Text-based Personality Prediction: Looks like I am male in Spanish and female in German and English

Eine kleine Jeckigkeit zum Karneval: Das Psychometrics Centre der Universität Cambridge hat einen Online-Persönlichkeitstest entwickelt (vielen Dank an Note To Self für die Empfehlung!), der anhand von Textproben die Persönlichkeit des Verfassers ermittelt.

Die psycholinguistische Analyse ergab in meinem Fall anhand meines Lebenslaufs in Deutsch, Englisch und Spanisch relativ einheitlich, dass ich männlich und Mitte bis Ende 20 bin, meine weibliche Seite aber zumindest in meiner englischen und deutschen Identität nicht unterdrücke. Alles in allem wird mir eine ausgeglichene Persönlichkeit beschieden, von ein wenig mangelnder Teamfähigkeit abgesehen.

Interessanter ist da der Sprachenvergleich meines letzten Blog-Artikels (Dolmetschen mit VR-Brille). In meiner Muttersprache Deutsch macht mich dieser Text 23 Jahre jung und zu 80 % weiblich. Englisch ließ mich prompt deutlich älter (31), aber immerhin nach wie vor weiblich (85 %) erscheinen, außerdem deutlich liberaler und introvertierter (vermutlich Altersweisheit). Auf Spanisch schließlich blieb zwar das Alter mit 25 Jahre relativ ähnlich, mein Geschlecht kehrte sich jedoch glatt ins Gegenteil: ich war mit 89 %-iger Wahrscheinlichkeit männlich. Immerhin bei ansonsten nach wie vor ausgeglichener Persönlichkeit.

Relativ konstant über alle Texte und Sprachen hinweg zeigten sich mein Führungspotential (zw. 40 und 50 %) und mein Jungscher Persönlichkeitstyp (Introvertiert – Empfindend – Denkend – Wahrnehmend). Das deckt sich immerhin mit den Ergebnissen eines gleichartigen Tests, den ich vor Jahren einmal ich im Rahmen eines Dolmetscheinsatzes live durchführen durfte.

Und sehr vertrauenerweckend: Mein Facebook-Profil entzog sich offensichtlich der analytischen Möglichkeiten: „Sorry, we are unable to generate a prediction. An insufficient number of your Likes match with those in our database, and we don’t believe in guesswork.“

Mein Fazit: Alter und Geschlecht scheinen anhand eines Textes deutlich schwieriger vorherzusagen zu sein als Persönlichkeitsmerkmale. Auf jeden Fall ist dieser Personality Predictor deutlich mehr als nur ein lustiges Spielzeug.

————————
Über die Autorin:
Anja Rütten ist freiberufliche Konferenzdolmetscherin für Deutsch (A), Spanisch (B), Englisch (C) und Französisch (C) in Düsseldorf. Sie widmet sich seit Mitte der 1990er dem Wissensmanagement.

+++ EN +++ EN +++ EN +++ EN +++

If you have ever wondered what your writing says about you: The Psychometrics Centre at the University of Cambridge has developed an online personality predictor (thanks to Note To Self for recommending!). On the basis of sample texts, it analyses the personality of the author.

In my case, my CVs in German, English and Spanish unanimously said that I am male and around 25-29 years old, but luckily, at least my English and German selves do not repress their feminine sides. All in all, I seem to have quite a balanced personality, apart from a slight deficit in team working.

More interesting still: When comparing the different language versions of my most recent blog article (Simultaneous interpreting with VR headset), it turned out that my mother tongue, German, made me 23 years young and an 80 % female, while in English, I was much older (31), but still an 80 % female, albeit much more liberal and introverted (wisdom obviously comes with age). The same text in Spanish then made me look about as young as in German (25 years), but turned around my gender prediction completely, making me an 89 % male (however still of a very balanced personality).

What seems to be more consistent across all languages and texts submitted is my leadership potential (40-50 %) and Jungian Personality Type (Introverted – Sensing – Thinking – Perceiving). The latter coincides with the results of the same test I did some time ago when interpreting an event about exactly this type of personality test.

Finally, my Facebook profile did not lend itself to personality prediction. The answer I received was: „Sorry, we are unable to generate a prediction. An insufficient number of your Likes match with those in our database, and we don’t believe in guesswork.“

Bottom line: Age and gender seem to be more difficult to predict on the basis of text samples than personality traits. But still, the Personality Predictor is definitely worth playing around with.

————————–
About the author:
Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C) and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

Simultaneous interpreting with VR headset | Dolmetschen unter der Virtual-Reality-Brille | Interpretación simultanea con gafas VR

+++ for English see below +++ para español, aun más abajo +++
2016 wurde mir zum Jahresausklang eine Dolmetscherfahrung der ganz besonderen Art zuteil: Dolmetschen mit Virtual-Reality-Brille. Sebastiano Gigliobianco hat im Rahmen seiner Masterarbeit am SDI München drei Remote-Interpreting-Szenarien in Fallstudien durchgetestet und ich durfte in den Räumen von PCS in Düsseldorf als Probandin dabei sein. Mehr zu den Erkenntnissen seiner Untersuchungen dürfen wir hoffentlich im Laufe des Jahres von Sebastiano selbst erfahren. Hier deshalb nur meine persönlichen Impressionen:
 
  • Relativ offensichtlich, aber doch eine Herausforderung: Mit VR-Brille auf dem Kopf ist man in der realen Welt blind. Das ist für das Bedienen des Dolmetschpultes nicht ganz trivial, so dass ich mich während der ersten fünf Minuten panisch am Lautstärkeknopf festgekrallt habe, um diesen bloß nicht aus dem Griff zu verlieren. Erstaunlicherweise hatte ich aber schon nach kurzer Zeit die geographische Lage des Lautstärkereglers so verinnerlicht, dass ich auch freihändig dolmetschen konnte und meine Hand den Regler trotzdem bei Bedarf problemlos wiederfand. Mir stellt sich spontan die Frage, ob es dafür im Gehirn ein separat zuständiges Areal gibt (so wie den Extra-Magen für Nachtisch).
  • Ich hätte nicht gedacht, dass es unter der VR-Brille so nett ist. Bisher kannte ich aus der VR-Welt nur abgefahrene Spielszenarien wie Spukschlösser oder Unterwasserwelten. Nun befand ich mich aber in einer ganz normalen Arbeitsumgebung, einer Art Werksführung, und stand in Gestalt einer Kamera auf einem Stativ mitten zwischen den Rednern und konnte durch Kopfdrehung intuitiv genau dorthin blicken, wohin ich wollte. Dass ich dabei dem jeweiligen Redner immer ungeniert mitten ins Gesicht glotzen konnte, ohne diesen zu irritieren, war lustig und auch fürs Dolmetschen ziemlich nützlich. Jedenfalls musste ich zu keinem Zeitpunkt mit Blick auf das Genick des Redners dolmetschen.
  • 360-Grad-Drehungen auf dem Bürostuhl in der herkömmlichen Dolmetschkabine sind etwas beschwerlich.
  • Natürlich kann man nicht ewig mit so einem Klotz auf dem Kopf arbeiten, frisurenschädlich ist er obendrein. Aber als Motorola 1983 das erste (800 g schwere!) Handy auf dem Markt brachte (1987 zu sehen in Wallstreet an der Seite von Michael Douglas), hatte auch noch niemand unsere heutigen schnuckeligen Smartphones im Sinn.

————————
Über die Autorin:
Anja Rütten ist freiberufliche Konferenzdolmetscherin für Deutsch (A), Spanisch (B), Englisch (C) und Französisch (C) in Düsseldorf. Sie widmet sich seit Mitte der 1990er dem Wissensmanagement.

+++ EN +++ EN +++ EN +++ EN +++

In 2016, I had a real end-of-year special: interpreting with a virtual reality headset on (or rather: around) my head. Sebastiano Gigliobianco, student at the SDI in Munich, wanted to test three remote interpreting scenarios for his master’s thesis – and I was one of the lucky test persons who were invited to the premises of PCS in Düsseldorf. We will hopefully hear more about Sebastiano’s findings in the course of the year. For the moment, I would like to share with you my personal impressions:
  • Obviously, with VR goggles on, you are blind for the real world. A fact, however, not to be neglected when it comes to handling the knobs and buttons of the interpreter console in the booth. So for the first five minutes, I did not dare to let go of the volume control. But then after some time, to my own surprise I managed to locate the knob quite easily, so that I could speak and use both my hands freely and still control the volume intuitively. This makes me wonder whether there is a separate brain area for geographic localisation of things that does not interfere with interpreting. (Just like that extra stomach the dessert seems to go to.)
  • I hadn’t expected to be that much at ease wearing a VR headset. So far, my VR experience has been all haunted castles and underwater scenery. But now I found myself in the middle of a very normal working environment, i. e. a kind of factory tour, standing (in the form of a camera mounted on a tripod) right between the participants. And by simply turning my head, the camera would swivel around and let me look where I wanted to look. Basically, I could stare right into the speaker’s face without causing irritation, which was both fun and very useful. I really liked the fact that at no time I had to interpret looking at the speaker’s back.
  • 180 degree rotations are not the most comfortable thing to do sitting on an office chair in a traditional interpreting booth.
  • You obviously cannot spend a whole day interpreting with this clumsy apparatus mounted on your head (not even to mention what it does to your hair). But then, when Motorola launched the first mobile phone back in 1983 (starring in „Wall Street“ together with Michael Douglas in 1987), none of us had in mind those neat little smartphones we have nowadays.

————————–
About the author:
Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C) and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

+++ ES +++ ES +++ ES +++ ES +++

Para finalizar el año 2016, tuve una experiencia muy especial: interpretar en un entorno de realidad virtual, o sea con unas gafas VR puestas. Sebastiano Gigliobianco, estudiante del SDI en Múnich, estudió tres escenarios de interpretación remota en el marco de su tesis de máster, y a mí me tocó participar como voluntaria en las instalaciones de PCS en Düsseldorf. Espero que muy pronto podamos aprender más sobre los hallazgos de Sebastiano, así que, por el momento, me limito a compartir mis impresiones personales:
  • Con las gafas VR puestas, uno está ciego en el mundo real, un hecho nada desdeñable cuando se trata de manejar los botones de una consola de interpretación. De modo que, durante los primeros cinco minutos de interpretación, no solté ni un segundo el control de volumen. Pero luego me fui acostumbrando, y al final tenía memorizada la ubicación de este botón y con mucha facilidad podía controlar el volumen de forma intuitiva y hablar usando mis manos libremente. Casi pareciera que hay un área cerebral para localizar cosas que funciona independientemente de la interpretación simultánea. (Igual que el famoso estómago separado para postres en donde siempre cabe un postrecito.)
  • No me hubiera imaginado que estaría tan a gusto trabajando con las gafas VR. Hasta la fecha, mi experiencia VR se había limitado a los castillos embrujados y los paisajes acuáticos. Pero en este caso, me encontré en medio de un entorno de interpretación muy normal, o sea un tipo de visita de planta, ubicada (en forma de una cámara que está montada sobre un trípode) justamente entre los interlocutores. Nada más moviendo la cabeza podía hacer girar la cámara y con eso dirigir mi mirada en la dirección que quisiera. Esto me permitía mirar al orador directamente a la cara, cosa que en la vida normal sería un poco indiscreta, pero así no causó ninguna irritación. Era divertido y muy útil a la vez. Y me encantó que en ningún momento tuve que interpretar a una persona que me daba la espalda.
  • Las rotaciones de 180 grados no se realizan con facilidad en una silla giratoria dentro de una cabina de interpretación común y corriente.
  • Está claro que no se puede pasar un día entero interpretando con esas gafotas monstruosas en la cabeza (ni hablar de cómo te dejan despeinada).  Pero en fin, cuando Motorola lanzó el primer celular en 1983 (y fue una especie de protagonista en 1987 al lado de Michael Douglas en „Wall Street“), tampoco nos hubiéramos imaginado los smartphones chiquititos y chulos que tenemos hoy en día.

 

————————–

La autora:
Anja Rütten es intérprete de conferencias autónoma para alemán (A), español (B), inglés y francés (C), domiciliada en Düsseldorf/Alemania. Se dedica al tema de la gestión de los conocimientos desde mediados de los años 1990.

Christmas Speeches Medley * Weihnachtsansprachen-Medley * Potpourri internacional de discursos navideños …

… feat. Queen Elisabeth (1957), Konigin Beatrix (2006), el Rey Juan Carlos (1975), Bundespräsident Richard von Weizsäcker (1985), le Roi Philippe (2014), President Barack Obama (2015), Enrique Peña Nieto (2011), Bundespräsident Adolf Ogi (2000), President Xi Jinping (2016)

Es ist schon alles gesagt, nur noch nicht von allen. * Everything has already been said, but not yet by everyone. * Todo está dicho ya, pero no por cada cual.

(Karl Valentin)

Next

Frohe Feststage * Felices Fiestas * Happy Holidays * Prettige Feestdagen * Joyeuses Fêtes

wünscht Anja Rütten

*****************************************

The Christmas Broadcast, 1957 Queen’s Speech

[…] I very much hope that this new medium will make my Christmas message more personal and direct. It is inevitable that I should seem a rather remote figure to many of you. A successor to the Kings and Queens of history; someone whose face may be familiar in newspapers and films but who never really touches your personal lives. But now at least for a few minutes I welcome you to the peace of my own home.

That it is possible for some of you to see me today is just another example of the speed at which things are changing all around us. Because of these changes I am not surprised that many people feel lost and unable to decide what to hold on to and what to discard. How to take advantage of the new life without losing the best of the old. […]

Kersttoespraak van Hare Majesteit de Koningin op Eerste Kerstdag 2006

[…] In de duisternis van onze wereld is een licht opgegaan. Dat zien wij in de geboorte van het Kerstkind. God vervult daarin Zijn belofte aan de mensen. Hij doet Zijn woord gestand. In het Kerstfeest vieren we dat het woord van God doorklinkt in donkere tijden en ons wil verlichten als een lamp op onze levensweg. Elke dag ervaren wij de kracht van het woord. […]

Mensaje de Navidad de Su Majestad el Rey de 1975

[…] Fue un mensaje de paz, de unidad y de amor.

Paz, que necesitamos para organizar nuestra convivencia. Pero que no se confunda con la mera paz material que excluye la violencia, sino también la paz de los espíritus y de las conciencias que evitando tensiones nos permitirá marchar hacia adelante, alcanzando así las metas que deseamos para nuestra patria.

La unidad, necesaria para lograr la fortaleza que todo progreso demanda, que no elimina en modo alguno la variedad y que refuerza y enriquece los matices de un pueblo tan antiguo y con una historia tan fecunda como la nuestra.

Y un mensaje de amor que es la esencia de nuestro cristianismo, el cual nos exige sacrificios, para que, prescindiendo de nuestras ambiciones personales, nos demos a los demás. […]

Richard von Weizsäcker 1985 Weihnachtsansprache

[…] Die meisten unserer Bürger nehmen sich ihrer Mitmenschen an. Sie helfen den Nachbarn, den Einsamen oder Pflegebedürftigen. Sie finden sich in zahlreichen Initiativen und Vereinen zusammen. Sie sind aktiv in der Selbsthilfe und in der Zuwendung zu anderen. Sie wissen, wie gut es uns geht, zumal wenn sie auf die Not in der Welt blicken. Um so mehr kommt es uns zu, nicht nur die eigene Bequemlichkeit zu suchen, sondern für andere dazusein. […]

Discours de S.M. le Roi à l’occasion de Noël et du Nouvel An, Bruxelles, le 24 décembre 2014

[…]  Je pense à tous ceux qui s’engagent, souvent bénévolement, en faveur des jeunes, des personnes âgées, des malades, des isolés ou des plus démunis. Je pense à la solidarité dont nous faisons preuve à tous les niveaux, à nos administrations publiques, quotidiennement au service de la population,  à ces entreprises et ces services publics qui allient avec succès efficacité et humanité. […]

Remarks of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. 2015

[…] Today, like millions of Americans and Christians around the world, our family celebrates the birth of Jesus and the values He lived in his own life. Treating one another with love and compassion. Caring for those on society’s margins: the sick and the hungry, the poor and the persecuted, the stranger in need of shelter – or simply an act of kindness. That’s the spirit that binds us together – not just as Christians, but as Americans of all faiths. It’s what the holidays are about: coming together as one American family to celebrate our blessings and the values we hold dear. […]

Mensaje de Navidad realizado por Enrique Peña Nieto, precandidato único a la Presidencia de la República por el PRI, y su esposa Angélica Rivera. 2011

[…] Y también me gusta la parte de hacer propósitos de vida. Es que son compromisos, compromisos con uno mismo. Para este anio mi proposito es ser la mejor persona que yo pueda ser, como hombre, como padre, como esposo, como profesional, como político. Porque deseo que todos los mexicanons encuentren en mi confianza y esperanza. […]

Neujahrsansprache von Bundespräsident Adolf Ogi 1. Januar 2000

[…] Im Konzert der Nationen können wir nicht als Ängstliche, als Nörgler und als Sattgewordene bestehen. Wir bestehen nur mit den Selbstbewussten! Mit jenen, die zupacken. Die den Erfolg wollen. Die Herz haben und die träumen können. Für sie alle steht dieser Baum. Er wird allen Stürmen trotzen. So wie unser Land in diesem Jahrhundert. Ich werde ihn im Frühjahr hier pflanzen. […]

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s 2016 New Year Message

[…] 我衷心希望,国际社会共同努力,多一份平和,多一份合作,变对抗为合作,化干戈为玉帛,共同构建各国人民共有共享的人类命运共同体。谢谢大家。[…]

Impressions from Translating and the Computer 38

The 38th ‚Translating and the Computer‘ conference in London has just finished, and, as always, I take home a lot of inspiration. Here are my personal highlights:

  • Sketch Engine, a language corpus management and query system, offers loads of useful functions for conference preparation, like web-based (actually Bing-based) corpus-building, term extraction (the extraction results come with links to the corresponding text, the lists are exportable to common, reusable formats) and thesaurus-building. The one thing l liked most was the fact that if, for example, your clients have their websites in several languages, you can enter the urls of the different language versions and SketchEngine will download them, so that you can then use the texts a corpus. You might hear more about SketchEngine from me soon …
  • XTM, a translation memory system, offers parallel text alignment (like many others do) with the option of exporting the aligned texts into xls. This finally makes them reusable for those many interpreting colleagues who, for obvious reasons, do not have any translation memory system. And the best thing is, you can even re-export an amended version of this file back into the translation memory system for your translator colleagues to use. So if you interpret a meeting where a written agreement is being discussed in several language versions, you can provide the translators first hand with the amendments made in the meeting.
  • SDL Trados now offers an API and has an App Store. New hope for an interpreter-friendly user interface!

All in all, my theory that you just have to wait long enough for the language technology companies to develop something that suits conference interpreters‘ needs seems to materialise eventually. Also scientists and software providers alike were keen to stress that they really want to work with translators and interpreters in order to find out what they really need. The difficulty with conference interpreters seems to be that we are a very heterogeneous community with very different needs and preferences.

And then I had the honour to run a workshop on interpreters workflows and fees in the digital era (for some background information you may refer to The future of Interpreting & Translating – Professional Precariat or Digital Elite?). The idea was to go beyond the usual „digitalisation spoils prices and hampers continuous working relations“ but rather find ways to use digitalisation to our benefit and to boost good working relationships, quality and profitability. I was very happy to get some valuable input from practicioners as well as from several organisations‘ language services and scientists. What I took away were two main ideas: interface-building and quality rating.

Interface-building: By cooperating with the translation or documentation department of companies and organisations, quality and efficiency could be improved on both sides (translators providing extremely valuable and well-structured input for conference preparation and interpreters reporting back „from the field“). Which brings me back to the aforementioned positive outlook on the sofware side.

Quality rating: I noticed a contradiction which has never been so clear to me before. While we interpreters go on about the client having to value our high level of service provided and wanting to be paid well for quality, quality rating and evaluation still is a subject that is largely being avoided and that many of us feel uncomfortable with. On the other hand, some kind of quality rating is something clients sometimes are forced to rely on in order to justify paying for that (supposedly) expensive interpreter. I have no perfect solution for this, but I think it is worth some further thinking.

In general, there was a certain agreement that formalising interpreters‘ preparation work has its limitations. It is always about filling the very personal knowledge gaps of the individual (for a very particular conference setting), but that technologies can still be used to improve quality and keep up with the rapidly growing knowledge landscape around us.

————————–

About the author:
Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C) and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

 

Hello from the other side – Chinese and Terminology Tools. A guest article by Felix Brender 王哲謙

As Mandarin Chinese interpreters, we understand that we are somewhat rare beings. After all, we work with a language which, despite being a UN language, is not one you’d encounter regularly. We wouldn’t expect colleagues working with other, more frequently used languages to know about the peculiarities of Mandarin.

This applies not least to terminology tools. Many of the tools available to interpreters do now support Chinese-script entries. And indeed: Interpreting from English into Chinese, terminology software works as well for Chinese as it would for any other language – next to good old Excel, I myself have used InterPlex, Interpret Bank and flashterm. It’s rather when working from Chinese into English that things get tricky – and that’s not necessarily a software issue.

Until recently, many interpreters were convinced and rather adamant that simultaneous interpreting with Chinese is downright impossible, and I am sometimes tempted to agree. Compared to English – left alone German – Chinese is incredibly dense. Many words consist of only one syllable, and only very few of more than two. Owing to the way Chinese works grammatically, the very same idea can be expressed a lot more concisely in Chinese than English. To make matters worse, we replace modern Mandarin expressions with written, Classical Chinese equivalents in formal Mandarin. As a rule of thumb, the more formal the Chinese used, the more succinct it will be as well – rather different from English or German. This also is the case with proper names and terminology, which will usually have abbreviated forms that are a lot shorter syllable-wise than their English equivalents.

Adding to that, Chinese natives are incredibly fond of their language and make ample use of its full range of options: Using rare and at times byzantine expressions and words is appreciated and applauded as a sign of good education; it is never perceived as pedantic or conceited. This includes idioms (chengyu 成語), which usually refer to a story from the Chinese Classics in a highly condensed fashion: They generally contain a mere four syllables and usually function as adjectives, in contrast to English or German. In English, we will need at least a full sentence to explain what is being said, even if the same or a similar idiom exists. Chinese also frequently uses xiehouyu 歇後語: proverbs consisting of two parts, the first presenting a scenario, the second outlining the rationale of the story. Usually, the second part will be left out because Chinese natives will be able to deduce it from the first – similar to speak of the devil (and he will appear) in English. Needless to say, there hardly ever is an English equivalent, and seeing that we are operating in entirely different cultural contexts, ironing out cultural differences when explaining xiehouyu will take additional time.

It will be no surprise to hear that Chinese discursive and grammatical peculiarities make it a difficult language to interpret from: relative clauses tend to be lengthy – and are always placed in front of the noun they describe; Chinese doesn’t mark tenses as such but rather uses particles to outline how different events and actions relate to each other, in contrast to linear notions of time and tenses in European languages, so we are often left guessing; he and she are homonyms in Mandarin; to name but three examples.

Considering all of this, we see that more often than not, simultaneous interpreting from Chinese is a race against the clock and an exercise in humility – and there isn’t much time to look up words in the first place.

In Modern Mandarin, there are only around 1,200 possible syllables, with each syllable being a morpheme, i.e. a component bearing meaning; in English, we have a far greater range of possible syllables, and they only make sense in context, as not every syllable carries meaning: /mea/ and /ning/ do not mean anything per se, but meaning does. For Chinese, this implies that homophones are a common occurrence. And while we aim for perfect clarity and lucidity in English, Chinese rather daoistically indulges in ambivalence. Clever plays on words, being illusive and vague and giving listeners space to interpret what you might actually mean: not bad style, but an art to be honed. Apart from having to spend more capacity and time on identifying terms and words used in the original, this adds another layer of difficulty with regards to looking up terminology in the booth: The fastest way to type Chinese characters is by using pinyin romanisation, but owing to the huge number of homonyms, any syllable in romanized transliteration will give you a huge range of options. This means that we would have to spend at least another second or so simply to select the correct character from a drop-down list – and we will not enjoy the pleasure of word prediction that works for other languages.

In practice, this means that besides very intensive preparation before the event, we rely on what might be the oldest terminology tool in the world: our booth buddy. They are particularly important because in Chinese, we obviously don’t have any cognates – something than might get us off the hook working with European languages. We also heavily rely on our colleagues sitting next to us for figures: Chinese has ten thousand (萬) and one hundred million (億) as units in their own right, so rather than talking about one million and one billion, the Chinese will talk about a hundred times ten thousand and ten times one hundred million, respectively. This means we will have to be calculating while interpreting: a feat hard to accomplish if you are out there on your own.

While I started out thinking that not being able to use terminology software to the same extent I would use it for German-English would be quite a nuisance, I have found that this is rather an instance of the old man living at the border whose horse runs away1, as you’d say in Chinese. Interpreting is teamwork after all, and working with Chinese, we are acutely aware that we rely on our booth buddy as much as they rely on us and that we can only provide the excellent service we do with somebody else in the booth. With that in mind, professional Chinese interpreters always make for great partners in crime in the booth.

About the author:

Felix Brender 王哲謙 is a freelance conference interpreter for English, Chinese and German based in Düsseldorf/Germany. He also teaches DE>EN at the University of Heidelberg, and ZH>EN interpreting as a guest lecturer in Leeds, UK, and Taipei, Taiwan.

1 (which, as the story goes, then returns, bringing a fine stallion with it, which is then ridden by his son, who falls of the horse and breaks his leg, which is why he is not drafted and sent to war, ultimately saving his life; meaning that any setback may indeed be a blessing in disguise, similar but not entirely identical to every cloud has a silver lining. One of the most frequently used Chinese sayings, eight syllables of which the latter four are generally left out: 塞翁失馬,焉知非福, which literally translates as ‘When the old man from the frontier lost his horse, how could one have known that it would not be fortuitous?’. I rest my case.)

Datensicherung für Mutter und Kinder | family-friendly data backup

+++ for English, see below +++

Was ich selbst in über 20 Jahren nicht fertiggebracht habe, schafft mein Kind schon vor dem Erreichen der digitalen Volljährigkeit (gleich Inhaberschaft eines eigenen Whatsapp-Kontos) – den totalen Datenverlust. Zwar in diesem Fall nur in Form aller kostbaren Fotos auf meinem ausrangierten Handy, aber immerhin. So langsam wird klar: Ein umfassendes Datensicherungskonzept muss her.

Im Vorteil ist, wer in seinem Bekanntenkreis ausreichend Testberichtleser hat, so konnte ich glücklicherweise jüngst bei einem Gin Tonic im Hause meiner lieben Freundin Julia eine Empfehlung entgegennehmen, die alles vereint, was ich mir vone einem Backupsystem wünsche: idrive. Es gibt ja viele unterschiedliche Datensicherungssysteme, deshalb hier in Kürze, was mir an diesem System gefällt:

Es funktioniert für alle gängigen Betriebssysteme von Rechnern (Mac, Windows, Linux) und mobilen Geräten (Android, iOS, Windows), bis zu sechs Geräte und 1TB können in der Private-Version über ein Konto laufen, für regulär 69.50 $ (wobei es immer Angebote gibt – nachdem ich mit einem kostenlosen Basis-Konto die App installiert hatte, wurde mir die Private-Version prompt für 15 $ im ersten Jahr angeboten). Man kann über dieses Konto kreuz und quer auf die Daten-Backups aller Geräte zugreifen – was mir zunächst etwas unheimlich war, aber man kann den Zugriff an jedem Endgerät mit einem Passwortschutz belegen. Über das browserbasierte Dashboard kann man dann bspw. die Daten (etwa Fotos) aus dem Handy-Backup direkt auf den Rechner kopieren.

Das Synchronisieren erfolgt entweder in Echtzeit, nach festgelegtem Zeitplan oder auf Knopfdruck. Es rödelt also nicht ständig im Hintergrund, wenn man das nicht möchte, man wird regelmäßig an die Datensicherung erinnert, wenn man das will. Wenn man einmal den kompletten Datenbestand hochgeladen hat, geschieht die Aktualisierung nur noch inkrementell, sprich nur noch Dateien, die auf dem lokalen Rechner geändert wurden, werden im Online-Backup auf den neusten Stand gebracht.

Auf dem Handy kann man auswählen aus der Sicherung von Kontakten, Anruflisten, Kalender, Dateien, Apps, SMS, Fotos (auch die von Whatapp), Videos und Musik. Entweder permanent, zu bestimmten Zeitpunkten oder auf Knopfdruck. Schön für Reisen.

Gelöschte Dateien werden im Online-Backup nur auf Knopfdruck gelöscht („Archive Cleanup„). Solange man diesen Knopf nicht drückt, sind alle auf dem lokalen Rechner – womöglich versehentlich – gelöschten Dateien im Online-Backup noch da. Und wenn man umgekehrt nicht tausende von Privatfotos auf dem Handy herumschleppen möchte, kann man sie dort löschen und im Cloud-Backup aufbewahren.

In der idrive-Business-Version (aktuell 74,62 $ im Jahr) kann man sogar Unterkonten anlegen, so dass man die Datensicherung von Kollegen, Mitarbeitern oder Kindern als Administrator zentral im Griff hat (ohne dass diese auf die eigenen Daten zugreifen).  Ich habe für den Anfang eine preisgünstigere Lösung gewählt und meinen Kindern jeweils separate Konten (Basis-Konto kostenlos bis 5 GB) eingerichtet. (Letztendlich habe ich selbst für mein eigenes Handy nun ein anderes Konto als für meinen PC, um nicht in ständiger Sorge zu leben, dass sich doch einmal jemand über mein Handy Zugang zu meinem gesamten PC-Backup verschafft). Wenn ich die auf meinem Rechner gespeicherte Musik meinen Kindern auf dem Handy zur Verfügung stellen möchte, teile ich mit ihnen den entsprechenden Ordner aus dem PC-Online-Backup, wenn ich deren Handyfotos sichern möchte, teilen sie den entsprechenden Online-Backup-Ordner über idrive mit mir. Etwas gewöhnungsbedürftig ist, dass man dieses Verwalten und Teilen nur über das browserbasierte Dashboard erledigen kann, während die Backups über eine App oder Desktop-Software erfolgen.

Wenn man nicht den Nerv hat, seine gesamte Datensammlung durch die Telefonleitung zu quetschen, kann man sich auch einen physischen Datenträger schicken lassen und per Post die Daten einmalig nach Kalifornien schicken, wo sie in die Cloud befördert werden. Aktuell befinde ich mich noch in der Versuchsphase, 103 GB über die Leitung in die Cloud zu befördern (nach zwei Tagen bin ich bei 25 %) Wenn man mit der Bandbreitendrosselung ein bisschen spielt und nachts nicht vergisst, den Standby-Modus des Computers zu deaktivieren, könnte es was werden.

Die Daten sind bei der Übertragung und Speicherung mittels 256-bit-AES-Verschlüsselung gesichert, wobei der Schlüssel entweder vom System oder vom Nutzer selbst vorgegeben wird.

Wenn man zusätzlich noch ein lokales Backup auf einem externen Datenträger haben möchte, bietet idrive zusätzlich für 99,99 $ einen lokalen, über WLAN verbundenen Datenträger an (Network attached storage device NAS, „wifi device“), der ebenfalls über die idrive-Software verwaltet wird.

Alles in allem wirklich ein Rundum-Datensicherungskonzept. Aber wie immer bin ich natürlich auch neugierig zu erfahren, wie Ihr Eure Daten sichert!


Über die Autorin:
Dr. Anja Rütten ist freiberufliche Konferenzdolmetscherin für Deutsch (A), Spanisch (B), Englisch (C) und Französisch (C) in Düsseldorf und Mitglied von VKD, BDÜ NRW und AIIC. Sie widmet sich seit Mitte der 1990er dem Wissensmanagement.

+++ English version +++

It is hard to believe that a child, before becoming digitally full of age (i.e. having a proper WhatsApp account), provokes the disaster I have managed to avoid for over 20 years: total loss of data. Luckily, it was „only“ a bunch of photos taken with my old smartphone, but still: all of a sudden it became crystal clear to me that my family and I are in desperate need of a comprehensive data backup plan.

I am lucky enough to know some passionate test report readers, and so it happened that when I was at my dear friend Julia’s house, over some Gin & Tonics I was recommended exactly what I was looking for: idrive, the one online backup package that offers everything I had been looking for.

It runs on all the usual operating systems for desktop and laptop computers (Mac, Windows, Linux) and mobile devices (Android, iOS, Windows), up to six devices and 1 TB can be backed up under one „Private“ account for – theoretically – $ 69.50 per year (watch out for special offers – after I had installed the app on my smartphone using the free basic version, I was offered the upgrade to the „Private“ plan for as little as $ 15). And you can access the online data backups of any of them from any of them. I found this a bit spooky at the beginning, but there is optional password protection when opening the idrive software/app. The browser-based idrive dashboard can then be used, for example, to save the pictures taken with your smartphone to your desktop computer.

Backups can be run continuously, scheduled or ad hoc by clicking a button, so your computer does not necessarily have to be rattling through synchronising data in the background all the time. But the system will still remind you of your regular backup task if you ask it to. Once all your data is uploaded, files will only be updated incrementally, i.e. only those archives which have been changed locally will be uploaded to your online backup.

On your mobile phone, you can choose from saving your contacts, call logs, calendar, files, apps, SMS, photos (also from WhatsApp), videos and audio files, be it continuously, according to a schedule or ad hoc by clicking the button. Very nice for frequent travelers.

Files deleted from your PC will not be deleted automatically from your online backup version. Unless you „clean up“ your backup (by clicking the button), it will keep all your files – which you may have deleted accidentally from your local hard disk- virtually forever. And if, the other way around, you don’t want to carry around tons of private photos on your mobile device, you can delete them from your mobile harddisk once you have uploaded them to idrive.

The idrive Business Version (currently $ 74.62) even lets you create sub-accounts in order to manage data backups centrally for colleagues, staff or children (without them getting access to your personal data). My personal solution for the moment is to create separate accounts for each child’s mobile device (basic account, free of charge for up to 5 GB) and make excessive use of the share functions. For example, I simply share the online backup file of my local mp3 collection via idrive and they access them using their accounts. Equally they share their online photo backup files with me if they want me to save their photos on my PC. All this sharing back and forth must be done using the browser dashboard, whereas the backup functions work via programs/apps that need to be installed locally.

If you don’t feel like squeezing your 100 GB of data through the landline, idrive even offers to send you a hard drive by ordinary mail so that you can ship your data to California and let them take care of the uploading. My personal 100-GB-upload experiment is still running (I am at 25 % after two days), but when you play around with the bandwidth throttle a bit and don’t forget to deactivate the standby mode overnight, chances are that you will finally get there.

Your data is encrypted during transfer and storage using 256 bitAES encryption, either on the basis of a default key or using your private one.

If you wish to have an additional local backup on an external hard disk, idrive offers a so called „wifi device“ (Network attached storage device, NAS, $ 99.99), which is also managed by the idrive software.

Bottom line is that this is an allround hybrid backup system I am quite happy with, although as always, I would love to know how you handle your data backups!

————————–

About the author:
Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C) and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

Booth-friendly terminology management: Glossarmanager.de

Believe it or not, only a few weeks ago I came across just another booth-friendly terminology management program (or rather it was kindly brought to my attention by a student when I talked about the subject at Heidelberg University). It has been around since 2008 and completely escaped my attention. So I am all the happier to present today yet another player on the scene of interpreter-friendly terminology management tools:

Glossarmanager by Glossarmanager GbR/Frank Brempel (Bonn, Germany)

As the name suggests, in Glossarmanager terms are organised in different glossaries, each glossary including the data fields language 1 („Sprache 1“), language 2 („Sprache 2“), synonym, antonym, picture and comment. The number of working languages in each glossary is limited to two (or three if you decide to use the synonyms column for a third language). Each glossary can also be subdivided into chapters („Kapitel“).

Glossarmanager GlossarEdit

You may import and export rtf, csv and txt files, so basically anything that formerly was a text or table/spreadsheet document, and the import function is very user-friendly (it lets you insert the new data into an existing glossary and checks new entries against existing ones, or create a new glossary).

The vocab training module requires typing in and is very unforgiving, so each typo or other deviation from what is written in the database counts as a mistake. But if you are not put off by the nasty comments („That was rubbish“, „Please concentrate!“) or the even nastier learning record, you may well use this trainer as a mental memorising tool without typing the required terms.

The search module comes as a small window which, if you want it to, always stays in the foreground. Entering search terms is intuitive and mouse-free and the results can be filtered by language pairs, glossaries and authors. Ignoring of special characters like ü, è, ß etc. and case-sensitive search can be activated. Right under the hit list, Glossarmanager provides (customisable) links to online resources for further searching.

Glossarmanager Suche

Available for Windows

Cost: Free of charge (download here and use the free licence key)

————————–

About the author:
Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C) and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

 

Operation leerer Briefkasten

Während es zum Thema Reinhaltung des elektronischen Postfachs nicht nur Spamfilter, sondern bei seriösen Newslettern auch eine (vorgeschriebene) Abmeldefunktion gibt, ist es mit der Abwehr unnötiger Papierpost deutlich komplizierter. Komischerweise höre ich auch seltener jemanden über die Flut unnötiger Papiermengen im realen Briefkasten als über die Spam-Flut jammern, obwohl das Ausfiltern und Löschen von E-Mails viel weniger Arbeit verursacht als das Entsorgen von realer Post (einschließlich Folie von Papierprospekt separieren). Ich jedenfalls finde Berge von Post auf dem Schreibtisch nach ein paar Tagen Abwesenheit lästig – weshalb ich vor einigen Monaten meine Operation „Leerer Briefkasten“ gestartet habe. Nachahmern eindeutig empfohlen:

Schritt 1: Schild an den Briefkasten kleben. Wenn am Briefkasten steht „Keine Werbung einwerfen“, bekommt man keine unadressierte (!) Werbung mehr. Warum gibt es das eigentlich nicht für das E-Mail-Postfach?

Schritt 2: Weiterhin bekommt man jedoch persönlich adressierte Post. Also jeden Katalog und jedes Mailing telefonisch, per Mail oder Fax abbestellen – geht eigentlich ganz schnell und die Hotlines sind immer darauf vorbereitet. Bei den Versandhäusern meines Vorzugs habe ich statt Katalogen die Newsletter abonniert, sie fliegen per Filterregel in einen separaten Ordner, damit sie mir nicht mitten am Arbeitstag auf die Nerven gehen. Und wenn ich mal mitten am Arbeitstag in Kataloge blättern möchte, habe ich sie selbst in der Kabine dabei. Manchmal stellt man ja gerade dann fest, dass man dringend ein neues Kleid braucht.

Schritt 3: Neben den Katalogen und Mailings, von denen ich weiß, weshalb ich sie bekomme – nämlich weil ich bei dem Unternehmen Kundin bin und mir dessen Angebot auch nicht völlig unsympathisch ist – gibt es auch unaufgeforderte Post mit Angeboten von Firmen, mit denen ich noch nie etwas zu tun hatte. Wenn man genau hinsieht, enthalten solche Schreiben aber normalerweise einen Hinweis auf die Möglichkeit, der Nutzung der personenbezogenen Daten zu Werbezwecken zu widersprechen, häufig unter Verweis auf eine Adressdatenvermittlungsfirma. Dieser muss man oft tatsächlich per Post schreiben, da es häufig auf den Firmenwebseiten keine entsprechende Funktion und auch keine E-Mail-Adresse oder Faxnummer für diesen Zweck gibt. Dies ist mit Abstand der nervendste Teil der Operation „Leerer Briefkasten“. Daher kommt Schritt 4 ins Spiel:

Schritt 4: Der Eintrag in eine Robinsonliste. Für Deutschland gibt es derer zwei: Robinsonliste I.D.I. Interessenverband Deutsches Internet e.V. (http://www.robinsonliste.de/) und DDV Deutscher Dialogmarketing Verband e. V. (https://www.ichhabediewahl.de). Mittlerweile ein äußerst unkompliziertes Unterfangen … und hoffentlich mit der entsprechenden Wirkung – die sich nur dann entfaltet, wenn sich die adressverwaltenden Firmen auch daran halten, die eingetragenen Personen bei ihren Postwerbeaktionen auszusparen.

Mit und mit komme ich meinem Ziel jedenfalls deutlich näher, im Briefkasten nur noch Versicherungsunterlagen, Bußgeldbescheide und stimmungsaufhellende Geburtstags- und Weihnachtskarten vorzufinden.


Über die Autorin:
Dr. Anja Rütten ist freiberufliche Konferenzdolmetscherin für Deutsch (A), Spanisch (B), Englisch (C) und Französisch (C) in Düsseldorf und Mitglied von VKD, BDÜ NRW und AIIC. Sie widmet sich seit Mitte der 1990er dem Wissensmanagement.

Why not listen to football commentary in several languages? | Fußballspiele mehrsprachig verfolgen

+++ for English, see below +++ para español, aún más abajo +++

Ich weiß nicht, wie es Euch ergeht, aber wenn ich im Fernsehen ein Fußballspiel verfolge, frage ich mich mitunter, was jetzt wohl der Kommentator der anderen Mannschaft bzw. Nationalität dazu gerade sagt. Die Idee, (alternative) Fußballkommentare über das Internet zu streamen, hat sich zumindest im deutschsprachigen Raum bislang noch nicht so recht durchgesetzt, www.marcel-ist-reif.de hat den Dienst zumindest wieder eingestellt. In Spanien ist man da mit Tiempo de Juego besser dran, und dann gibt es noch talksport.com, was ich noch nicht ausprobiert habe. Aber eine andere durchaus praktikable Alternative, um simultan neben der eigentlichen TV-Übertragung andere Kommentare aus nahezu aller Herren Länder zu hören, bietet ja das Smartphone (wer auch sonst) mit einer entsprechenden Radio-App (mein Favorit für Android ist Radio.fm). So habe ich dann kürzlich beim EM-Gruppenspiel Schweden gegen Belgien einfach über den Kopfhörer parallel zur deutschen TV-Übertragung im belgischen Radio mitgehört – und das war durchaus amüsant! Zeitweise war ich mir nicht sicher, ob der deutsche und der belgische Kommentator das gleiche Spiel sahen, aber die Hintergrundgeräusche aus dem Stadion (im Radio immer minimal verzögert) waren beruhigenderweise identisch. Also eine echte Empfehlung nicht nur für die, die sich nicht entscheiden können, zu welcher Mannschaft sie halten sollen. Und nun hoffe ich natürlich umso mehr auf ein Viertelfinale Deutschland – Spanien!

+++ English version +++

I don’t know about you, but when I watch football on TV, I often wonder what the other team’s/country’s commentator might be saying right now. If you want to listen to Spanish commentary in parallel, you are lucky, as there is Tiempo de Juego streaming football commentary via browser, Android and iOS app. There is http://talksport.com in English, which I have not tried yet. In Germany, however, the idea of streaming (alternative) football commentary over the internet has not quite made it so far (www.marcel-ist-reif.de have given up apparently), but another way of listening in to other commentaries of almost any country in the world is (guess what!) the good old smartphone, with those many radio streaming apps available. My favourite one for Android is Radio.fm, and I have just lately tuned into the Belgian radio while watching the European Championship match Sweden vs. Belgium on German TV. It was both fun and interesting, really. Sometimes I was not sure whether they were talking about the same match, but the background noise from the stadium (slightly delayed over the radio) told me they were indeed. So it is really worth a try, especially for those who cannot decide which team to support. And I’m now hoping all the more for a quarter final between Germany and Spain!

+++ versión española +++

No sé ustedes, pero yo, cuando veo un partido de fútbol en la tele, a veces me pregunto qué estará diciendo el comentarista del otro bando en ese momento. Esta idea de facilitar comentarios audio por medio de internet, casi no se usa en Alemania (en www.marcel-ist-reif.de ya dejaron de ofrecerlo). En España, ya van bastante mejor, con Tiempo de Juego se pueden escuchar los comentarios a través del navegador o usando una app (Android y iOS). En inglés existe talksport.com, todavía me falta probarlo. Pero también existe otra posibilidad muy práctica para escuchar comentarios de fútbol de casi todas partes del mundo y es (adivinen qué) el smartphone que con sus tantas apps transmite por internet un sinfín de radioemisoras del mundo entero (mi app favorita es Radio.fm). De este modo, hace poco, viendo el partido de la Eurocopa entre Suecia y Bélgica en la televisión, por medio de mi celular y los auriculares escuché en paralelo a los comentaristas de una radioemisora belga y me resultó súper divertido. A veces me surgían dudas de si realmente los comentaristas belgas y alemanes estaban viendo el mismo partido, pero el ruido del estadio era idéntico (con un pequeño desfase en la transmisión por radio), así que… todo bien. Realmente lo recomiendo, no sólo para aquellos que no saben a qué selección apoyar. ¡Y por ahora espero aún más los cuartos de final entre España y Alemania!

The Future of Interpreting & Translating – Professional Precariat or Digital Elite?

Interpreters being paid by the minute (or hour) nowadays does not seem as inconceivable as it used to be. Technically speaking, small worktime and payment units have become easier to handle, thus more probable to be applied. The question arises if working and being paid on a micro or macro level, as the two extremes, bring about any special advantages or disadvantages for interpreters/translators and their customers – a question I would like to share some thoughts with you about, paying special attention to the information and knowledge aspect.

Knowledge work

Interpreters and translators are knowledge workers constantly moving back and forth between different linguistic and technical knowledge systems. In order to do so, they rely on their own knowledge base being complemented by external information sources. This consultation of external sources is what I call “secondary knowledge work”, it is performed in order to properly perform the actual, primary knowledge work, i.e. the interpreting assignment or translation at hand. Interpreters do so mainly during preparation and, to a limited extent, on the job when doing ad hoc research and after the job while a translator’s secondary knowledge work tends to be more intermittent and less clearly distinguishable from the primary task of translating.

primary and secondary knowledge work in interpreting

Macro knowledge work

What interpreters need to know in order to interpret a certain speech goes far beyond the text itself both technically, linguistically and pragmatically. In a macro knowledge work scenario, they have indeed acquired this knowledge. Ideally (but not necessarily) they are all-round language service providers to companies and organisations – cooperating if need be with a team of freelance colleagues – taking care of anything ranging from translations (documentation, website, brochures, meeting documents, even short emails) and terminology to interpretation of meetings, sales events, negotiations and short phone calls. Micro work elements like interpreting (or making) the said phone call, answering spontaneous terminological questions or translating single sentences smoothly integrate into the macro level of long-term, relatively large-volume language service provision. There is no need for extensive secondary knowledge work in order to familiarise with the respective industry, company products, background and intentions of the persons involved and the company terminology and typical jargon, the background knowledge as a decisive production factor having been acquired (and financed) in the course of the long-term cooperation. Primary and secondary knowledge work go hand in hand. In this scenario, a company may well draw from the extensive insight the interpreter or translator has and rely on their professional judgement and advice.

Micro knowledge work

Sometimes the cost and effort of recruiting a proper specialist would by far exceed the benefit. This is the case when no context knowledge is required to fulfil the task or when quality simply does not pay off. If the customer lives off selling very cheap products and needs multilingual categorising or key word finding for tons of products just to feed the search engines, then less quality for less money is a business case. A company may give thousands of words to a dozen translators and have them translated in no time, saving time and money by not investing in the meaningful translation of a text that, after all, has a very life-expectancy.

When confidential matters are interpreted, like in medical or legal interpreting, the customer would rather see the insight gained by the interpreter disappear without traces from the interpreter’s memory, just like current assets in a factory, rather than make use of it.

Under certain circumstances context knowledge may even be a caveat when, for example, unbiased and unprejudiced views are required and, in the opinion of the customer, an informed interpreter might be prejudiced and render a pre-filtered version of what is being said on the basis of what he or she considers important or unimportant.

In all these cases, no secondary knowledge work is required, and everyone is just fine with the interpreter mentally operating within a confined space of information. However, in most interpreting settings the task becomes extremely difficult without a wider view on the technical, linguistic and pragmatic background.

Macro payment

When remuneration is based on larger units – like in the case of employees’ monthly or annual salaries – the long-term benefit provided to the company or organisation by the employee based on their experience, training, soft skills etc. positively influences the amount being paid (macro payment). The largest usual payment unit for freelance interpreters is a day and for translators an hour (if not paid by the word or line). Without an in-depth survey it is hard to tell whether the knowledge acquired in the long run by the interpreter, as well as the time required for the secondary knowledge work dedicated to a special assignment, are factored in when these fees are calculated. Conference interpreters tend to argue that their daily fees include preparation. However, when analysing the typical cost structures, this often turns out not to be true (see AIIC Blog article about this subject).

Generally speaking, the larger the work volume the smaller will be the proportion of secondary knowledge work in relation to the primary task. This is due to a certain scale effect when working on a macro level, for the effort of familiarisation/knowledge acquisition can be allocated to a larger amount of work. This may be a long and/or repeated assignment or the sum of translation plus interpreting plus any other minor linguistic support like phone calls and emails, provided that these tasks are in a way interrelated. For example,  interpreters being present at a meeting have translated the documentation beforehand or translate the minutes afterwards and also interpret the occasional phone call between the meeting participants. As they are familiar both with the subject matter and with the people involved, they will not have to prepare as much as someone unfamiliar and, more importantly, be able to compensate the loss of visual and contextual information on the phone and read (or hear) between the lines more easily.

Larger work volumes tend to be remunerated in larger payment units. Let’s say a two-day interpreting assignment will hardly be paid by the hour, whereas this might be the case for a two-hour job and a customer might tend to pay a fifty-minute job by the minute. However, if a small one-off project involving a small amount of micro working units (minutes) is not embedded in a long term, macro-type of cooperation but “informed” interpreting is still required then macro payment will be more appropriate in order to account for the secondary knowledge work required. It does not necessarily have to be in big payment units as long as the preparation effort is factored in. However, this may be easier to factor into bigger payment units.

Micro payment

In translation, payment in small units like words or lines (i.e. characters) has been common practice for a long time. In interpreting, it is becoming increasingly popular at least from the customer side what with Voice over IP and remote interpreting techniques. Crowd sourcing platforms offer a superb technical environment for assigning micro jobs and will be happy to inform crowd workers about their excessive pricing (without knowing their cost base) simply based on a comparison of prices indicated by their competitors. With smaller payment units, the focus may be reduced to mere primary knowledge work with the secondary knowledge work being lost out of sight and thus not being factored in both time-wise and financially (micropayment). This may be a sensible thing to do for the reasons mentioned above – basically if the job at hand requires low qualification. It may, however, happen accidentally – i.e. when “informed” macro knowledge work is required and the additional effort of macro knowledge work is not assigned to the small payment units. The idea of working and paying on a macro level while using small payment units may sound contradictory at first. But it works perfectly well for many translators provided they don’t calculate their fees on the basis of some words being typed away. The same goes for interpreting, which might even be charged by the minute as long as the scope of the calculation is not limited to the mere physical presence of the interpreting person. It may, however, be difficult to calculate if the amount of minutes needed is unknown beforehand. If, for example, a price per minute were to be fixed for “over the phone” interpreting, this would have to vary in the extreme according to the number of minutes bought. If the interpreter prepares three hours and charges 80 EUR/hours worked then the price per minute will have to be 240 EUR for one minute interpreted, 48 EUR/minute for five minutes interpreted (not counting the actual minutes of interpretation so far) and 5.50 EUR/minute for 60 minutes interpreted. The principle (and difficulty) of calculating volume discounts becomes quite clear here.

The role of software

Crowd sourcing and job platforms first and foremost facilitate the search for and selection of interpreters and translators for both large and small jobs. In translation business, translation memory systems (if possible cloud-based) may then help in having many different people work on one text simultaneously. On the other hand, those systems also offer positive solutions for long term cooperation with reliable data bases growing over time –a perfect support for efficient macro knowledge work with benefits for both sides. In interpreting, so far no similarly beneficial technical development can be reported, at least not to my knowledge. If there is something I have missed out on, please let me know in the comments!

————————–

About the author:
Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C) and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.