Tag Archives: fun

A ♥ for language blogs

Figuring out how to get the “♥” symbol was not as hard as I expected—and so this post was born.

Judy and Dagmar Jenner triggered off an agreeable wave of  “A ♥ for Language Blogs” on Translation Times. Impeccable timing. After the industrious months of May and June, business has slowed, and I’ve had extra time to explore a few of these ♥-ed blogs.

Let me share a few of my favourite language blogs. They’re more about business writing than translation. I like

As for translation blogs, I’ll just flood you with about a hundred good blogs with this list of lists. Roundups entitled “A ♥ for language blogs” can be read from the likes of

♥ Eline Van De Wiele


♥ Michelle Hof


♥ Abigail Dahlberg


♥ Michael Wahlster


♥ Kevin Lossner


♥ Katherine Osgood


♥ Silvina Jover-Cirillo


♥ Alexandra Milcic Radovanovic


♥ Jill Sommer


♥ Lisa Carter


Happy reading. Comments appreciated.


Freelance translators: Should you blog?

This is the 20th post on my 10-month-old blog of my 19-month-old translation business in my 38th year of Life on Earth.

If I can start a blog and keep it up, you can too.

Launch your own blog if this means you!

  • You will write posts regularly.
  • You write fairly well and—more importantly—you want to get better.
  • You believe blogs are useful.
  • You want to build your web presence.

No, do not blog if you fit this description:

  • You cannot commit to posting on a regular basis.
  • You think blogs are pointless.
  • You market your services in a non-blogging manner. (Or you’re so busy with well-paid work that you don’t need to market yourself at all.)

Setting up a blog is the easy part. The care and feeding is hard.

What are the benefits of blogging?

Fabio Said on Fidus Interpres sees blogs as a business asset:

Blogging makes people aware of your work as a translator and brings new prospects, blogging makes people aware of the translating profession, blogging generates additional income…

I agree.

How has Catherine Translates paid off for me?

  • Clients see my blog and feel assured that I’m a serious professional.
  • Colleagues read my blog and refer clients or subcontract work to me.
  • I’m more articulate. I write with more confidence.
  • More people visit my website.

Now you may be wondering…

Should you write short and snappy posts?

Many readers like to see concise 300-word posts once or twice a week. I do too.

Or should you write long posts and publish less frequently?

I personally vote for in-depth articles.

In my experience, comprehensive posts are shared more easily by readers via social media. For example,

These posts were promoted by other people. Not by me. That’s the beauty of social media.

You can of course vary your types of blog posts. You can mix up long copy, short copy, podcasts, how-tos, interviews and so forth. For some inspiration, see these two blogrolls: the ATA Blog Trekker and ProZ translation blogs.

Read these resources for beginner bloggers

If you’re almost convinced you should start blogging, read Sarah Dillon’s 21 tips for timid bloggers. Then consult Riccardo Schiaffino’s Blogging 101 lesson and get your blog off the ground.

You’re not quite ready to start your own blog?

If you’ve got something to say but don’t want to do your own thing, feel free to submit a guest post to Catherine Translates.

I’d appreciate your contribution. See guidelines on my Guests Posts page if you’re interested.

Are you convinced of the merits of blogging? If you already have a blog, what’s in it for you? Leave your URLs in the comments.

(If you liked this post, leave a comment and share it on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Thanks!)

Book review: 30 Days to Better Business Writing

Matthew Stibbe’s free e-book called 30 Days to Better Business Writing is an excellent resource for copywriters and creative translators alike. Download it from Bad Language and get straightforward advice about writing web copy, press releases, interviews, and more.

Did you notice I wrote the word “get”? According to Stibbe, “get” is not only authorized but encouraged.

Readability advice

His most useful lesson to me was Day 24: Write Readable Web Copy. Be gentle on your reader and make online writing clear.

His main points:

  • be brief
  • use short words
  • write short paragraphs
  • use bulleted lists

I try to follow this advice when translating websites, especially the home and about pages.

However, this can be a challenge to implement when dealing with a long-winded source text. Just last week, I translated a 73-word long sentence that took up four lines on the page…

As William Zinsser once said:

There’s not much to be said about the period except that most writers don’t reach it soon enough.

Sub-headings also keep the reader on track

Stibbe writes: “Use meaningful sub-headings to break up the text. They are landmarks for the reader.” In my experience, clients are generally pleased with the sub-headings I’ve suggested, even if they were non-existent in the French version.

The all-important first sentence

The opening sentence is the reader’s invitation to the party.

Stibbe’s Day 5 exercise is about coming up with seductive first lines. An amusing exercise. My subsequent homework meant brainstorming about future blog entries. I tried out several “ledes” on different blog stubs and the results were not bad.

Stibbe says we should use the “inverted pyramid” technique for website copy, going into more detail about this format in Day 6: Pick the Right Structure. He explains, “You give the highest level of detail first—when and where the fire happened—and then add layers of detail and information as the text continues.”

Starting out strong makes complete sense. Your main point should be “above the fold” so if readers just breeze through your page, at least they will leave with the crux of the matter.

Avoid buzzwords

On Day 12, Stibbe gives a list of words to be deleted from all your current assignments. It includes “offline” and “touch base” to my surprise. He insists, “Buzzwords and business clichés are the opposite of effective writing.” The word “solution” appears to be particularly annoying and overused.

I personally dislike “leverage” and anything which “pushes” any type of envelope.

The real question for me is about how to translate hype words from source texts. Do we tone down copy to make texts more credible? I have translated for a few companies who called themselves “leaders” who provided “solutions” in the “most innovative” manner.

Hostile position against long press releases

In Day 21: Write a Great Press Release, Stibbe continues his anti-buzzword speech while going back to the importance of brevity. He shows no mercy to press releases: “Keep them short and factual. 250 words should be the upper limit.”


What I would add to the book

Important words or concepts could be written in bold to help hurried readers.

Do revisions on hard copy and think about changing the font and font size to keep your eyes fresh.

Do your final revision after a good night’s sleep.

The mystery waffle

There is mention of being a waffle and talking waffly and waffling around. And it’s no reference to breakfast.

Free download

To conclude, I recommend that you download, print and bind this book. And do the homework! Matthew Stibbe is a cheerful and articulate teacher and you’ll have fun working through the well-chosen assignments. You’ll get insights about readability criteria, writing for impact, concentration, productivity, power naps, and more.

Sharpen your pencils and enjoy!

Twitter for translators: professional development, networking and dogs

Twitter is an open-source professional development tool. Thanks to Twitter, I’ve read tweets about:

  • upcoming seminars by the Société française des traducteurs
  • new posts on favourite translation blogs
  • translation and interpretation job offers
  • various rules of grammar and punctuation
  • new online dictionaries and style guides
  • marketing for freelancers
  • the creation of @No_Peanuts

I’m eager to hear about what colleagues are working on—current assignments, invoicing issues, remarks about the industry… Some tweet about CAT tools, badmouth Proz, or smirk at bizarrely translated restaurant menus (which they’ve photographed).

As for discussions which are loosely related to translation, you can find loads of tweets about expatriate life, multilingual families and culture shock.

Recurring non-translation topic: dogs

Tweeting translators love to write about dogs. I’ve read twitter updates about leash-free parks, vet appointments and hunting escapades. When I’m lucky, I get to click on a cute puppy picture.

Good translation tweets

While there are many must-follow tweeters out there, the most useful tweets to me come from @anglais. This altruistic Canadian tweets about French to English translation and word choice. He or she reminds me of words I’ve almost forgotten and helps me avoid translationese.

Other insightful translators who give frequent and useful updates: @aegrange, @ebodeux, @erik_hansson, @pikorua, @rinaneeman, @Tesstranslates@GermanENTrans

Good writing tweets

@RedheadWriting – copywriting advice, business inspiration and a regular ‘bitch slap’!

@bigstarcontent – copywriting, blogging and SEO

@MenwithPens – writing habits and webdesign

Good editing tweets

@guardianstyle – UK English

@ChicagoManual – US English

Good freelancing tweets

@EdGandia He’s one of the authors behind The Wealthy Freelancer. He consistently offers concrete advice for freelancers. He and his colleagues have just announced a free online conference for International Freelancers Day on September 24 and 25. Looks promising!

Tweets from @TranslateTrad

I generally tweet about translation (industry news, French English challenges, continuing education, SEO), freelancing (copywriting, client relations, entrepreneurship) and marketing (social media and blogging). No dogs here.

How to use #hashtags

I’ve been showing up at Twitter since January 2010 and am just beginning to figure out hashtags (#). Use hashtags to direct your tweet to a certain group of people. Many translators end their tweets with #xl8 which stands for translation.

Testing Google Translate. #xl8

Hashtags can also refer to a certain event. For example, thoughts about International Freelancers Day can be labelled with #IFD10.

Just signed up for an online conference. #IFD10

LinkedIn and Viadeo hashtags

If you want your tweets to appear on your LinkedIn and Viadeo profiles, adjust settings on these sites, and use hashtags #in and #v respectively.

Twitter Lists

When I can’t keep up with everyone I follow, I check my list of translators and writers to see what colleagues are up to.

Twitter Do’s and Don’ts


  • Tweet regularly.
  • Tweet something useful.


  • Tweet several times in a row. It clogs up my stream.
  • Be too self-promotional.

See you on Twitter!

It’s a worthwhile investment. And it’s not about landing translation projects. It’s about circulating translator insight.

How are you using Twitter? Who else should I (@TranslateTrad) follow? Did I explain hashtags right? Any more Twitter tips? Do you tweet about your dog?