
I would guess that I spend about 30 to 40 minutes per day on
Twitter, which includes perusing news items that I might or might not
Oh, and while we're talking about Twitter: Alex Drechsel and I have passed our administrative duties for the TranslationTalk
Twitter account into the enthusiastic and capable hands of Andie Ho,
Deepti Limaye, and Nadine Edwards. On the off-chance that you don't know
about that Twitter account, you should definitely click right here
and start following -- regardless of whether you yourself have a
Twitter account. (Hint: it's hands-down the best Twitter account for
translators and interpreters out there!)
There's never been a better time to review your online presence!
Learn the best ways to get your content in front of potential clients
The Tech-Savvy Interpreter 2.0 - LanguageTool, your multilingual writing assistant (Column by Josh Goldsmith and Alex Drechsel)
Think auto-correct and grammar-checking tools are old hat? Think again!
the advent of artificial intelligence, language tools have gone far
beyond checking spelling or catching missing punctuation. Today's tools
consider context and advise you on the tone of your copy, helping you
write more clearly and effectively. They will even double-check things
like international bank account numbers or alert you when you write
"Monday, January 13, 2021" -- because that's actually a Wednesday!
One very popular tool for this is Grammarly. But there's one big caveat: It only speaks English.
If you're a Grammarly user who wished it could also help you with, say,
Spanish or German, you may have been excited to learn about Microsoft's "Editor."
It supports 20 languages and works in all Office apps and major web
browsers (except Safari), but to get the good stuff, you need a
Microsoft 365 subscription. So today, we'd like to tell you about
another option: LanguageTool.
This handy app currently supports 30 languages
(and language variants) to various degrees. Full support — including
spelling, grammar, and style hints — is available for English, German,
French, Spanish, and Dutch. Spelling and (limited) grammar checks are
currently available for Arabic, Catalan, Danish, Esperanto, Greek,
Irish, Italian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak,
Slovenian, Swedish, and Ukrainian.
The tool is open-source, which means you can peek behind the scenes if you like. And you can join the community to extend and improve the language coverage.
can be used almost anywhere people get writing done these days:
Microsoft Word, its open-source equivalents OpenOffice and LibreOffice
as well as Google Docs (requires Premium plan) and major browsers like Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera. (Safari is apparently coming soon.) You can also copy and paste your text into the simple web interface.
installed in your browser, LanguageTool is always just a click away. It
helps you write more effective emails and avoid embarrassing typos on
social media. Basically, it's your stand-by editor, whenever and
wherever you write. (Of course, if you don't want assistance for a
specific site, you can disable LanguageTool there.)
you like what you see, consider signing up for an online account. This
lets you set up your preferences and store texts for later. LanguageTool
will provide you with statistics for your text, such as reading or
speaking time and the number of characters, words, and sentences. Just
like in Word, you can add specific words to a personal dictionary. (And
if you're a language nerd like us, you can turn on "Picky mode," which
checks for issues like long sentences or passive voice.)
time you're working online, privacy is paramount. Just like Grammarly,
LanguageTool will send your text to the cloud; in this case, the
LanguageTool server. This happens through an encrypted connection,
hiding your data from third parties. And what you write isn't stored. To
what does it cost? Just like Grammarly, LanguageTool operates on a
Freemium model. Basic use is free, and when you want more features, you
can purchase a subscription starting at roughly 5 Euros per month.
When I talked with Samuel Läubli and Nico Herbig in one of the last newsletters (see here
about where translation tools of the next generation need to go, one
thing Nico and I talked about specifically was whether his MMPE
(Multi-Modal Post-Editing) toolset would be open-sourced. That has now
happened. You can find it right here
Finally, this morning I spoke to a small group from TAUS. They were
not particularly happy about my less-than-enthusiastic description of
their Data Marketplace
couple of issues ago and wanted to give me a second (actually third)
look. Earlier last year I wrote in fairly great detail about their
system that allows for offering translation memories for sale on their
marketplace (see here), and most of what I wrote there still holds true.
The system is ready for use, though some of the more advanced features
(data anonymization, more advanced data cleaning, and an automated
system) will not be ready until the late summer. I would encourage you
to take a look and see whether it's something that might be helpful for
you right now. There is a bit of data available on the site, and while
not much has been purchased through the site yet, TAUS expects that to
change in the near future.
There was one aspect of Data Marketplace that I was not aware of.
In the past, TAUS had translated large corpora in several Indic
languages to be used to bolster the available corpora for the various
machine translation vendors and developers. This was in the form of
microtasks by a large group of native speakers, and these corpora will
be made available on the data marketplace as well. Now they are also
encouraging users, especially in languages with lesser diffusion, to
translate data proactively for the sake of offering and hopefully
selling it in Data Marketplace. This admittedly sounds kind of crazy for
professional translators, but -- who knows -- it might end up being
profitable and at the same time help to build language data for
languages for which there simply isn't enough available to build machine
translation engines. Here is a story of a Yoruba translator
and advocate who is contributing to Data Marketplace, and another for a linguist organizing the translation of Kurdish languages
The first of now 321 editions of the Tool Box Journal
went out 17 years ago -- in January 2004. Its mission was similar to what I described in the introduction to the Translator's Tool Box
, my ebook that I had published the previous year:
"As a technical translator and
localization consultant, I've been continually surprised at the lack of
technical expertise and knowledge about software tools among many
translators and project managers. I've seen countless hours wasted on
tasks that could have been done automatically or in a fraction of the
time. And as an editor, I've often struggled to improve texts that were
translated with an adequate level of linguistic or subject-matter
expertise, but whose quality was sub-par because the translator didn't
know how to use the necessary tools or formats.
"At some point after it became
common for translators to use computers for their work, it seems that
many of us became convinced that we were really not smart (read:
technical) enough to become proficient computer users. The irony is that
many of us translate highly technical and complex subject matter every
day. There is no lack of intelligence among us – merely a prevailing
not-smart-enough-for-computers fallacy that we have bought into.
"It is time to adopt a new
paradigm for our profession: Not only is it acceptable to use computers
well -- it is critical to our success."
Although this is still in the introduction of the current 14th
edition, I wonder whether this statement holds as much weight today as
it did back then. True, many of us are not as good with our computing
environment as we ideally should be, but I think that overall (and every
time you see "overall," a generalization is sure to follow) most of us
have embraced the fact that computer expertise pays off -- quite
Also, in 2004 a substantial number of professional technical
translators (and again, I'm using "technical translator" as a term to
include all professional translators who translate functional material
from all areas, including medical, legal, business, etc.) still argued
that translation environment or CAT tools were counterproductive to our
understanding and definition of a creative profession. (To the folks who
joined our profession only recently: sounds crazy, right?)
Today, the vast majority of technical translators use translation environment tools, often more than one.
So if all of the above is true, what's the value of the Tool Box Journal,
an admittedly very technically-oriented journal for translators? Here's
where I see value (and you're right if you imagine that this represents
my thoughts on the new year and all that is to come):
- As we have seen in the last few editions of this journal, especially
in interviews with innovators and progressive-minded developers,
there's still a lot to come in the development of translation tools. I
will chronicle that as best I can.
- If you compare early versions of the now ubiquitous translation
environment tools with today's versions, the rising complexity is
mind-blowing. I see the role of the Tool Box Journal
here as twofold: to inform you about new features (and what I think of
them) and to continue to negotiate with developers about not overloading
those tools (judging from their current state, this apparently hasn't
gone so well . . . but I'll keep trying).
- I'll continue to highlight other tools and processes that might not
be primarily aimed at translators but could be used in helpful and
- Finally, and I feel this might be the most important of my
self-assigned tasks, I will continue to find and communicate good ways
to work with machine translation. There has rarely been a Tool Box Journal issue
where I have not at least mentioned that there are better ways of
dealing with machine translation suggestions than traditional
post-editing. I have tried to push the simultaneous use of several
sources for machine translation suggestions as a pure repository of
short and desired fragments, but there certainly are other ways -- and I
know (I KNOW!) we're not working hard enough to find those. If the Tool Box Journal
can be an instigator or a forum to find a wide range of optimized ways
to use machine translation, or if it can serve as a lobby to change
existing technology to work with those ways -- man! I can't tell you how
excited I would be about that!
I'm looking forward to 2021. How about you?
The Last Word on the Tool Box Journal
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