Category Archives: General/Business

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

Translator’s Guide to Handling Client Complaints

Continue reading Translator’s Guide to Handling Client Complaints

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.

Obstacles Encountered When Translating Rare Languages and How to Overcome Them

We were recently asked to translate three documents from English languages of the worldinto thirteen languages, including:

*        Arabic

*        Amharic

*        Burmese

*        Chin

*        Farsi

*        French

*        Karen

*        Karenni

*        Nepali

*        Somali

*        Spanish

*        Swahili

*        Tigrinya

Such a request is not unusual and whether or not the volume of the project is high, no effort should be spared to satisfy the client.

Before the project was confirmed, we had to evaluate and provide a proposal for the job. Two of the documents were in Microsoft Word and one was in Excel. Even though we have hundreds of vendors in our database, the search had to be fine tuned to meet the specifications of this particular project. A translator and editor/proofreader with expertise in the respective specialty area had to be assigned for each language.

Following are some of the usual concerns that need to be addressed when working with rare language translations:

1) Finding language service providers who are dedicated to quality and not to simply collecting payments. No matter how tried and true a vendor is, we have a saying at the office that “you are as good as your last screw up.” Admittedly, this sounds cynical and puts a great deal of pressure on the agency and on the vendor. However, the translation industry is one in which only excellence is good enough. Therefore strict quality assurance standards must be adhered to at all times.

2) Finding vendors who can work within clients’ budgets. Bidding on projects can be very competitive. A very important factor that clients take into consideration when selecting a language service provider is budget. Bearing this in mind, the right balance must be maintained, on the one hand by asking the client to pay enough to be able to ensure the required quality while on the other hand by asking providers to be willing to negotiate in order to be successful in landing the project.

3) Meeting deadlines. One of the biggest challenges that can be encountered during the course of a translation project involving rare languages is delayed responses due to differences in time zones and other technical factors beyond providers’ control. Some examples are loss of phone or internet service, power outages due to electrical storms and other situations that range from mild to disastrous. From the very outset of the working relationship, as far as possible, language service providers must be made to understand the importance of maintaining constant contact from the time they submit their proposals up to and including after delivery has been made to the client.

4) Ensuring that instructions are understood and carried out. Communication problems can occur, among other reasons, if English is not the native language of the language service provider and there can be other challenges if providers do not share the same work ethic as the project manager. At times a linguist may appear to agree with instructions provided, only to display behavior that proves otherwise. However, the project manager must see to it that instructions are understood and carried out.

5) Making sure that the client is satisfied with delivery. Very often the characters used for rare languages are different from those used in English and it is not unusual for them to be garbled in file formats such as Word and Excel. Therefore, along with those deliverables, pdf files should be provided so the client will be able to properly view the characters in the translations. In addition, the fonts used should be provided. Files should be zipped in a format that the client will have no difficulties opening. At times, a font installer may have to be sent to the client so that the client will be able to work with the foreign Microsoft Office files.

At the end of the day, whether a project is assigned to twenty-six different linguists or to one language service provider, the quality must be such that the client will keep coming back.

Obstacles Encountered When Translating Rare Languages and How to Overcome Them

We were recently asked to translate three documents from English into thirteen languages, including:

*        Arabic

*        Amharic

*        Burmese

*        Chin

*        Farsi

*        French

*        Karen

*        Karenni

*        Nepali

*        Somali

*        Spanish

*        Swahili

*        Tigrinya

Such a request is not unusual and whether or not the volume of the project is high, no effort should be spared to satisfy the client.

Before the project was confirmed, we had to evaluate and provide a proposal for the job. Two of the documents were in Microsoft Word and one was in Excel. Even though we have hundreds of vendors in our database, the search had to be fine tuned to meet the specifications of this particular project. A translator and editor/proofreader with expertise in the respective specialty area had to be assigned for each language.

Following are some of the usual concerns that need to be addressed when working with rare language translations:

1) Finding language service providers who are dedicated to quality and not to simply collecting payments. No matter how tried and true a vendor is, we have a saying at the office that “you are as good as your last screw up.” Admittedly, this sounds cynical and puts a great deal of pressure on the agency and on the vendor. However, the translation industry is one in which only excellence is good enough. Therefore strict quality assurance standards must be adhered to at all times.

2) Finding vendors who can work within clients’ budgets. Bidding on projects can be very competitive. A very important factor that clients take into consideration when selecting a language service provider is budget. Bearing this in mind, the right balance must be maintained, on the one hand by asking the client to pay enough to be able to ensure the required quality while on the other hand by asking providers to be willing to negotiate in order to be successful in landing the project.

3) Meeting deadlines. One of the biggest challenges that can be encountered during the course of a translation project involving rare languages is delayed responses due to differences in time zones and other technical factors beyond providers’ control. Some examples are loss of phone or internet service, power outages due to electrical storms and other situations that range from mild to disastrous. From the very outset of the working relationship, as far as possible, language service providers must be made to understand the importance of maintaining constant contact from the time they submit their proposals up to and including after delivery has been made to the client.

4) Ensuring that instructions are understood and carried out. Communication problems can occur, among other reasons, if English is not the native language of the language service provider and there can be other challenges if providers do not share the same work ethic as the project manager. At times a linguist may appear to agree with instructions provided, only to display behavior that proves otherwise. However, the project manager must see to it that instructions are understood and carried out.

5) Making sure that the client is satisfied with delivery. Very often the characters used for rare languages are different from those used in English and it is not unusual for them to be garbled in file formats such as Word and Excel. Therefore, along with those deliverables, pdf files should be provided so the client will be able to properly view the characters in the translations. In addition, the fonts used should be provided. Files should be zipped in a format that the client will have no difficulties opening. At times, a font installer may have to be sent to the client so that the client will be able to work with the foreign Microsoft Office files.

At the end of the day, whether a project is assigned to twenty-six different linguists or to one language service provider, the quality must be such that the client will keep coming back.

The Importance of Good Customer Relations in the Translation Process

Why Informed Clients Receive Better Quality Translation Service

Indeed, simply knowing a foreign language does not a translator make

Informed clients who understand the various stages of the translation process are more likely to receive better quality translation service. The more educated you are as a client about the professional nature of translation is the more time, resources and energy you will spare yourself in the long run. Sometimes, when clients believe they can save money by having an acquaintance who is “bilingual” provide a certified translation, they end up losing more than if they had simply hired a professional service in the first place. Indeed, simply knowing a foreign language does not a translator make and botched translations will not be accepted in an official capacity.

Clients can experience a great deal of frustration when after a translation has been completed by someone they know who lives down the street, they learn that qualified translators are unwilling to certify the translation that has not been properly done. Sworn translation or certified translation must be done by a professional translator who has obtained certification from a recognized authority such as a university or a professional translator association such as the American Translators Association.

Even though it may seem to be less expensive to hire a freelancer, direct clients will stand to benefit more by hiring a translation agency to complete their important projects and the accountability of project manager to clients will prove to be a less stressful solution for tight deadlines and specific budgets. A translation agency with a group of competent freelancers will be better equipped than a lone freelancer to handle larger projects in a shorter space of time. Furthermore, an agency with a competent team will also be able to satisfactorily complete important projects since the team will comprise of editors who will be on the lookout for missing text, inaccurate grammar, spelling, punctuation, in addition to stylistic gaucheries in the target language and formatting that is inconsistent with that of the source language.

It is essential for clients to clearly communicate their needs to their language service providers who will be better able to evaluate the respective translation projects that they present for quotations. For example, when a client or prospective client simply requests rates without providing other essential information such as subject material, source and target file formats, deadlines, volumes and special requirements and instructions, the language service provider will not be able to properly evaluate the project. The project manager’s willingness and ability to keep the client appraised of the status of each respective project and provide options during the process will ensure the client’s total satisfaction.

During the entire translation process from the moment of the initial inquiry up to and including after the project has been delivered, constant communication between the project manager and the client and also between the project manager and the rest of the team is necessary to ensure the desired outcome.

How Good a Listener Are You?

Why Active Listening is the Best Thing You Could Ever Do For Yourself Professionally and Personally

So here I was: I had created the job of my dreams that involved going to interesting places and meeting people of different cultures who spoke different languages from all over the world. It all sounded so glamorous. When I arrived at one of my first networking events at the United Nations in New York, I had no idea how I was going to get through it. How could I possibly make these total strangers become interested in what I had to say? If at any moment I had ever been under the impression that using the most impressive words and doing some name dropping would serve to endear me to them, I would have been in for a rude awakening. It will take forever to get close to these people! I thought to myself. How would I ever be able to find out whether or not they needed translation and interpreting services
Over time, I have developed the art of making lifelong allies by simply saying hello and engaging in active listening after that. Finding out from people about themselves, what they do, what successes they have enjoyed, what difficulties and challenges they encounter and losing myself in every word they say has brought positive change, both personally and professionally. When I learned the important lesson that no matter what languages they speak or what their cultures are, people are always going to be more interested in themselves than in anything else, it was as if a light bulb had been turned on in my mind and it is easier now to talk to anyone, anywhere.

Generally speaking, after people have talked about themselves for long enough, they will eventually take a pause and ask the magic words, “So what about you? What do you do?” This is one of the most significant moments in the entire encounter and the next 30 seconds will determine the direction in which the relationship will go. If you can sum up exactly what you are about in 30 seconds, you stand a very good chance of getting an additional minute of the listener’s attention, during which time, your new acquaintance may be inclined to ask you some direct questions. The way you answer those questions will be important and you will need to find a way to show a relationship between your answers and how the listener may benefit in some way.

At every level of the encounter, honesty and sincerity are key because you may just be called upon in the near future to prove some or all of the claims you have made.

Recommended Reading:
http://www.amazon.com/When-Listening-Comes-Alive-Communication/dp/0969707916/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320376181&sr=1-1

Ensuring Top Quality Work by Language Service Providers

 

It is desirable to work with “tried and true” language service providers to avoid unpleasant surprises. However, there may be times when these providers are not available and new providers may have to be found in a hurry. If referrals draw a blank, during the recruitment process, no effort should be spared to ensure that the new language service provider is capable of providing top quality work. When deciding to use new providers, if the client is agreeable, it is not a bad idea for the project manager to involve the client’s input as much as possible in the selection process. This way, the client may tend to be more receptive to the work of the provider that the client helped to select.

On the very rare occasion on which a project manager may have to rely on the forgiveness of the client when a less than perfect quality project has been delivered, the project manager will need to buy time from the client in order to provide a fix. Sometimes, however, this just is not possible, especially in the case of super rush jobs and delivering a poor quality product can create very negative results down the line.

Following are a few reasons why a translator could deliver a bad quality translation:

Inadequate Time in Which to Complete a Project:
This occurs when a translator is overly ambitious about how many words he/she can competently translate. The results can be less than desirable, even when the translator has the very best of intentions. The project manager should convey to the translator the importance of only taking on the amount of work he/she is sure to competently finish by the deadline. The project manager in turn should err on the side of caution when assigning work with tight deadlines to translators or when accepting work with tight deadlines from clients.

Inaccurate Resumes and Claims about Experience and Qualifications:
Unfortunately, there are providers who are not accurate or honest about their expertise or native languages. The project manager must be extremely vigilant and learn to decipher little red flags that point to inconsistencies during the recruitment process.

Poor Work Ethic of Translator:
It can be very upsetting for a project manager when translators provide sloppy work. While translators should take pride in their work and do everything possible to produce a high quality project, it is up to the project manager to see to it that all stages of the quality assurance process are completed to the satisfaction of the client.

Lack of Respect for Deadlines:
It must be conveyed to the translator that it not acceptable to accept a job unless the translator is sure to be able to complete within deadline.

Following are some steps that may be taken to deliver projects to the client’s satisfaction:

Share Editor’s Comments with the Translator:
This enhances dialog and learning among providers and allows a translator to respond to the editor’s comments. A translator may either stand behind his/her work or accept the editor’s changes.

Let a Third-Party Reviewer Settle Disputes:
If there is a complaint from the client or a dispute between translator and editor, an objective, competent third-party reviewer should be introduced to settle the dispute. If it turns out that the initial translation was improperly done, the initial translator may be paid the difference between the previously agreed to amount and the amount to be paid to the third party reviewer.

Offer a Discount:
If the client has justifiably complained, promptly offering a discount to the client may soften the negative impact of the poorly done project.

When translators deliver a work product that is less than top quality, it can certainly become a nightmare. Such an event is likely to shake a project manager’s confidence as it will the client’s confidence in the project manager, if left unchecked, especially in fairly new working relationships. The saying “prevention is better than cure” is very apt in this case!

Choosing Your Language Service Provider

Choosing your Language Service Provider

How do you choose a language service provider when there are so many clamoring for your attention? It goes without saying that you have a lot on the line and require an error-free product that is appropriate for your language needs. Below are some guidelines to take into consideration when choosing a language service provider.

Your language service provider should be knowledgeable and adept
at meeting your needs, be they:
Translation: the transference of documents into a second (target) language so that they have the same meaning as the documents in the first (source) language. Source documents may come in typed format as well as in audio or video format.
Interpreting: the transference of speech from one language into another.
Editing: the revision of a document that has been translated by a second person comparing the translation against the source document. Translation projects should be edited by a second language professional for missing text, missing lines, missing or inaccurate numbers, dates, etc., errors in spelling, grammar and style and inconsistencies in formatting.
Proofreading: the revision of a finished project to ensure that the language flows and is flawless. Only the target document is reviewed and no reference is made to the source document in the proofreading process.
Transcription: the transfer of audio material into a document. This can be in any language.

Experience: Your language service provider should have a proven track record providing the services you are seeking. However, the length of time in the business will not always guarantee that the work being done is accurate since a language service provider can repeat the same mistakes in each project. Your language service provider will be able to provide you with references who should attest to the good service they have provided.

The cost for the service should be within your budget. Try not to cut corners, though. The lowest price should not be your sole motivation for selecting a language service provider and the highest price does not necessarily mean that the quality of the service is the highest.

Your language service provider should keep you informed. A good vendor will explain to you the details of your project and provide you with options and give you an idea of how your project will be completed, if necessary. You can ask for as much information that will make you comfortable that your job is in the right hands.

Timeline: Every project has a beginning, a middle and an end. You should be provided with a schedule for the completion of your project. This should be realistic and it should serve your corporate goals.

Team: You can ask for details about the team who will be handling your project. Remember that all work should be handled by native speakers of the target language(s) and experts in the area of specialization under which your project falls. For extremely rare languages, this may not always be possible but language service providers should have near native proficiency in the target language through solid experience, time spent living, being educated and working in a country where the target language is spoken. They should also have a background in the area of expertise of the project.