5 Deevy Holiday Gifts for Translators and Interpreters

Greater than 3 minutes, my friend!

Since the holiday season is here and you may still be puzzling over what to get that struggling translator or interpreter on your gift list, I thought I’d pass along some of my ideas for presents with a T&I theme:

    1. Inspired by the game of “Telephone,” I’ve recycled my used Starbucks coffee cups (those controversial red ones) and tied them together in pairs so I can invite my friends over to play “Telephone Interpreting.” No professional interpreters allowed, only acquaintances like my neighbor’s brother-in-law’s coworker at McDonald’s daughter who’s studying a second language in high school. Trying to guess what the original message could possibly have been should be a blast.
    2. I finished inventing a board game just in time for year-end bonuses: “Translation Agency Monopoly.” Instead of trying to buy up the most expensive squares, each player tries to pay the lowest rate per word. Every time a player underbids the others for all the squares of the same color, he or she gets to go around the board in a race to the bottom, passing “Go” and collecting $200K. Since we no longer send debtors to jail, players who lose their shirts go into Mergers and Acquisitions (of which a record number occurred this year, the big agencies becoming megas, and the megas becoming supernovas).
    3. For that budding engineering translator in your family, why not give the gift of Lego Lingo®? Each piece has a word on it and can be combined in thousands of different ways with other pieces to build fantastic Lego Lingo® contraptions like space exploration modules or intricate conference center mazes. Once your little translator has constructed one of these marvels, the whole family can get a laugh reading the random word combos and importing them into their TMs. Especially amusing combos could be submitted as KudoZ questions, with the most clever translations making it into the glossary, throwing other translators off for years. If the construction falls apart, just blame it on the badly translated technical manual in the box (sorry, I couldn’t afford to hire qualified linguists).
    4. I reprogrammed the voice box inside Talking Barbie to say things like, “Want to come see how good my machine translation can be?” in 10 different LCTLs (“less commonly taught languages”). Talking Ken’s polyglot voice asks, “Well, how much do you charge?” The fun part will be when they PEMT each other (parental caution advised).
    5. Some translators insist they can still live without a CAT tool, but none of them worth their salt would dare live without a cat. The problem is, their feline muses shed a lot of fur, right? So why not help your translator friends solve the problem and learn a new craft at the same time? Delight them with a holiday copy of the bestseller, “Crafting with Cat Hair”! They’ll be grateful when the time comes to diversify their skills as their rates keep dropping and they can’t pay the rent.

Actually, folks, I didn’t make up this last one: you really can buy this book at Amazon.com. The review says it “shows readers how to transform stray clumps of fur into soft and adorable handicrafts. From kitty tote bags and finger puppets to fluffy cat toys, picture frames, and more, these projects are cat-friendly, eco-friendly, and require no special equipment or training.” By the way, the book was translated from the Japanese (although, like so many other translators, this one was a victim of copyright rustling).


Crafting with Cat Hair


P.S. In case you’re not familiar with the term “deevy,” it’s an old slang word for “divine,” popular with the Great Gatsby crowd around the same time that the “Bonne Fête” greeting card, above, was created. I’m trying to wean myself from “awesome” this and “amazing” that.

Do you have any neat “gifty” ideas with a T&I theme?


Catherine V. Howard

About Catherine V. Howard

Artesan owner of Social Research Translating Services. FR, PT, and ES>EN translator of academic social research. Amazon anthropologist and linguist. Analogy seeker. Cloud appreciator.

21 thoughts on “5 Deevy Holiday Gifts for Translators and Interpreters

  1. Haha, Catherine! You nailed it! Way to write a first story on The Open Mic! I’m sharing it everywhere because you, my friend, have made my day! Number 3 and 4 are my favorite ones. I can definitely see those ideas taking a real-life shape that’s how good and scarily realistic they are!

    Oh, and I really need to get my hands on that book! 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing it on The Open Mic and making our cold winter days a little bit brighter! You rock!

  2. Brilliant Catherine.

    I loved the crafting with cat hair diversification recommendation. First, the description of the requirements sounds a lot like what is needed to do translation, so the transition should be smooth. Second, caughing up furballs is very insightful for ubderstanding how raw PEMT works, so this is also an on the job training in a way.

    But I fear your clever board game might soon inpire a plot twist, as agencies will get the deevy idea they can pay with Monopoly money, and translators who have received the game as a gift will consider this a normal practice ;).

    Happy Holiday Season

  3. Hmmm, good point, Shai. Maybe we should spread our risk by insuring the Monopoly money with bitcoins. I kinda like the idea of quoting my rates in words per bitcoin. Besides, it would be harder for agencies to insist on fuzzy-match discounts with them.

  4. Catherine, I’m lost for words, your post is awesome! Especially “Crafting with Cat Hair”. My wife has a solid felting experience and one of our cats is Turkish angora that actually shed his fur all year around. So, I guess I have to buy this book to stop wasting this precious material 😀

  5. Well, with a Turkish Angora, you two sure have something to tide you over during slow periods in the translation market, huh? Some enterprising translator could diversify even further by creating a webinar in the craft and selling it to other translators for CPD credits.

      1. You’re partly to blame, Nigel, for egging me on.

        I don’t like “likes”; they kill the social in social media and give people an excuse not to make comments. So thanks for yours!

  6. I just read it, Catherine, and loved all your creative “suggestions”! You do know how to add comedy to tragedy. ; ) I can’t wait for your next post.

    1. Thanks, Ana — I’m looking forward to yours too!

      Like Alejandro González Iñárritu (who directed the multilingual film “Babel”) once said, “If you stretch tragedy, it will always become comedy.”

    1. I’m sure it’ll be a hit, Lisa. It could be marketed as a morale booster, a way for translators to gain self-confidence in their skills. Some guru somewhere said that feeling good about yourself is even more important for a translator than linguistic skills.

  7. Hahahah Great text, Catherine! Very funny suggestions!
    I guess I’m an exception, being a translator with no cat outside of my computer, so unfortunately I won’t be able to get some extra income with its fur… :-\

    1. Thanks, Allison! Do you remember the Guerrilla Girls’ subterfuge in the 1990s with thousands of Barbie and Ken dolls? They infiltrated Mattel factories and manipulated the assembly line so that Barbie voice boxes were inserted in Ken dolls and vice versa, just in time for the Christmas sales. Translators should take inspiration from such actions.

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