Posted by: patenttranslator | December 12, 2011

A Day In the Life of Mad Patent Translator

By late morning I finally finished translating a long Japanese chemical patent, over 10 thousand words. I should proofread it this afternoon, but right now I am sick and tired of chemistry. Should proofing wait until tomorrow? I know from experience that I catch more typos and omissions if I proofread next day, but I am torn. What if somebody hits me with a monster rush job this afternoon? I will be so sorry that I did not finish that long chemical patent while I had time.

Since I just could not make up my mind, I had to take a nap. Maybe I will be wiser when I wake up ……..

Woke up after an hour. Less tired, but still no wiser. Or rather, as lazy as before. I think that proofreading will have to wait until tomorrow.

Lucy was waiting for me downstairs. Lucy was originally my son’s dog but when he moved across the country to California a few months ago, he dumped the dog on me. Lucy is a 3-year-old pitbull with a scary and ugly face, but she is very sweet. The most affectionate dog we ever had, and we’ve had 5 other dogs in the last 27 years. Only one of them (Lena) is still alive, she is over 16 now and doesn’t do much of anything anymore except eating and sleeping. But she can still wag her tail with the best of them!

We sometime call Lucy Ugly-chan, which is an English-Japanese term of endearment invented by my wife, and sometime also Lou- Lou, although she seems to prefer Lucy. So I took Ugly-chan for a long walk because there was no other pressing business. I forgot to transfer my voice line to my Blackberry. Hope I did not miss any phone calls. Probably not. People mostly e-mail these days.

There is a smart black cat hiding under the footbridge near the pond behind our house. When Lucy is on the leash, the cat looks menacingly and provocatively at Lou-Lou because he knows that he is safe. When Ugly-chan is off the leash, he quickly dashes away and climbs up a big tree where Lucy can’t get at him. That cat is a lot smarter than a lot of people I can think of.

When I got home, I watched some stupid talk shows on MSNBC and Deutsche Welle instead of proofreading. Dylan Ratigan is pi**ed again at “The System”. So what else is new?

Some German guy whose profession seems to be “philosopher” wants to save the German equivalent of Social Security (state-guaranteed pensions for old geezers) from ruin by making old people work even though they are retired. In exchange they would get a guaranteed minimum payment of at least a thousand Euros a month. I really don’t know what to think about that. They also showed a clip of a German guy who was collecting bottles from garbage cans to supplement his pension payments. His average daily take was 2 to 3 Euros. He said it really helped. Didn’t know things were this bad in Germany too.

Still as lazy as before. Oh, well, the proofreading can wait until tomorrow. It is better to proofread next day anyway, right? Instead of proofreading that chemical translation I started reading a new mystery by Harlan Coben. I love his books, I have about 8 of his books already but this plot is kind of weak, at least I did not get the usual rush that I expect from his books in the first 50 pages.


Around 7 PM I checked my e-mail. I had a request for a cost estimate for translating 8 Japanese patents from a patent law firm that has been keeping me pretty busy for the last two years or so. I estimated the word count of those 8 patents at about 45 thousand words.

If I were not so lazy all day long, most of the day, anyway, that chemical patent would have been proofread by now. Tomorrow morning I must start working on it as soon I wake up and by the afternoon I should have an answer from the client.

And another day in the life of Mad Patent Translator, filled with incredible, cliffhanger drama as most of his days are, is turning into night again.



  1. According to this page (Google’s top pick for “proofreading advice”) you’re doing everything correctly:
    Their counsels include: “proofreading in the morning” when you’re fresh, with a rest period that includes sleep between the writing and the editing stages, and “reading something else between edits.”
    So you’re not lazy, just experienced.


  2. That top pick has so many things in it, if I did one third of what is recommended, I am sure I would mess up a perfectly good translation.

    As they taught me in Latin classes “Est modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines ….” (There is a mean in all things; and, moreover, certain limits on either side of which right cannot be found).

    Horace, Satires, I. 1. 106.

    But thanks for your moral support.


  3. I always sleep on it if I have the time. Proofreading is always more effective the next day.


  4. In an ideal world, that is how it should be done.

    But everything is rush, rush now, and the results are usually really bad.


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