Professional subjects from a personal perspective
Recently, I have noticed the increasing length of some email signatures in my correspondence with other translators and language services companies (although our industry is not the only culprit). The average length of email signatures at one of the companies that I used to work for totalled 20 lines! Why do people think that clients or colleagues want (or need) to read all of that information?
There are of course signatures which could and should provide more information. I have seen a fair few with less than the bare essentials: “XXX, translator”. Please, at the very least, provide some contact details and the languages and direction you translate! If you have a website, put the link in your email signature – make it easy for prospective clients to find out more about you. If you want them to read your blog, put a link to it (although this is not always relevant).
I have done a wee bit of (entirely unscientific) research on translators’ email signatures and have come up with a few suggestions (and things to avoid) for an email signature fit for Goldilocks – “just right” in terms of the amount of information.
So, what should be included?
• your contact details, including a telephone number – think of it as a virtual business card
• your languages and direction of translation
• a brief description of your title e.g. medical translator and interpreter
• a link to your website
• your logo and tag line, if applicable
• social media profiles (I’d guess Twitter would be the most popular option here)
• a link to your blog
What really doesn’t need to be there:
• your terms and conditions (they can be discussed further down the line)
• your life history (that’s why you have an About page on your website, right?)
This is just a starting point. What else could be added to these lists?
Today’s post is for the German speakers out there. When people ask me which languages I speak, the word ‘German’ often provokes a response something along the lines of: “That must be so difficult” or “Aren’t all of the words in the wrong order?”
German is of course known for its lengthy words, some of my favourites being Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung (speed limit), and Niederschlags-wahrscheinlichkeit (chance of rain) and Schwarzwälderkirschtorte (the famous black forest gâteau).
It is true that there are some particularly complicated grammatical structures, but isn’t that true of any language? That said, any learner of German will be faced with the infamous subordinating conjunctions such as weil (because), which ‘send’ the verb to the end of the clause. This is described to great effect by one of my favourite quotations on language by the wonderful Mark Twain:
“When a German dives into a sentence, you won’t see him again until he emerges at the other end with the verb between his teeth.”
Twain was a speaker of German and wrote about his experiences (and frustrations), with getting to grips with the language. In 1880, he wrote an essay entitled “The Awful German Language“, which contains some hilarious gems that I would like to share with you here:
“and after the verb — merely by way of ornament, as far as I can make out — the writer shovels in “haben sind gewesen gehabt haben geworden sein,” or words to that effect, and the monument is finished.”
“For instance, the same sound, sie, means you, and it means she, and it means her, and it means it, and it means they, and it means them. Think of the ragged poverty of a language which has to make one word do the work of six — and a poor little weak thing of only three letters at that. But mainly, think of the exasperation of never knowing which of these meanings the speaker is trying to convey. This explains why, whenever a person says sie to me, I generally try to kill him, if a stranger.”
“In the German it is true that by some oversight of the inventor of the language, a Woman is a female; but a Wife (Weib) is not — which is unfortunate. A Wife, here, has no sex; she is neuter; so, according to the grammar, a fish is he, his scales are she, but a fishwife is neither.”
Are there any aspects of your second or third languages that drive you mad sometimes?
Just a short post for the ladies today.
Have you ever thought about how your hairstyle affects your work?
I was at the hairdresser a few days ago (one of the benefits of the freelance life), describing what I had in mind this time. My lovely stylist, Amanda, asked me whether I had thought about having a fringe (bangs, for my colleagues across the pond). I considered it for a little while, but decided against it. Heavy, blunt fringes are ‘in’ at the moment but, apart from the fact that my very curly hair would probably not behave well enough, I know some of my friends have had problems with headaches when reading or looking at screens for long periods of time. Hardly ideal for my line of work!
Have you ever found that seemingly trivial choices like choosing a hairstyle affect your work?
(By the way, I went for a very short, curly bob – I’m ready for summer!)