Category Archives: Spanish Translation and Interpreting

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.

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.

Challenges Faced by Consecutive Spanish Interpreters

Why Spanish Interpreters Are Really Multi-Lingual, Especially When Speakers Use Spanglish

One of the ultimate objectives of Spanish language training is to teach students to speak, read and write accurate and impeccable Spanish with the hope that some day, they may become sufficiently proficient in the language to use it professionally. Great efforts have been made to maintain standard Spanish and some of the career paths students of Spanish have aspired to are translation, interpreting, document review, voice-over recording, writing, teaching, et al. 

In this article, we will discuss the challenges some Spanish interpreters face in their daily work. There are two main types of interpreting: (1) simultaneous and (2) consecutive. In simultaneous interpreting, the interpreter renders the speaker’s words from one language into another while the speaker is still speaking. In consecutive interpreting, the interpreter waits for the speaker to stop speaking and then renders the speaker’s words from one language into another. Consecutive interpreters can interpret at court hearings, depositions, jailhouse visits, interviews, business meetings, medical appointments, independent medical evaluations, during telephone conferences or exchanges between a small number of persons. 

Since speakers can go uninterrupted for a significant amount of time before a break is finally given for interpreters to render all that has been said into another language, consecutive interpreters are faced with the task of remembering extraneous amounts of speech. They have to rely upon their short-term memories and note-taking skills. In order to recall what speakers have said that needs to be rendered into another language, consecutive interpreters have to develop an elaborate, personal system of symbols to represent everything that is said in interpreting assignments. To a certain extent, the note-taking system developed by the interpreter is like a language in itself. 

In addition to relying upon their short-term memories and note-taking skills, consecutive interpreters have to be familiar with the respective terminology and subject material being discussed, along with the various regionalisms used in different Spanish-speaking countries, so constant vocabulary building is essential for interpreters’ success since during each assignment, they will have to interpret for Spanish speakers from different regions. 

three ring venn diagram
Spanglish is a blend of Spanish and English used at varying extents

 

As if they do not already have to think on their feet, finding the appropriate symbols to represent everything that is said and then rendering the verbal translation at the appropriate time, interpreters also stand the risk of being baffled when a defendant, deponent, claimant, participant, patient or other speaker says something that they have never heard before in Spanish. It can take the interpreter some time to regain his or her composure and he or she may request a moment to check a dictionary. At some point, the speaker may even clarify the intended meaning of what was said or the interpreter may eventually figure it out. Whatever the case, when such clarification is provided, the interpreter can be taken aback at the realization that the speaker has just spoken Spanglish![i] Spanglish is a blend of Spanish and English that can be used at varying degrees. Users of Spanglish simply do not pay any attention to the efforts being made to keep Spanish, or English for that matter, standard. To the contrary, they have a mind of their own and develop this new way of speaking for their own convenience. Spanglish vocabularies have seen tremendous development and are no longer just a matter of a few words..[ii] 

Hence, Spanish interpreters must either decide to study Spanglish and stay up-to-date with the growing vocabulary or run the risk of being rendered speechless in interpreting assignments. Following are a few Spanish words, their Spanglish counterparts and English meanings:

Spanish Spanglish English
sótano beisman basement
paseando jangeando going out or hanging out
goteando liquiando leaking
alfombra carpeta carpet
éxito suceso success
almuerzo lunche lunch
ayudar asistir to assist
asistir atender attend
empujar puchar to push
estacionar parquear to park

Spanglish is constantly evolving; it is neither organized nor consistent. Perhaps, the only way in which Spanglish may be comparable with Spanish is that different Spanglish expressions are used by different speakers in different regions.[iii] It would appear as if the responsibility for Spanglish interpreting has automatically fallen to Spanish interpreters and embracing this responsibility is not always easy. As Spanglish continues to evolve, the translation and interpreting industry may have to rethink this arrangement and more specialized Spanglish linguists may have to arise to embrace the task of interpreting Spanglish as distinct from Spanish and English. 


[i] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanglish 

[ii] http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1438900 

[iii] http://factoidz.com/the-spanglish-language/