Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Importance of Using Experts

By | Business, Business Blog, Finance, Latest News, Translation | No Comments

I’ve always been a bit of a do-it-yourself type of gal. Use experts? Pah! External help? Not a chance! I was always more likely to have a go, get frustrated, read the first page of the instructions, have another go, get frustrated…you get the idea. But in the past few months I’ve come to realise that there are some many things that I can’t do on my own. For me, this is my list of must-have experts:




When it came to designing the logo and website, I realised that if I wanted something that truly reflected Silver Tongue, I needed somebody to help me. I had some ideas on what I wanted, (the name and the colours) but I had no idea how I could come up with something that captured professionalism and creativity. Equally, I didn’t have the software or the expertise to create an attractive design. So I turned to A Creative Feeling. In the next few weeks there will be a post about the logo and the process behind creating it, written by Al (the brains behind A Creative Feeling). If I’m very nice to him, he might give tips on what to think about when it comes to branding.

Finance & Legal

This seems like an obvious one, but having someone to handle company finances and legal issues was really important to me. Silver Tongue Translations is a Limited Company and, as such, is incorporated with Companies House. When it came to setting everything up, I decided to get an accountant on board straight away, to have all i’s dotted and t’s crossed from the start. I wanted to understand my options for set up, the differences between a Limited Company and a sole trader, the requirements for VAT registration and how it works around the world. Experts in the financial or legal sector with whom you feel comfortable asking questions (however basic!) are to be snapped up and kept forever…so if you find one, be nice! This article is pretty handy for what to look for when you’re shopping for accountants, this piece on top legal tips for small businesses and this one on general “What Should I Think About?” stuff. Just to mention, I don’t have any affiliation with anything I’ve linked to, I just found the tips handy!

Sales & marketing

For a long time, my marketing plan consisted of…okay, I didn’t have a marketing plan. I was busy working and translating and living. But then I realised that every time I sent a bid for a job, or an email to an agency registering interest, I was marketing myself. When it came to getting direct clients I realised that I needed to think about it a little more. For the number of marketing emails I currently send in a month, email templates aren’t necessary. And besides, I prefer the personal touch. One of my pet peeves is receiving emails from agencies with “Dear translator”, or worse, “Dear Sir/Madam” – it’s so insulting! I came across a blog post recently “How Not To Write A Marketing Email” and it reinforced my thinking on having email templates! However, it was necessary to seek some advice on how best to market Silver Tongue’s services, so I engaged with some friends who are experts in the industry and did a bit of a skills swap (I baked, they talked). The aggressive approach is still not for me, but I am learning that marketing yourself and being arrogant pushy don’t have to be the same thing. I’ve found some interesting tips on marketing for start-ups/small businesses herehere and here (I feel like a flight attendant).

Marketing material

As with the marketing plan, marketing material didn’t feature on my business expenses list until this year. I decided though, along with the logo and the website, that I would invest in some business cards. Other marketing materials, such as letterheads and postcards go against my eco-ethos, but do bring out the inner stationery addict in me, so I’ve limited the material to business cards for now! I found Moo to be fantastically helpful and the result was superb. They offer so many customisation options, along with loads of paper and finish choices. They have Classic, Green (to assuage eco-guilt) and Luxe. You can use their templates or upload your own complete design (that’s what I did). Obviously you don’t have to use the same company I did, so here’s a review of lots of business card providers!

business cards experts

So that’s my list (so far!) on which experts to use, and what, for me, have been good things to invest in. This list is obviously from a business perspective, rather than being translation specific – that’s for another post!


The Prince & The Passive Voice

By | Grammar, Language, Latest News, Translator Talk | No Comments

In case you’ve been living in a cave, you’ll be aware that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge yesterday afternoon welcomed a baby boy into the world. The arrival of their bundle of joy was announced by Kensington Palace; stating the sex, weight and time of birth. This was followed by an official announcement of his birth, placed on an easel outside Buckingham Palace – the same easel used 31 years ago to announce the birth of his father, the Duke of Cambridge. For fellow language geeks, the announcement would have been interesting, given that it used a slightly unusual phrase:

“HRH the Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 4.24pm today. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well.”

Most of the time, when talking about the miracle (or marathon!) of childbirth, we use the more common “gave birth to”, “delivered” or plain old “had”. The phrase “was delivered of” is in the passive voice, which we use all the time in English, however, the use of it in this context received a bit of criticism online.

Many people hadn’t seen this particular formulation of it in action before, whereas others felt that it was too anonymous a phrase to use. Indeed, its very name “passive voice” is a bit of a contradiction when we think about childbirth, what with it being a fairly…active process for the mother. Its use, many people reckon, could be an attempt to protect the dignity of the Duchess (I guess the tabloids didn’t get the memo) and, historically, would have made the whole process sufficiently vague, lest we dwell on the more unpalatable images that childbirth might bring to mind. Grammar, English, Cambridge, Passive Voice

It also provides a handy grey area for the doing of the action to hide in, seeing as “was delivered of” also has the meaning “was relieved of”, with the assumption (rightly or wrongly) that the relieving was done by someone else. Grammatically speaking, the passive voice is often used when the actor (i.e. whoever is doing the action) is unclear or irrelevant.

In the Bible, Hebrews 11:11 tells of the beautiful, but barren Sara, the wife of Abraham:

“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.”

This use of the passive voice here seems to indicate that it was through her faith that Sara was able to conceive her child, rather than anything more traditionally…biological. Although this example isn’t related to childbirth specifically, but rather the prequel,* it does highlight the use of the passive voice to signal a certain ambiguity.

This got me thinking about grammatical oddities, obsolete words and old-fashioned phrases that make the English language such a treasure trove (and minefield) for language aficionados, so I’ve put it out on Twitter to get some favourites from fellow language geeks! I’d like to say “Tune in next time for more language lols**..” but I haven’t figured out how to do vlogs yet…so instead “Make sure you read the next blog!” (Hmmm. That’s not very catchy).

*I do apologise for the cheesy video, but I can’t help myself.
**Ironic use of “lol”.

Fair Pay For All

By | Finance, Latest News, Social Media, Translation, Translator Talk, Translators | No Comments

Creating a website is hard work. It’s one thing to live by principles of hard work, good practice and fair pay when everything is between you and the translators you work with, but formalising these principles and, more importantly, putting them out there for the world to see, makes it something else entirely. I think it’s a good thing though; it’s made me realise that the translators who I’ve been working with are pretty awesome. It’s also emphasised what I’ve always thought, by vocalising a thought you make it real. (My accountant, on the other hand, might argue that it became real a while ago…)

I was thinking about this recently when I was setting up the Twitter handle for Silver Tongue. I’ve been an avid Tweeter for a number of years and I’ve seen plenty of examples of oversharing. When someone tweeted about turning “names into energy” (I’m looking at you, Tom Cruise) we saw that our world of instant gratification (and publication) has its drawbacks, especially for Tom’s followers, n’est-ce pas? So creating the website, or turning my ideas into energy if you will, became something of a minefield. Do I really want to commit to minimum rates for translators?  Do I really believe in fair pay when I’m the one committing to paying fairly? Well, yes I do, on both counts. I think the profession of translation should be treated as such – a profession. Translators use their skills to help people all over the world, just like other professionals do. If my, albeit small, company can do its bit to ensure that the immensely talented professionals who work in my industry get paid accordingly, then yes, I want to nail my colours to the fair pay mast.

The (un)fair pay cross is not one that is born solely by translators or language professionals. The pay divide between men and women is a news item that doesn’t get old. I’m not sure why it’s still okay that a female doctor gets paid 28.5% less than her male counterpart; I pretty sure she wouldn’t have spent 28.5% less time or 28.5% less money on her medical degree. To illustrate the point, here’s a handy graphic from the Think, Act, Report Framework from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport which is designed to get companies thinking about how to banish the gender pay gap. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give advice on punishment or plans for backdating retrospective cases.

fair pay

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