Category Archives: Translation Service Providers

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

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.

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.

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.

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!