Continuing with the humourous cartoons about translators I felt the inspiration to create this cartoon playing a little with the most dreaded word a translator can hear —”deadline”.
Translators are an odd type that is most exposed when mingled with other “normal” people. No matter how hard they try to go with the flow, there is always a detail that will give them away. Do you agree?
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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.
Project glossary defined for translators and interpreters
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Let me guess… You have landed a translation project. Everything runs smoothly. You receive the files and even a glossary to complete the task! You start your translation and you are doing great! You are fine except for a few key terms that are crucial for the meaning of the text. You don’t panic because you know you have the wide and robust glossary specifically sent for this project, right? Well… guess what as a rule of thumb the glossary will never contain “the terms” YOU need so urgently. Translators’ luck.
Keep the smile all the same! Being a freelance translator is a fun adventure, isn’t it?
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Being a freelance translator is not just a profession, it´s a lifestyle.
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Share good vibes about translation. All cards can be customized. The name of the recipient can be added as well as any other details of your choice. You can see all available cards here. More cards coming soon!
Dating freelance translators is not an easy task. This is the first post of many future posts suggesting pick up lines you can use if you want to win a freelance translator’s heart. One hint: any comment regarding language will do.
Translation is a solitary enterprise. All translators need a bit of encouragement and a bit of fun from time to time. Send these cards to your colleagues or to your clients and share good vibes about translation. All cards can be customized. The name of the recipient can be added as well as any other details of your choice. You can see all available cards here. More cards coming soon!