Linguistics, Translation

Wine translators wanted!

On my way back from the airport a couple of day ago I took the train. From Milan to Bologna nothing interesting happened.

From Bologna to Riccione our compartment of six people was full already in Bologna, everyone with big luggages and a need of space. Six people for almost two hours in less than three square meter. Challenge accepted! It is strange to me, how Italians do not care about making private phone calls in public. I knew so much about my fellow travellers from starting whose mother will come to the train station, who among them is going on a vacation and who is returning from one, what they ate and what they will do with whom the next day, it was like a Big Brother live in front of my eyes.

One would think after these open-ear-phone calls greeting them would be obligatory. (well…even, because you are with them for like two hours and education dictates so…) This is far from the truth. When I had to get off the train, I took my backpack and yes, said hello to the remaining five. None of them returned my greeting. They were young, had the ability to hear, I suppose, it was not, because I was a foreigner, since my “ciao” sounds like that of a native. I felt ashamed for having said hello, like I would have not understood the social situation, in which we are.

Strange, right? When you question yourself, because the majority of people behaves incorrectly…

This was my first thought today morning. Yesterday I placed my first job posting on proz. I am member of this translation workplace since 2009. Although loads of translators think it would only be a place to bid for jobs, there are plenty of other things, you can: place jobs for instance, use the extensive and good organized forum, host your e-mail and/or website, write blog articles, buy CAT software for less and much more.

However, I placed this first job on proz. I was quite accurate. I made it clear that I am not an agency, nor have the job yet, I rather am searching for people with entrepreneurial spirit, who are interested in tourism, wine and food and possibly also have experience in these fields. I took time to place this ad, since I know from the translators’ point of view, whenever I get from the same company two ads with similar requisite in a short period, for the second time I don’t even respond to that. I posted a very – well…. – inspirational message and addressed only those, who are willing to work in a team and are not looking for getting jobs, being paid but want to act actively in working out who we offer our help to become internationally understood.

Without noticing I only thought about my past experience with Proz and tried to make the ad as appetizable as possible for my fellows. I remember, I narrowed down the field to the exact point, where only people with experience in tourism and wineology could write, then I thought, it might be a good idea to include something more, since I really was looking forward to seeing applications to choose from. I mean, choosing between people is also something I need to learn, why not starting with learning from the very beginning? The job was from one source language into five different target languages.

In the first afternoon I got all together 24 quotes. I could go on and on analyzing the 24 applications, starting with: why are agencies responding to an ad, if the “Freelancers only” button is chosen? Or I could express my non-believing in why am I not able to find a Chinese translator? You would think, that like some bad tongues say in our profession, Chinese and Indian translators are our biggest competitors, since they beat our prices? I had three English native for half of the price, than the Chinese applicant.

What I really would like to point out though and why the first part of the blog starts being interesting is the fact that some translators seem not to have understood the social – professional – situation, they are in. Just like on the train, where they speak loud enough about their private life, penetrating the music I listen to with my padded headphone, but ignore my hello, when I leave the train, since I am just a nobody, who disturbs them or who knows, what else I want from them with saying “hello”.

From 24 responses actually only two, maybe three are useful. The others have sent me template responses. I felt bad and read my ad over and over again, have I specified everything? Does it seem, like I’d be an agency? Is my face not visible on the ad? I am four times “Dear Sir”, I have a quote from a translator who claims to have 25 years experience in almost every possible field (SAP, legal, automotive, geology, patents) BUT tourism or wine; a guy, who looks amazing – well…I see now, how pictures are important to me, strange, no? – but writes only that he is so busy that he actually can’t tell me anything more before Monday. Well, the ad is open until May 20th, why the hurry, wouldn’t have it been better to take time and wait until he really can respond? There is someone, who just substituted the specialty fields and my name in his template, which rather remained generic, so I know he is a fast learner – have I asked for fast learning? – delivers on time – well, I hope so, if you claim to have 5 years experience – but calls me Agency in the second sentence. I already have a bunch of people, who I fortunately found on #bp14conf, but I still needed more languages and more services to offer (like a copywriter, who is also a translator. Should I better search for “single-function-devices”?)

Before I placed the job, I told myself to respond to each and every applicant, since they took time to send me their offers. Now that I see most of them either hasn’t taken time to prepare the application, nor has read the job posting, I am not sure, if “RTFM” would be enough as a response. (obviously I am not writing anything like this, but am so close to point out that what they did was basically throwing away an opportunity, since I really had the only way to choose among them by what they write. They had my attention, I needed them and they just send me generic messages, which by the most pisses me off) Amazing, right? You’d think, it is important to them to show off, but it seems that being quick is even more important than being accurate. So much about those only talking quality.

Quality is not a word. Quality means that you care and know what you do. Just like my hairdresser (on the video at 0:44). He is not a barber, he is not just cutting, he gives me the feeling, when I am in his salon to being far from reality for some hours – not even my phone has coverage there – the air is fresh, coffee is served for free, I don’t feel for a single moment out of my comfort zone and I am not one of the puppets, who pays too much attention on appearance, but I like being treated well. I like smiling faces, I like the smell of good products, I like to be as much important as any other guest there. He is not just giving me one service of haircut, he gives my face the perfect frame and my afternoon the perfect style. He knows what to cut and what to say, like a translator should know what to write and what to emphasize…

I truly believe, quality has in every business the same roots and leads to same potentials.

Well, my ad is still on, so if you work from Italian and are Russian, Chinese, Arabic, English or German native, you think to have entrepreneurial spirit and you are interested in tourism, wine, food, hotels, and want to work with cutting-edge technology, like easyling and want to make your own voice count while building a good team, well…my availability is everywhere on this page. Write me, please!

Business, Translation


The day after my visit at #vinitaly2014, I slept for 18 hours. Having done research, brochures, the excitement about being there for the first time, the pressure on me knowing (thinking) ((hoping)) that this event could change my working habits – subsequently also my life – drained me.

I woke up today, started to organize the material I grabbed there and my thoughts…it is like a cloud, no specific order yet, it is obvious I am not used to “post-fair effects”.

Vinitaly is a yearly four-day event, where the best of the best of Italian – and foreign – wine gets celebrated. Getting tickets was possible only, if you work in the sector – bar, restaurant, winery – which I am clearly not, but thanks to a very good friend, who has been invited by the sales representative of the wineries, whose products he sells in his shop, I also got a ticket.

We only had one day, the first day of the event. Based on my idea about hospitality at the Adriatic sea restaurants and touristic places, which wake up after winter sleep at Easter and have visibly more energy in September, being on the first day of a trade fair meant to me more generous sommeliers, more interested sales representatives and more opportunities. Downside: it was Sunday. The alcohol-taste fair was full already at 10 o’clock with half/fully drunken people by 12.


I did my research before getting there. Last year there have been 4 thousand exhibitors, setting up “my ideal client” just helped me to get through the list a little bit quicker. My main pillars were to find cellars:

– whose wine I know and love (well…this did not really shorten my list)

– where I later easily can catch up personally (only some regions remained)

– which are not extra-famous, so probably there will still be uncovered work (this was easy to pick, and excluded most of my favorite labels. I also expected less crowd in front of slightly less known stands, which could speed up the process and would allow me to get to more potential clients. Don’t forget that a completely unknown cellar wouldn’t make the investment to get here, so being on #vinitaly was already a selection for me, I just needed to pick a few, which fitted into one day without getting robotic with my speech and without being already drunk, when I start with it).

I also knew, I won’t be able to drink everywhere, but these people love their wines, so going to their stand and starting with my questions renouncing on their wines wouldn’t be an option. (I was not a foreign delegation, who could have made up appointments with the winery before, I was a “solo flash” trying my wings).

solo flash

Kis at vinitaly

This meant four maybe five cellars, where I could blend in, and some more to seek information about future events.

We arrived around 10 AM. I immediately got shy. So many brief-cases, ties, delegations, the money could be smelled in every corner. I just wanted to hide behind my friends. I didn’t feel like I’d know anything.

We started at the stand of the Rimini wines (mostly from Le Rocche Malatestiane). After the first gamma of whites I shared a thought with my two companions. (One of them – my friend – since ever living in this region, the other one – friend now – who works since fifty years distributing wine and bottled beverages.)

I told them that I thought there’d be no way, people would take me seriously, I am a single girl, without any reputation in this field. They taught me something important: the person in front of you is nothing better than you are. People will look at you depending on how you present yourself. Going to a stand and not knowing, what you want to say or how to start makes them think you don’t know, what you want to say and how to start, while being sure and talking fluently will assure them you know, what you talk about.

I also held another important advice from the business school: if you don’t want to put your conversation partner into the inconvenient situation of refusing your superfluous services, than try not to sell them something, they don’t need. Try asking them questions, which will lead to a conversation about their plans in abroad, where once they understand from the conversation, you are familiar with this topic, they will beg you for your business card. And this is what happened.

I went to the region, which I knew and whose wine I really love and know. I started tasting and asked questions about their wines and if they already are present somewhere abroad. I took their brochure and asked about their choice of having the material only in English, where clearly Chinese and Russian delegations were more present. So we started talking and it just popped into the discussion that I am a translator, very interested in this field, having a broad collaboration network with specialized translators, no agency, just interested people. They wanted to have my contact details and asked me to come next week to their cellar to talk again. It was amazing.

At another stand there was no-one letting me taste and the marketing manager had a delegation, so I had to wait some moments. In the meantime a guy arrived and let me taste some wines. When the marketing manager got free, he stood up and asked me like so directly: good morning, what is what you wanna sell us? And I just stopped him right there: nothing, I am here to taste your wines and to know your future plans better. He relaxed, we started talking, I have his card, he said after the fair we will catch up.

I mean, I might be wrong here, but I think, if you see that products and services are made by and for people, everything gets easier. You have to stop talking and start listening.

It might happen that you will never pull your business card out, because the conversation does not lead to it, so then just don’t.

We were there until 5 o’clock. My head was full…full of ideas, full of thoughts. Now the most difficult part starts: how to turn these people into clients with a follow-up meeting. Will I meet their expectations? Will there be anything I can translate for them?

Luckily, these meetings are in cellars, wine is always involved, keep crossed your fingers, people, exciting summer comes. Cheers!