Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Got my first NZ paycheck last week. That's right -- I am officially employed. I sent in squillions of CVs and cover letters in response to classified ads, hoping against hope that that old trick might work for me here. Never once in my entire, varied employment history have I gotten a job through such traditional channels. After about 6 weeks had passed without even reaching the interview stage with any of the CV recipients, it was time for a different tactic. I decided to go with my usual standby -- showing up unannounced at the front door and talking my way in. When I showed up, New Zealand Translation Centre happened to have a vacancy just opening for a Chinese Editor. And also a high demand for French and Spanish skills as well. And there I was. They didn't even have to post an ad in the paper.

So what is a Chinese Editor, you may be wondering? NZTC actually has quite laudable standards of accuracy and quality that they strive to uphold by using certain protocol, viz: 1) translators can only translate into their native language; 2) every translation must pass through an editor who knows both languages, and who is a native speaker of the original document's language; 3) the editor checks not only for errors and omissions, but also to make sure that the translator understood any ambiguities in the original correctly, and has conveyed the correct sense in the translation; 4) following comments from the editor, the translator makes final corrections and proof-reads one last time. We have an in-house Chinese translator, Yu Zhimin, who I partner with. He makes corrections on the odd Chinese-to-English translation I provide. Mostly, I edit his English-to-Chinese translations. In the last two weeks since I've started, we've worked on medical advisories, anti-gambling pamphlets, personal letters, on-line surveys, and a massive technical document for the mining industry. We never know what's coming next.

Kiwi Dispatch cannot resist commenting on things unique to New Zealand, so here are a couple related to the workplace.
  • Morning and afternoon tea -- a communal and social event. An official announcement comes over the loudspeaker at 10 am and 3 pm. We all head down to the common area for Nescafe, strong black tea or Milo. Sometimes there are biscuits.
  • Good Friday and Easter Monday -- both official holidays. Shops were closed, alcohol sales banned, everything shut down. Almost no one went to church.


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