A translator in Barcelona

Another guest post from my fellow translator, Catherine Christaki, I feel honoured she chose me to host her first ever blog post. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

By Catherine Christaki                               Follow her on Twitter @LinguaGreca

Visiting Barcelona has been a life-long dream, which finally came true last May with the added bonus of supporting the great Greek basketball team Panathinaikos for the Euroleague Final Four (European basketball competition). Just in case you were wondering, the team won the first place making all their fans exhilaratingly happy (including myself & hubby). The excitement for the game, the palpable & festive atmosphere in the stadium can’t really be described, there’s nothing like it. And such sports events are even greater for women, because the ratio is something like 50:1, so the boys treat us women like queens.

Barcelona, what a beauty!

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much available time to see and explore the gorgeous city of Barcelona during our short trip. We barely managed to take a short tour around the city on Friday morning, a stroll in La Rambla on Saturday followed by a flamenco show in Tablao Flamenco Cordobes that same night. So, travel-wise it was only an amuse-bouche, but we’ll be back to explore more, Barcelona hasn’t lost her spot on our destinations priority list, it’s even gone up a few places.

My language experience with Catalan

Let’s get to the language part of this post. I don’t speak Spanish or Catalan (only had a semester’s worth of learning while in Uni – Spanish for beginners, but it’s safe to say that I don’t remember any of it, it’s been a while since then and we all know what happens when you don’t regularly practice your language skills). Plus, I intentionally did no research on the differences of the two languages so that my comments would be more “pure” as a mere visitor and not a linguist. So, here goes:

What’s Catalan for “I can’t speak English”?

As tourists, we went to a few shops and restaurants during our short trip. In some cases, people didn’t even know or understand even the basic words that would be necessary to communicate with tourists. Don’t get me wrong, maybe I interacted with the wrong people and it was just a coincidence. But people kept talking to me in Spanish or Catalan even though it was clear I had no idea what they were on about. And some of them weren’t even very polite or hospitable and didn’t seem keen to make the extra effort, even just using body language. Of course, there were also many helpful and hospitable Catalans who made the whole travel experience even more enjoyable.

The French influence

From my short experience with Catalan, I noticed that the language influence from French is rather significant. It was easier for me to understand Catalan words because I can speak French and not because of my limited knowledge of Spanish. Someone told me that the Catalan equivalent for ‘thank you’ is ‘merci’. Why is that? I think that the two cultures are very different, so I couldn’t imagine the reason behind that heavy influence. Is it because they are neighboring countries? Bulgaria and Turkey are neighbors of Greece, but our languages are far from similar.

Lost in hospitality

Being a translator, it’s not hard to understand why I always notice spelling, grammar and translation mistakes everywhere I go, even in languages I don’t understand. It’s part of the job, most of us do it. So, I should mention a translation blunder I noticed on a poster in the hotel elevator (about breakfast). I don’t remember the Spanish phrase, but the English said “go off on right foot” and it made me laugh. That reminds me of another example. In a London hotel this time, in the elevator again, there was a letter from the manager welcoming guests etc. In one A4 page, less than 300 words, I spotted more than 20 spelling and grammar mistakes (in English!). I decided to alert the receptionist (even offered to help) and she told me it will be taken care of. Nothing had happened until our departure a few days later. Now, what does that say about the hotel’s brand or the hotel staff’s professionalism?

The Twitter connection

My Barcelona trip gave me the opportunity to meet a fellow translator, whom I had virtually met on Twitter. How great is that? I always love meeting new colleagues and with Twitter breaking the ice of the first contact, everything is easier now. Stefan (@SKTranslations), thank you again for the lovely conversation we had, it was one of the highlights of my Barcelona trip!

Special thank you to Silvina (@ATGTranslations), Moiraine (@MoiraineM), Samar (@samarowais) and Konstantina (@wordyrama) for offering to read the post and providing feedback. The comments were very useful and so good, what a support team! I’d also like to thank my gracious host Aga for agreeing to publish my first ever blog post in her blog. We all need help at the beginning of exciting ventures and in this case my Twitter friends have made all the difference.

About the author: Catherine is a freelance translator (English, French & German to Greek), specializing in IT, Medical and Technical texts. She has recently been awarded the 10th place at the Top 25 Language Twitterers 2011 competition. Find out more about her by visiting her profile on Proz. Her website and blog will soon be available online. You can follow her on Twitter at @LinguaGreca.

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Transliteria and her new role

This post is the first one of a series of guest posts. I intend to share my blog space with the selected fellow translators, whose work I highly value and with whom I share a highly pleasurable networking experience on Twitter.

Guest post written by Ewa Erdmann .           Follow her on Twitter @transliteria

Transliteria, Polish translation services, and the Polish Courier – the largest Polish weekly magazine in the South of England – have significantly expanded their collaboration into marketing and advertising. So far, Ewa Erdmann, the owner of Transliteria, has been a journalist for the Polish Courier, writing articles on legal and social issues as well as covering local and global news. This has earned her considerable credibility among her clients, who are confident that Ewa makes the best use of her legal expertise and linguistic skills in translation.

Impressed by Ewa’s success as a reliable journalist and a translator with a well-established brand which she has built up from scratch, the Polish Courier has offered her a freelance position of a marketing and sales executive. “I was absolutely delighted with the offer, as it reflects the trust the Polish Courier has in me. This is definitely a very challenging role but it has already opened up some doors giving me the opportunity to work with local businesses – both English and Polish – helping them reach a large group of Polish clients living and working in the South of England”- says Ewa.

Established in 2006, the Polish Courier is a weekly magazine with an estimated readership figure of 20,000. It is available free of charge and is distributed in over 100 distribution points including Bournemouth, Poole, Southampton, Portsmouth, Salisbury and Isle of Wight.

If you would like to learn more about the Polish Courier, and how it can help you expand your client database, contact Ewa on 07851666508 or email: ee@plkurier.info and you will receive our full media pack with all the detailed information you need.

About the author:

Ewa Erdmann is  a qualified translator and interpreter working in Polish and English. Born in Poland but currently lives in the UK, where she runs her translating business from Bournemouth. Ewa translation specialisations include law, business, marketing, engineering, oil & gas, education, employment, health and more. She also lends her legal expertise in Polski Kurier, a local Polish magazine, where she pens a weekly column on legal issues.

Polish Translator and Business Consultant helps businesses expand into the Polish Market.

By Dr Aga Gordon                Follow me on twitter @acgtranslation

This is my first press release I sent tonight to the local paper in hope it gets published in their business section. Fingers crossed:)

Poland has become one of the largest and fastest growing emerging markets in Eastern and Central Europe since joining the EU in 2004.  Furthermore, the large Polish community is now an extremely important part of the UK demographic makeup.  It offers endless opportunities for SMEs willing to increase their ROI through expanding their client database. Thanks to globalisation and the ease of communication afforded by the Internet, such an opportunity lies within reach. However, expanding into such a promising market should be planned with care to ensure success.

Acgtranslation, owned by Dr. Agnieszka J. Gordon, a bilingual and bicultural business consultant, is dedicated to helping businesses ensure that their expansion into the Polish market is successful.  She says: ‘When planning to enter the Polish market, a professionally translated and properly localised website is certain to play the key role in directing your marketing messages.  This requires familiarity with the culture and customs of the prospective client.  Furthermore, it is crucial to appoint a professional who not only speaks both languages, but is also an expert on Polish culture and a marketing and business specialist. Your selection of a translator should not be guided simply by price, but rather requires someone who can craft your message to the target market, and can guide you efficiently towards the customers’

In you are interested in expanding into the Polish market, please contact Agnieszka Gordon.  She will be delighted to offer language, cultural and business consultancy advice, and help you with bespoke translation of your company website. For more information visit www.acgtranslation.co.uk or call 07878 957519 to discuss your particular needs.

Terrible translation on the Kent County Council website – was it really a good choice to have a contract with Kent Top Temps on all the translation and interpreting services?

Written by Dr Aga Gordon. Follow me @acgtranslation

All of this started when I applied for a primary school place for my little daughter. I posted the application online, which was pretty straightforward, but then I spotted that Kent County Council (KCC; @Kent_cc) had pages in other languages on their website.

I thought it was very progressive of them to provide support for the various minorities we enjoy having in Kent. I normally do not bother to read translated documents since I am effectively bilingual, and translations for public services tend to be clumsy at best. However, this time I decided to have a look, partly out of professional interest, but mainly because I am actively involved in the local Polish community and know that many of my compatriots struggle to read official documents in English.

When I read the Polish translation, my jaw dropped – quite literally.  The result was so shockingly bad that I initially thought they had just used Google translate. However, I copy/pasted the text concerned into Google, and the results, surprisingly, read much better. The translated text on the KCC website is not only clumsy and artificial sounding, but also lacks Polish letters, contains various syntax and grammatical errors, and even worse uses non-existent words. For example the translation reads: ‘…’postaramy sie o interpretora..’, but the latter word does not exist in Polish. The correct translation of the English word ‘interpreter’ is ‘tłumacz ustny’. Another example is the phrase: ‘We can help you get information about our services…’, which is translated as ‘…przedstawiamy informacje o naszych obslugach..’; this not only sounds weird, but the word ‘obsługi’ is also misspelled.  Furthermore, this word should not be used to mean ‘service’ in this context. Services can indeed be translated as ‘obsługa’, but this is more often used in its singular form, and carries a different meaning. The correct word in this context is ‘usługi’. Translation/interpreting services should be translated as ‘usługi tłumaczeniowe’.

At this stage I will not give more details (although more examples could be provided), but suffice to say I was appalled enough to take action on this, so I emailed KCC to alert them to the problem. They explained that Kent Top Temps were responsible for all their translation/interpreting and forwarded my message to them. I decided to wait a few weeks to see if they would respond. Needless to say, they did nothing – neither was the text removed nor did get a reply.

Having received no reply, nor seen any change in the text online, I decided to raise the issue several weeks later with my colleagues – professional translators on Twitter. The reaction was immediate and wonderfully supportive. Czech and Russian translators (@sylvaf and @OlenkaArakelyan) checked their respective translations. The Czech was judged terrible, the Russian less so, but still contained spelling mistakes and was not very good overall. I have not managed to get other languages checked to date, but I hope to get feedback on the Lithuanian, Mandarin and Cantonese translations from my friends soon.

Our lively discussion finally prompted action from Kent County Council through their Twitter account @Kent_cc, resulting in a phone call from Kent Top Temps,. However, our discussion was rather disappointing. After I explained the issue, the person responsible for the translation said they would do their best to help me. Help me? I don’t need help here, but rather I would like to ensure that the Polish community is served appropriately. What is required here is something that was clearly overlooked – a good quality service.

It was explained to me that only native Polish speakers or Institute of Linguists certified interpreters were used. The agency website states that their translation ‘reads effortlessly’, which has been already proven otherwise.  The interpreting is claimed to be of good quality. Having listened to the interpreting video, the person speaking can hardly pronounce Polish words. They recite the same text as the unfortunate translation, with all the mistakes no Polish national would have ever made!  Who were the translators in this case?  At this stage it is unclear, but I do not feel that their command of the Polish language was of sufficient standard to act as a professional translator. I have agreed to retranslate the Polish text, which I will do in next few days. I hope that my translation will replace the existing one and that the horrible video will be removed.

The moral of this story should be a valuable lesson to any organisation requiring translation. They should choose their language provider carefully in order to meet the minority needs correctly rather than offending them by murdering their native language.  It appears that in an attempt to save public money, KCC have taken on a service provider with poor standards and quality control, despite claims to the contrary.

Based on this, it seems that the procedures for choosing the right vendor for providing public service translation and interpreting should be revaluated, since outsourcing ‘a dynamic employment agency providing excellence and leadership’ appears not to deliver the stated objectives.

Perhaps choosing network of professional translators would represent better value for money, even if initially such services might seem more costly? Hiring a professional, whenever needed, should give the advantage of providing a service of much higher quality. Not only are professional translators fluent in the languages concerned, but they possess a deep knowledge of the cultures considered, and are also good writers and experts in their specialist fields. This would also mean a closer relationship between the translator and client, resulting in better communication, faster turnaround times and a translation that reads like a native text rather than a poor imitation of Google Translate.

As an added point of interest, professional translators do not have to be certified by Institute of Linguistics to work to a high level of quality, as is demonstrated by many of my excellent colleagues.

Finally I would like to thank Rose Newell (@lingocode) and Ewa Erdmann (@transliteria for fruitful discussions on the matter.

The art of cold calling. Strategic advice to fellow translators and others.

Written by Aga Gordon

Most translators, especially beginners, send a large number of CVs to translation agencies to try to get work. This will surely be successful, but at the price of sacrificing the lion’s share of the payment to the agencies for finding this work. I would advise more proactive approach; a bit more challenging perhaps, but as a result more self-fulfilling.

This strategy requires a change in your mindset from passive jobseeker to active enrepreneur. In short, you take your business destiny in your own hands, and start looking for DIRECT CLIENTS.

There are several techniques to achieve your vision, one of these being old fashioned COLD CALLING. I can hear some of you shrugging and thinking: ‘But I am not a sales person!’. You might be proved wrong, if you have a chance to read Pawel Grabowski’s book which contains excellent advice on this. Pawel shows how every small business owner is effectively a sales person, and how to maximize your client database. It is certainly worth having a look at this book.

I would challenge you on changing your mindset about cold calling. It is a fantastic technique, used by many successful entrepreneurs, which we all are, aren’t we? In brief, it is a meaningful, professional approach to clients, presenting them with a valuable proposition.

Depending on your attitude, cold calling can be either an incredibly successful strategy or a necessary chore. Do not think that cold calling is a hopeless exercise, bringing only a small percentage of customers. Such an approach does put it on a par with junk mail. On the contrary, it is an empowering method, enabling you to achieve what you want through gaining new business. It enables you to take control of who and how much you work for (the sky is a limit). It also determines your future in accordance with your own VISION.

Cold calling will give you FREEDOM – you will not depend on anyone. What is more, you will decide on your RATES.

This approach is challenging the status quo, which is the translation industry culture of initially working through agencies – ‘we always have done it like that’. Doing it your own way is truly a trait of an entrepreneur, and I would strongly advocate that every translator behaves in this manner. I have noticed that Judy Jenner from Twintranslations also advocates an entrepreneurial approach, and even published the book ‘Entrepreneurial linguist’, which I have not yet had the opportunity to read.

Here are a few tips to ensure you cold call efficiently and effectively:

  • Make sure you know exactly what you want to achieve.
  • Be flexible.
  • Be proactive in seeking business.

Of course effective cold calling is not easy, as otherwise everyone would do it, and you would not be able to differentiate yourself and achieve a competitive advantage.

Here are some more tips about how to behave while cold calling:

  • Be interesting and helpful – nobody likes boring, pressurizing and repetitive sales pitches.
  • Prepare a straightforward, informative, and professional business proposition.
  • Be enthusiastic about what you do.
  • Be creative and innovative.

In short it is all about changing style and attitude from perceiving a cold call as a necessary chore, to seeing it as an empowering strategy aimed at achieving your vision and goals. You do not deliver junk, you are a strategic enabler.

Tips on cold calling strategy:

  • Ensure your translation services meet the organisation’s needs, and ethical, social, political and cultural standards.
  • See cold calling as a strategic and empowering process, and aim to excel at it.
  • Make sure you are relaxed when you are cold calling
  • Understand your services and environment extremely well. Of course you know what you offering, your strong points, your excellent knowledge and expertise, but you also need to have a deep understanding about the industry specifics, competitors, new entrants, barriers to entry, issues etc.
  • Research the organisation you are cold calling in depth in order to be able to address their needs properly. This also means exploring possible issues related to your proposition, and the ways to address them properly.
  • Prepare a concise introductory speech about your translation services, but do not make it sound like a fixed script, remember to be flexible.
  • Do not try to push or sell. This is the tricky bit. I am sure you also do not like to be forced to buy anything. Therefore, behave more like an advisor to help the supplier to make an informed decision. Naturally, your product needs to be of a superb quality.
  • Educate the client gently and slowly. The ultimate aim is to find the fit between your translation services and the client’s needs.
  • Engage the client in discussion to help them to make a decision.
  • Make sure you have a deep understanding of the whole process right from the beginning (keep notes if necessary) and show a genuine interest in the prospective client.

An example of cold calling could look like this:

‘Good morning, Mr Smith. This is Dr Agnieszka Gordon of acgtranslation. I read in the local paper that you are planning a strategic move into Eastern European markets. I am a professional English to Polish translator, specialising in business translations. I hold an MBA and have an extensive knowledge about Polish culture and market. I’d like to ask a few questions to determine whether my services and experience will help you to achieve your vision’

As you can see there is none of the old technique of pushing the client to take on your services. Do not be tempted to do so. I personally never accept any offer carried out in such a manner.

And finally, be patient and persevere. Most of your potential clients will not take your offer immediately, but make sure you contact them periodically to see if their needs have changed. You might even need several calls, but take your time to build a strong and long-lasting relationship.

Finally, I realize I have not exhausted all the possibilities so I would be interested in the tips and the strategies you use. Please share!

2nd Easter fun day in Canterbury

 

Written by Aga Gordon

I have just finished making a leaflet and putting the joint press release together for a joint community event in Canterbury. I am very excited about it, as we ran it last year for the first time and it was a good FUN.

For those who don’t know what it is about I shall explain briefly. Easter fun day is a fun packed, family oriented day organized jointly by the Polish Association in Kent (http://www.polskakent.org) in which I am actively involved, Canterbury Library and Canterbury Museum. Last year Spring Lane Community Centre was involved, but this time we invited Riverside Children’s Centre to take part. One of the reasons for this is that I have developed close links with them, through organising a Polish mother and toddler group on their premises, sitting at their Operational Board as a parent representative, and of course using their excellent services together with my little girl.

The idea of the event is to bring the British and Polish communities closer through learning about their mutual customs and ,and most importantly just to have FUN!

So if you live in or around Canterbury , know anyone who does, or simply fancy a good day out, you are WELCOME TO JOIN US!

Below you will find some more information, both in English and Polish. PLEASE PASS THE INFORMATION AROUND!

Free Easter Fun Day for Families

Discover how Easter is celebrated in Poland, United Kingdom and around the globe in Canterbury’s free Easter Fun Day, Saturday 16 April.

The fun begins at the Riverside Children’s Centre, Kingsmead between 10am and 12 noon, where families with children can experience Polish Easter customs led by members of the Polish Association in Kent.

  • Decorate an egg or cake and Easter basket
  • Make traditional Easter palm
  • Discover Polish Easter Traditions
  • Taste home made Polish cakes

Activities continue at Canterbury Library, 35 Pound Lane between 2pm and 3pm, with traditional stories read in English and Polish for 3 to 6 year olds.

Round off the day with an entertaining visit to the Museum of Canterbury, Stour Street.  Drop-in anytime between 2pm and 4pm.

  • Decorate eggs and take part in fun and unusual Easter customs from Britain, Poland and around the world.
  • Complete a treasure hunt around the galleries to win a small prize.
  • Included in museum entry charge. Free to Canterbury District Residents Card holders and their families.
  • Age 3 to adult.

The Easter Fun Day is a partnership event led by Polish Association in Kent, Riverside Children’s Centre, Canterbury Museums, and Kent County Council Libraries & Archives.

For further information please call 01227 475550 (Riverside Children’s Centre; http://www.kenttrustweb.org.uk/chc/chc_riverside_can_home.cfm); 01227 463 608 (Canterbury Library); or 01227 475 202 (Museum of Canterbury); 07878957519 (Aga Gordon, http://www.acgtranslation.co.uk; Polish Association in Kent; http://www.polskakent.org)

WIELKANOCNA FRAJDA

Chcesz się dowiedzieć jak obchodzi się Wielkanoc w Polsce, Wielkiej Brytanii i na świecie? Przyłącz się do nas i weź udział w Wielkanocnej Frajdzie, darmowej imprezie dla rodzin z dziećmi, 16 kwietnia w Canterbury.

Pierwsza część imprezy odbędzie się w Riverside Children’s Centre (Kingsmead) w godzinach 10.00-12.00, gdzie Członkowie Zrzeszenia Polaków Okręgu Kent wraz z pracownikami Riverside Children’s Centre poprowadzą zabawy i zajęcia plastyczne o tematyce wielkanocnej.

  • Udekoruj pisankę lub babeczkę wielkanocną i zrób dla nich koszyczek
  • Zrób tradycyjną palmę wielkanocną
  • Zapoznaj się z polskimi tradycjami
  • Spróbuj przepysznych ciast domowego wypieku

Następnie przenieś się do Biblioteki Miejskiej (35 Pound Lane), gdzie w godzinach między 14.00 a 15.00 możesz:

  • Posłuchać bajek po polsku i angielsku (dzieci w wieku od 3 do 6 lat)
  • Udekorować własną zakładkę do książek

Dzień zakończy się w Muzeum (Stour Street, Canterbury). Możesz tam przyjść kiedy chcesz między 14 a 16.00.

  • Udekoruj pisankę i zapoznaj się ze zwyczajami wielkanocnymi, nie tylko w Polsce i Wielkiej Brytanii, ale i na świecie.
  • Weź udział w poszukiwaniu ‘skarbu’ w zakamarkach muzeum.

Dla posiadaczy karty rezydenta (Canterbury District Residents Card) wstęp wolny;  Osoby spoza regionu uczestniczą po okazaniu biletu wstępu do muzeum. Wiek powyżej 3 lat

Wielkanocna Frajda jest imprezą zorganizowaną wspólnie przez Zrzeszenie Polaków Okręgu Kent (www.polskakent.org), Riverside Children’s Centre , Muzeum w Canterbury oraz Biblioteki i Archiwa Hrabstwa Kent.

Więcej informacji udzielają: Riverside Children Centre, tel. (01227) 475550; Biblioteka w Canterbury, tel. (01227) 463 608 ; Muzeum w Canterbury, tel. (01227) 475 202; Aga Gordon (Zrzeszenie Polaków Okręgu Kent) tel. 07878957519

Professional translator or agency? My thoughts on a well-known dilemma.

Written by Aga Gordon

I thought it might be useful to share my thoughts on the dilemma common in the translation industry. Suppose you want to expand your business, or simply have foreign employees in your company (let’s say Polish, because this is my professional translation language).

So what are the main differences in the choice above? Perhaps I should clarify what both expressions mean.

A professional translator is a person who is fluent in both languages, or in the best case is effectively bilingual. This person is either a trained linguist or a naturally excellent linguist, and has a deep knowledge of the syntax, language nuances, idioms, grammar and correct use of the target language. They are familiar with both cultures. A professional translator translates into their native language only, unless like myself they are bilingual. A professional translator is also a good writer, because translation does not mean merely replacing source words with target words, but also conveying the exact meaning of the text in such a way that it reads like native text and not a translation. In addition, high attention to detail, a good client relationship, excellent communication skills, confidentiality, and a generally pleasant attitude are all important.

When it comes to specialised texts, ideally a professional knowledge of the subject area is required. For example, for a medical or scientific translation, a scientifically trained professional translator would be an ideal choice. In my case, holding a PhD in chemistry provides me with a deep enough knowledge to provide accurate translation in most scientific and medical areas. Hiring a professional with an academic background has yet another advantage. Those who have worked in academia often have access to academic journals inaccessible through a standard Google search. Translators with an academic background, like me, can have access to many specialist journals through their University. In addition, most of us have developed a broad network of specialist collaborators. These people can act as consultants should we have doubts about details of particular subject. This is not to say that professional translators with only a linguistic background are not worth hiring for scientific or medical translation. Those with several years of translation experience, who specialise in particular disciplines, may clearly be worth hiring too. You should make sure, however, that they have sufficient familiarity in the specific subject of the translation.

A similar argument applies to all the specialist fields, as you are probably already aware. I would like to mention business translation as in addition to my scientific background I also have a business degree, and far too often see bad translations everywhere. A professional translator with a business degree will almost certainly be your best bet if you want to reach a foreign market. They would not only know the target language and culture, but will also be able to address your customer using their knowledge about marketing, modern business models, practices and frameworks. It can therefore become more than just a translation, but also potentially a great marketing tool to increase your market share in the target country.

Having explored the concept of professional translator, I would now like to concentrate on translation through a translation agency.

Many companies and government organisations choose to sign a contract with a translation agency for the translation of their important documents and other material. I am not surprised as this option often seems to offer better value for money and a quicker turnaround. However, I would like to raise a few points about translation through agencies from the point of view of a freelance translator. I would like to stress that this is based on my own experience, and surely does not apply to all translation agencies. Firstly, seemingly low cost – is that really true? Translation agencies have large overheads and also want to secure big returns – this means that they have to pay very little for the translation itself to keep the cost to the customer low. Their quality process might be good in theory – translation, editing, proofreading and perhaps even research will be involved. However, because of the low rates they offer, no experienced professional translator is likely to undertake the project, but instead non-expert translators who cannot provide a proper appreciation of the subject matter. The result is generally a poor quality, or in extreme cases unreadable, translation. As a result your translation might read as if has just come from Google translate, which you can have for free, so why bother? Or at its best it will simply read awkwardly, might not convey the meaning it should, or even have punctuation, grammatical or spelling errors. I personally encounter many bad translations provided for government and not-for-profit organizations, which often read as if written by someone who lacks basic writing skills. The translator might understand both languages, but their lack of writing skills or specialist subject knowledge make the translated document read like it was written by a primary school pupil. Does such a result justify cost-cutting policies when hiring the translation provider? Such a policy is, in effect, wasting the money spent on a poor translation for the sake of saving a few hundred pounds.

Of course one can say that for larger translation projects the translation agency has an advantage over the professional translator. I do not agree. Most good professional translators have developed excellent networks with other highly professional translators all over the world. They can handle big projects in a highly efficient manner, as they often have superb project management skills in addition to their experience and knowledge. Yes, they might not come cheap, but the quality of their work will be far better than that where the project manager (often) has no knowledge of the language(s) of the project, as may well be the case with an agency.

In summary, before you decide who should handle your important translation, it is worth thinking whether your priority is saving money, or getting your message across in the most effective manner.  Or to put in more colloquially, if you pay peanuts…for an alternative take on this discussion.

I am aware of the limitation of the human being, however skilled and experienced, therefore I would love to see your thoughts on this subject. Please leave your comments and share the knowledge. Thank you.

Trying my abilities in logo design

Having decided to have a relaxing evening, I thought it would be a good idea to try different logos I had in mind. I came up with the simple one above, which I think captures quite well the key aspects of the business – English <-> Polish translation with a bit of navy blue to underpin the Union Jack contribution.

I must admit I am quite pleased with the final result, although one of my dear friends thought it was a bit too minimalist:) She knows, however, that for me less means more:)))

I would be more than happy to hear your opinions about the logo, there is always room for improvement!

Different levels of translation quality?

Written by Aga Gordon

Today, while browsing the web as I do everyday, I encountered a translation agency (which name I won’t mention although perhaps I should), which both shocked me and provoked to write this short (and the first) note in my blog.

The agency, which claims to be the leading translation agency, happens to claim to have three levels of quality: gold, silver and bronze. The gold one is supposed to be the immaculate process of TEP (Translation, Editing and Proofreading), silver means only TE and bronze consist only of T. The underlying idea is seemingly a cost-effective solution for those, who perhaps, are only in need to roughly understand the text , therefore might not need the standard, thorough process of the quality translation.

Well, I could not agree less. As everyone involved in professional translation surely knows, translation is always synonimous with the quality. Not only the first round carried out by the professional translator is required, at least one process of editing and one of proofreading should follow. The translator should be also a talented writer. All these, in my opinion, are basic essentials in order for the translation to read smoothly and not appear ‘a translation’ but a text written by a native speaker. Knowledge of  both cultures and sufficient terminology in both source and target language is a must.For more specialised subjects, like chemistry or medicine, in depth knowledge of the area is also necessary. Wide range of specialist vocabulary, dictionaries and internet resources might prove not to be sufficient in certain, narrow specialist areas (I have seen a lot of bad translations in chemistry).

All in all, good translation can never be cheap . Are cheap clothes of a good quality? Or do you expect a luxury stay in a cheap hotel? Besides paying little first round, can cost you more later (I could quote a lot of examples from other industries, when outsourcing to companies in India or China to cut cost, resulted in terrible quality and hence more cost).

It all appears a desperate move towards attracting more clients but in my opinion it really undermines the translation industry and can potentially result in more terrible translations, we unfortunately see more and more around. It all stems from the fact that there are financial cuts everywhere but it is a way to go? I do not think so, do you?

Please leave a comment, I am very much interested in your views.

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