Category Archives: Translation titbits

Advice and experiences of being a freelance translator. Sharing of ideas, new software products and tools, courses and sometimes just plain silly stuff.

Two minutes silence and a lot of heartbreak

Below is the full text in English of the speech by King Willem-Alexander during the National Remembrance on Dam Square in Amsterdam. I’ve decided to translate it properly as I have nothing else to do and I can’t sleep, and can’t keep bugging people. And it needs to be read.

And translation is what I do.

It was a touching speech. I cried buckets and I don’t even like royalty. But memories of something awful and today is normally a big event, where kids are taught about history and others come to pay respect, concerts and some actual survivors turn up and are so joyful and sweet, and then you see them and you just want to hug them. The survivors, not the royalty.

But here is what he said, our King. Also couldn’t keep myself from butting in a bit here and there.

It feels strange on an almost empty Dam for Remembrance Day. But I know that what we are all experiencing is something are going through together.

In these exceptional months, we have given up some of our freedom.

Our country has not known anything like it since the war.

Now we make our own choices. For the sake of life and health. At those times the choice was made for us. By an occupier with an ideology without mercy, which killed many millions of people.

How did that ultimate freedom feel? There is one testimony I will never forget.

It was here in Amsterdam, in the Westerkerk, almost six years ago. A small man with clear eyes – proudly standing upright at 93 – told us the story of his trip to Sobibor in June 1943.

His name was Jules Schelvis.

There he stood, fragile but not broken, in a full, silent church. He talked about transporting 62 people in one cattle wagon. About the barrel on the bare floor. About the rain that splashed through the cracks. About hunger, exhaustion, filth. “You were going to look like scum,” he said. And you heard how sorry he was in his voice.

He told us about the watches that were torn from wrists by soldiers upon arrival. About how he lost his wife Rachel in the chaos. He never saw her again.

“What normal person could have thought of this? How could the world allow us righteous citizens of the Netherlands to be treated as scum?” His question was lost  between the pillars of the church. I have no answer. Still not.

What I also remember is his account of what preceded the journey. After a raid, he and his wife and many hundreds of others were taken to Muiderpoort station. I still hear his words: “Hundreds of bystanders watched without protest as the crowded trams passed under strict surveillance.”

Right through this city. Right through this country. In front of countrymen.

It seemed to go so gradually. One step further each time. No longer allowed to go to the pool.

No longer allowed to play in an orchestra. No longer allowed to cycle. No longer allowed to study. Be put on the street. Are picked up and taken away.

Sobibor started in the Vondelpark [Amsterdam]. With a sign: “Forbidden for Jews”.

Certainly: there were many people who resisted. Men and women who acted, who showed civil courage against the tide and put their own safety on the line for others.

I am also thinking of all civilians and soldiers who fought for our freedom. To the young soldiers who died on the Grebbelinie in those May days. The soldiers who served our Kingdom in the Dutch East Indies and who died, unnecessarily. The resistance fighters who were executed on the Waalsdorpervlakte or inhumanised in prison and concentration camps. The military who did not return from, or were seriously injured in, peacekeeping missions.

[Ankie edit: added unnecessarily, we were the main the reason for the deaths in the Dutch East Indies, and how can you even say serving our Kingdom? We never had any right to go there. Not our land. Never our land. And killed so many in Kosovo while peacekeeping, because I think the men were too young and inexperienced, our mistakes, young men.]

Real heroes willing to die for our freedom and our values.

But there is also that other reality.

Fellow human beings, fellow citizens in need, felt abandoned, heard insufficiently, insufficiently supported, if only in words. Also from London, also through my great-grandmother, yet steadfast and fierce in her resistance. It is something that does not let me go.

War spans generations. Now, 75 years after our liberation, the war is still in us.

The least we can do is not look away. Don’t justify it. Do not erase. Do not set aside. Not making “normal”, which is not normal.

And: nurturing and defending our free, democratic constitutional state. Because only it offers protection against arbitrariness and madness.

[Ankie edit: isn’t arbitrariness and madness a part of life now, just to get by? I am not nurturing any constitutional state ever.]

[Ankie edit: two minutes later: ok, get your point.]

Jules Schelvis endured hell and managed to make something of life as a free person. Much more than that. “I have kept faith in humanity,” he said.

If he could do it, so can we. We can do it, we do it together. In freedom.

A very Dutch speech, I was a little undone. We do need to remember this always. As will future generations about these days.

Now so so tired and need about 2/3 days sleep. All this translation tires one out. xx

Freelancing and mental health

Except for the bit about children, I can very much relate to this.


Note: I agonised over whether I should share this post at all, especially on my work blog – but I decided it is better to talk about these things. I also stressed over what to call it, but decided anything else would be a euphemism.   

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while. I haven’t done it before partly because I didn’t dare to admit weakness, and partly because I felt too inert to actually crank out the words.

For those who know me, online or in real life, that part about inertia might seem unlikely, I know. I run an editorial business. I mentor other editors. I have two children, and do my fair share of looking after them. I write short stories and novels in my spare time. I’m studying part-time for an MA. I blog. Sometimes I manage to vacuum the stairs…

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A Translator’s Role Defined

A new document was created and published earlier this month that offers descriptions of linguist roles, i.e. translators, interpreters and terminologists. A BIG THANK YOU to the five professional associations and the industry professionals (see at the end of this post for the names) who worked on and supported this project, which is a valuable resource to all linguists and their clients.

You can download and read the document in PDF format here.

I wanted to highlight the Translator description, which also includes a description of what certified translators do.


(from ATA’s website)
“Translators work with the written word, converting text from a source language into a target language. This is far more than replacing one word with another. The translator must also convey the style, tone, and intent of the text, while taking into account differences of culture and dialect.
Often, the finished document should read as if it had originally been written in the target language for the target audience. But this is not always the case. Highly specialized content may require the translator to retain elements of the source language culture in the target language translation. A professional translator will have the expertise to know the best approach for the translation.”

Translators must be familiar with the dialects, registers, and terminology needed for the type of translation project they are responsible for. When working in teams, translators may be responsible for editing, proofreading, summarizing, localizing, and transcreating.

My Bible.
My Bible

(from the Interagency Language Roundtable website)
Translation “is a complex skill requiring several abilities. Consequently, extreme care must be exercised in hiring translators or assigning translation tasks to them. To do otherwise entails the risk that imprecise or even wrong information will be conveyed. Competence in two languages is necessary but not sufficient for any translation task. Though the translator must be able to (1) read and comprehend the source language and (2) write comprehensibly in the target language, the translator must also be able to (3) choose the equivalent expression in the target language that both fully conveys and best matches the meaning intended in the source language (referred to as congruity judgment).”

Certified translators can provide documentation indicating the certifying or assessment body, any subject area expertise, the proficiency level, the specific language combination(s) assessed by translation testing and the direction of translation permitted (see US Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, Procurement Series Translation and Interpretation. What Does It Mean to Be a Certified Linguist?). Certified translators maintain their certification through continuing education credits and are bound by a code of professional conduct. When translation certification exams are not available for a particular language pair, sample translations reviewed by highly-qualified third parties may provide an acceptable practical alternative.


Association internationale des interprètes de conférence (AIIC)
Mano a Mano
National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT)
National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC)
Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters (OSTI)

Team Leaders
Helen Eby, Esther M. Navarro-Hall

Drafting and Editorial Team
Helen Eby, Esther M. Navarro-Hall, Carol Velandia, Milena Waldron

Contributors and Consultants
Jennifer DeCamp, Barbara Inge Karsch, Judith Kenigson Kristy, Uwe Muegge, Sue Ellen Wright

Further reading
On Advocacy: An International Joint Effort
Translator and Interpreter Descriptions

By Catherine Christaki from Lingua Greca

Why hatred, why negativity?

This post is in response to a photo I saw today. One that has gone viral, one of a little girl putting her hands up to a journo with a DSLR. She thought it was a weapon. A Syrian girl. The BBC is calling this “the photo that broke the internet’s heart” What a load of codswallop. It breaks peoples hearts. YES. It does. LOOK LOOK at this girls eyes and then ask yourself why you as a good person can’t get together with other billions of good people on this planet and do something about this.

"The photo that broke the Internets heart"
“The photo that broke the Internet’s heart”

Anyway I blog about my life – this photo has affected me. If you don’t like it don’t read it. It has also highlighted some issues of life here in wonderful Sri Lanka. “Real issues”:

There maybe issues in lots of countries…I have friends globally from the UK, Germany, Russia (yep even those buggers) to Nigeria to Fiji (and obviously Holland). Most complain. Nowhere is perfect. Holland may seem idyllic – oh except for the fact that Pim Fortuyn was assassinated during the 2002 Dutch national election campaign for being a racist asshole basically. And good riddance. At least we have a cute Royal family. And orange rocks and cheese and heaps more.

Sri Lanka is of course paradise, only it had a bloody 30 year civil war, with possible war crimes still pending – one will see. And while one waits the presidents brother dies in an axe attack. A local politician was shot in my home town days ago.

People are nervous, I am. Not just for my beautiful life here but for the world at large.

Uitsmijter – Uniquely Dutch

It is Friday lunchtime, nearly weekend! I fancy something filling to eat so I decide to have an Uitsmijter. It is a Dutch dish similar to the German Strammer Max, but transformed with Dutch ingredients. There are many variations (see below) but traditionally it involves:  Dutch brood (bread), kaas (cheese), ham (ham), and spiegelei (fried egg). It’s not only filling but damn tasty too 🙂

Uitsmijter - from
Uitsmijter – from

The Uitsmijter. The name makes you take note, the Dutch word evokes images of strength, courage and forceful endings. According to the Dutch Table blog the word “uitsmijten” itself means to “forcefully throw out” so “uitsmijter” means “out-thrower”, i.e. somebody who throws something or somebody else out, and does indeed also refer to a bouncer at a nightclub. However, in the food world, it’s the name of a scrumptious open-faced sandwich with meat (although optional), cheese and fried eggs. It’s not a little snack or for those on a diet or with small appetites. The Uitsmijter addresses your hunger, your craving. It’s good…

In the south of Holland, where I was born, Uitsmijters would be served as the last “one for the road before we get thrown out” meal after a night of partying. Hence its name. Another theory says that, because the dish is made so quickly (all you have to do is fry the egg and make the sandwich), it is basically thrown out of the kitchen or the pan. It can be served quickly!

An Uitsmijter is often eaten for breakfast, brunch or lunch in Holland. Being a full meal, the sandwich is eaten with a knife and fork. Because you can decide what bread, what cheese, what meat etc. to use and how you like your eggs fried (most restaurants give this option too) it really is a win-win dish.

Usually ham is the meat used (I like a good smoked ham), but Uitsmijters can also be served with roast beef, bacon, salami, turkey, chicken, bacon or  just with cheese and perhaps a tomato. Other things which you can add are pickles, pesto, mustard, mushrooms, bacon bits sprinkled on top…

The eggs are usually served sunny-side up, with the eggs still runny. If you order an Uitsmijter for breakfast in Holland it is served as it comes. As a lunch item, it usually comes accompanied with a small salad and frieten (chips) on the side or some greens to spruce it up in a more fancy restaurant.

Uitsmijter Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of bread (toasted if desired)
  • Butter (GOOD quality REAL butter)
  • 2 slices of smoked ham (or whatever you fancy)
  • 4 slices of cheese (decent cheese such as Gouda, Edam, Cheddar, Emmental and so on. No processed cheese please)
  • 1 sliced tomato
  • 2 eggs


Plate up two slices of bread (or toast) and butter them. Put the slices of ham on the bread, then the tomato, then the cheese. Add butter to a frying pan or skillet and fry the eggs. Some fry their ham (or bacon) too – entirely your choice. When the eggs are done to your liking slide them on top of the cheese on the sandwich, add some salt and pepper and dig in!

Let me know how you like yours!

Uitsmijter - from
Uitsmijter – from