Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: “Jamaican Child” by Dr. Bertrand Bonnick

This review was written by Carlton Laing, a former high school class mate, and revised by The Language Shop.
I just finished reading Dr Bonnick’s (XLCR ’76) “Jamaican Child:The Story of Bighead.” It is a wonderful amalgam of coming-of-age experiences that evoke memories of one’s own Jamaican childhood or, if one is not Jamaican, provides a peek into what it’s like growing up in post-Independence Jamaica. What the story line lacks in seamlessness is more than compensated for by the hilarity and color of the individual chapters that in and of themselves are stories within the story. Altogether, Dr. Bonnick takes you on a ride as “hirky jerky” as the hog-and-goat country truck on which the protagonist, Bighead, makes his first journey from “country to town” [from the rural area to the more urbanized area of Jamaica, the Capital, Kingston]. But if you can hold on for the ride and the read, along the way you get a chance to see a slideshow of Jamaican life that takes you past family secrets and incest, “duppy stories and obeah” [stories of ghosts and of witchcraft], sexuality and violence, and yes, first love and “last lick” [a game played in Jamaica, the object of which is to be the last person to deal a harmless blow to your friend]. You will ask yourself where you can still “get a duppy fi rent” [a ghost for rent] in Jamaica, or how certain we are of our own paternity. You will wonder at the variations of the dialect spoken on an island as small as Jamaica, where in South St. Elizabeth, young people are discouraged from “courting” [having sex] too soon while in Kingston, the practice is condemned as “slackness.” In addition, you will wonder why in some parts of the island, the “rolling calf” [a duppy with fiery eyes and flames issuing from its nostrils] was the most mystical creature in the spirit world while in Big Head’s district, nothing was more fearsome than the ghost named the “Gullippa” duppy. Dr Bonnick’s narrative of his slice of Jamaican life makes you realize that as tiny as their island may be, Jamaicans have a unique and at the same time diverse culture that affords each person enough material to tell his or her own story from their own unique perspective. Dr. Bonnick has told his story forthrightly, humorously and tenderly. I hope it inspires more of us to tell our own story.

Information on “Jamaican Child” and the author, Dr. Bertrand Bonnick, another high school classmate, can be found at the following site:

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!