All posts by The Language Shop

The Language Shop provides translation, interpreting, editing, proofreading and transcription services in all languages.

8 Myths About Spanish To English Translation Debunked

When I first set up my translation practice, I did mostly legal translations from Spanish into British English in a British legal system. Since then, I translate into US English as well, in more specialty areas, and I have discovered and debunked various myths about Spanish to English translation.
Myth No. 1: All source documents contain the same kind of terminology.
Fact: Source documents in Spanish can originate from at least 27 Spanish-speaking countries in the world. Therefore, terminology can differ depending on the document’s country of origin.

Spanish is spoken in at least 27 countries of the world.

Myth No. 2: Native Spanish speakers who are “bilingual” can do Spanish to English translations.
Fact: This is not always the case. Translations into English are best done by native English speakers since English is perhaps the most complicated language, and non-native speakers often have difficulty grasping all the nuances of the language.
Myth No. 3: Since Spanish and English are commonly spoken, Spanish to English translations should be cheap.
Fact: Pricing for Spanish to English translations depends on a number of variables such as deadline, format, level of difficulty or technical nature of the project, and availability of appropriately qualified linguists.
Myth No. 4: Translators can work on any kind of translation project.
Fact: No two translation projects are created equal. There are various kinds of documents, including legal, medical, commercial, corporate, pharmaceutical, financial, scientific, technical, to name a few. Successful translators are expert in the specialty area of the respective project.
Myth No. 5: Spanish to English translations should never be done by native Spanish speakers.
Fact: Some native Spanish speakers have displayed such a strong proficiency in Spanish to English translation that they have earned their qualification to translate from Spanish into English.
Myth No. 6: Spanish to English translators should be able to provide Spanish/English interpreting services.
Fact: Interpreting is the rendering of oral material from one language into another and translation is the rendering of written material from one language into another. Both translation and interpreting require different skill sets.
Translation and interpreting require different skill sets.

Myth No. 7: A Spanish to English translator of documents should be able to translate Spanish audio files into English.
Fact: A translator may have the ability to read and understand Spanish well but may not be able to hear and understand recorded Spanish in the same way.
Myth No. 8: Spanish to English translation can be done using Google Translate.
Fact: Professional translations should be 100 percent human translated to avoid serious errors, especially since words may be written the same way but have several different, unrelated meanings.
Professional translations should be 100 percent human translated.

Interesting Links

The Anatomy of a Great Legal Translation – 7 Basic Tips

law and legal compressed
A translation can make or break a legal case. Therefore, when clients approach translators, they want to be assured that the work product will enhance their chances of being successful. Following are some quick tips that will help to put you on the way to providing a great legal translation.
1. When providing legal translations, unless otherwise instructed, do not reproduce images such as photos, letterheads, logos, emblems, coats of arms, stamps, seals, signatures, etc. Instead, refer to the image in the target language in square brackets. For example, describe a stamp as [Stamp] if the target language is English or use the corresponding word in the target language. Immediately beside or below this, in the target language, provide a full description of the text within and surrounding the image.
2. Portions in source documents that are handwritten should be noted as handwritten in the translations. If handwritten portions are illegible, they should be noted as [illegible handwriting] in the target language; e.g., [letra ilegible] if the target language is Spanish.
3. Always make sure the appropriate Bates number appears on each page in the translation in the place where it is located in the source file. This also applies to other numerals and marginal notes.
4. Even though you will not be reproducing images, the layout, formatting and pagination in the translated file should always be as similar as possible to the layout, formatting and pagination in the source file.

When clients approach translators, they want to be assured that the work product will enhance their chances of being successful.
When clients approach translators, they want to be assured that the work product will enhance their chances of being successful.

5. Normally, names and addresses should not be translated. In the first occurrence of each name and/or address, leave the original name and/or address in the source language and if applicable, place the translated name and/or address in square brackets next to it. For each subsequent appearance, keep the name and/or address in the source language. For example, the Spanish translation of The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should be rendered as The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) [Departamento de Vivienda y Desarrollo Urbano de los EE.UU, o HUD, por sus siglas en inglés]. This should be done in the first instance only. After that, use the name in the source language alone, unless there is a change to the name. It is not appropriate to put the translation first and the source text after.
6. Do not leave electronic comments for your clients in the translation. Translate the document as accurately as possible and if absolutely necessary for clarification purposes, place your comment at the end of the document after the words “Translator’s Note.” You may use footnotes that refer to specific areas of the text or endnotes if your comments generally refer to the entire source file. Otherwise, send your comment(s) to your clients in your email, along with the delivery.
7. Never be pressured by anyone to add to or subtract from the meaning of the source text in your translation. If you cannot see it, it probably is not there. While it is acceptable to be flexible to accommodate preferential changes, your legal translation needs to accurately reflect the source document.

10 Quick Tips About Jamaican Patois

Jamaica map compressed

10 Quick Tips About Jamaican Patois
1. Jamaican Patois or Jamaican has long been regarded as a dialect. A simple definition of “dialect” by Merriam-Webster is “a form of a language that is spoken in a particular area and uses some of its own words, grammar, and pronunciations.”
2. Some people see Jamaican as a language. In his article, “Is Jamaica Patois a Language?” Karl Folkes suggests this to be the case as it “is rule-governed (has a grammar of its own); has its own ‘standard,’ has a community of native speakers…and can certainly be expressed orthographically in a uniform way that can – and should – encourage literacy development.” A simple definition of “language” by Merriam-Webster is “the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other.”
3. The acceptable spelling of phonetic sounds in Jamaican has not been agreed upon by everyone. Folkes writes the following sentences in Jamaican that he compares to English:
– Dem a fi mi [They’re mine.] can also be written, “Dem ah fi mi.”
– Kuyaman, awara. (Say, what’s up?) can also be written, “Cooyah man. Ah wara?”
– Unu a fi nuo seh a soh wi tan. [You must know that’s the way we are.] can also be written, “Oonoo fi know seh ah so we tan.”
– A wan dege sinting smady a gi mi. [It’s a measly thing someone is giving me.] can also be written, “Ah wan deggeh sinting smaddy ah gi mi.”
To date, there is no authority to say which spellings are correct and which are incorrect.
4. Many people who speak Jamaican Patois have also attained a high level of formal education. The popular belief held by many that speakers of Jamaican Patois are unintelligent and uneducated is inaccurate.
5. Many people who speak Jamaican Patois can also speak English and other languages. The fact that speakers of Jamaican are hired to interpret in various settings between other speakers of Jamaican and non-native speakers is proof of this point.

Jamaican Patois can be translated into English or any other language
Jamaican Patois can be translated into English or any other language

6. There are many ways to say the same thing in Jamaican Patois. Just as in other languages, the same concept can be expressed in different ways in Jamaican Patois.
7 Jamaican Patois is spoken differently in varying geographic locations, situation and settings. There are various registers, accents, regionalisms and strains of Jamaican Patois. People from different parishes of Jamaica sound different, whether they hail from urban or rural areas.
8. Jamaican Patois can be translated into English or any other language. Jamaican Patois has come a long way in its verbal and written development and usage so that Jamaican concepts can be translated, transcribed, interpreted and transcreated from and into other languages.
9. Interpreters of Jamaican Patois are often hired so that non-native speakers can communicate with Jamaican speakers. Jamaican Patois translation and interpreting services are used for court cases, medical and hospital visits, prisons, insurance claims, and others.
10. Speakers of Jamaican Patois come in all ethnicities. Speakers of Jamaican Patois come from African, East Indian, Chinese, mixed and other origins.

Translator’s Guide to Handling Client Complaints

Continue reading Translator’s Guide to Handling Client Complaints

Eighth Anniversary Celebrations – Part 1

Deborah Lockhart, the daughter of Sir Louis H. Lockhart, was bestowed with an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Humane Letters by the Canadian International Chaplaincy Association (CICA) on the occasion of her Company’s eighth anniversary, which was observed with a thanksgiving service and awards ceremony on August 23, 2104, in Queens, New York.

His Excellency, The Right Rev. The Honorable Dr. Phillip S. Phinn, OEA, Chancellor of CICA-International and Dr. Deborah A. Lockhart
His Excellency, The Right Rev. The Honorable Dr. Phillip S. Phinn, OEA,
Chancellor of CICA-International and Dr. Deborah A. Lockhart

Dr. Lockhart is the founder and president of The Language Shop, a full service language solutions provider offering translation, interpreting, editing, proofreading, transcription, desktop publishing and voiceover recording and dubbing in all languages and all areas of specialization including legal, financial, entertainment, film and media, online games, medical, humanitarian and refugee issues, website localization and more. Since childhood, she excelled in languages with English as her native language. She works to preserve the standard in all languages and dialects and in the respective cultures with which they are associated.

After she graduated in 1985 from the University of the West Indies (Mona Campus) with an Honors Degree in History with (French and Spanish) Language and Literature, she launched her career in translation and interpreting in Antigua and Barbuda where she provided translation and interpreting services to government offices such as the Elections Office, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Legal Affairs, the Ministry of Public Works, the Immigration Department, the High Court and Magistrates Court, et al. She translated and interpreted for the Venezuelan and US Embassies and for various law firms, medical practitioners, media and advertising and commercial entities.

After nine years, she moved to New York, USA where she obtained Certificates in Translation and in Court Interpreting at NYU SCPS. She worked as a freelance translator while serving for about a decade as a legal secretary in New York City law firms.
In 2006, she established The Language Shop where she directs project managers and their teams in every time zone to provide top quality language support to the Company’s diverse, worldwide clientele on a full time basis.

Dr. Lockhart speaks English, Antiguan Patois, Jamaican Patois and various other Caribbean dialects, Spanish, French and basic Arabic. Her interests are pets, gardening, language and culture, film, food and entertaining. Some of the causes close to her heart are the needs of the poor and hungry, the rights and needs of abandoned animals and the needs of the aged.
When accepting the doctorate, she stated among other things that she was accepting it more as an indictment than as an honor since she feels that “there is so much left to do to make a difference and so little time; that life is one big ‘to do’ list that keeps getting updated as often as new needs and crises arise in the lives of our fellow human beings and in this world because, after all, that is what we are here for: to meet needs and resolve crises not just locally or nationally, but globally also. We each need to continually analyze our own situations to determine how we may be most effective in accomplishing this.” She also noted that “You don’t have to be famous to be great. You just have to make a difference.”

Celebrating Eight Years

We are truly grateful to everyone who has played a significant role along the way.

We are in the eighth month of 2014 and this is our eighth year in business. As we celebrate new beginnings (eight is the biblical number of new beginnings), The Language Shop is abuzz with activity as we make plans for our Eighth Anniversary Thanksgiving Service and Awards Ceremony to be held on Saturday, August 23rd at 7:30 p.m. in Queens Village, New York and everyone is invited. There are so many things to do.

We are forging ahead with invitations and plans, crossing off things on our “to do” list, taking care not to miss a single detail. We will be proudly displaying our Company’s banner during the ceremony. We will also be awarding certificates and tokens to our local and national independent contractors who will be acknowledged for their loyalty to the Company and our clients over the years.

In addition, special mention will be made in absentia of some of our overseas team leaders, project managers, translators, interpreters, editors, proofreaders, transcriptionists and desktop publishing designers based in Argentina, Brasil, Cameroon, Egypt, France, Mexico and the United Kingdom whom we have hand picked from our providers in every time zone and from every continent and who have contributed to our success through their continued and loyal partnership and commitment to excellence.

In the meantime, things continue to be busy at The Language Shop as we field inquiries and fulfill orders from clients seeking desktop publishing/design, transcription and translation services into and from various languages such as Arabic, Amharic, Burmese, Chin, Dinka, Farsi, Filipino, French, Juba Arabic, Karen, Karenni, Kirundi, Nepali, Nuer, Sakha, Simplified Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tigrinya, and Traditional Chinese.

Ever since the Company’s inception, The Language Shop has created and upheld a reputation for working with as many languages as there are speakers in the world, especially the rare languages. We have employed all sorts of creative means of contacting linguists who can provide these language services. It has been an exciting journey as we have engendered and maintained relationships with experts in all kinds of specialty areas from varying cultures and with varying modes of expression. We are truly grateful to everyone who has played a significant role along the way.

Film Review – Film Review: Joyeux Nöel [Merry Christmas] directed by Christian Carion (2005)

I enjoyed the fact that Joyeux Nöel is trilingual.
Recently, I had the ultimate pleasure of watching “Joyeux Nöel” [MERRY CHRISTMAS], nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards, on cable. Not a lover of war movies at all, I was more than pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this film. This was perhaps because it possessed many, if not all, of the traits that impress me in a movie. It is unusual that I would go as far as to consider viewing the film another time since I find that the theme of war in films is generally one of the most unpleasant.

However, Joyeux Nöel contains enough goodwill and comedy to ease the tension associated with the subject material and to maintain a positive tone throughout the film. I enjoyed the fact that Joyeux Nöel is trilingual. Music, custom, scenery, costumes and the English, French and German languages spoken throughout the film all depict the three respective cultures of the soldiers fighting in the war. In addition, the subtitles are written in British English and this also provides a refreshing treat! Even religion has its place as Father Palmer, the Anglican priest, presides over a service during which music plays a key role in the film with heart warming singing by Nikolaus Sprink and Anna Sorensen. The soldiers sing popular songs of their countries amidst the sound of the bagpipe and harmonica.

The film provides an education in history since it is based on a true story. The director was inspired when he discovered a book entitled “Battles of Flanders and Artois 1914-1918” written by Yves Buffetaut that covers the sequence of events surrounding World War I that broke out in the summer of 1914 and culminated that same Christmas Eve when the war became more deadly and the soldiers decided to call a truce for Christmas.

For a brief moment, the viewer is able to tune out the horrors of war or at least cope. I experienced a great deal of mirth while watching the soldiers leave their rifles in their trenches. Enemies shake each other’s hands; they exchange cigarettes, champagne and chocolate and wish each other “Merry Christmas.” I found myself laughing out loud several times during the film and I was filled with strong feelings of optimism to see the soldiers of the three different nationalities sharing moments of peace and friendship.

On Christmas Day, the officers enjoy coffee together, bury their dead and challenge each other to a football match and even when they shelter each other during artillery barrages on both sides, they are aware that reality is yet to be faced. The soldiers must later face their superiors as they return to their own trenches. When news of the fraternization across lines leaks out, the commanders worry that it could hamper the war effort, and take extreme measures to put a stop to the fragile peace. The troops are replaced because they have been tainted by the experience.

I was shocked when Father Palmer is harshly criticized by his bishop who remonstrates with him quoting the scripture that Jesus “did not come to bring peace but a sword.” The bishop later tells the new recruits that they are in a crusade, a holy war for freedom. Father Palmer removes his cross and rejects the views that are so inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus.

Director Christian Carion stated that “the film has more than a European dimension for me. It has a humanistic dimension. In my opinion, anyone on the planet would be touched by the fraternizing that went on, not just the German, English and French. That’s why I’d like to show the film in a country that is at war.”

If you have not seen this film, I recommend that you do. I for one will be seeing it again as soon as possible.

Movie review- Somewhere Between (2012)

It’s the weekend and I’m at home flipping through various Netflix movies to see if anything catches my eye when the picture of two teenage girls with warm smiles grabs my attention. “Somewhere Between,” directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton, is a documentary about four Chinese girls living with American adoptive parents.

As I begin to watch the documentary, I realize that each and every one of the girls is experiencing an identity crisis in some way or another. Haley, Jenna, Ann, and Fang are teenagers living in a world where they don’t quite measure up in the eyes of everyone else and in their own eyes. When you are adopted it is hard not to question your past and to want to know more about your birth parents. Everyone around you knows you’re different, even if you don’t want to admit it. The girls wonder why they have been abandoned and they feel a compulsion to search for their birth parents.

Jenna attends school in New Hampshire; she plays the guitar and is on the JV Coxswain crew. She struggles to be “perfect” because rejection is her biggest fear as a result of being abandoned by her birth parents. Haley resides and receives home schooling in Tennessee and is deeply religious. She struggles with her identity and is intent on tracking down her birth parents. Ann lives in suburban Pennsylvania and is the only one who doesn’t have a desire to learn about her birth parents throughout the documentary. Fang, who was adopted at five years of age and speaks fluent Mandarin, lives in California. She sets out to find her birth parents and at the same time helps a young orphan find a home.

Language is a very important aspect of this documentary because those who share the same language can be brought closer while a language barrier can cause problems. When Haley tracks down her birth parents and meets them for the first time, an interpreter is present because Haley doesn’t speak Chinese. When sensitive questions are asked, the linguist interprets the answers in a non-threatening tone. When asked why Haley was abandoned, the mother’s answer is simple and straightforward: the family was too poor to afford another girl. However the interpreter doesn’t give Haley the same answer. Instead, she provides a sugar-coated version. I wish the interpreter had given Haley a straight answer instead of making excuses for the mother. The birth mother’s answer suggests that if Haley had been a boy, she may not have been given up for adoption.

Fang’s fluency in Mandarin facilitates the adoption of an abandoned orphan girl with cerebral palsy. They become close friends and she interacts with the orphan in Mandarin, the only language the orphan knows. Fang bridges the gap between the orphan and American surrogate parents because she is bilingual in both English and Chinese. My favorite part of the film is when the orphan is led by Fang to meet her surrogate parents for the first time and says, “Mama,” when told to do so by Fang. In the end, the orphan is sad to see Fang leave. However, I am sure she’ll thank her when she grows up and realizes how much Fang has done for her.

I highly recommend Somewhere Between as it is only an hour and a half, even though I wish it were longer because it was so captivating. As an immigrant, I really identify with the girls who alternate between feeling like insiders and outsiders in either of the two cultures.

Film Review – Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets (2000)

I recently enjoyed watching the award-winning foreign film, Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets (2000), set in Casablanca, Morocco and directed by Nabil Ayouch, on Netflix.

I was initially disappointed to find that French subtitles were not available in the DVD I received so I viewed the subtitles in English. I had no complaints about the Arabic to English translation, even though generally speaking, I believe that for cultural reasons, Arabic to French translations of films more effectively convey meanings than do Arabic to English translations. French culture has been influenced by and is more akin than English culture to Arabic culture and moreover, French is commonly spoken in Morocco and Arabic more commonly spoken in France, where Ayouch was raised.

The film is not your usual children’s fantasy tale but rather a roller coaster of events of the deepest intensity that depict the lost innocence of homeless youth in Casablanca. It is fraught with contradictions in that it leaves you feeling depressed in one moment and smiling or even laughing for a short moment. Ali has chosen to run away and live like a pauper during his very short life while ironically, his mother lives in reasonably comfortable surroundings. She has done everything possible to make his life comfortable. Yet, the only problem is that she’s a prostitute.

As the title suggests, the film is about Ali Zaoua and his dreams of living a seafaring life where two suns set in different places. Early in the story, Ali receives a fatal blow to the head with a stone and his death shakes Kwita’s world. Nevertheless, Kwita becomes the new leader of the glue-sniffing, homeless trio of boys with men’s faces. The focus shifts to Kwita’s pursuit of Ali’s dreams, with the help of Omar and Boubker. It’s a story of loyalty. Kwita never abandons his devotion to Ali and declares that he will give Ali a burial suitable for the prince that he is. Omar and Bobker go along with the plan, regardless of the obstacles they encounter along the way.

Ali Zaoua is a story of defiance and triumph over adversity and oppression. Ali, Kwita, Omar and Boubker have extricated themselves from the control of Dib, the disgusting deaf-mute leader of the large pack of boys whom he has recruited and abuses sexually and otherwise, on a constant basis. Even though hatred, fear and despair can be felt as Dib’s minions show up repeatedly heralded by the pathetic mantra they repeat: “Life is a pile of shit,” Ali’s three survivors overcome and maintain their emancipation from Dib and his gang. They survive on the streets from day to day by begging, working, stealing and nurturing dreams and fantasies of their own. Most of all, they manage to hide and preserve Ali’s body, even though he has been dead for at least three days by the time they get help with their plans to bury him.

In the end, the compass given to Ali by Hamid, the compassionate boat captain, and subsequently, to Kwita by Ali represents a return to the right course as Hamid takes Ali’s body and allows the three boys to spend their first night on the deck of his boat. The boys are hopeful as they fantasize mostly about what Ali Zaoua must be doing. The story seems to have a happy ending when, witnessed by Dib and his gang, Hamid takes Ali’s mother along with all three boys out to sea to give Ali a proper burial.

Some Projects Completed By The Language Shop in 2012 Specifics/Challenges Encountered and How They Were Resolved (Part 1)

We provide EnglishSpanish translation, interpreting and transcription servicesCertified English to Spanish Translations of Personal Documents:  We were asked to provide certified English to Spanish translations of personal documents such as birth certificates, baptismal certificates and correspondence.

Challenge: The client specified that  the translations were needed for Spain. Translators from Spain generally tend to charge a little bit higher than translators in Latin America.

Solution: In order to make the project affordable to the client and to include our tried-and-true translation team, the translation was done by a team in Argentina. We were able to provide the appropriate localization for Spain once the translation was revised by a qualified editor from that country.

Certified Arabic to English Translations of University Transcripts:  A client approached us with University transcripts from Saudi Arabia that needed to be translated from Arabic into English.

Challenge: The client provided specific names on the translations while we wanted to make sure that the names of the student, the school and the principal in the translations corresponded with the names in the original document. Even though we do not authenticate certificates, we obviously would rather not be involved with the certified translations of certificates that are not authentic.

Solution: We communicated the translator’s concerns to the client who produced the English translation by the Saudi Ministry of Education of his third-year transcript in Arabic and was thus able to prove that he was one and the same student in the documents. The translator was satisfied that the documents were legitimate The translation project was completed to the total satisfaction of the client.

The Language Shop provides EnglishJamaican Patois translation, interpreting and transcription services.Jamaican Patois Transcription and Translation Project:

We were approached with two audio recordings of conversations in Jamaican Patois. The client, another language service provider, wanted not only the English translation but also the Jamaican Patois transcripts of the audio files.

Challenges: Jamaican Patois does not have a standard orthography so everyone writes Jamaican Patois words differently. The project was voluminous and one file was about an hour and a half long. Each time a different linguist started transcribing the file, there would be serious disagreement as to how certain words were spelled. For consistency of the already existing portion of the transcript, time had to be taken to make global changes.

Solution: Eventually, one linguist had to focus on completing the Jamaican Patois transcript to ensure that it remained consistent throughout the document.