Lingo Woman's Google tips for translators #3

Now I don't know about you, but Internet research plays a vital part in any translation I do. Google operators really come in handy when researching on the Internet; I use them all the time. One of my favourites is the Google wildcard operator. This can save you a great deal of time and if you don't already use it, you should start!

Wildcard (*)
The wildcard operator serves as a placeholder for one or more words in a search. In Google, the wildcard operator is the asterisk (*). But what does this mean exactly? Let me explain. Have you ever had a hard time remembering the exact words of a set phrase or idiom? Or even remembering the complete title of a book, for example? This is where the wildcard operator comes in handy. Simply search for your phrase but use the asterisk in place of the word(s) you cannot remember. Here's a very basic example so you can see what I mean:

You can't quite remember the exact title of a book, but know that it begins "Gone with the...", for example. Enter "Gone with the *" and hit 'search'. Ta-dah! Hundreds of links to the title you were looking for, "Gone with the Wind".

You can use the wildcard operator to search for any number of variables you don't know. Let's just say you need to find out the official language spoken in Mali. Enter the phrase "the official language of Mali is *", hit 'search' and you will get your answer. Try it!

So there you have it, the Google wildcard operator. I guarantee you will find this an extremely useful tool!

Your truly,
Lingo Woman

Five tips for dealing with criticism or differences of opinion in translation

Negative feedback or criticism can be tough to deal with. Translation is, by nature, subjective and it is inevitable that most translators will be faced with criticism or queries over translation or word choices from time to time throughout their careers. So what should we do when confronted with such criticism? Here are five simple tips to help you deal with this type of situation in a positive, professional and effective manner:

1. Delay your response
Our first instinct when faced with criticism is to be defensive. It is important to take a deep breath, listen carefully to what is being said and take time to formulate your response. Spend some time assessing and trying to understand the criticism in order to decide whether or not it is justified.

2. Keep things professional
It is important not to retaliate, but instead to respond in a calm and professional manner. If the criticism is justified, own up to your mistake and discuss with your client the ways in which you plan to avoid a similar situation in the future. Likewise, if you feel the criticism is not justified, explain why and do not be afraid to communicate the reasoning behind the choices you have made.

3. Don't take it personally
Try to keep things in perspective. Of course it hurts to be on the receiving end of criticism, but in the translation world, differences of opinion come with the territory. Try not to see it as a personal attack but rather as an opportunity to discuss the matter openly with the client, to offer explanations and to put forward possible solutions.

4. Turn it into a positive
If criticism is constructive it can serve as a valuable tool for self improvement. Use it as an opportunity to think about changes you can make to become more effective. Learn from your mistakes and make the necessary changes. If, for example, a client disagrees with your translation choice for a particular term, why not develop a client-specific glossary that includes the client's preferred terms? Explain your course of action to the client, and take advantage of the situation to show them how much you value their custom and that you take their opinion seriously.

5. Believe in yourself
It is important to believe in the translation choices you make and to have confidence in your ability as a translator. Remember that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, whether justified or not. Be prepared to justify your translation choices when necessary. Similarly, if criticism is unfounded and has no constructive value, learn to brush it aside without losing your confidence.

Yours truly,
Lingo Woman