How not to get trapped by a translation app

Please welcome Christine Camm, an expert French-English translator whom I met recently via social media. Despite my being bilingual English-French myself I’ve often wondered how the hell professional translators manage to sleep at night, given the ridiculous differences between these two lingos.

And … how English speakers, in particular, manage to destroy whatever co-comprehension there might remain considering that the Brits still feel the French will understand their English provided that they shout it loudly enough, and the French think anyone living from the White Cliffs of Dover northwards is a totally unhinged rosbif who probably needs not only French lessons but also to stop shouting and get a life.
 article about english to french translation

Christine takes up the story with a charming anecdote … 

A young London couple, Carol and Simon, start planning their next short holiday

“Let’s go to Paris,” suggests Simon.

Carol raises one eyebrow and instantly pictures the two of them on a boat, gently floating along the Seine past Notre Dame, sipping champagne and grabbing that all important click of the sun setting behind the Eiffel Tower against the deep blue Parisian sky. The air is warm and accordion music is gently playing. [Read more…]

How important are grammar and spelling? Really?

Now that the mass media with its “newspeak” vocabulary has been part of our lives for several generations we really can’t afford to be pompous about spelling and grammar any more.

Even the stuffiest of academics has had to admit that stiffly formal writing is not clever; it’s boring. They may look down their noses at the language of popular websites, social media, blogs and so-on, but that’s the language nearly everyone speaks today.

article about spelling and grammarI won’t waste your time with my theories on why that has happened, but the bottom line is that English as a language has become simpler and less complex than it was 100 years ago.

And quite right, too. I’ve never understood why some people get so uppity about the fact that a language has evolved.

Well, you and I haven’t got time to mourn the relegation of Shakespearean English to the theatre, even if we want to. We’ve got work to do here and now, and these days we write as we speak.

“Writing as people speak” is not a cop out

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A fumbler’s guide to live online video chats and meetings

How are you doing with your Zoom / MS Teams / Facebook Lives / Facetime and various other incarnations of live video on the internet, especially now that there are very few – if any – ways to communicate with our clients / customers, colleagues, friends and family otherwise?

The Zoom meeting … our new normal?

A while back I wrote about, and asked my learned colleagues to share their advice on, how to perform on online video as you’ll find from this incredibly comprehensive guide here. And that was before the coronavirus stopped us talking F2F.

But today, as we cope with the most recent restraints … let’s take another look at how we are communicating now. Speaking as a prime techno-fumbler myself and a beginner at this talk-and-chew-gum-at-the-same-time online video lark, I sympathise with other beginners starting out … especially as so many friends and colleagues are becoming online TV superstars…

Some tips about live online video that I’ve discovered the hard way

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What to write when someone has lost their job due to coronavirus

One of the most popular articles here on HTWB for the last four years has been “What to write when someone has lost their job.” As you know, at the moment (May 2020) this has become even more of an issue due to social distancing, self-isolation and of course the closing down of many businesses.

Even a short email or private message on social media can help support someone who’s facing job/income loss due to coronavirus, but it’s a delicate path to travel. Here’s how to help, not hinder…

Some workers are lucky and have been furloughed, but others – especially in small businesses and the self-employed – are facing not one but two major dilemmas: one, loss of income, and two, no clear vision of how – and when – the job and business markeplaces will get back to normal … if they ever do. [Read more…]

Book writing courses for nonfiction: are they worth it?

I read a lot of books and scrutinise a lot of courses about how to write books. (Well, it’s my job.) You would be amazed at how complicated some of these make the process.

Some focus on formulæ more complex than a Google algorithm (and that’s going some) which they laughingly refer to as a system-based approach guaranteed to make your nonfiction book follow exactly the same cookie-cutter model as that of everyone else.Very few of these approaches champion originality and flexibility, because such formula-driven bullsh*t doesn’t have room for it. [Read more…]

What does a nonfiction book need to be successful?

Much as we authors like to think even our business or self-help books are the next best thing since How To Win Friends And Influence People, ego must be dumped and business acumen must prevail. Bottom line: with nonfiction books the question of whether or not to write one has to be a business decision.

It needs to be taken in the same way as a decision to introduce a new product or service. With nearly all nonfiction (and fiction too, up to a point) there is usually room for a good new book on the market, provided it’s likely to attract a substantial group of readers because:

**It’s about something entirely new and very interesting that no-one has written about before or
**It’s about something that’s not new, but to which you contribute something entirely new and very interesting

If readers can find all or most of your information on Google, don’t write a book about it.

[Read more…]

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