The curious tale of Linda Turnerová

Greetings to all my blog readers. There was a time when I had two identities for a while: Linda Turner and Linda Turnerová. How did this come about? It was because I obtained my Czech citizenship on 25 November 2021 and it is the norm to add the suffix ‘-ová’ to female names in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. (Other nations with Slavic languages have variations of this suffix.) While I was aware of this, I knew that it was also possible to opt out, although the amendment to the Czech Registry Act allowing all women to do so did not go into effect until January 2022. Prior to this, women were only permitted to drop the ‘–ová’ if they were:

  • foreign citizens,
  • had a foreign nationality,
  • lived with a foreigner, or
  • had temporary residence in a foreign country.

This change in legislation was seen by some as a step forward for women’s rights, while others saw it as an affront to the Czech language since ‘-ová’ denotes a feminine ending and removing this can cause confusion. For instance, one of my students once told me that when they saw the name ‘Turner’ on the timetable before they met me, they presumed I was a man.

What I was not aware of was that the process entailed an automatic name change to the default setting with the suffix ‘-ová’ and then reverting back once I received my Czech birth certificate. This was not a translation into Czech of my original birth certificate, although I did have to provide a notarized copy of this during the citizenship application process. Fortunately, I only had to have it notarized and not apostilled because it was before Brexit was ‘done’. This was submitted along with a long list of other documents: certificates for the language test (B1 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, CERF) and realie test (about Czech life and institutions, also including geographical, historical and cultural information about the country), a životopis (a long bio including reasons for applying for citizenship and examples of integration into Czech society), tax declarations for the past three years, health insurance history to prove I was living here, my rent contract, a list of trips abroad during the last ten years, and proof of no debts to the Czech government (tax, health insurance, social security and customs). The Czech birth certificate with a Czech rodné číslo or birth number, similar to a national insurance number in the UK, is issued in Brno for the whole country and can take two to three months to receive by post.

I chose to opt out of the ‘-ová’ suffix for three reasons. First, Linda Jayne Turner is the company name on my website, email address, and business cards, the brand all my clients and colleagues associate with my work. Second, I wanted to avoid potential problems arising from having a different name on my UK passport and other official documents. Third, the name Turnerová (aka Turn ‘er over) caused much merriment to my English-speaking friends and colleagues. (I decided to keep it as my nickname on Facebook.)

Photo by Michaela Freeman

Following my slib (oath sworn at my citizenship ceremony), I applied to opt out of the Turnerová name change, or rather to revert to my original name Turner. I filled in the relevant form and one of the nice ladies at the matrika (registry office) in Prague 10 sent it off to Brno. I wasn’t allowed to apply for my permanent Czech ID card until I got the Czech birth certificate, but I could get a temporary one in the interim. I could already apply for my Czech passport at this stage but only with the name Turnerová and if I wanted one with Turner, I would have to apply – again – and pay – again – later. As I didn’t have any plans to travel internationally over the next few months and I still had a valid UK passport for what it’s worth (which is less than it was), I decided to wait.

In the meantime, I had to get a replacement health insurance card after having that stolen. When I called my provider, OZP, I was told they had already sent me a new one. I was puzzled because I hadn’t applied for one (or received it) but then I discovered it was because they had automatically sent me a new card with my new name, yes, Turnerová. I also lost my newly obtained temporary Czech ID when I was robbed, and it turned out there is no system in place to replace it, meaning that I just had to wait for the permanent ID. With the aid of Petr Sezemský who did an excellent job helping me with my citizenship application, I managed to at least get a document confirming this. It took about five weeks to get my birth certificate from Brno, which was much faster than expected, especially since this was over the Christmas period.

However, the saga was not quite over yet because there was a typo in my new birth certificate. My mum’s place of birth, Featherstone, had been spelt ‘Featherstore’. Unfortunately, the nice lady at the matrika dealing with this (most of them are nice!) was off sick with Covid. Her colleague who was covering for her was most disgruntled about being disturbed with a request to help a client. After rudely kicking us out of her office, she reluctantly went to retrieve the relevant paperwork from her colleague’s office and brought it to us where were waiting out in the corridor. She pointed to the name of the town and triumphantly exclaimed (in Czech, of course): “If that’s an ‘n’, I’m the Queen of England.” It was an ‘n’ and she wasn’t the Queen of England. She was too young and far too unprofessional. Ultimately, the typo was corrected. The nice lady sorted it out with the people in Brno once she returned to work.

Shortly after that encounter, I got my permanent Czech ID (valid for five years but a matter of routine to renew it) and, a few days later, my Czech passport. I was ecstatic to finally have this in my hand. For one thing, I was really pleased to be able to vote in the last presidential elections after being disenfranchised for so long. It surprises many people when I tell them I’m no longer allowed to vote in the UK, including in referendums, despite still being a British citizen, since I’ve been living abroad for more than fifteen years. And, for another thing, I am absolutely delighted to be able to travel within the European Union as an EU citizen once more.

Photo at top of blog post by Annette Willems. Post edited by Robin Finesilver.




25th anniversary of the IPW

Hello to all my blog readers! After two years of online teaching from Prague and in Nordhausen (Digitally united at the IPW 2021) and a hybrid version last year (Reunited at the IPW 2022), the 25th anniversary of the International Project Week (IPW) at Nordhausen University of Applied Science returned to a full in-person programme earlier this month. Although I did not participate in the very first IPW back in 1999, I was there for the second one in 2000 and have only missed one since, making this event an integral part of my life.

I usually enjoy the train ride from Prague to Dresden but, this year, en route to Nordhausen, we encountered a problem on the track close to the Czech-German border. This meant we all had to get off the train at Ústí nad Labem and board a train to the next station, a village called Povrly. Our progress was slow, with four changes before Dresden, and the whole journey took almost twice as long as usual. I anticipated being stranded somewhere along the way but, fortunately, I arrived in Nordhausen in the early hours of the morning and managed to check into my hotel. I was grateful that I also had the phone number of a colleague staying in the same hotel who said I could call if I was locked out. Thanks, Bruce! I was disappointed that I couldn’t join my friends and colleagues for dinner that night, but ultimately relieved to have reached my destination.

This year, I made myself available for consultations with university staff about tricky translation questions and similar queries. I also had the opportunity to visit colleagues’ courses. For instance, I joined Amerjit and Pavlin’s session on the martial art Gatka – but I only practised with the sticks rather than the much more dangerous sword! The next day, my friend and colleague Michael interviewed me about presentation tips for his students. I also had the privilege of observing Daphnée, Jim, Paul and Laurentiu at work with their students. Despite the diversity of the subjects, a common thread emerged: all of my colleagues were great at connecting with the students and I was equally impressed by the students themselves. One observation was that when business students were given a task, they completed it at lightning speed, while the social studies students – as ‘people people’ – were much keener to listen and engage in discussions.

Music therapy room at the centre

As part of this year’s programme, there was a visit to the Heilpädagogische Zentrum in Wülfingerode on Tuesday afternoon. This educational centre caters for people with special needs. Its remarkable director, Gisela Morgenroth, is a force to be reckoned with. She had even enlisted the assistance of some local senior citizens who stationed themselves near the school gates to report any attempts by children to run away. This excursion was followed by a lovely dinner at the Ziegenalm Sophienhof, a farmhouse café where guests can sample the farm’s excellent produce, including goat’s cheese and ice cream.

On Wednesday afternoon, the official inauguration of the new fire station took place. Since the event was organized by Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with the city of Nordhausen, it included speeches by the acting mayor, Alexandra Rieger, a former student, and Prof. Jörg Wagner, President of the university.

The closing dinner at the university on Thursday night was a networking event which gave the international lecturers the very welcome opportunity to speak to the university staff while enjoying a delicious buffet. There was more networking on Saturday as this year’s IPW ended with an open day on campus. Our team, CoLoR Language Service (Christine, Linda and Robin), set up a stand on the International Office table. We displayed and distributed flyers and other promotional material such as colourful keyrings to showcase our translation and editing services to the various university departments (email:

We were fortunate with the weather and able to enjoy outdoor performances of Gatka and Basket Beat (see the video below) in the afternoon. The final event was an evening gig at the Karzer student club by the talented band Solche from Chemnitz.

Gatka performance by Amerjit Walia

My return journey was much smoother, despite Schienenersatzverkehr (rail replacement service, i.e. a bus) between Sangerhausen and Halle. I particularly appreciated the scenic ride along the Elbe from Dresden to Prague with no delays this time. I arrived home tired but happy after another wonderful week in Nordhausen. Many thanks to Jenny Ettrich and the IPW team for organizing everything, and to the President of the university, Jörg Wagner, for extending the invitation. I’m hoping to be back for the next IPW in April 2024.

Basket Beat led by Felipe and Rita

Blog post edited by Robin Finesilver.

Pricing your services and negotiating with confidence: wise words from Susie Jackson

Even before I left Spain after METM22 (the Mediterranean Editors and Translators Meeting in Donastia/San-Sebastián) in October, I was eager to sign up for one particular CPD event taking place in December. This was a SENSE online workshop on “Pricing  your services and negotiating with confidence” in December. The presenter was Susie Jackson, a pricing and finance mentor for freelancers as well as a Spanish-English translator and copy-editor specializing in academic texts for the social sciences.

“If everyone tries to remain competitive according to industry averages, it will drive prices down over time”

Susie began her workshop with a poll on how we decided our current rates. Although many of us based them on what others charge, Susie quite rightly pointed out that this doesn’t tell you about the average translator’s circumstances and the relevance of said charges. Consequently, it makes more sense to set your rates according to your personal circumstances. Susie mentioned two types of value-based pricing: value to the client and value to your business. She also pointed out that if everyone tries to remain competitive according to industry averages, it will drive prices down over time. This struck a chord with me as I see this often in the Czech Republic, a market I work in less frequently nowadays for this very reason.

One indicator that you’re undercharging for your services is if you’re having to work really long hours just to stay afloat. Susie’s second question to the participants was whether we feel we are currently earning enough to cover our needs. The answers were mixed. Susie’s advice was to set a minimum depending on your personal circumstances: based on your financial requirements and your capacity. The income calculations involve looking at all expenses, both personal and business, including pension payments and taxes. Capacity is calculated as time spent on paid work not including holidays or sick leave. And, of course, we all know that freelancers work a lot of non-billable hours. This also needs to be considered when adding up the total income requirements and dividing this by the available working hours to come up with an hourly rate.

Spa at the Grand Mark Prague

Susie’s next poll asked us how much we would be willing to pay for a luxury spa day (for ourselves or as a gift) with access to a pool, sauna and steam room and a massage or other treatment thrown in. Some people said they don’t like spas and wouldn’t pay anything at all (not me!). What was interesting was that no-one answered less than €50 and everyone who does like spas was happy to pay higher prices.

“There are clients at all budget levels”

The point here is not just that I like to treat myself to some luxury spa treatment at a local fancy hotel from time to time but that there are always some clients willing to pay for a premium service. This also applies to clients looking for translation and editing services. What we need to do is find the right clients for us and market to them, bearing in mind that there are clients at all budget levels and there are also other factors to consider besides money. These include, for example, interesting projects and good working relationships. Does this mean conversely possibly charging more for a late paying client who makes you jump through endless bureaucratic hoops? When Susie assesses her clients around once a year, she considers whether or not they leave her to get on with the work in peace and meet the deadline without checking up on her progress, something I personally value, too.

The last question Susie polled was: How many of your clients do you think would feel bad if they discovered that the rate they’re paying you wasn’t enabling you to earn a decent living from your business? Again, answers were mixed but it was disheartening for us to see that some participants thought they wouldn’t care. I would like to think that the academics I work for would be shocked and, fortunately, they or their institutions are generally prepared to pay well.

“What is going to be your starting price, leaving room for negotiation?”

Susie recommended that we think about our client’s brief and decide what is going to be our starting price, leaving room for negotiation if necessary. She also advised us to consider whether there was anything we could do to make the price more affordable without reducing it, or if a client says our quote is too high, to ask for their budget before offering a lower price.  She also warned against lowering our price without asking for something in return.

“Don’t lower your price without asking for something in return”

The workshop participants were then put in breakout rooms to discuss a hypothetical quoting scenario and alternatives to offer a client in exchange for a lower price, for instance, delivering a translation that is not edited by a second professional or agreeing a longer deadline. It is also possible to ask clients to shorten the texts or send a smaller number of texts, for instance.

The final topic of the workshop was raising rates. It is generally considered easier to charge higher rates to new clients than raise prices with existing clients but this can also be done. Susie’s advice was to raise your rates with your existing clients one at a time so as to minimize risk. It is a good idea to start with the lowest paying client. Points to take into consideration include how much to raise you rates bearing in mind inflation and how long you’ll have to wait to do this again. It is also wise to ask for a testimonial from the client first and be prepared to lose them in a worst-case scenario.

“Raise your rates with your existing clients one at a time”

Susie’s session certainly gave us a lot of food for thought. Knowing how to price our services and negotiate effectively are essential skills for freelancers at the best of times but more so than ever in the current economic climate. I have also signed up for Susie’s Reflect and Reset Challenge which I am looking forward to working on next. In anticipation of this, I have already downloaded and printed the worksheets.

Blog post edited by Robin Finesilver.

METM22: The personal touch

Hello to all my blog readers. I’m back in Prague after METM22. “The personal touch” was a fitting theme for this year’s Mediterranean Editors and Translators’ Meeting held in the lovely coastal city of Donastia/San Sebastián in the Basque Country. After two years of online conferences, we were all excited to finally be getting together in person. It was quite a long trek from Prague but everything went smoothly and, although I set off on my own, by the time I got the bus from Bilbao airport to San Sebastián, there were four of us travelling together. I always love this last leg of the journey to METM filled with anticipation of the days ahead.

After a late lunch near the bus station in San Sebastián, I got settled into my room situated near the far end of La Concha beach which was handy for social events such as the welcome drinks I headed to on that first evening. It was a bit further to get to the conference itself but the walk along the beach to the venue was a pleasure, either along the promenade, across the sand or with a paddle in the sea. And there were also plenty of buses when I didn’t have the urge to walk.

I attended the pre-conference workshop “Readability: 10 strategies for improving flow in translated or non-English speakers’ texts” by John Bates. We learnt tips such as varying our sentences, using modifiers with care and breaking up stacked structures. The workshop was both enjoyable and informative and well worth the wait as I had been keen to get a place on this particular one for several years.

Before the conference proper, I also participated in the Word Tech Clinic with Jenny Zonneveld. She figured out how to suppress page numbers on third-level headings when adding the various authors’ names to the table of contents of a book. Jenny went the extra mile to help me solve my problem, which was greatly appreciated.

There were two excellent keynotes this year. First, cognitive scientist Jon Andoni Duñabeitia gave an engaging talk entitled “A look inside the multilingual mind: how words and contexts interact as we understand and produce language”. In the second keynote, Helen Oclee-Brown interviewed the “Book Doctor” Sally Orson-Jones. Sally has helped many authors craft their works into good shape for publication and gave us a fascinating insight into her work.

Photo from Sally Orson-Jones’s website

I was honoured to be invited to be a panelist at this year’s METM. I really enjoyed reading Memory Speaks: On Losing and Reclaiming Language and Self by Julie Sedivy and preparing our panel discussion on “Language inherited and inhabited: multilingualism, selves and worlds” with my inspiring colleagues Aleksandra Chlon, Kate Sotejeff-Wilson, Theresa Truax-Gischler and Wendy Baldwin. In the light of our own diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, we discussed topics such as our experiences with migration and belonging, which seemed to resonate with many members of the audience. Wendy did a fabulous job of bringing it all together as our moderator, as did Jason Shilcock as our session chair.

Photo by Maria Sherwood-Smith

I also ran a short session “Spit and polish: interactive editing”.  It was fun to see what my colleagues came up with when working on texts ranging from the translator’s note for a Czech sci-fi book translated into English to the introduction of an academic article by a German sociologist. Everyone invariably found something different and I think we would have all liked more time to go into more depth. A big thank you to Kymm Coveney for assisting me as the session chair!

Photo by METM22 photographer Jone Karres

As a big fan of the MET Conversations which have been held on Zoom regularly over the past two years, I loved the talk by Kit Cree on “Building an online community – thinking inside the box”. Many thanks to her for her tireless work in providing us with these wonderful ways to stay connected and keep learning together when we were unable to meet in person.

As well at the workshops and conference sessions, we were also able to enjoy a wide range of Off-METM activities and other extra-curricular events. The first was a city tour with a lively Go Local guide called Alain who gave us a short lesson about the Basque Country and taught us a few useful Basque phrases in addition to showing us round. Later in the day, after the afternoon’s workshops, we unwound with a fun and relaxing yoga session with Courtney Greenlaw focusing on problems caused by too many hours in front of the computer.

Photo by Karin Rockstad

For an Off-METM dinner, I choose the Craft beer corner at Mala Gissona run by Karin Rockstad and was not disappointed with the selection of beer and great company.  Another highlight of the social calendar was the welcome reception at the Palacio Miramar overlooking the beach at sunset. We were all mesmerized by the Ugarte Anaiak/the Ugarte Brothers playing the Basque instrument the txalaparta here. Then some of us headed off for a superb Humanities and Social Sciences dinner afterwards where the wine and conversation flowed.

Photo by Kelly Dickeson

After the closing dinner at the Hotel de Londres on the Saturday night, many of us danced away into the early hours to the tunes of the fabulous DJ Jorge Grande from Txingudideejays. I’m glad I still made it to the walk along the Camino de Santiago on Sunday though. We took the funicular up the hill and then had a lovely wander along the Camino before catching the bus back into town in time for a late lunch of pintxos. I also managed to fit in a few swims during the week although the sometimes wild Atlantic bowled me over a few times until I learnt to ride the waves.

Once all the main conference events were over, I enjoyed  a mouthwatering main course of zucchini with green Thai curry sauce and a delicious dessert of puff pastry with cream at Jatetxea with the Foodies Translators group. I spent my final day in San San Sebastián relaxing and then had dinner with a new friend from the conference before heading off to Bilbao the following lunchtime.

My flights home via Düsseldorf were cancelled twice due to a three-day strike by Eurowings pilots. After leaving an Airbnb room with a dodgy drunken host, I booked into a fancy hotel instead and am claiming compensation from the airline. I made the most of the hotel spa and had nice dinners with two of my colleagues from the conference. Although I didn’t make it to the inside of the Guggenheim, I had a wonderful walk along the river after dinner to see it by night.

Although my flights home two days later than originally planned were fine in the end, I think I will take the train to the next METM in Mantua (Mantova in English), Italy on 12–14 October 2023. Like many of my colleagues, I also brought back an unwanted souvenir of Covid but the conference was such an amazing experience overall, we wouldn’t have missed it for the world. A massive thank you to the brilliant organizers!

Blog post edited by Robin Finesilver.

Nürnberger Stammtisch Restart: Networking in Nuremberg

Hi to all my blog readers. I’m back in Prague after a wonderful weekend in the lovely city of Nuremberg.

I was honoured to be invited to a translators’ event there as an Ehren-Nürnberger (honorary Nuremberger). After a long break due to the pandemic, the Stammtisch, or informal meeting for translators in Franconia, was back on the itinerary. Those of us travelling from further afield were affected by various delays, be it bus, train or plane, but we all managed to get there in the end.

One of the organizers, Rob, promptly rearranged the restaurant booking so most of us could still make it to dinner on Friday evening. We ate well at Five Diner near the main square and then went on for drinks at the Taproom just up the hill. Since it was still very warm even late in the evening, I opted for a Sommerbier, which proved to be a wise choice.

On Saturday morning, there was a much-needed downpour after the heatwave so I decided to stay in my hotel a bit longer until it stopped and take advantage of the fitness centre there. I was happy with the service, price and overall quality of the Best Western, conveniently situated just behind the train station.

In the early afternoon, I met my friend and colleague Pavel at the Biomarkt where we listened to some great live music by a duo called 2 im Sinn (see the video below). We were also joined by Liz, another Ehren-Nürnberger based in Prague. In-between doing a bit of shopping, we went for Kaffee und Kuchen with our other friends (also visiting translators) Klaus and Lisa at a nice little Italian place called Café Franco.

It was soon time to meet for pre-dinner drinks at Café Wanderer & Bieramt. I was interested in trying the Thirsty Ale and asked if it was like a Sommerbier. The bartender replied that it was summer so it could be a summer ale and that, in any case, it tasted great. I tried it and I agreed.

After this pit stop, we had a nice wander along the river to the venue for the main event: the Stammtisch at Restauration Kopernikus. We had a big table in the beer garden, already almost full when we arrived at the time of our reservation. This is a sign of a popular venue and I couldn’t fault anything: fabulous food (I had Russian-style pierogi), good beer (Spalter) and excellent service.

Stammtisch selfie by Rob Prior

Here we met up with some more of the local translators and were also joined by Herbert, a colleague from Bamberg. Whilst enjoying good food and drink, we discussed topics ranging from tips for freelance translators just starting out, academic editing, use of T/V pronouns in various languages, and official interest rates to charge late payers. I love how everyone helps each other out and points people in the right direction at these informal translators’ events. And it was great to hang out with old friends and meet new ones.

After the Stammtisch, a few of us went for a nightcap at a superb pub called Bierwerk on Unschlittplatz. The bartender freed up a big table by the window for us. I thought we were getting VIP treatment because the organizers knew him but it was just great service. This time I went for a light beer called Blondi: highly recommended.

All in all, it was a fabulous trip. A big thank you to Sabine Lodge and Rob Prior for organizing a wonderful weekend. Many thanks to my friends and colleagues, old and new, for the great company. For those of you who missed it, I hope to see you there next time.

I really enjoyed both the networking and walking around this beautiful city. And even though my standards are very high given that I live in Prague, the beer in Nuremberg did not disappoint. My journey back was extremely smooth with no delays so I made it home in time to go to a great gig in Prague on Sunday night, Lady and the Devil feat. Carlo Rodriguez at A Maze in Tchaiovna, to round off the weekend perfectly.


Blog post edited by Robin Finesilver.

Reunited at the IPW 2022

Hello from Prague to all my blog readers. After teaching my course on The Rise of Populism remotely in November 2020 and online in Nordhausen in July 2021 (see my previous blog post), it was amazing to finally be able to meet students and colleagues in person for the International Project Week (IPW) at Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences in Thuringia in May 2022. Although participation was considerably lower than before the start of the pandemic, there were still approximately 250 students, and we had 30 guest lecturers in attendance or online from 15 countries, mainly in Europe, with a total of 23 projects.

Six of those were online or hybrid, with a few of the remote lecturers Zoomed in for the closing ceremony on Friday morning, including Nagwa from Egypt. As Michal and Jarmila (my colleagues from Olomouc) were busy with other work, I was the only representative of the Czech Republic this year. As a newly naturalized Czech citizen, I was delighted to be able to take part in the International Project Week as a member of the EU once more.

Photo by Gonçalo Bandeira

Along with my colleague from Portugal, Gonçalo Bandeira, I was working with a small group of university students on the subject of The Rise of Populism. Besides discussing infamous populists such as Trump, Bolsonaro and Le Pen, we also looked at the enigma of Zelensky, a populist of a different ilk. For their final poster presentation, our students opted for an interactive quiz where they cited well-known populists and then students from other groups had to guess whose photo was behind the quote. They also presented Miloš Zeman, the populist president of the Czech Republic. The group did a great job and it was a pleasure to collaborate with them on this project.

As well as working hard all week, we also had the chance to participate in a wide range of social and cultural activities. This began with a Sunday excursion to the Alternative Bärenpark Worbis where the bears and other animals are able to enjoy life in a natural habitat, followed by the Grenzlandsmuseum Eichsfeld at the former border between East and West Germany.

Alternative Bärenpark Worbis

The schedule also included a Monday afternoon tour of the university campus after classes with a visit to the August-Kramer-Institut to observe them carry out their work on renewable energy systems and then on to the sensory lab to test some new liqueurs produced by the local distillery in Nordhausen. Other trips on the programme were to a nearby goat farm, Sophienhof, and to Mittelbau Dora concentration camp, an important part of Nordhausen’s history.

Grenzlandsmuseum Eichsfeld

Once more, I had a fabulous week of work and play in Nordhausen. It was wonderful to meet so many people in person again and also to have others join us online. It seems like hybrid events may be the way of the future. A big thank you to Jenny Ettrich, Thomas Hoffmann and Melissa Gürtler from the International Office at Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences, the President, Jörg Wagner, for the invitation, and, of course, to the brilliant IPW team for making all this possible and taking good care of us throughout the week.


Closing dinner at the Greek restaurant Zur Friedenseiche. Photo by Wojciech Gonet

Blog post edited by Robin Finesilver.

Editing for researchers in Germany and the Czech Republic

I was honoured to be invited to speak about my editing work at a recent SENSE UniSIG meeting. Here’s Joy Burrough-Boenisch’s blog post about the session:

unisig 18feb22

At the 18 February UniSIG meeting, SENSE member Linda Jayne Turner talked about her experience working for clients in academia in Germany and the Czech Republic. A teaching job at Charles University brought Linda to Prague in 2004, and while she has remained there, she also has many clients in Germany, where she lived previously. She mostly edits journal articles written by academics to be submitted to journals (mainly in the social sciences); she also edits colleagues’ English translations from German and Czech.

In her talk, Linda touched on some of the differences between working for clients in the two countries. In general, she thinks her Czech clients are more diffident about their prowess in English and more relaxed about deadlines. Her German academic clients pay higher rates and expect to be invoiced per hour’s work (that’s generally equivalent to editing about 1000 words), whereas in the Czech Republic she is expected to charge per page (assuming 1800 characters per page), but can also charge an hourly rate in some cases. Her German clients often have to request bids from three language professionals, but don’t always go for the cheapest, preferring instead to give the assignment to Linda, whose work they trust and appreciate. Invoices issued to German universities should ideally be paid into German banks to avoid additional paperwork, so Linda has kept her bank account in Germany.

It seems that the bugbear in both countries is Kafkaesque bureaucracy. Although Kafka’s depiction of the Czech establishment arises from his own experience of the system in Prague imposed in the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Linda thinks present-day German bureaucracy is even more convoluted.

Linda makes a point of visiting Germany several times a year, under normal circumstances, and when she does, she contacts her clients in advance to invite them to meet up with her. These informal meetings are usually at the end of the working day and take place in a café, restaurant or bar. Chatting over coffee, a meal or a drink is a good way to get to know more about clients and to get useful feedback from them. It also makes it easier to deal with any subsequent issues that might arise while working together.

At this lively UniSIG meeting there was plenty of input from the 24 attendees. It was pointed out that in Germany and the Netherlands, agencies corner editing and translation work through aggressive marketing, and the texts they supply to their university clients are sometimes in poor English. Linda’s mention of her arrangements for receiving payment from German clients sparked recommendations for companies to use for receiving payments from non-euro clients: PayPal, Wise (formerly TransferWise) and Stripe (cheaper than Paypal).

Testing the waters of digital nomadism

Inspired by Maaike Leenders’ talk on digital nomadism at SENSE’s recent Professional Development Days, I went to test the waters with a week’s stay in the lovely Croatian city of Split at the beginning of October. Since RegioJet’s direct train from Prague was no longer running, I booked plane tickets. Flying in Covid times was a bit more stressful than usual – not because of wearing a mask for the entire journey but because of the extra documents needed (such as my digital Covid pass and passenger locator form). It all went pretty smoothly in the end though, despite the airline changing my return flight just after I booked it, combining the Saturday and Sunday flights. Luckily, it was easy to change my accommodation booking and that gave me an extra day the second weekend so I’m not complaining.

A couple of years ago, I spent a week in Split with my friends and colleagues at a conference at the university there (METM19) and, earlier this year, I went back for a holiday with a friend and my sister – so I was familiar with the area. I rented an apartment with a good internet connection located close to Žnjan beach and Tommy’s supermarket. Some of my MET friends and colleagues know this area well, too. When Elizabeth Garrison mentioned she had spent five weeks working remotely in the very same building a few years ago, I knew I was in good company.

I checked the weather forecast in advance and planned to work more when it was raining and to hit the beach and sea when the sun came out. I ended up doing some admin on the very first day although it was a sunny Sunday but an invoice I wrote then was settled on Monday so that literally paid off. Plus, I still had plenty of beach time afterwards.

It took me a while to set up my office on the Monday. Since I like to make use of a second screen when I’m editing, I took along my tablet for this purpose. After trying out a couple of different apps, I got it up and running using SuperDisplay. The screen is smaller than my usual second monitor in my office in Prague so that took a bit of getting used to but it did the job. I also missed my ergonomic keyboard with QWERTY layout but my spare German keyboard is still easier to work with than my small laptop one.

I didn’t get as much work done during the week as I would have at home but the plan was to work part-time and enjoy my beautiful surroundings, too. As well as getting in an almost daily swim, I also made time for early evening coffee breaks by the sea. Maybe that’s a habit I could adopt at home in Prague. There may not be any sea nearby but I’m only ten minutes away from the pool at my local gym and there are plenty of nice cafés right on my doorstep.

Besides going out for coffee, it was great to have dinner during the week with my friend and colleague Domagoja who works at the university in Split. And since I was travelling alone, it was important for me to stay connected to friends and family while I was away. I had phone and video calls with a couple of good friends and with my brother as well as participating in two social events online – my friend Jamie Marshall’s fabulous Sunday night Facebook live gig and a chat with the lovely ladies in the Psychologies Subscribers’ Life Leap Club on Tuesday evening. I also attended a SENSE UniSIG Zoom presentation on the ethics of ‘proofreading’ student writing at UK universities by Nigel Harwood. This was thought provoking and worth dragging myself away from the beach for on Friday afternoon.

Throughout my stay, I kept my sister and my friend I went to Split with earlier in the year posted about my whereabouts – and my Facebook friends! I felt very safe walking around in Split even at night but it’s best to be vigilant. And I joined a local Facebook group just in case I needed any assistance or information.


On the second weekend I went on a boat trip and even though the sea was a bit choppy and cold – no-one went swimming this time, not even me! – it was still a wonderful excursion and we got to enjoy this amazing sunset. This won’t be my last sunset in Split. I’ll be back. I’m already thinking about a longer stay next year and September/October is a good time of year to be there. It’s not too crowded but still generally good weather. If any of my MET or other friends or colleagues would like to join me, let me know. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing many of you at METM online tomorrow and Friday. We may not be in Split or sunny Spain this time but we can still learn a lot and enjoy online networking into the bargain.


CPD galore

We editors and translators have recently been spoilt for choice for continuing professional development opportunities, partly thanks to Zoom and Wonder. As a member of MET (Mediterranean Editors & Translators), SENSE (the Society of English-language professionals in the Netherlands) and NEaT (Nordic Editors and Translators), I’ve been able to join colleagues in Spain, the Netherlands and Finland, among other countries, this past week for online further training and networking – all without leaving my desk in Prague.

Susan Frekko’s online workshop on training researchers to write academic articles

Last Wednesday I participated in Susan Frekko’s excellent workshop on “Training researchers to write academic articles: another string to your bow”. In a highly interactive session, we discussed various questions such as what is research and analyzed the articles Susan had given us in advance – first in small groups in breakout rooms and then together in the full group.

We also worked individually on developing courses we could teach. This was an extremely useful exercise and by the end of the workshop, after also looking at Susan’s course proposals which she kindly shared with us, we’ve certainly got plenty of food for thought for our own courses now.

SENSE organized two Professional Development Days the last two Saturdays. I enjoyed listening to great sessions on subjects ranging from digital nomads by Maaike Leenders to  personal branding by Anne Oosthuizen on the first day and ergonomic workspaces by Jenny Zonneveld to positive strategies to combat imposter syndrome by a panel comprised of John Linnegar, Naomi Gilchrist and Betsy Hedberg on the second day.

One highlight of PDD 2021 was the editing slam by Daphne Visser-Lees and Curtis Barrett which gave us a fascinating insight into how different editors with different backgrounds work. There was also plenty of time for some fun networking (and virtual ‘borrel’) on Wonder.

As well as these two events, I also really liked NEaT’s excellent session on “Academic editors decide: whose style matters?” presented by Alice Lehtinen and Kate Sotejeff-Wilson reporting on the results of their survey on what types of changes editors make or don’t make to their authors’ texts. The results were sometimes split and a very interesting discussion ensued…

I won’t give too much away because this last session will be repeated at METM on 14–15 October, an event I am already looking forward to. I am also glad I booked early because this online conference is now sold out with a grand total of 250 participants registered (although there’s a waiting list if you missed out). Unfortunately, we’re not all going to be together in a sunny Mediterranean location this year but, thanks to all the extra hard work put in by the organizers to make it work online, it still promises to be a fabulous event.

And, in the meantime, inspired by Maaike’s presentation, I will take myself off to the coast (back to Split in Croatia, the venue of the last in-person METM in 2019) and test the waters of digital nomadism for a week…

Digitally united at the IPW 2021

The International Project Week (IPW) at Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences in Thuringia was a bit different this year as only four lecturers travelled there to participate on site (two of us from the Czech Republic, one from Poland and one from the US) while the rest taught online from their home countries. And along with goodies such as chocolates and a miniature sample from the local distillery, we also got some hand disinfectant gel, a week’s supply of FFP2 masks and a couple of Covid tests in our welcome bags, as well as a handy webcam cover for our computers since we were all still teaching digitally, albeit on campus.

It was somewhat strange to walk through the door – bearing a lovely welcome poster – into an empty classroom each morning, knowing I would see my students on screen instead of sitting there in person. After a few initial technical problems, the teaching went pretty smoothly and the week flew by as always. For my project entitled “The Rise of Populism” the students came up with impressive final presentations on the following subjects: a comparison of right-wing and left-wing populism in Germany; conspiracy theories and populism; the development of populism through different topics; and (the musicians among the group) populism and music. These students were a pleasure to work with, extremely patient with technical issues and actively participating throughout the week.

Although all the teaching was online, there was still a great real-life social and cultural programme for those of us who were there in person. The extra-curricular activities were mostly outdoors: trips to the Hohenrode park in Nordhausen, the rosarium in Sangerhausen, one of the largest rose collections in the world, and, at the weekend, the National Garden Festival (BUGA) in the picturesque town of Erfurt. We visited a peaceful monastery in nearby Walkenried during the week, stopping off on our way back to the station to watch the model railway with a small-scale steam train like the one that goes up to the Brocken on the famous Harz narrow gauge railway. And to relax after the last day’s work and students’ final presentations, we cooled off with a Friday afternoon swim in a local lake.

Video by Michal Menšík

We also listened to excellent talks on climate change by two university students at the Klimapavillon one evening and enjoyed a socially distanced version of the mid-week student party at the Karzer with a barbecue for a small group of lecturers and IPW team members in a secret garden beforehand. When one colleague left before the end of the party, we all comically waved goodbye in unison like at the end of a Zoom meeting. We weren’t allowed to go and dance inside the disco this year but we were happy to dance outside instead. And during the course of the week we still had dinner – and the odd beer, of course – at several beer gardens.

It wasn’t quite the same without meeting the students in person and they are generally tired of online classes after so many months – three semesters – and very keen to get back into the classroom. I also really missed my colleagues who were unable to travel to Nordhausen this year though it was lovely to see them online at least. I very much hope we will all be reunited in person next May, not only digitally. In any case, this year’s trip was a great experience all round – a big thank you to Patricia Kolbe, Thomas Hoffmann and all the IPW team for pulling it off under difficult circumstances!