Last month I bought a gadget that I needed for something. Like all gadgets these days, it was made in China and because I now live in Central Europe, it came with assembly instructions in quite a few languages.

I did not really need the instructions, it was a simple tool and the assembly was self-explanatory enough, but professional curiosity overcame me as I started comparing the quality of the translations.

I keep doing things like that, even though I am officially retired and even though it is a waste of time. You can take a translator out of translation, but you can’t take the translation out of the translator.

The English was fine, the German was fine, but then when I took a look at the Czech, I could not believe my eyes. The “Czech translation” was not in a language spoken anywhere on this planet, or in this galaxy, or any other galaxy in this universe or any other universe. It was a few hundred units representing words, but the only thing in these assembly instructions that made any sense were a few English words, surrounded by a forest of nonsensical garbage composed of vowels and consonants.

What probably happened was that a translation agency, perhaps in China, perhaps in Moldova, perhaps in India, decided to have the instructions translated into major, important languages by actual human translators with a pulse, but “small” languages like Czech, Polish or Hungarian were simply run by a machine translation program …. and that was it. To save money, no bilingual human with an actual brain was even used to “check the translation”, so that nobody noticed that a mathematical formula used by the machine translation program somehow ran amok and created a non-existing language.

After all, Czechs, Poles, Hungarians, we are talking what, ??? …. 45 million people at the most, right? Who cares about them. Let them learn English, or German, or freakin’ Chinese if they want a real translation.

This is the state the art of  the art typical of so-called translation industry nowadays, where so-called “language tools” are venerated as holy cows because they result in extreme efficiency combined with very low cost when humans are no longer needed for the translation.

But it’s not just relatively unimportant instruction manuals that are now translated with new techniques based on super-duper artificial intelligence and technology that truly deserves the moniker “destructive”, so popular these days.

Although I don’t know the dude, I received the email below from him three times so far, twice as a regular email, and once as a request for price quote that came through the price quote link on my website:


“Hello Team,

This is with regards to a Patent Translation Crosscheck / Editing service that we have received from one of our existing client. This is a huge client with high volume of Patent translation Crosscheck / Editing requirement. They would be providing us a constant source of business on a monthly basis.   

The language pair requirement for these patents are Japanese to English. These patents would be translated by the client and sent across. I have attached a sample translated document that was sent by the client as a reference. We would request you to go through the file and comment on the overall quality of the translation. Based on your quality analysis of the file, kindly let us know which service is most appropriate i.e. translation check + English editing or Only English Editing is sufficient.

Hope to hear from you within at the earliest, as we have to get back to the client within 24 hours.”


Of course I ignore similar requests, which I have been receiving from all kinds of places lately.

Based on the address on its website, the agency is based in UK, but when I Googled the unusual name of the person who sent me the thing, I saw that he was really based in India. That is not unusual these days, many translation agencies with an address in a Western country, and UK in particular, are in fact based somewhere else.

So what would be my job, actually, if I accepted this mission from this translation agency, if the translation was really bad, or better yet, if it was a result of another algorithm run amok, a likely occurrence given how efficient the so-called translation industry is these days?

How would one fix something like that? “These patents would be translated by the client and sent across.” What the hell is that supposed to mean? The whole concept is preposterous. I suppose my role would be to “validate” these “translations by the client” so that they could be used in the court of law as real translations? And the client would of course decide what terms would be used in them and what exactly the translation would say, for example in patent litigation.

That would work perfectly, wouldn’t it? Except that it would be fraud.

But it’s not just the language tools celebrated by the “translation industry” that is rapidly changing our world, and not for better. The entire world in which we live now is one big creepy, sleazy town built for efficiency at all cost.

I read in a newspaper that a new work by Antonín Dvořák was recently discovered. Unfortunately, it was not finished, in fact, it was barely begun, just a short musical theme jotted on a few pieces of paper that were ultimately thrown away by Dvořák, probably when he realized that the thing is so bad that it cannot be saved.

But since a “newly found musical work” of  Antonín Dvořák is highly marketable and has an important monetary value, somebody decided to resurrect it and have the thing finished “based on the entirety of Dvořák’s work” by using artificial intelligence, the article said. This somebody stands to make a lot of money if this creepy scheme works, and Antonín Dvořák cannot defend himself because he is safely dead.

Welcome to the creepy, sleazy town of modern world, where nothing is what it seems and where everything will in a few years be infected by Artificial Intelligence to a degree that will render this world virtually unrecognizable.


Posted by: patenttranslator | April 13, 2019

A Degree in Languages Can Be Very Valuable

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

― Mae West

First of all, I want to mark myself safe after watching almost all episodes of four seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix. Yesterday I tried to watch for a change a movie about the end of the world due to flesh eating creatures who react to sound and then attack humans, but after about 15 minutes I could not stand it anymore and went back to what’s still left for me of Breaking Bad.

The series is almost as addictive as Walter White’s, the good/evil protagonist’s of the Netflix series, blue and white meth.

But that is not what I want to be writing about today. Today I would like to share with the readers of my silly blog my deep thoughts on the subject in the title of my post.

Many translators are constantly bombarded by comments from people who are telling them that they made a big mistake by spending decades of their life studying languages to graduate with a degree in a foreign language. Imbecilic comments of this kind often appear in smug comments of know-nothing morons analyzing problems with current education in newspapers, on Youtube, and we might even hear this received wisdom after we reveal our occupation to someone asking us the nosiest question of them all: “So what is it that you do for a living”?

Especially now that machine translation, which is often confused by civilians with actual translation, is available for free on computers and smartphones, people who don’t know much about languages, and often not much about anything else either, are convinced that the study of languages is a waste of time because good money can be made only by those who have a degree in one of the STEM fields (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

And since it is unavoidable that all translators will soon be replaced by computers and software, or so the received wisdom goes, what is the utility of non-STEM education in the marketplace of the modern, high-tech world that is full of destructive technologies, right?

Well, what do I know, maybe there is a point to this kind of reasoning. But although I have been hearing for about the last 40 years from all kinds of people that my choice of what I wanted to do with my life was not very practical because technology would soon make professions like mine redundant, it is clear to me that whether translators will become obsolete or not would among other things depend on how one would defined the term “all” and the term “soon”.

I don’t have a crystal ball revealing to me what is going to happen in the future job market. But I do have some limited experience as somebody who many years ago received a theoretically useless degree in a non-STEM field, in particular in Japanese studies, which on the surface of it is as far from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics as one can get.

Even back in the last century, many people thought that the education in the field that I had chosen to pursue all those years ago would not turn out to be very practical and conducive to earning a decent living.

But these false prophets were wrong, as time would prove in due course.

After graduating with a degree in Japanese and a minor in in English in 1980, the imperative, non-compromising arm of wanderlust pushed me a few years later away from the Old World into the open arms of the New World, so that in 1982 I found myself as a new immigrant walking the streets of San Francisco.

Just like today, there were homeless people sleeping in the streets of the fair city already then, only not as many as today because the cost of housing was a fraction of what it is now.

My mission, which I could not afford not to accept, was to make sure that I was not going to join their ranks, something that could have easily happened given that I had no money and did not know a single person on the entire American continent (counting also Canada and Central and Southern America.)

But since there were hordes of Japanese tourists wandering with their authoritative Japanese guidebooks in the early eighties around San Francisco, ready to spend their hard-earned money but unable to communicate with anyone to convey the gist of the adventure that they were eager to experience, it took me less than a month to find a new job in San Francisco thanks to the fact that I could speak English and Japanese, and French, and German, …. and a few other languages that did not really count for too much back then. Despite my ignorance of the City, these four languages combined gave me my first job with the San Francisco Convention & Visitors, although I knew virtually nothing about the City in which I had spent only a few weeks.

Helping to send American and international clientele to numerous tourist traps in and around San Francisco was an enjoyable and interesting job, so much so that I lasted on that job for my first three years in America. After the first year or so I became a virtual, multilingual authority on what to do and where to go in San Francisco and the Bay Area, thanks mostly to my interest and education in foreign languages.

A good education in a STEM subject would probably do the same trick for me … eventually, but that was not were my interest was and still is.

After three years of dispensing advice to tourists, my interest in languages and overall linguistic background led me to meet and eventually marry a Japanese woman who as so happened did not want to go back to Japan after her student visa expired. Ours was not a perfect marriage, but what marriage is? It did last 34 years, and it gave us two beautiful boys, who now are two adult American taxpayers. All roads do not lead to Rome as an old European proverb has it – it is written in the stars that some lead to San Francisco, whether you are coming from Prague or from Tokyo.

After my first three years in San Francisco, I spent a year living with my in-laws in Tokyo. Again, I was able to find a job thanks to my linguistic education within less than a month there, and I started working in downtown as a translator for a somewhat shady import-export company specializing in gray markets.

That was fun too! And I learned a lot from that job as well.

But when my new wife finally got her immigrant visa for United States, after a year we both had enough of Japan and returned to the city where we met – now a favorite question used by banks and credit card companies, in addition to your mother’s maiden name, to establish the identity of a person who has lost the password.

It took me another year after my return to San Francisco before I figured out that the best way to put my education and my skills to good use was to start my own translation business, which I did in 1987 and which is still active, even though I am officially retired by now. But being retired for me at this point only means that I don’t have to work because unlike in the past, I don’t really need to make money … it does not mean that I will not work if the subject is interesting and the money is good!

So there you have my life in a nutshell, and this blog shall remain a living testimony to what one can do with an education that puts an emphasis on foreign languages, namely experience all kind of interesting things and places and have have a lot of fun doing so.

It’s not that I don’t value education in a STEM subject, especially since for more than three decades I have been translating mostly patents and articles from scientific and medical journals. But an education in a subject that may eventually turn out to be lucrative, but at the same time does not really interest you too much, is probably a recipe for a boring, unfulfilled and unhappy life.

And as Mae West, who is described on Wikipedia as an American actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian, and sex symbol (1893 – 1980), whose entertainment career spanned seven decades, and was known for her lighthearted bawdy double entendres and breezy sexual independence, said a long time ago, it’s important to have fun, because you get to live only once, life is short and then you die.

One of the problems that I had to solve before and after I moved from United States where I had been living since 1981 until the Fall of 2018, with the exception of a year that I spent living and working in Japan in mid eighties, was how to make sure that I would have easy and safe access to my savings in US banks and to my US Social Security income after I move to Czech Republic.

There were of course also many other problems that I had to deal with, such as deciding to which city I was going to move, how to find an apartment and how to rent it over the internet, and little details like that. One thing that all of these problems have in common is that they can be solved only if you have some money and if you can access your funds without paying an arm and a leg for this access.

You will generally have to pay an arm and a leg, and abdomen too, if you accept the advice of your friendly bank employee in any country because the bank will try to capitalize on the fact that you are going to need it more than you used to.

Any bank in any country will of course try to screw you as much as possible. I don’t think this is even debatable.

So the first thing I did was that I visited Czech Republic about six months prior to my planned departure from United States to open a Czech checking account there with several thousand dollars that I brought with me in cash, or as much money as I thought I would need for the first few months or so for my life in another country. The Czech bank gave me a lousy conversion rate, but I was happy that I was able to open a Czech account, even though I did that with an American passport.

Having done that, I then returned to United State because I still had a few details to iron out there, such as talking my wife into signing the divorce papers.

That actually went pretty well. After I agreed to give her most of the money to be received from the equity in our house, she was suddenly quite eager to file and sign the divorce papers. I’ve been paying the mortgage, taxes, insurance, home owners association payments, utilities and all the other good stuff that comes with having a house (I’m sure I’m still forgetting something here) for twenty five years all by myself.

But in the end, she got most of the money as a part of the divorce decision, although she herself never paid a dime for the house, since as a “homemaker” she had no income. Who needs an income when you have a husband, right?

But, hey, after 34 years of servitude, it’s in my opinion a small price to pay for freedom! To quote Martin Luther King, ‘Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I am free at last!’

Incidentally, I will never forget the day at the Norfolk Courthouse when we finally did it and got divorced.

While we were waiting for about two hours in the hallway in front of the court rooms along with about a dozen people who were anxiously awaiting the same thing, the atmosphere in front of the courtroom was dense and depressing and several women were crying.

The people still looked kind of scared and lost in gloomy thoughts inside the elevator when we were going down to the street after we got our divorce papers. But then one freshly divorced black lady suddenly started cracking funny jokes and all of us inside the elevator erupted in laughter that lasted until we finally escaped from the depressing courthouse atmosphere into the sunlight of the free world again.

But let’s get back to the main issue of my blog post today. I tried to figure out different ways to access the money in my US checking account by moving it regularly to a checking account in Czech Republic, but I soon realized that all of the possible approaches were in the long run quite expensive.

Because both banks may charge you quite a bit for each transaction, internet banking, which means sending money from one of your checking accounts in one country through your smart phone or computer to another checking account in another country, makes sense only if you do it only once a while and for relatively large amounts. I could also use PayPal for the same purpose, but PayPal is again quite expensive.

The US Social Security administration will send your monthly pension payments to you free of charge just about anywhere in the world, with the exception of some countries such as North Korea or Cuba, either in dollars or in the currency of the country where you live, depending on what you prefer. But if you select dollars, the bank in the receiving country will charge you a certain percentage depending on the bank, at least 1 percent of the amount being sent, for the privilege of receiving the money to your account. If you do it every month for as long as you live, it will be a lot of dollars that you will shell out to the bank in your new country … for having your money sent automatically to the bank, which is to say for nothing.

If you select to have the money sent to you in the currency of the country where you live, the bank will try to screw you big time on the exchange rate. For example, the exchange rate published on internet by Reuters today is about 22.6 Czech crowns per 1 US dollar. But if you have your pension payments sent to your bank Czech Republic, the bank will convert dollars to crowns at about 20 crowns per dollars, or even less, depending on the bank.

I assume banks in other countries play the same tricks with conversion rates in other countries as well.

A really clever currency conversion trick the banks play, at least the banks in Czech Republic do, goes like this. When you use a foreign ATM card here, you will get a message in English and in Czech asking you whether you want to use the bank’s conversion rate, or whether you want to refuse the conversion rate offered by the bank. The Czech bank’s conversion rate will be displayed and it will again be significantly lower than the median rate shown on internet sites, for example instead of 22.6 crowns, it will be about 20 crowns to a dollar, while the other rate that you can also select will not be shown.

Most people, especially tourists, will select 20 crowns to minimize the risk that they will end up getting a lower rate than 20 crowns to a dollar, even if they know that it is a pretty lousy rate. I too have done it several times, thinking that I will minimize the risk in this manner. What if the unknown rate is even lousier? But when I selected the unknown rate, I discovered that this unknown, secret rate is actually much better, namely almost as high as the median exchange rate that is displayed on the sites on the internet.

Now, my bank in US or another country is charging me a dollar as a fee for using a non-network ATM, as it would if I was using a non-network ATM in United States, and the bank in another country will also add a small fee for the same reason, on top of the withdrawal amount. But these fees are relatively small. For example, if I withdraw 5,000 crowns, the highest amount that I can get here from an ATM, I would receive 5,000 crowns for withdrawing 222 dollars from my account in America, and I would be charged $1.50 by the two banks for using a non-network ATM.

If all you need is some walk-around money, this is by far the cheapest way to get some cash by accessing your money in a foreign bank, and you can do it at the same relatively low cost probably through any ATM, especially if you select the highest amount available.

If you need more than that, for example for a major purchase such as when you need to buy new furniture, you can again use your US ATM card in just about any store abroad.

US bank cards are generally rejected by Czech stores when you try to use them through internet abroad, at least I have not been able to do it here. But the cards will work if I use them in person in a store or in a restaurant. I guess it is much less risky for the banks if the card is used in person, when compared to the risk of a card being used in a foreign country through internet.

So this is how I do it now to minimize the cost of having access to my own money deposited in another country … and it took me only about five months to figure it out.

Occam’s razor, the principle defined in the 14th century by the medieval philosopher William of Ockham, which states that when several solutions are possible, the simplest solution among them is usually the best one, holds true also in the 21st century when it comes to accessing your own money through banks when you travel or live abroad.

Posted by: patenttranslator | March 7, 2019

A Few Ideas for Retirement Strategies for Independent Translators

About 25 years ago when I was in my early forties, I used to like to discuss all kinds of things with interesting people from different countries in a discussion group on Compuserve called FLEFO (Foreign Language & Education Forum). This was long before Facebook’s arrival on the scene, and it was in fact very similar to what Facebook is now, without the cute animal videos and dozens of profile photos, but with plenty of heated exchanges of opinion back when internet could be accessed only very slowly through a thin telephone line and most people used it only for email.

One topic that translators living in different countries discussed already back then was the possibility or impossibility for freelance translators, who were even then in exactly the same position as independent contractors are now, to retire in the same way as employees.

Two or three decades ago, most employees still had an employer-defined pension plan and therefore knew more or less exactly with what kind of income they would be able to retire. But defined pensions were later converted in the United States to something called 401K plans, and most of the money from most of these private pension plans would later be gambled away, i.e. stolen by the Wall Street. The result is that while US government pensions still exist, relatively few private employers now offer a defined pension plan. So most employees are now left up the creek without a paddle as the saying goes when it comes to retirement.

Typically, people in their twenties, thirties and even forties don’t worry too much about how will they be able to make the ends meet in retirement because they have so many much more pressing things to worry about. They start worrying about their income in retirement only when they are already in their fifties or sixties, at which point may be too late for them to come up with a good strategy.

I remember that when I once said back then on FLEFO that I did not expect Social Security to be there for me when I’m old, an older guy told me that I should not believe rumors about the impending collapse of Social Security because it is a solid program that will be there for me in 20 or 30 years when I’m going to need it, unless corrupt politicians give it away to Wall Street.

Fortunately, he was right and the rumors and propaganda spread by Wall Street, which would love to sink its claws into Social Security and start gambling with what is to the banksters a very nice piece of change that they are not profiting from at all, were wrong.

So far, at least, the money has not been gambled away yet.

Social Security, which was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 in the United States, and similar programs for retirees in other countries work on a similar but not identical principle. If you pay your Social Security taxes, once you reach your retirement age (if you live that long), you will receive a certain fixed monthly amount from the Social Security fund for as long as you live, an amount that will keep increasing a little bit each year depending on inflation.

In my lifetime I have lived, worked and paid taxes as a foolhardy Bohemian traveler & adventurer in four countries: Czechoslovakia (that’s what the country was called before the Czech and Slovak politicians split into two countries, Czech Republic and Slovakia, without bothering to ask the people what they thought about it), Germany (while it was still West Germany), Japan and the United States. But because I did not work and paid taxes long enough in Germany or Japan to accumulate enough so-called work units to claim pension payments from these countries, I only applied for old age retirement payments from two countries: Czech Republic and United States.

The Czechs gave me a small old age pension for 10.8 years of working, serving in the army and paying my taxes there as of 2015, while the United States, where I lived and worked for most of my working life, which is to say for 37 years, afforded to me a much larger old age pension as of last year.     

Although the Czech pension is very small, about a third of an average pension and Czech pensions are quite small, the fact is that I worked there for barely 2 years and the remaining years which helped me to qualify for almost 11 years on the Czech pension were the years I spent studying at my high school and university and serving in the army.  

But there are also other, important advantages to having a Czech pension. For one thing, the Czech state pays the monthly health insurance premiums for all retirees who receive a Czech pension, no matter how big or small it may be. This does not exist for example in the United States where health insurance payments, co-payments and deductibles for various medical procedures and medications typically take a pretty big bite out of a retirement pension, even for retirees who are on Medicare, the popular US health insurance program for seniors.

But still, there is a whole lot of things that Medicare simply does not pay for, including eye and dental care, presumable because seniors have excellent eyes and teeth and thus do not need medical coverage for that kind of thing.

Medicare is also useless for seniors who move abroad as it works only in the United States.

Incidentally, about two years when I needed a new pair of glasses, the cost of the glasses including the eye exam and the glasses was almost a thousand dollars, double of what it used to cost me a few years ago, and Medicare paid a whopping 34 dollars for it.  

Another recent advantage of the Czech Social Security system is that as a senior, I pay only about 40 cents (in US dollars) for a yearly coupon for public transport in the fair city of České Budějovice where I now live, and seniors also get 75% off the fare on throughout buses and trains in Czech Republic and Slovakia.

So, all things considered, the small Czech pension is nothing to sneeze at and I am very glad that I did have enough work units to qualify for it. 

Because I have spent most of my working life and paid my taxes for many years in the United States, the US Social Security pension is in my case fairly generous. And so it should be given that my income was not bad at all and I was paying diligently my Social Security taxes, which were often higher in my case than my income taxes in America.

But now I am able to benefit from all those taxes I paid into US Social Security because I am receiving close to the top level of the retirement income, since the US Social Security retirement payments are based on how much people paid into the system over the years and the cut-off for the top level of retirement income is much higher than for example in Czech Republic.

But not only that: my ex-wife is also benefiting from all the taxes that I paid over the years into the Social Security system in the United States because in addition to what I receive from the US Social Security system, she is also receiving a half of my pension, not from me as the case might be in other countries, but independently of my income from the US Social Security system. It makes perfect sense to me that although we are divorced, together we are now receiving an amount corresponding to 1.5 pensions based only on my Social Security taxes: we both spent two decades of our lives taking care of two future taxpayers; she deserves to be compensated in some manner for that as well.

When I mention this little known fact to Czech women of retirement age who often receive a really tiny pension if they stayed many years at home with children, they look at me with unbelieving eyes and always say the same thing in exasperation:”We have nothing like that here!”  

I wanted my wife to stay home when our children were small in the eighties and the nineties, although we started with an agreement that once they were about 15, she would go back to work to help me pay the bills. But she liked puttering around in the garden and cleaning the house, doing the laundry and fattening me up so much that she never did go back to work since her last job as chef at a restaurant in San Francisco featuring Japanese-Italian “fusion cuisine” ….. in 1989. I still have a yellowed clipping of a review of her then-trendy restaurant written in the eighties by a feared San Francisco restaurant column writer (in which her last name is of course misspelled).

Fortunately, thanks to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the law that he signed in 1934, she too has her own retirement income now, even though a relatively small one.

Unlike people that I like to call “monolinguals”, translators do have some specific advantages when it comes to options for retirement. By definition we speak more than one language and most of us have lived in several countries and are familiar with other cultures. We actually like learning about other cultures and new languages.

I guess one could say we are weird that way.

It’s best to realize that even though we may have a thriving business and make good money at the moment if we are working our butts off while we are still young, all of that is likely to come to an end at some point and we will need to have a strategy for retirement when the time comes.

If we live in a country with a high cost of living, one option for retirement that we have is moving to a country that has the kind of weather that is compatible with our idea of what good weather should be like, a culture, food and a language that we enjoy, and last but not least, a place where our dollars, pounds, Euros or whether other currency we may be getting in our pension payment can be stretched a little bit further.

Millions of American baby boomers have done so or are planning to do so in the near future. So before we decide to join them or reject the idea if it is not suitable for our personal circumstances, it makes sense to take a look at the pros and cons of such a strategy that will hopefully result in a decent and interesting life in retirement.

It is my hope that my post today will be somewhat useful to some people exactly for that purpose.  

Posted by: patenttranslator | March 3, 2019

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and Discover Multiple Income Streams

In order to eat, you have to be hungry. In order to learn, you have to be ignorant. Ignorance is a condition of learning. Pain is a condition of health. Passion is a condition of thought. Death is a condition of life.”

― Robert Anton Wilson, Leviathan

About 20 years ago, a client who had been sending me basically only projects that I could do myself for about a couple of years, namely Japanese and German patents to be translated to English, did something that upset me a great deal.

He sent me two short sets of patent claims in English to give him an estimate for how much it would cost to translate them into French and German. I remember that I was about to tell him politely that although I translate patents from several languages, I only translate into English. That is my strength and my specialty and that is what I should be doing, I thought to myself. I don’t want to unnecessarily complicate my life too much.

At that time I had so much work translating mostly Japanese patents to English that I figured, oh, what the hell, even if this law firm drops me, it’s no big deal, I have plenty of work from other sources, and I don’t really need the hassle of having to find translators who can do work that I can’t do by myself, organize the work, proofread the translations and pay the translators, usually long before I myself get paid. But then, as I was driving to a bookstore to stock up on new thrillers … (but only if the books were on sale), I kept wondering whether this would be the best decision to be made.

Fortunately, in the end I decided that this was a wrong, overconfident and arrogant decision to make and started looking for translators who could do the job that I was not able to do by myself. Because this particular patent law firm really needed somebody who could not only translate patents from Japanese and several other languages into English, but who could also understand and oversee translation of patents into German, French, Japanese and Chinese and because such a person is not exactly easy to find, it is still sending me translations, mostly patents and correspondence from patent offices in various countries, as well as translations from English an other languages as it has been doing into for the last 20 years.

In fact, I just gave them a cost estimate for two sets of patent claim translations into German and French a few days ago and I am now just waiting for their client to give us the go-ahead for this project. I will probably get the job next week. 

How much money and work would I have lost had I told this particular customer 20 years ago that I can translate only into English? It would have been a lot of work and money had I refused to step out of my comfort zone all those years ago, that’s for sure, good, interesting work and good money for me and the translators who work with me that would probably gone to a large translation agency in the fabulous “translation industry”, where the project would probably be handled by a project manager who does not know much, if anything, about patents, let alone understands patents in foreign languages.

Many translators tend to take a very narrow view of what they should and should not be doing and that is how they may overlook potential avenues for generating additional, multiple streams of income. To be clear, I am not saying that we should not specialize and that we should blindly accept anything that has something to do with translation.

But I am saying that so many translators overspecialize and insist on a very narrow definition of the kind of work they will accept, which tends to make them underemployed.

My additional streams of income have been coming for the last two decades mostly from working as a tiny, specialized translation agency, but different people can start adding different specializations to their original bag of tools, such as format conversions and handling of graphics, or creating websites in other languages, consulting, etc. The problem is that translators who work only or mostly for translation agencies (aka “LSPs”) are usually asked by these “LSPs” to do all kinds of additional work, for instance to throw in a lot of hours on format conversions and editing, completely for free in order to be “assigned” a translation job.

Those of us who work for direct clients are able to add a reasonable surcharge to our bill for additional, time-consuming work (provided that the client agrees with this ahead of time), or charge a higher per-word rate for the translation.

However, that is not the case when we work for the “translation industry”. Translators who are in the clutches of the “translation industry” are often also forced by the translation agency to work in a “proprietary environment” by using a special CAT software that will steal the word count from the translators (but not from the agency), as well as wait weeks before being allowed to submit an invoice. This is a direct, illegal assault on the autonomy of translators as independent service providers, designed to minimize their remuneration and create a long delay before a payment to obedient indentured servants is finally made.

But if we are able to avoid the predatory, mass-production “translation industry” model, we can generate multiple streams of our income by providing additional services that are closely related to our specialty, which may have been originally defined overly narrowly. In a way, it is as if we discovered for ourselves not only additional streams of income, but also additional streams of consciousness flowing through a universe that is not nearly as narrow and compressed as we thought.  

Although originally we may have been ignorant about what else we have to offer to our clients, our ignorance was only a first step, or a necessary precondition of learning, and it goes away with time as long as we are not afraid to keep learning.

Posted by: patenttranslator | February 24, 2019

The Reason Why My Pokey Old Website Still Works

I keep a list of new customers who found my poky old website in a given year in a file called, predictably enough, “New Customers from Internet 2005 ~ 2019″. Thanks to my domain name expertly chosen twenty years ago and the fact that the website has been online already for two decades, and also because it has a link to my blog in which I have been writing about translation issues, mostly about issues relating to patent translation, if you put certain key words into a search engine, my website or/and my blog will come up as a resource for translating patents from Japanese, French, or German to English usually on the first page, sometime on top of page 1 in organic results.

I have never paid for online advertising, which can be very expensive, because I get enough new business from what is called organic search engine results.

For example, 25 new customers found my website thanks to its high ranking in organic results in 2005 (this was the first year when I started tracking new customers in this manner. I had no blog yet, I started writing it in 2010), 20 new customers found my website in 2006, and 10 new customers found me in 2013. Every year, the revenue from these customers represented about 40 to 60% of my income. I probably could not have survived all those years without my not-so-secret weapons – my website and my blog.

The number of new customers from Internet was drastically reduced in the last five years or so, because the competition for both organic listings and paid advertising has become brutal in the last decade or so. But it’s not about how many new customers, mostly patent law firms, will find me in a given year; what is even more important is how much work they will end up sending me.

For example, I see from my list that I gained only 9 customers in this manner in 2016, but one of them sent me work corresponding to about 40% of my income in that year, and then they swamped me with work the next year when they sent me work representing about 80% of my income the next year.

A new patent law firm with dozens of patent lawyers found out about my patent translation services also this month, and so far I finished two translation projects for them: one was an old Japanese patent and the most recent one that I finished only yesterday was a fairly long scientific article, which I translated from Japanese to English.

Why do large patent law firms, which must have been sending work to other translation suppliers for many years, presumably mostly to large translation agencies because unlike small translation agencies or individual translators such as myself, large translation agencies are easy to find in paid listings on the internet, decide instead to use the services of a very small operation such as mine?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but here is what I think.

I think that the decision is in a way similar to what happens when a consumer decides to shop for new produce at a local farmers market instead of buying gorgeous red tomatoes, strawberries and apples shipped from Brazil, Chile, or Argentina to a local store that is a part of a huge supermarket chain.    

The problem with the fruits and vegetables is that although they look oh-so-beautiful, they may be carcinogenic because modern large-scale corporate agricultural methods use too many chemicals to grow the produce. What may be even more important is that good-looking veggies and fruits these huge corporations are selling us, although they look very appetizing, are often almost completely tasteless.

So, many customers will in the end decide to go “bio” and buy products untouched by chemicals and genetic engineering at a local farmers market (which, unfortunately in some cases may again feature fruits and vegetables that have been shipped for thousands and thousands of miles, falsely advertised as produce grown by local farmers).

One could say that the methods that large translation agencies, or mass-producers of translations rely on to minimize their operating expenses and maximize their profits are just as dangerous and toxic to our environment, which is to say to what translation is, or used to be, as they are similar to or have been inspired by the methods used by large producers of agricultural products.

Just like the fruits and vegetables that we buy at a local supermarket may have been shipped thousands of miles from a different continent because the supermarket chain will pay half cent less per each tomato when it has been bought from abroad rather than from a local farmer who does not believe in combining the latest “breakthrough genetic engineering methods” with tons of chemicals for the best results, the translations produced in mass by large translation agencies may be the result of  machine translation algorithms which cobble together texts that may then be edited by unqualified “post-processing editors” who live in countries where this kind of “processing” can be done on the cheap.

This new method for producing translation in the new “translation industry” is a method that is very cost-effective for large translation agencies. A “minor” problem that must be ignored by customers here is the quality of these translations, which may be full of mistakes, just like a supermarket chain customer may have to ignore the fact that so many fruits and vegetables sold worldwide in supermarkets taste like … rubber.

The very cost effective methods that have been relatively recently adopted by the “translation industry” might work for very simple texts that are very similar to other simple texts that have been already translated by educated, qualified and experienced human translators. The modern machine translations are so deceptively similar to a real translation, which is to say a human translations, because they are cobbled together from reused texts of older human translations.

But these machine translation methods are ill suited for the kind of texts that Mad Patent Translator usually deals with. For example, both the Japanese patent application and the Japanese article published in a technical journal were almost three decades old. Thirty years ago, the legibility of original Japanese texts was not nearly as good as it is now. Very small fonts were generally used to fit as much text on a single page as possible. The page was often divided into two columns with four quadrants of text that also includes equations and formulas, figures and photos. This by itself is a formidable obstacle to the industrial type of processing that is so popular in the “translation industry”.

But the problems with the modern methods used by the “translation industry” are even much more complex when the translations are from a complicated language such as Japanese.

The language that is spoken and written in the Land of the Rising Sun is so complicated that as Francis Xavier, a Portuguese missionary in mid sixteenth century in Japan put it, this language must have been invented by the Devil himself to prevent spread of Christianity in Japan. And if it was invented by the Devil himself for this purpose, one would have to say that the Devil did a bang up job because to this day, there are not too many Christians in Japan.

The best way to avoid mass-produced translations that may be full of mistakes because they were mass-produced by mega translation agencies relying on software and translators who lack proper qualifications and experience in a process that is overseen by cheap, monolingual product managers, is probably finding a better fit in the form of a small, highly specialized supplier of translations who really does specialize in a relatively narrow field, rather than “specializing in all languages and all subjects” the way all large translation agencies think translation can and should be done.

And that may be in fact the main reason why my pokey old website, which has been working so well already for two decades, still draws in valuable new customers, as it did this week.  

Posted by: patenttranslator | February 14, 2019

The Insanity of Working Hard All Your Life

When the period of 24 hours, also known as day and night, is divided by number 3, the number we get is 8.

Most of our life is divided into a seemingly endless supply of these 3 periods, a banker might say trenches of 8 hours distributed over the time sheet of our life. It is only towards the end of our life that we realize that the supply of available hours is in fact quite limited and pretty soon we will be scraping the bottom. Some people believe that it does not matter that much because God will in the end bail us out, but I don’t buy that. It simply makes no sense to me.

Most people sleep for about 8 hours a day: a little bit more at the beginning of our life, a little bit less during the middle of it and a little bit more again towards the end of our life, counting the naps older people need to take during the day.

When we are children, adolescents, and even as young adults, those of us who live in developed countries do not have to work because we go to school. This is a good time for us, probably the best time, when school, commuting to school and related activities that are mostly fun bite off about 8 hours out of our night and day.

Roughly 8 hours out of the block of 24 hours should therefore be available for us once we are adults to do with them as we please. But is that what really happens?


Theoretically, things should be simpler and more convenient for those of us who work at home as freelancers. For a long time I thought that I finally figured out how to beat the system and use hours available to me more efficiently when I started my home-based business and my life pattern changed from that of an employee who can ask only one question when ordered to jump …. yup, you’ve got it, that would be “How high”?

It is true that things improved to an extent because I no longer had to commute, and commuting was quite exhausting. In Tokyo, it took me one and half hour to commute to my office – a bus at first, followed by two different subway lines, until I was discharged from the open mouth of a crowded train beast in which commuters were packed like sardines in the Yamanote-sen line at Hamamatsucho.   

I thought I would finally be free to plan each of the hours in the day and even at night exactly as I thought it would work best for me. Except that it was not really true, not true at all. I had to divide the number of words I thought I would be able to translate by the number of hours available to do the work to finish each project on time. And contrary to what people who don’t know much about translation might think, such as captains of the “translation industry,” translators cannot work for many hours at a stretch because these hours must be filled with numerous breaks to refresh the little grey cells in our hard working brains.

Otherwise, the translations will be full of mistakes.

So if one counts the breaks between translating as “necessary activities related to work”, most freelancers must work basically from early morning until late in the evening. At least I did: when I was busy, which fortunately was most of the time. I say fortunately, because how else would I pay the bills? I would start translating just after 6 AM when it was still dark, sometime spilling my coffee on my keyboard, to finally call it a day when it was dark outside again around 7 PM, since I would be so exhausted, both mentally and physically, that I could no longer translate. At the end of the day, I would multiply the number of translated words by the rate per word that I was charging and if the result was a nice, round number, I would determine that everything was right with the world.

But was it really? It turned out that it was not true that I as an independent freelance business owner, I would be able to plan my day and therefore work less as I originally thought: in fact, the opposite was true. My neighbors who wasted every day on average 30 or 40 minutes commuting to work at least could forget about working once they got back home.

And they did not have to work Saturdays and Sundays as I did. I would see them from my home office packing the cars with the kids and their boogie boards and taking off for the beach, or having barbecues, drinking beer and stuffing their faces in the backyard, while I could do so only once in a long while.

Since the bills had to be paid, most of my day was in fact taken up by my work, which was not really an improvement from my life as a “gaijin salaryman” in Tokyo.

But because I was working at good rates for direct customers, at least I was making good money, especially compared to poor warm bodies who nowadays have to work for the “translation industry”, right?

Well, yeah, kind of, but most of the money I made was spent not by myself, but by my wife, who really enjoyed spending it (women have such a talent for spending money that they did not have to make by themselves, don’t they?) And in the end, in order to turn her into my ex-wife, I had to agree to give her almost all of the money that we will hopefully receive from the sale of our house, which, incidentally, has not sold yet.

It’s a bum deal when you have to work so much, basically all the time, and somebody else will get to profit from the fruits of your labor. But that’s just how it is. You don’t get rich by working hard and doing good work. You can only get rich by exploiting the work of other people. That’s how things always have been and always will be.

Working hard all your life to please other people and keep acquiring new earthly possessions is totally insane. I should have figured out a better way to be spending the precious hours of my life on something else than work when I was younger and in much better shape than now.

But this is something that we usually realize only when the time sheet of our life is almost filled up with hours spent working and there is not much space available for new hours, regardless of what we might want to do with them.

I don’t really have anything to say on the subject of translation today, but  it so happened that today I took a look at my first post of this silly blog and I saw that my first post was published on February 5, 2009, 10 years ago already.

So since that ‘s quite some kind of an anniversary, for me, anyway, I decided to write another post again.

So many things have changed in those 10 years. Or is it 11? I’m not sure now. But who’s counting, right? I am now happily divorced, happily retired (there are two small jobs in the hopper, but other translators will do them for me), I live in another country now (the one where I was born) …. just to name a few of the aforesaid changes.

Oh, and I am dating again, after more than four decades. Yesterday I was on a date in a downtown café/wine bar, so we had ourselves some coffee and some wine and we talked for close to three hours.

I now have another date with another woman in two days on Friday. This time it will be a dinner in a nice restaurant, well, nice for Mad Patent Translator, anyway.  The women I am dating now are of appropriate age to mine, which is to say about ten younger then me (but not more than that).

I also met another woman last month by a chance in another café, and I keep thinking about her because despite the fact that she was so strikingly beautiful, she kept talking to me. But she was also less than half my age, and I realize how a young woman could be very dangerous to me.

I must try not to think about her.

 Because I wear my heart on my sleeve, I told the first date about the second one (the one close to my age, not the young chick), and when she heard it, she wanted a full report about it, after the date. So I will tell her about it next week … although maybe not all of it.

Now, I have a dilemma, namely, I don’t know whether I should continue writing this blog as I am losing interest in the subject of translation, what with being retired and all, and not really needing to make money from my translations anymore as I am drawing my well deserved pension after working my  butt off for something like 40 years.

The thing is, I used to publish at least half a dozen blog posts every month for ten years, and most of the time I managed to stick pretty closely to the original subject, although of course I tried to stuff a few more interesting ingredients in the posts as well.

I have a few readers who for some reason have been following what I have been writing on the subject of translation on different “platforms”, mostly in newsletters for translators in the pre-internet age since the nineties, even before I started my silly but moderately successful blog on the subject in question.

What do you guys think, should I continue writing about translation? Even If you are new to this blog, I do appreciate every opinion, if it comes from the heart.

I kind of feel that I’ve said all I had to say on the subject, and then some, and that the whole business model of an independent translator may be slowly circling the drain and that the future is …. drumroll please …. not female, as feminists think, but fascist, as in dominated by fascist-style corporate mega-businesses that will treat translators or already are treating them like easily replaceable, unimportant slaves.

I agree with a commenter who said on my last blog that I had a nice ride, it lasted a long time, and the timing of the exit was probably well chosen too.

Should I continue writing about translation and the translation business?

Or should I just give up obsessive, compulsive writing, my not so secrete pleasure for so many years, and try to enjoy the last few years of my life when I may still be hopefully relatively healthy?

Or should I start writing another blog about something else? And if so, what should it be?

Also, should I keep posting videos on the blog or are you tired of it already. A nasty woman, or actually a couple of them, if I remember it correctly, called the videos “clickbait”.

Well, whatever floats your boat, daahlings, you can call it any nasty name you can think of. After all, you deserve some happiness in your life too. But if most of the readers of my silly post don’t even click on the videos, and there’s no way I can tell, I will stop doing that.

Dear readers, please, let me know. The future of my blog is now in your hands.


Posted by: patenttranslator | January 31, 2019

My Five Stages of Life and Work as a Freelancer Between 1987 – 2019

People arrive at a factory and perform a totally meaningless task from eight to five without question because the structure demands that it be that way. There’s no villain, no ‘mean guy’ who wants them to live meaningless lives, it’s just that the structure, the system demands it and no one is willing to take on the formidable task of changing the structure just because it is meaningless. But to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible.

 The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government. There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding

Robert Maynard Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, 1974

This blog post will be a very brief summary of the changes that I experienced as a freelance translator between 1987 and 2019. There have obviously been many changes in more than three decades and all I can do is to try to summarize the most important changes as I remember them in just a few words, otherwise the post would be too long and too boring. So here are the five changes that I came up with:

Stage 1: Working for Translation Agencies in the Late Eighties

Working for translation agencies was quite enjoyable when I started my translation business in the late eighties. There was no “translation industry” yet, i.e. big agencies owned by non-translators who know nothing whatsoever about foreign languages or translation issues, and whose main expertise is in how to buy low and sell high, which is the case today. Most agencies were tiny to very small, and they were usually owned and run by former translators, or people who knew several languages and appreciated the work of the translators working for them.

Up until the early nineties I lived in San Francisco, where I knew several other translators who had been running their translation businesses for many years, many of whom were an inspiration to me. Back then I was quite happy working only for agencies. I was not interested in the marketing of my business, and since I was mostly translating Japanese patents and there was a shortage of people who could do that well, I was quite busy most of the time, and at good rates.  

Stage 2: The Search for Direct Clients with Direct Mailings in the Nineties

Initially, I subconsciously accepted the notion that there is a natural division between the capitalist owners of translators and the owned humans called translators and I was totally clueless about how to connect with direct customers. My extended translator newbie period lasted roughly from 1987 to 1992.

But when my children were born and my wife stopped working based on our mutual agreement (and she never did go back to work), I realized that I needed to make much more money because I had to replace her paycheck, and as a highly talented chef in San Francisco, I would say a genius chef, she was making more than this newbie translator more than three decades ago.

So I got together with Fred, another translator, and we started sending letters to patent law firms in and around San Francisco and Silicon Valley that we thought might have some work for us. In the early nineties, this was still a good way to find new direct clients for a budding patent translator, if you did not mind sending a few thousand letters year after year, which I dutifully did every time when work slowed down, which it did a lot.

It worked – after about two or three years, I had a supply of patents for translation, mostly Japanese patents, from patent law firms in California. I then continued sending letters to patent law firms in other parts of United States and by around the end of the nineties, about 70 percent of my income came directly from patent law firms and the rest from translation agencies at lower but still decent rates.

Stage 3: Finding Clients through My Website in the Early Two Thousands

I continued printing and mailing letters like a maniac to prospective direct customers up until the early two thousands, when I created my own website at, which was doing the marketing for me and which I basically did not change for close to two decades. I remember that there was no response at all to my website for the first three or four years. But after about 2004 I was already receiving most of my work directly through my website, in large quantities and at good rates and I discontinued my mailing campaigns.

In addition to Japanese patents, I started translating also patents from German and French, and things were going very well for me in terms of my income for quite a few years.

Because in some respects I am a total control freak, initially I insisted on translating everything by myself, with the exception of an occasional patent translation from Italian or Swedish or another language a few times a year.

Stage 4: Becoming a Specialized Translation Agency

But after a few years of translating everything by myself, I realized that when one picks translators very carefully, it is actually much easier to make money as a translation agency, since the profit margin common in the industry (about 50%) is quite sufficient. So although I was still translating by myself the majority of the patents that I was receiving from direct clients, in the two thousands about 40% of my income came from my work as an agency operator. I found the customers, matched them with suitable translators, and proofread their translations before sending them to the clients.

Although initially I was reluctant to rely on other translators, after a few years I got used to it and it does not bother me too much anymore. Maybe I am not a control freak anymore, at least not in this respect.

 Stage 5: Retirement

At this point, I am officially retired from the business, and as of this year, I finally decided not to pay for ATA membership (American Translators Association) for 2019.

I still work a little bit as a translator and as a translation agency, but not nearly as much as I used to when I had to provide for a family of four on a single income. Because my translation business was quite successful for many years, I managed to save enough money so that my savings would enable me to live modestly for several years without having any other income at all. To make sure that I will be able to live on a fixed income in my retirement, I moved from relatively expensive Virginia to Southern Bohemia in Czech Republic where I was born, mostly because the cost of living is lower here and also because I love it here and I still have some family here.

The Social Security income that I am receiving after 37 years of paying my taxes to Uncle Sam is quite extraordinary based on Czech standards, as it corresponds approximately to four local retirement pensions. Based on official statistics available on Internet, only 33 other Czech retirees receive a Czech old-age pension that is as high as or higher than mine, and two of them – in a country of 10 million people – receive a pension that is double of what I get from the US Social Security Administration.

I live modestly in a small, but comfortable apartment, not far (two bus stops) from the downtown in a small city of about 100,000 people just a few miles from the town where I grew up.  

 I do not believe that there is a natural or divine order dividing the world between the businesses representing the “translation industry”, which used to be called translation agencies, and now call themselves “LSPs”, apparently because they are ashamed to be called agencies, and the people who do the actual translation work, who know more than one language, called translators, wherein the twain shall never meet.

This is how the work of translators has been defined for us by big, corporate translation agencies since about the beginning of this millennium, but it is not a definition that translators must or should accept.

I don’t believe that accepting somebody else’s definition of how translators should live, work and function is to accept as an immutable fact that one has to work very hard for very little money and that not much can be done about it.

I believe that the key to success has always been and always will be the ability to beat the existing system by rejecting and replacing it by your own, custom-made system.

Now that I have been happily divorced for close to a year after 34 years of a punishing marriage, and retired for about the same time, I finally have the time to watch undisturbed in my cozy apartment in a quaint town in Southern Bohemia tons of interesting, strange and funny Youtube videos on topics of special interest to me, topics including minimalist lifestyles, designing a small apartment or a so-called tiny house, or techniques for dealing with narcissists and feminism’s war on men, women and the society, to name just a few.

I used to waste a lot of time by following what was happening in American politics and politics worldwide, but I finally realized that that this was a complete waste of time, and that other topics, such as the ones mentioned above, are much more worthy of my attention.

One such topic is also dating advice for women and men: either advice from female relationship gurus for men on how to date women (to get them into bed in record time), or advice from women on how to attract a man and keep him happy.

Although, given that men are such simple creatures, wouldn’t food and sex be sufficient in this respect?

To my surprise, while I was watching this invaluable advice from relationship coaches, one thought kept occurring to me throughout the video watching sessions: The guidance of these relationship mentors and coaches is so similar to the marketing advice of translation experts who coach and mentor novice translators on how to make it in the translation business.  

I think that the difference here is that while the relationship coaches and gurus usually do know something about relationships, and sometime they seem to know a lot, the translators who dispense advice on how to become a successful translator, or translation entrepreneur if you will, often know very little about translation and the translation business.

We will all accumulate a lot of knowledge and sometime even wisdom during our lifetime – if we are not totally stupid and live long enough. Unfortunately, if we live too long, we will most likely be robbed of most of this valuable knowledge and wisdom by Alzheimer’s.

A few days ago I visited the 87-year-old mother of an old friend of mine. Although the years changed her so much that I would not have recognized her had I not known who she was, and she did not even recognize me at first, once I told her my name, she immediately started recalling details about my mother, my sister and my brothers that I did not even know about myself.

Wow, I thought to myself, she’s still as sharp as a tack. But then she said:”I am very old. I am already 60 years old”, and when we told her that she was already 87, not 60, she responded by saying:“Oh, so what comes after 87, is it 70?”

But let’s come back to the subject at hand. Unlike the relationship coaches on the internet who usually have a lot of relevant experience and know a thing or two about human nature, translation marketing experts are almost always quite young, they have often been translating for just a few years, and what they do know is limited to a very narrow field, which is possibly transferable only to translators who work in the same field and translate the same language pair, and even then it may be applicable only temporarily because everything changes with a lightning speed in our world.

I have been translating for a living for a relatively long time, since 1980 when I graduated from university with a degree in languages. But I realize that I don’t know much about anything even in my chosen field of “translation” because it is such a vast field. Scio nihil me scire (I know that I know nothing).

I have been trying to share the little bit I know about how to make a living as a freelance translator on my silly blog for something like 10 years, just for fun rather than for profit.

I know a lot about translation of patents because I have been translating mostly patents for at least the last 25 years. But what I know about patent translation is not directly applicable to translations in other fields, or even to other languages than Japanese, German, or French, which are the languages from which I have been mostly translating patents myself.

In my opinion, the coaching offered in seminars by “experienced” and “successful” translators to other translators can be of some limited use basically only to total beginners, often disparagingly referred to as “newbies”, who may be for understandable reasons totally clueless. And even then, only newbie translators who work in the same language pair and translation fields will probably be able to derive some utility from this coaching by “expert translators”.

It’s one thing when a smart woman, experienced in affairs of the heart, dispenses advice to young men on things like how to avoid the wrong kind of woman (gold diggers, narcissists, or nasty feminists), and how to attract the right kind of a life-long partner. A lot of useful advice can sometime be found in these Youtube video, which are free and sometime very entertaining.

But the advice of translators who have been translating for only a few years, if that long, on how to prepare résumés that will be noticed by “LSPs”, whether to “do or not do” translation tests, or whether to “do or not do” post-processing of machine translation and how much one should charge for something like that is really potentially useful only to total dummies.

 We are all very different people. What attracts one type of woman to a man is very different from what another type of woman will find irresistible – although the one thing that all females find extremely attractive in any type of man is of course a lot of money.

But unlike relationship coaches who seem to realize that there are limits to the fine teachings they are trying to share for fun and profit with the followers of their Youtube channels, most translation coaches seem to believe that they have swallowed all the wisdom available in the whole universe on the subject of “translation”, and on the subject of how to become a “successful translator”, whatever that might mean.

If you are smart, brave and persistent enough, you will eventually realize what does and what does not work for you when you work as a translator. This is something that you will or will not figure out on your own. There is no need to listen to translation gurus. You just need to figure out your own method that will work for you, and this method may be very different from all of the methods other translators are using.

The same is true about advice on personal relationships. Just be yourself and if you are bringing something to the table and you are lucky, you will find somebody who is compatible with you.

And if not, don’t let it bother you too much and enjoy your life anyway. Nobody will give you unconditional love – that is something that only a parent can give to a child. If that is what you want and need, get a dog. And if you can’t be happy alone, you will probably never be happy with another person either.

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