In February, I was lucky enough to meet the delightful translating duo of Dagmar and Judy Jenner. Together they run Twin Translations and the blog Translation Times. They graciously agreed to write a guest post about working together as translating twins.
The Translating Twins
We frequently get asked if we are really twins or whether we are using the business name Twin Translations just because it sounds good. We are indeed identical twins. Judy is older by ten minutes.
A little bit about us: We were born in Austria and grew up in Mexico City, which makes for two native languages. After high school, Judy went to Las Vegas for college (yes, there’s a university in Vegas!) and has lived and worked there for 14 years. She’s a recovering former in-house translation manager for a big Spanish-language travel website and has an M.B.A. in marketing. Dagmar studied French and communications at the University of Salzburg/Austria and at the University of Tours/France. She is currently finishing her degree in translation and interpretation studies at the University of Vienna. Judy is on the board of directors of the Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association, and Dagmar serves on the board of UNIVERSITAS Austria, the Austrian Translators’ and Interpreters’ Association. Our translation practice focuses on marketing, e-commerce, tourism and travel, IT, legal and financial texts. Our working languages are German, Spanish, English, and French. We run Twin Translations (www.twintranslations.com) and Texterei (www.texterei.com) from both sides of the Atlantic. Dagmar is based in Vienna, Austria, and Judy is based in Las Vegas, NV.
How did you decide to work together?
Judy: Even back in high school in Mexico City, we knew we had an affinity for languages and always envisioned working together. When we were 15, we talked about having a business called “Jenner + Jenner Cross-Cultural-Communications”. Our current business is somewhat similar to what we envisioned more than 15 years ago, and perhaps at some point we will offer language consulting services as well. We always wanted to work together because there’s no one we trust more than each other. And it’s no surprise that we work very well together. And no, we can’t read each other’s minds. However, as twins, we know each other so well that we are usually pretty certain about what the other one is thinking.
How can you run a business on two continents?
Dagmar: It actually works to our advantage because of time difference: we are available for our clients almost 24 hours a day, and the two of us work together around 10-12 hours a day if needed. When the other person needs to proof a document, we oftentimes do this when one of us is sleeping, so one can wake up to a fully edited translation. Our American clients are usually quite delighted to hear that if a project is due, say 9 AM PST, that Dagmar has all day to work on the project, as Vienna is nine hours ahead of Vegas.
How do you decide who does which project?
Judy: It depends on the subject matter and language combination. We leave translations into German mainly to Dagmar, as she’s lived and worked there for 15 years, while I have lived in the US since I was a teenager. Ergo, I do more of the into-English translations. In terms of subject matter, Judy is the marketing/press release expert, and Dagy has substantial legal translation experience. We are a good fit. For translations into Spanish, we mainly work together. I don’t have French as one of my working languages, and Dagmar translates from French into German, English, and Spanish, so those translations are always hers.
What’s your editing process like?
Dagmar: It’s pretty thorough and includes at least 3 - 5 steps, depending on length and difficulty. One of us does the initial translation and consults with the other during that process. Once the first draft is finished, it goes to the other person for an in-depth review and revision, which usually takes a few days (we are not the fastest translators and don’t accept unrealistic deadlines). The changes/suggestions/comments are added via track changes in Word. After that second step, the original translator thoroughly reviews the changes and accepts or rejects them. The final product then goes to both of us again. We both print out a hard copy and edit it on paper.
How are you different from each other? Is one better at something than the other?
Judy: Dagmar is, without doubt, the better negotiator. I tend to be a bit too accommodating, but she usually sets me straight and tells me to stick to our prices, which are non-negotiable. Dagmar is also more creative than I am when it comes to marketing ideas, even though I am the one with an M.B.A. in marketing. Last but not least, my twin is the queen of the new German spelling. Nothing in German ever leaves my desk without a thorough re-work from Dagmar.
Dagmar: Judy is the more outgoing of the two. She loves meeting new people, going to networking events of all types, and follows up on all leads. We are both not natural salespeople, but Judy has a knack for telling everyone she meets what we do and how much we love it. Through that, many times business follows. Judy has also built an impressive circle of business acquaintances through social networking and blogging (http://translationtimes.blogspot.com).
How do you handle international payments?
Judy: We try to make it as easy as possible on our clients. For European clients, Dagy does the billing in euro and receives payment to her account in Vienna. Judy bills the American clients and receives payment to her American account. If one did a project for the other, we simply log that as a business expense on the respective account. Judy has a registered company in the U.S., while Dagmar’s business is registered in Austria. We could both be registered with our businesses in both countries, but that adds a whole new dimension of tax difficulty, so our accountant did not recommend that.