Happy New Year! This is the first card of this series. With every new year we reset our minds and hopes for good things to come. Send this card to your fellow translators and/or clients to wish them the best for 2021.
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December is here and we are getting very close to the holiday season so I decided it was time for a new series of season’s greetings cards for translators and interpreters. After a very psychologically challenging year with added stress brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important we take some time to relax and reach out to your loved ones. Send a bit of humor to your colleagues to help them unwind from these stressful times.
So you’re finally choosing to embark on a worldly skill. Writing in a foreign language is no easy feat — that’s for sure. But it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. However, if you find yourself having a difficult time, then it’s your best option to outsource or seek help from qualified professionals around you.
Here are some dos and don’ts on how to go about translating text into a different language:
Major Do: Hire A Professional
This is the best and will always be the first choice for people who need translation services. However, if you’re on a tight budget, the ideal choice for you is to hire a freelance professional translator. They have their own language expertise, so make sure to interview them firsthand regarding their experience. Don’t forget to ask for samples from them to see how they work and if their output meets your standard.
If you can afford to pay more, you may opt to hire global translation companies then. This is because they may be more reliable and stable. Unlike freelancers, you can easily track them down if there are problems with their translation services. The only downside to this, however, is their expensive fees.
Keep in mind that most professional translation agencies have a minimum fee. For instance, some require you to at least have 500 words so you can get their services. If you go below this number, you still have to pay the amount for the 500 words.
Regardless of the extra funds you need to shell out, remember that the most reliable translations come from professional language service providers. This is true, especially if you need help with website translation, legal translation or other types of translations that can only be done by a certified professional. So, the investment would be worth it.
Slight Don’t: Use Translation Tools
You could consider investing in a high-quality translation software or application that would give you the best results there is to give. This would ensure that you are always on-the-go for work, so you’d never miss out on opportunities.
Although, tread with caution as these apps can still give you slightly inaccurate results that can jeopardize your reputation and connections because of a weirdly-worded message. In the end, it is always better to rely on professionals, whether a freelance translator or a language service provider, to ensure a correct and accurate translation.
Major Don’t: Use Free Translation Tools
For quick, informal searches like figuring out what your friend or what your subtitle-lacking Korean movie character just said, sure, you could use free translation tools.
But if you’re on the job to translate, avoid these free translation tools at all costs because you’re bound to getting majorly inaccurate results. This is because these translation tools usually ignore the tone of voice and are based on the most common, word-for-word translations out there.
If you make the mistake of relying on generic translations, you may also run the risk of confusing synonyms and overlooking cultural sensitivities.
Hi there! I’m currently completing my first year of training to become a professional interpreter — a pending subject I’ve had for so long is now becoming a dream come true. I love interpreting as much as translating, but when I’m not actually doing it and I start analyzing carefully what it entails to be a good interpreter I sometimes panic. Your brain is one of your biggest assets and allies, but it can also become your worst enemy. If you start overthinking it, your own thoughts can get in the way of the message the speaker is conveying and you are trying to get across in the target language. So many times, you should simply relax and worry about one utterance at a time.
Send this card to your fellow interpreters to support them on their amazing job and remind them to keep relaxed.
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One of the most important aspects of successful translation between languages is commonly overlooked— writing. Most translators observed in business meetings, television, and other media are speaking. But behind the scenes, translation of the languages involved must take place for a proper exchange of information. Writing in foreign language is also one of the best ways to learn the language, as the hand-brain connection makes it easier to memorize what you are reading and writing.
Let’s look at translating tips for writing in a foreign language, and help you have a better idea of where to get started and what to focus on.
Grasp the Conjugation and Common Stylistic Rules
Every language follows a set of guidelines — let’s call them laws — that form the basis of conjugation and sentences. Understanding these basics assists the writer in translating words more quickly.
First, begin with the alphabet as it provides the root to pronunciation and spelling. Next, you want to note common word endings.
In English, for example, words ending in -ing are very common in sentences describing action, while in Spanish, that ending can be written as -ando in some circumstances.
Learn to recognize the things you see repeatedly in the language, and you’ll be able to more quickly translate it on paper.
Consume Media on a Regular Basis
Media is a key element in helping you translate. Movies, audios and books can all be a big help. Reply back to interviews and speak out loud to friends, family and colleagues who can help in making corrections.
Listen closely and jot down new words to ensure that they are not lost. Also, make sure you have the subtitles on — this not only helps you quickly check anything that you didn’t grasp right away, but gets your brain used to the translation process and what it looks like in writing.
Books are media too and are going to be of immense help as your translation skills progress.
Reading is a practice that improves writing tremendously as the writer is able to improve on their vocabulary and grammatical skills. There is no better way to get better at translating and at writing than to read consistently in the language.
Reading actual books provides you with the opportunity to see sentences developed and properly punctuated, along with the use of idioms and phrases and the stylistic techniques that can be used to enhance the creativity of the work.
By consistently reading material in the language, you are able to comprehend different styles of texts that they may be beneficial to whatever it is you are using the translating skills for.
If this is for business meetings, for example, reading up on business translation tips can help you grasp what is common practice and what is expected in each document or piece of work you submit.
Since a foreign language is used for communicative purposes, it is essential for writers to comprehend knowledge from a variety of books and other forms of media on how they can communicate effectively when writing.
Pursue Constructive Criticism
After you’ve grasped the basics of writing in the new language and are practicing them regularly, you’re going to want to pursue some constructive criticism and feedback.
Online language lessons can be a big help with this, as you’ll be paired with a native speaker of the language who can work one-on-one with you on exactly what it is you need to practice, and can provide live feedback.
In this case, that is translating the written language, in which case the tutor can work through documents with you to make sure your grammar, conjugation, and spelling are correct. The tutor can also note words, phrases, or subtleties that you may have missed to make your translated writing more complete and effective. And the best part is, you don’t have to tell anyone that you submit the writing that you had outside help — it’s our secret.
As the world becomes more connected, interactions between people from different cultures, whether that be at school, at work or as part of daily life, are increasing. As a result of this, the translation industry is growing at an unprecedented rate and consequently, so are the number of translators!
Many times you might say to your translator, “you’re a life-saver” or “you are irreplaceable” or “I couldn’t have completed that business deal without you”, which are all great to hear. But here are a few things you perhaps shouldn’t say if you want to keep your translator sweet!
1. I just had my secretary write a 70-page document, can you quickly proofread it for me?
First of all, there’s nothing ‘quick’ about 70-pages. It’s easy for people to undermine a translator’s ability by assuming proofreading or translating a document is a walk in the park. What many fail to understand is that it takes years of learning, practice and commitment to become a good translator, and even at your best, you may still lose an hour of your day researching the perfect translation of a single word.
2. You are a translator, right? What does (insert random word with no context) mean?
Sure, translators are very skilled (almost superhuman may we add!) but that doesn’t mean they can translate every single language on Earth! Additionally, many languages, including English, have words with multiple meanings. We can guarantee that a translator’s first response to a question such as this would be “what’s the context?”
3. I took French in high school and was looking for some work on the side, could you help me get into the industry?
We understand. It’s natural for people to think that all it takes to become a translator is basic knowledge of a language, but being a translator is so much more than that. It’s one thing being able to understand what someone has said in a foreign language, but being able to convey that in another is a form of art. Plus, if everyone who took French in high school became a translator, why are some earning up to $100 an hour?
4. What! So you translate from home? Is that an actual job?
Yes, it is. Do you think there’d be a multi-billion dollar translation industry otherwise?
5. Wait, what? $(fill in the blank) for a job that will literally take a few hours to translate? I’ll use Google Translate instead!
Translators hear this many times over the course of their careers and it’s never nice to feel like your time and abilities are being undermined. But, again, a multi-billion dollar translation industry wouldn’t exist if Google Translate were accurate. Give it a go, we guarantee you’ll be back!
6. There’s no way it can take that long! I needed this yesterday! It’s only 25 pages long, a day is surely more than enough.
Translation is not an easy job, and sometimes it can take a long time. If translation were merely swapping words from one language to another then hey, it would be easy (and even Google Translate could do a good job). It’s not, though. It involves assessing the context, understanding the background of a word or phrase, maintaining a tone, localising a concept… the list goes on. And it’s for this reason that it takes about an hour to translate a one page document. So, yes, perhaps a day would be enough if they don’t eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, have a life etc.
7. So, I had my friend look over the document you translated. She speaks French and doesn’t think it’s very good.
If you have a friend, aunty, cousin, grandpa that you wholly trust to do your translation work for you, then why seek the services of a professional? Enough said!
8. We need you to translate a super confidential document and can only send it after we agree a price. How much will you charge?
Think of this from a practical perspective: how is a translator supposed to assess the scope of the work if they can’t see the document? This is like asking a landscaper to transform your garden, but not letting them see it first. A 300-word translation of a contact form is very different to the translation of a 300-word document on ventilation cowls for the upward discharge of hot air in sustainable buildings…
9. I need you to maintain the formatting in this scanned JPEG file I’m sending you to translate.
A language is a hard enough skill to learn without having to understand the ins and outs of graphic design. They are two completely separate jobs and should be treated as such. If you’re lucky enough to come across a translator willing to do both, you should expect them to ask to be compensated accordingly. Otherwise, hire a graphic designer to either create an editable copy of the file in the first instance, or ask them to amend the formatting once the translation has been completed.
10. Can you please give me a quote to translate my website www.(ridiculousnumberofpages).com?
Typically, website translations are high-volume, so make sure you have a high budget! Don’t expect a translator to spend hours of their day clicking through URL by URL trying to figure out the content to translate just for you to refuse their quote. Help them out by sending a list of the URLs to be translated, or even better, export the content into an Excel file.
Be kind. Avoid demeaning comments, unrealistic expectations, and be courteous to your translator. It’s by no means an easy job, even for the most skilled of translators.
On the other hand, if you are a translator, try to remain calm and positive. Most of these questions are due to not fully understanding the true cost of a quality translation. Eventually, you will find it pretty funny and get a good laugh out of it!
Hi there. This is the second cartoon in the series about the main differences between translators and interpreters at a glance. As mentioned in my previous post, many times most people use the term “translator” to refer to both professions, but these two disciplines require a different set of skills and different types of training, too.
This cartoon shows a difference regarding the time given for the delivery of the work performed. Translators usually work with the deadlines set by the clients. This means that they can administer the time given until the final delivery to translate the text, check the terminology, rephrase or change the translation, proofread it and so on. However, it is worth noting that more often than not the deadlines given are brief (some could even be only hours), which causes translators to work non-stop for long stretches of time (there are many cartoons depicting this).
On the other hand, interpreters have to deliver their rendition in the target language at the same time or immediately after the source is uttered so they have no time to look up words and have to rely on all the knowledge and skills they have acquired before the interpreting event.
It would be fair to say that translators can get back to their translations and make improvements whereas interpreters have just one change to get it right. In both cases, their work is incredibly challenging and worthy of admiration and recognition. Keep up the good work, translators and interpreters!
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You may have already seen poorly translated texts or images posted on social media, celebrities’ tattoos, or even in recurring comedy segments in television shows. It is truly hilarious when certain words are translated into a different language that does not imply its actual definition. But more than you know, bad translations can actually result in severe consequences.
What are the Negative Impacts of Poor Translation?
To many professionals, receiving certified translation services can sometimes be an afterthought. Many are now utilizing machine translation software that is often incapable of producing accurate results. It’s important to understand that the impact of bad translation goes beyond funny jokes. It can lead to massive humiliation, failure of businesses, medical malpractice, and more.
Negative Impact on Business
When engaging in a foreign business, you must present yourself and the company in the best way possible. One way you can do that is by making sure that all your documents are prepared and translated respectfully and accurately. Otherwise, the company may be deemed unprofessional and incompetent. More so, bad translation may also come across as offensive to potential clients if the cultural aspects, for instance, are not given proper consideration.
Once the industry perceives the company as unprofessional, it will be very likely that other foreign accounts will not want to do business with you. You will lose deals that can potentially turn the company into success. Moreover, once the incident spreads like wildfire, customers may also feel uncomfortable supporting a company that disrespects other people’s cultural backgrounds.
Poor translations can damage a company’s reputation. And it’s important to understand that such mistakes are something you can have control over. Protecting your business and brand should be a top priority, as negative publicity can potentially lead your business into bankruptcy.
Not only that, but your company can also get in conflict with the law as lousy translations can provide misleading and damaging information. Poor translations of documents may also lead to increased expenses, as misinformation often leads to poor decisions. Correct and accurate translation steers proper understanding, and without it, you can’t make plans relevant to the company’s progress.
Negative Impact on Medicine
Doctors, nurses, and medical staff need to obtain correct information as mistranslated documents can lead to harmful consequences that could potentially harm their patients. Professional medical translation is vital in ensuring the best possible care is given to the people.
The medical staff needs accurate guidance when understanding medical device manuals, medical records, and clinical reports. Without proper translation, they can potentially give medicine that can trigger patients’ conditions or prevent them from performing needed surgeries or additional care.
In giving health details, agreements and contracts, proper translation allows the patients to make informed decisions. The medical staff will also need accurate translation to make crucial decisions for their patients’ care and avoid medical malpractice.
Essential documents must be accurately translated and reflect the source language’s original intent, tone, definition, content, and cultural cues. Situations of incorrect translation are more than the memes you see on the internet; it can lead to miscommunication and damage people’s lives.
Hi there. This is the first cartoon in the series about the main differences between translators and interpreters at a glance. Although many times most people use the term “translator” to refer to both professions, these two disciplines require a different set of skills and different types of training, too. I would also say that they require different types of personalities, but we’ll leave that for a future post.
As shown in the cartoon, the first and huge difference resides in the medium of expression as translators work with written texts and interpreters with spoken utterances.
What is your reaction when people mistake these two terms for one another?
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Name 5 book translations more popular than their originals
Although literature might be classified according to language, national origin, genre, and subject matter, the feeling that the reader gets from consuming a book cannot be classified into any groups as the feeling is universal. Understanding this concept, people from all around the world have translated famous and valuable books in many languages so that the world can enjoy them and not only the citizens of the country where it was published. A book must have high value for the readers to be translated in many different languages. Below we compiled a list of 5 world-famous book translations that are actually more popular than the original crafts.
Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” was originally written in Portuguese and was published in 1988 and now it is one of the most-read books around the world. It is translated and published in 56 different languages and has won the Guinness World Record as the most translated book by a living author. Wordinvent credited translation for the success of this book beyond its native borders.
It probably comes as no surprise that J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” has been translated into so many different languages since its first installment was published back in 1997. The story of a boy wizard and his friends fighting against the evil defined the last few decades for numerous young readers. The book recently got its 80th translation in Scottish and this number will likely continue to grow.
“Les Aventures de Tintin” is a French classic written by Herge in 1929. The story of a reporter and his dog Snowy had a worldwide appeal as the story itself is worldwide, with Tintin travelling the globe and encountering many different countries. Herge used a lot of factual research in the book and represented various cultures and people accurately, which led it to be translated into 115 other languages.
Since Lewis Carroll wrote “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” in 1865, it has captivated both young and old audiences as it goes on to be translated into 174 other languages all around the world. While it is a simple story of a girl who gets lost and falls into a magical world, the book is still filled with complex math problems and wordplay that captivates people long after they’ve stopped identifying with the 8-year-old Alice.
“Le Avventure di Pinocchio” a book written in 1883 by Carlo Collodi is a phenomenal book read by people all around the world. It was originally written in Italian and has been translated into more than 260 other languages. The story of the marionette who becomes a boy through a series of adventures has inspired a huge number of readers of different nationalities throughout the world.