April 19, 2014
April 20 is the deadline for freelancers to present the 2014 first semester’s value-added tax Application Form 303 to the Spanish Treasury Department. The novelty is that we can no longer present our application forms in paper. Now it is compulsory to submit them in electronic format.
My young colleagues who are new in our translating and editing professions—and who stumble into their first administrative obstacles—should remember that they need a digital certification,  gain access to the Treasury’s Electronic Office, and should fill and submit Application Form 303 online. 
To execute this new procedure, they will also need an NRC—literally: complete reference number—that will allow them to make their payments through their bank account. 
 It can be obtained personally at their local Social Security Administration Office.
 You can find tutorial guidelines in Spanish to submit these payments at Agencia Tributaria’s webpage.
 You may also find tutorial guidelines in Spanish to submit tax payments at Agencia Tributaria’s webpage.
[Image: Paul Vos, The Tax Collector, 1543, oil on canvas.]
April 12, 2014
This past week, I have been translating a subject that I had never worked before in biomedicine: traumatology.
Discovering how the treatment of humeral fractures has changed since Hippocrates’ times—immobilizing extremities with wooden splints—to today’s surgical use of metal plates and screws has been a great experience.
Finding the right anatomical and technical terms was the hardest part of all.
[Image: Johannes de Ketham: “Venetian Doctor Visiting a Plague Patient,” woodcut from his Fasciculus Medicinae (Venice: Zuane & Gregorio di Gregorii, 1494).]
April 5, 2014
The Spanish National Statistics Institute has recently released production data for the editorial sector in 2013.
The number of titles published reached 56,435 (19% less than 2012, which had already dropped 6.2% in 2011).
No data was published about the number of copies printed.
First editions represented 98.4% and second editions only 1.6%.
Translations reached 15.7% (54.6% from English). These data can be compared with those from 2012: translations represented 14.1% (60.1% from English) .
 Press releases. Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas: «Nota de prensa», March 27 2014 and «Nota de prensa», March 19 2013.
[Image: Abraham Bosse. A Printer’s Shop, c. 1642, etching.]
March 29, 2014
Grijalbo (a Penguin Random House label) has just published a new edition (new format and new cover) of 100 alimentos que curan, my translation into Spanish of Paula Bartimeus’ The Top 100 Healing Foods.
This translation had been edited twice before in 2009 and 2011. 
It deals with the medicinal properties of many foods that “can help to protect us from common illnesses and also from chronic degenerative diseases.” It includes easy-to-prepare recipes and a list of their nutritional values.
Products described come from many regions of the world and include vegetables, fruit, grain, beans, legumes, dry fruit, seeds, aromatic herbs and spices.
 Cf. “Healing Foods: Second Edition in Spanish,” July 9 2011.
[Image: Paula Bartimeus: 100 alimentos que curan, Grijalbo, new Spanish edition, 2014.]
March 22, 2014
During the past 36 years, the use of the so-called “Vancouver style”—whose official name is “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publication”—has become a widespread practice in biomedical journals, although some of its editorial style have also extended to other sciences. 
These uniform requirements were first drafted in 1978 during a meeting in Vancouver of a group of editors of general medical journals, and they have been periodically revised by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). This 1978 document established uniform requirements for hundreds of scientific journals worldwide.
However, it has now been substituted in August 2013 by the “Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals.”
These new recommendations were revised and updated in December 2013.
 Its last version was published in April 2010.
[Image: Medieval desk originally published in G. F. Rodwell: South by East: Notes of Travel in Southern Europe, Marcus Ward, 1877.]
March 15, 2014
Among the most frequently asked questions by those aspiring to work as freelance translators in Spain are the cost of their activity and the benefits they can have.
I will only mention the costs of taxes and social security. If a translator bills for 1,000 euros for only one piece of work in one month, he or she should deduct 210 euros (21% income tax) and (at least) 261 euros for social security. That leaves 529 euros for other expenses.
That is the reason why, to pay for the costs of living, equipment, telecommunications, training, health insurance, retirement plan, dictionaries, vacations, etc., he or she must bill much over 1,000 euros per month.
The amount depends on individual needs, but, at least, one must be prepared to pay a fixed social security quota with an income or not for each month.
[Image: Paul Vos, The Tax Collector, 1543, oil on canvas.]
March 8, 2014
The translation of severe as severo in Spanish medical texts is frequent. For example, I have recently read the expression severe illness as enfermedad severa, when the correct translation is enfermedad grave.
If we look up the word severe in any good English dictionary (an Oxford, for example) we may find the following definition:
“1. (of something bad or undesirable) very great; intense; 2. demanding great ability, skill, or resilience; 3. (of a person) formal and unsmiling; 4. (of punishment of a person) strict or harsh; 5. very plain in style or appearance.”
On the other hand, the Spanish Real Academia de la Lengua’s dictionary defines severo as:
“1. adj. Riguroso, áspero, duro en el trato o castigo. 2. adj. Exacto y rígido en la observancia de una ley, precepto o regla. 3. adj. Dicho de una estación del año: Que tiene temperaturas extremas.”
That same dictionary defines grave as:
“1. adj. Dicho de una cosa: Que pesa. U. t. c. s. m. La caída de los graves. 2. adj. Grande, de mucha entidad o importancia. Negocio, enfermedad grave. 3. adj. Enfermo de cuidado. 4. adj. Circunspecto, serio, que causa respeto y veneración. 5. adj. Dicho del estilo: Que se distingue por su circunspección, decoro y nobleza. 6. adj. Arduo, difícil. 7. adj. Molesto, enfadoso. 8. adj. Acús. Dicho de un sonido: Cuya frecuencia de vibraciones es pequeña, por oposición al sonido agudo. 9. adj. Fon. Dicho de una palabra: llana. U. t. c. s.”
I have commented before about the importance of accuracy in translation.  Even though the frequent use of severo in this case is a fact, it does not justify its abuse by many translators and the reluctance of many editors and copyeditors to change it with grave or their inclination to correct grave with severo.
 Cf. “Baseball Is Béisbol,” July 21 2012; “More on Accuracy in Translation,” August 12 2012; “‘Fingers’ & Airports,” September 1 2012; and “More on Accuracy,” September 7 2013.
[Image: Johannes de Ketham: Venetian Doctor Visiting a Plague Patient, woodcut from his Fasciculus Medicinae (Venice: Zuane & Gregorio di Gregorii, 1494).]
February 22, 2014
When I began editing in 1974, there were no university-level studies in Havana to prepare editors or any other kind of courses to train them.
Therefore, when I started working in a social sciences publishing house, I spent my first six months proofreading in its corrections department before I was assigned as copyeditor to the political sciences series of its editorial department.
Training was carried out on a basic system that was very similar to the master-apprentice way that had been put into practice by guilds in the Middle Ages.
My first tutor was Ángel Luis Fernández, who guided my early steps in what was to become one of my two professions. Besides being a first-class editor in the sociology and linguistics section of that same publisher, he was poet, narrator and essayist. However, his professional work has not received the official recognition it deserves.
I remember him with gratitude for all that he taught me and for all that his teachings meant in my training as a novel editor, and to my future promotion as editor, senior editor and editor-in-chief.
[Photo: Ángel Luis Fernández Guerra (1942–2010).]
February 15, 2014
“I would like to receive information on your Spanish-English and English-Spanish translation tariffs” is a frequent question in e-mails found in a translator’s mailbox.
The answer is usually fast. They are either available or not. If they are, they send their tariffs and wait for some work. Sometimes they wait in vain.
And that wait in vain is more frequent than we can imagine. Why?
I think that the answer can be found in the way some people search for translation services. They go out shopping, contacting translators and comparing costs, just like you would buy any product in the market, with eyes fixed on the price tag.
This formula seldom considers quality and professional experience as it is evidenced in a translator’s curriculum. And, almost always, leads straight to the worst option.
[Image: Pieter Brueghel: The Tower of Babel, oil on a panel, 114 × 155 cm (1563).
February 8, 2014
The proliferation of mini-jobs is one of the consequences of the current economic crisis in Spain. They are part-time, few-hour, low-salary contracts offered during a period with a high unemployment rate. The philosophy behind it is that something is better than nothing.
However, small-size jobs have been a regular and constant feature in the translation sector. They are fundamentally requests for documents, correspondence, advertising, webs and all sorts of short materials that bill less than 100 euros. Beginners in the trade are reluctant to do these kinds of jobs.
In spite that they actually are not an important source of income, they are a good practical exercise and a good experience in establishing professional relations with clients.
In the words of Samuel Pepys: “He that will not stoop for a pin will never be worth a pound.” 
 Samuel Pepys: Diary, January 3, 1668.
Image: John Hayls: Samuel Pepys, oil on canvas, 756 × 629 mm, 1666.