MG Communications

Language Translation, Interpretation, and Writing Services
Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota

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How To Learn Another Language

Posted by Mary on November 1, 2011 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

No matter how old you are, you can learn another language! That is my philosophy and I truly believe it. I am going to show you some simple things you can do, no matter what age you are.

Some people believe that only children can learn another language. They believe that childrens' minds are more receptive to language and they pick language learning up easier. While some research has concurred that this is true, other studies have shown that all humans have a natural receptiveness to learning another language. It is out innate goal to communicate with others, and our brains are programmed for it.

So, if you are human, and are thinking about learning another language, you can continue…..

1. Decide what language you want to learn and why. Is it part of your heritage, will it be helpful in your job, or do you simply want to learn something new? Whatever language you pick, make sure resources, like books, and on-line courses are available.

2. Check out your local library, bookstore, and also internet resources. Type in the name of the language you want on a search engine. You would be surprised at how many resources there are! I recommend a combination of books and online resources.

3. Sign up and study. I will list a few of my favorite on line resources at the end of this blog. Pick one or two you like and add them to your favorites.

4. Make sure you carry your language book with you. When you are waiting and have a few minutes to spare, learn a new word or grammar tip---don’t just play games on your phone.

5. You need to devote some time everyday to learning, even if it is only 10 minutes. Your brain doesn’t just absorb new knowledge without an effort to learn something.

6. Talk, talk, talk. On-line resources abound with an opportunity to talk to someone. Skype also offers on-line teachers at an hourly wage, although there are plenty of people on Skype who want to learn another language—especially English. You help them, and they help you.

Ok. What are you waiting for? No more excuses! Start you language learning today.

My favorite on-line sites: - Learn any language. Free and premium packages available, featuring reading, writing, and speaking practive. Type in your language and you’ll receive lots of resource tips

How Do You Become a Translator or an Interpreter?

Posted by Mary on August 26, 2011 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

When people ask what I do, I tell them I am a freelance writer and translator.  That usually opens up the conversation to all sorts of interesting questions.  They usually give me a quizzical look and ask how a person could even get into that type of work.  Was I born in another country?  You may even be wondering the same I broke it down into a series of steps.

1.  Learn the language you want to translate or interpret.  If you don't know another language, stay tuned for my next blog on "How to Learn Another Language."  If you grew up bilingual or are 100% sure of the language, you can skip this step.  Otherwise, practice, practice, practice.

2.  Get familiar with the terminology you want to translate.  There is specific terminology for medical, financial, law enforcement, technical, etc. 

3.  Practice interpreting.  Do some volunteer work, or invite someone who only knows one language to your house.  Practice interpreting for the other members of your family.

4.  Get your certification or degree.  It counts, even if you can speak the other language perfectly.

5.  Apply for a job or start your own business.  Apply with interpreting or language agencies.  Many of these jobs are on-call, so you can apply with various agencies.  You will most likely be an "independent contractor", meaning that you need to pay your own benefits and taxes out of your salary.


That's it.  Get some experience and go from there!


Posted by Mary on July 26, 2011 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Language Interpretation involves one person "interpreting" the words of another person and relaying them in the target language.  It differs from translation in that translation is written.  Interpretation is verbal.   Interpretation can be on the phone, in person, or on Skype.  Here are three different kinds of interpretation.  When choosing an interpreter, make sure you understand the method you prefer, and ask whether your interpreter can adequately deliver what you need.


Simultaneous Interpretation - This is where the client stops after a few sentences and the interpreter interprets.  This is the most common type, and is frequently used for conferences, and one-on-one meetings.  When you hear the speech of a foreign dignatary translated on television, they are using simulaneous interpretation.  Televised interpretation often has special equipment which allows for interpretation at the same time, which would not be possible in person.


Consecutive Interpretation - The speaker will speak for a period from 1-15 minutes.  After the speaker finishes, the interpreter will sum up what the speaker said.  The interpreter may use notes to make sure that he or she is including important points.  This type of interpretation is used when the speaker is unable to pause after each sentence.  This type of interpretation is frequently used in meetings where it would be distracting to stop frequently to render the translation and there are an equal number of people who speak the other language.

Whispered Interpretation - Although not as common as the other types, this particular type of interpretation may be suitable in certain situations.  The interpreter sits next to the person who does not speak the language, and whispers the interpretation in their ear.  This is suitable for one-on-one interpretation where it would be distracting for the interpreter to speak aloud.  The interpreter would sit with the client near the side or back of the room where the whispered interpretation would not distract other people.


Telephone Interpretation - Widely used as a lower cost alternative in hospitals and clinics, this involves a three way telephone converstation between the interpreter, service provider and client.  Both parties should speak briefly and allow the interpreter to  relay the words to the other person.  Agencies frequently charge by the minute, making this a cost-effective method for shorter conversations that can be adequately communicated via phone.


How Do You Select a Good Translator?

Posted by Mary on July 15, 2011 at 10:34 AM Comments comments (0)

I recently read an interesting article about choosing a translator. In the article, it says that the client never really knows whether the product is a good translation. Think about it! When you get your room painted, you can see whether it is a good job. When you have an article written, you can read it to see if it is acceptable. But with a translation – it’s all Greek – literally! Or Spanish, Russian, German, or French…. Your trust lies with the translator. How do you ensure you are getting a good translation? Here are some tips.

1. Ask about education – You want to make sure your translator has had adequate education in both of your language areas. A person may know both languages, but you want to ensure that they know how to spell in both languages, that they have proper grammar, and know how to construct a good report. Having a degree from an accredited university helps to insure this.

2. Experience – Ask for a reference for some work your translator has done. Call or e-mail the client and ask if they would recommend this provider. How long has your translator been doing this? Is this just something that the translator does in his or her spare time?

3. Timing – Be wary of translators who say they will get the job for you the next day. You are both busy, but you want a provider that will provide the time necessary for your project.

4. Grammar – How does this provider communicate in English? This will give some insight into how they communicate and write in the target language.

5. Style – What countries has does the translator have familiarity with? There are different ways of speaking in different countries. Consider the differences between the UK and the US. You should match your target audience with that of the translator.

6. Slogans, Titles, and Programs – There will often be different phrases that are difficult to translate or should be left in English. Think of brand names – Jerry’s All Natural Teas – Do you want a name such as this translated or left in English?. How about “IRS”? What is the official translation the government uses? Your translator should use these already translated names for programs, and not invent their own.

Machine Translators - Are they as good as humans?

Posted by Mary on May 21, 2011 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (1)

Are you looking to translate something to another language? Many people have turned to on-line translators. After all, it is much easier than putting all that effort into actually learning another language, right? Well, as they say, “the proof is in the pudding.” So I decided to put in a bilingual document I found, translate it myself, and then put it through other translators found on the internet. I have listed my comments directly after each translation.




La historia

Esta emocionante historia, rica en múltiples significados, narra las aventuras de una muchacha de la antigua Grecia. Aunque se desarrolla en el lejano ambiente de reyes y esclavos, de princesas bellas y madrastras malvadas, de ricos comerciantes y de piratas, de opulentos palacios y terribles naufragios, la médula del relato, sin embargo, es todavía relevante para los niños de hoy y de siempre.




The Story

This thrilling story, rich in multiple meanings, is about the adventures of a girl of ancient Greece. Although it takes place in a faraway land of kings and slaves, of beautiful princesses and evil stepmothers, of rich merchants and pirates, of opulent palaces and terrible shipwrecks, the core of the story is, nevertheless, relevant to children today and forever.


MY COMMENTS – A great Spanish and English Translation – something that you don’t see on many translated Internet sites.




The Story

This emotional story, containing multiples meanings, tells about the adventures of a girl from ancient Greece. Although it takes place in the “long-ago” times of kings, slaves, beautiful princesses, evil stepmothers, rich merchants, and pirates, opulent palaces and terrible shipwrecks, the heart of the story is still relevant for children today.


MY COMMENTS: Basically the same idea, with a few different words. I used “emotional”, they used “thrilling.” I used “long ago” land, they used “faraway” land. Just like in English, wording can vary but still encompass the same thought.





This moving story, rich in multiple meanings, follows the adventures of a girl of ancient Greece. Though set in the distant kings and environment-nails, beautiful princesses and wicked stepmothers, rich merchants and pirates, opulent palaces and terrible shipwrecks, the core of the story, however, is still relevant for children today and always.


MY COMMENTS: Not a bad translation, for a mechanical site, although I wonder what “distant kings and environmental nails” are….? The ending is someone confusing also. If you know Spanish and English and can fix up those words a bit, this is not a bad translation, but not perfect.





This moving story, rich in multiple meanings, follows the adventures of a girl of ancient Greece. Though set in the distant kings and environment-nails, beautiful princesses and wicked stepmothers, rich merchants and pirates, opulent palaces and terrible shipwrecks, the spinal of the story, however, is still relevant to the children of today and always.


MY COMMENTS: I found this site which is actually one of the best sites I have found. It is in Russian, however, so you have to know the Cyrillic language and a bit of Russian to use it. The translator is almost identical to Google. They both call story “history”, which is also another meaning for this word in Spanish. I’m still trying to figure out what an environment nail” is, however.




History This exciting history, rich in manifolds meant, narrates the adventures of a girl of old Greece. Although it is developed in the distant atmosphere of kings and is nails, of evil beautiful princess and madrastras, of rich retailers and pirates, opulent palaces and terrible shipwrecks, the marrow of the story, nevertheless, is still excellent for the children of today and always.


MY COMMENTS: Ok, Babelfish, you lost. By far the worst translation. Although the grammar is not bad, the word choices are confusing and incomprehensible. For instance: “rich in manifolds”, “kings and is nail”, “madrastras”, “rich retailer”, the “marrow of the story…” You get the idea. Not recommended for use.


In conclusion, use translators with caution. You should probably know the language fairly well before using a translator, and only use it to help you with your translation. Oh yes, I figured out what a “nail” is. In the original text es-clavo was divided, so the translator only did the latter part “clavo”, which means nail. The un-hyphenated word is “esclavo”-- meaning slave. Buyer beware. Personally, I would go for the human touch.

The Spanish Language and Puerto Rico

Posted by Mary on May 6, 2011 at 2:46 PM Comments comments (0)

 My first taste of Puerto Rican-style Spanish happened on the plane from Atlanta to San Juan.  A Puerto Rican native returning home starting talking to my husband in Spanish.  My husband looks like he comes from a Spanish-speaking country, and I do not.  My husband proceeded to point to me. and the young man started coversing with me in Spanish.  I speak Spanish in a style spoken in Latin America and Mexico, so frankly I found the Spanish a little hard to understand. (It's Buen Dia, not Buenos Dias, and Como eta, not Como esta.) Ok, I thought, everyone in Puerto Rico must speak Spanish then and maybe know a few words in Englsh.


Eager to practice my Spanish, I went to the hotel desk, and announced in Spanish that we had arrived, and asked various questions about attractions in the area.  The hotel clerk answered all my quesions in Spanish.  Then another customer came in, and she started speaking to him in perfect English.  No accent whatsoever.  She could have been your next door neighbor in Omaha!


I found this flawless English to be the norm in many places in San Juan.  Although I did run into a few people in the metropolitan area who did not speak English, the majority spoke English, and very good English!  Maybe better than my own!  From the girl behind the Subway counter to the taxi driver, they all seemed eager and proud of knowing English as well as their native Spanish. 


I probed as to the reason that so many of the people spoke English, and got a few varied answers.  Someone said many Puerto Ricans have relatives in New York and have spent time between the two locales.  Someone else told me that the private schools teach English well.  The taxi driver told me he was in the Army for 23 years and just picked up English, along with German, Italian, and who knows how many more languages.


So there you have it.  If you go to Puerto Rico, speak Spanish at first.  More than likely, they will answer you in English, even if you have perfect Spanish. Leave off the "s" in all your words to achieve that native accent.  If you don't know Spanish, don't worry.  Most Puerto Ricans are very proud of their bilingual abilities and will be more than happy to help you out. 


Help for the Chronically Disorganized

Posted by Mary on April 11, 2011 at 2:24 PM Comments comments (0)

Did you lose your car keys again?  If that sounds like you, you may need to get organized!  You are wasting valuable time each time looking for things that could be spent more productively.  Most people that are disorganized don't know where to begin.  Even the thought of getting organized scares them.  They envision hours upon hours of sorting through messes only to end up with a bigger mess. 


 Heres a tip -- start small!  Take my advice and begin your plan of action with one of the following steps.  Choose your favorite step and do one a day. 


 Organization doesn't need to be a headache!


:lol:  1.  Take a look in your closet.  Haven't worn in for a year?  Toss it!


:)  2.  Buy some file folders - and a file cabinet if you don't have one also.  Color coded files work great!  Decide on categories, such as bills, car tabs, auto repairs, doctor, etc.  and file away! 


:| 3.  Pick a spot.  Put all your pens in one spot.  Put all your paper clips in one spot.  Put all your paint supplies in one spot.  You get the idea.  Do one a day.  Find creative containers for your stuff.

:lol: 4.  Use the computer to organize.  Excel, Word, Access all have great programs to organize your expenses, for example.


:mad: 5.  Pick a time.  Look at your mail after supper, for example.  Pay your bills on Sunday.  When you have a specific time to do something, it helps to organize your thoughts.


:P 6.  Go shopping!  We all like to hear that.  This time focus your shopping at the local office supply store and look for inexpensive organizers to help put your things in order.  File folders, three-ring binders, plastic containers are all things to help you get started.


.:) 7.  Put it away.  Remember #3 where you picked a spot?  Now remember to put your things in that special spot as soon as you are done with them.  Get a phone call in the middle of something?  Tell your caller to hold on a second while you put what you were working on away or in a secure spot.


:)8,  Make lists.  Make a to-do list, a shopping list, an organizing list.  Getting your thoughts in order can actually organize your game plan for organizing your life.


:)9.  Set time off to organize.  Whether it is a half and hour a week, 5 minutes a day, you need to set aside this time to work on your organization.  Little by little is better than not at all.


:|10.  Reward yourself.  When you get one area organized, such as your closet, treat yourself.  Buy something, eat a favorite food, go someplace special.  Getting organized is hard work and you should be proud of your accomplishments.







Is Wikipedia a Reference?

Posted by Mary on March 25, 2011 at 10:01 AM Comments comments (0)

The age of technology has brought many changes to all aspects of our lives. Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, websites, and a myriad of other on-line services have lured readers from the bookstore to the computer screen. The recent bankruptcy of Borders was testimony to this. Students looking for references no longer pore over musty volumes of the Encyclopedia Britanica in the shelves of the library for a credible reference. A reference is now only a click away – right?

One of the most popular on-line references, Wikipedia, has no doubt provided readers, students, and researchers a quick and easy place to find facts. Many students often cite Wikipedia for citations. Finding and referencing work is much easier, less time-consuming than in the past. You can write a research paper or book report at home in your pajamas, never having to step foot in a library.

Many students use Wikipedia for references and it is becoming a good source that is acceptable by many schools. What makes Wikipedia a credible reference? It is because the author of the article needs to have good references that are verifiable, before it is accepted by Wikipedia. Although readers can edit articles easily, the submittal process is much more difficult. Wikipedia will not accept blogs or self-published references that are not credible sources. Just because someone wrote about the subject on a web page they created does not make it a credible reference. Established newspapers, magazines, and published sources are still the most reliable references. The author of the Wikipedia has done the work for you – they have looked for credible references, so you don’t have to. That is what made the old encyclopedias credible references and credibility and verifiability continues to be the standard. Next time you look at a Wikipedia article, look at the list of references on the bottom of the page.

Think about that next time you look for a reference for your report. And a word of caution – don’t even think of writing a Wikipedia article about yourself, even though all your Facebook friends have written about how great you are. Hey, are you saying my friends aren’t credible?