Elia Together 2016 – In Review



On February 11th and 12th 2016, the European Language Industry Association (ELIA) held its first Together Conference in Barcelona, Spain and Commit was there!

The moto of the event was “Developing our Connections” and it aimed in bringing together freelance language professionals and companies. The conference consisted of three streams: Relationships, Growth and Technology with the purpose of covering every aspect of the LSP-vendor relationship.

During the conference we got to connect with many freelance translators and other language industry stakeholders from all around the world and had the chance to exchange views on “hot” industry topics.

The Conference started with the “Welcome to Together 2016” session, followed by the keynote speech “Stronger Together: revitalizing the agency-freelancer relationship”, held by Stephen Lang, where he stressed that the agency – freelancer relationship is the foundation of our industry. We left the session having a better understanding and appreciation of our counterparts and their respective challenges.

We also attended the “Keys to effective relationships between agencies and freelance translators” presented by Robert Sette. It was an enlightening presentation under the Relationships stream exploring “both sides of the coin” in situations of placing/accepting translation projects.

Sue Leschen presented “Confidentiality issues and problems for interpreters and translators working with LSPs”, explaining that defining confidentiality is problematic as it doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to everybody in the language services industry.

The Panel consisting of Sarah Griffin-Mason, Dr. Ana Hoffmeister and Anu Carnegie – Brown “Tailored certification and training for freelancers based on ISO 17100 and the role of LSPs in translator continuing professional development (CPD)” provided unique experiences of a certification concept for freelancers which was piloted in 2015 and will soon be available in German-speaking areas.

Josef Kubovsky tackled the issue “Can enterprise, LSPs and freelance language professionals work together in a transparent way?” whereas Maria Kania-Tasak presented the “The LSP X Factor” just before the Closing ceremony.

Last but not least, it must be mentioned that the ELIA Together 2016 was held in one of the most beautiful European cities, Barcelona. The venue was the World Trade Center, a lovely seaside conference and business center located at the heart of Barcelona, just a few minutes from downtown and the tourist-filled Las Ramblas street. The proximity to the city center along with the great Spanish weather added much to the success of the event.

Commit enjoyed the ELIA Together Conference very much and wishes all the best to all participants! See you in Berlin next February for Together 2017!

The contribution of linguists in times of crisis

Syrian refugees arriving in Lesvos

by Christina Chrysoula, Project Manager at Commit

Refugee crisis, Paris terrorist attacks, so many unfortunate crisis situations seem to be happening lately that affect everyone in our globalized world: civilians, governments, businesses. However, how often do we think of the importance of communication in times of crisis?

Last September one of our team members visited Lesbos, Greece, to offer volunteer work for the refugees and immigrants. There, she had the chance to experience first-hand the problems caused by the lack of professional linguistic services. When she returned and shared her experience with us, this got us reflecting on the subject: what are the main sectors affected in such a situation and what is the actual contribution of the linguist?

One of the main sectors affected is healthcare services. In this case, on-site medical interpreting is of paramount importance. People need to be able to communicate their condition, medical record and any other information that will allow first-aid workers and doctors to take care of them and in some cases even save their lives. Unfortunately, in most cases there are no available professional interpreters at health centers and hospitals who can offer their services at all times. This is due to various factors: scarcity of professional linguists for less common language combinations, lack of financial resources for hiring trained interpreters and translators, and many more.

To overcome this problem, it is common practice to seek help from people who simply speak the language and have no official training. However, this may create serious problems and even put people’s lives at risk since it is very probable that wrong or insufficient information is provided to both sides, doctors and patients. Another case is that very often family members – mostly children and teenagers who speak English – assume the role of the interpreter. This solution causes problems since minors usually lack adequate knowledge of medical terminology and have insufficient language skills. Furthermore, this practice poses the issue of sensitive personal information being revealed, for example children finding out about a parent’s medical condition they were unaware of. And of course, we should not underestimate the psychological stress such situations put on all involved parties. Finally, there are cases where communication is not possible at all and doctors play a guessing game, which undoubtedly endangers people’s lives or, in the best case, leads to the provision of poor medical care.

Another sector where linguistic services prove vital is the fast and accurate translation of critical information for those seeking shelter or travelling, or the translation of important information on legal matters such as legal procedures for asylum seekers, penal procedures etc. The translation of such content by non-professionals often results in the dissemination of misleading, inaccurate information and even the violation of basic human rights such as that of people fleeing war-torn countries to apply for asylum.

Of course, communication is not vital only on humanitarian basis. In today’s world, where businesses operate all over the globe, crisis cannot be restricted at a local level; everyone could be potentially affected – directly or indirectly. Again, fast and accurate linguistic services are extremely significant. Internal communication between a company’s headquarters and its branches, press releases, emergency responses and measures to be taken in a crisis situation need to be communicated right off between all involved parties. The Paris attacks last November were a tragic example. Companies from all over the world needed to make sure that all their employees and their families were safe, communicate their solidarity to those affected, examine the impact of those events to their business, and put into effect a plan to tackle possible consequences. Without the help of professional linguists, all this interaction could not have taken place.

Communication spans everyday life on a multi-level basis. Even more, in times of crisis language mediators can play a vital role: facilitate crowd and panic control, ensure the respect of vital human rights, allow everyone to communicate as needed, with those needed, when needed.



Another successful ELIA event took place at the beginning of this past October in the picturesque city of Krakow and Commit was there, as always! Once again, ELIA gave us the opportunity to connect with our fellow peers, exchange ideas, extend our business networks and catch up on the latest trends of the localization industry, in a friendly and welcoming environment.

The program included not only interesting presentations, but a number of entertaining social events as well that allowed all attendees to relax over a glass of wine – or more… – and enjoy delicious treats. The official unofficial cocktail at The Baroque, the cocktail and banquet at the Rynek Underground, a brunch of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow, the dinner at the Wieliczka Salt Mine and the Adventure Game in Krakow’s Old Market were all equally exciting and fun!

However, we did find the time to attend several sessions that gave us enough food for thought until the next ELIA event. Here are some of the highlights:

Mika Pehkonen presented The Quality Myth – A deep dive into what our customers think and gave us an insight into the client’s perception of quality and F-Secure’s agile approach to the localization process. By using automated workflows and extensive scripting, Mika mentioned they have managed to reduce management costs, avoid delays in product development since localization is performed as the product is being developed, thus being able to simultaneously launch localized versions of any given product, get measurable results on errors and bugs that can be fixed on-the-fly and keep both vendors and clients happy!

In The Evolving Use of MT Technology, Kirti Vashee was quite persuasive on the benefits – yes, there are! – of machine translation, shedding some light on the most common misconceptions and the reasons why so many MT deployment projects actually fail. While there is still an ongoing debate regarding machine translation technology and its effects on the role of translators, pricing and the localization industry as a whole, Kirti chose to address the subject from an entirely different point of view, that of using MT technology as a business development tool and, admittedly, made a strong point.

In an interactive workshop, Bob Donaldson gave us a few useful pointers on Overcoming Common Barriers to Growth. In a nutshell, no matter how small or big your business is, the basic principles of business development are the same. You need to establish a proper organizational structure that will allow you to be prepared for the future, having the necessary, experienced and properly trained resources, or as Bob put it: Go “tall” before you go “wide”! Effective communication and cooperation between departments, suitable performance metrics, corporate policies that reflect your vision and delegation are some of the most important factors on your road to success.

Finally, the keynote presentation, The New Differentiator: ‘Below the Waterline’, by Dr. John J. Scherer and Amy Barnes, was by general consensus one of the highlights of the event. With equal doses of interaction, education and fun, the presenters captivated their audience’s interest from the very first moment to the last, providing an interesting view of what can actually be our differentiator in an ever so competitive market. We all know, from our personal experience as consumers that the way we feel is often what drives us to choose a specific product or service, even if the price is not the lowest one. So, achieving this sentiment in our communication and interaction with customers, employees, resources etc., or in other words finding that “sweet spot” where our needs are perfectly aligned with the needs of the others and the situation, could become a competitive edge over competition.

If you’re intrigued, don’t miss the chance to attend ELIA’s next event “Together 2016” in February, the first one to bring freelancers and LSPs together. And the “Focus” event in Mallorca next Spring, a brand new event as well, focused on LSP executives. Commit will be there!



Going Global? Then speak the language of your audience!


by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

Are you considering taking your first steps in the global market, in an attempt to reach international audiences with your products or services? Then you need to speak the language of your customers, literally!

With the use of social media and the Internet, the world has become a much smaller place. Our society is globally connected and many people around the world can now access your products or services. But with the English language dominating the Web, are you sure you are not missing the opportunity to engage more people by translating your content into their own language? English might be the most common online language, however, most web users are located outside English-speaking countries.

Nelson Mandela once said that “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart” and that is so true.  According to a survey conducted by Common Sense Advisory, named “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters on Global Websites”, 72.4% of consumers say they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language and 56.2% of consumers say that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price. Imagine that! Data shows that localizing content for specific markets multiplies the desired selling effect substantially and people are even willing to pay more if they receive information in their own language.

So I think we got this straight. If you want to break into new markets, you need to have your content localized. Localization is obviously not the only thing you need to do to reach global audiences, but it can be a good start.

But here lies another danger! When you are dealing with business terminology, you’ll easily find out that “Google Translate” most probably won’t cover your needs. In fact, it can end up embarrassing your business and having the exact adverse effects from the ones you were hoping for. Also, specialized technical or legal terms can be baffling in your own language, let alone in a language you are not familiar with.

So how can you protect your corporate image from poorly interpreted language?

The answer is this: you should trust the services of a professional translation agency. A language services provider will use native, certified translators whose expertise matches your type of content, experienced project managers that handle large, complex and short-deadline projects and industry-leading translation/localization tools for building and maintaining translation memories, glossaries and termbases that ensure consistency, reduce human error and preserve language assets for future use. This way you can rest assured that your content is properly localized and concentrate on what you do best: your core business!


Confidentiality and Google Translate: not the perfect pair!

Merger Agreement

by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

Let me tell you a story that happened a few months back. One of our clients, a major law firm sent us a super confidential merger agreement in English regarding a merger/acquisition of one of their clients. Over the phone, our client couldn’t stress enough the confidential and secretive nature of this agreement and the fact that it should be treated with discretion and utmost caution. He pointed out that this shouldn’t leak to the press before the official press release and that a failure to properly protect that information could lead to many legal issues.

After making sure that we had a properly signed NDA with the client into place, he asked whether we have signed NDA agreements with our vendors and linguists, which we did. The client, being a lawyer himself, wanted to have every legal aspect covered (or so he thought!).

Then, having made sure that their file will be treated by our company with the level of confidentiality that he demanded, he dropped THE BOMB.

We were having a discussion regarding the parts of the document that they wanted translated (since the agreement was over 300 pages and they wouldn’t need all of them translated) and then he mentioned that in order to get a rough idea of some legal clauses, he uploaded the file to Google Translate.

Yes, you heard right. Google Translate!

After being so cautious with everything else, he uploaded the confidential agreement to the INTERNET.

Many people around the world use Google Translate daily but very few of them are aware of the Google Terms of Service mentioned below:

“When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content”

While the specific agreement will probably not (or should not at least!) become public, he has clearly disclosed and stored his customer’s confidential content to a server under the control of a third party, and therefore clearly breaching his own privacy commitments.

After mentioning this story to friends and family, we came to the conclusion that our client wasn’t the only one that was unaware of the consequences that could follow the use of this online service and this is why we decided to share this story. As for our client, we suggested (and are exploring) alternative, privately owned machine translation software options, as we don’t believe he will ever use public software like Google Translate for his work, ever again. After knowing all the facts, would you trust your work on Google Translate?


Why is Desktop Publishing important for translations?


by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

If you have ever requested translation services, there is a good chance that there was an extra charge for DTP services in your quote. But what is DTP and why is it so important for translations?

DTP stands for Desktop Publishing and is the creation of documents using page layout skills. In a translation context, DTP comes after the translation, editing and proofreading stage and it is the formatting of the localized text in order to match the source text.

No matter how good the translation quality is, a file with truncations, layout inconsistencies or even small typos can seriously affect the image of your brand. This is even more important when we are talking about high visibility content such as Marketing Brochures, Packaging, Instructions for Use, Newsletters etc.

Today, DTP can be performed on a number of different source files such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe InDesign, Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, CorelDRAW files and more.

Depending on the file format, the DTP stage can include the following:

  • Layout check of localized document to insure it reflects styles, format, layout guidelines, fonts etc. of source language documents
  • Check for untranslated text on images or in the body
  • Check for proper hyperlink functionality
  • Check for no cut-off translations or hidden/overlapping text behind images
  • Αdjusting the layout to accommodate text expansion/reduction
  • Formatting of bullets, numbering, boxes, graphics etc.
  • Capturing localized graphics/screenshots to be included in an e.g. localized user guide
  • Localizing graphics, including translation and editing in the appropriate application (e.g. Photoshop, etc.).
  • Regenerating the Table of contents

After the DTP stage and depending on the document, usually another step follows.

This is the Linguistic Sign-Off (LSO) and during that step we make sure that the final localized and formatted file is checked by another pair of eyes to ensure correctness in both language and layout. After that step, the created file is ready to print/use.

You might be asking yourself; why should I have the translation company perform the dtp? We have an inhouse designing team at my company, can’t they do it?

The answer is simple. The DTP specialists working at translation companies are experienced in handling multilingual content. They are trained in using multiple platforms and file formats in multiple languages and scripts. They can easily handle European languages, double-byte Asian languages as well as right-to-left languages such as Arabic or Hebrew. Your designers might feel reluctant to hand off the designing work to a translation agency but it is important to understand that not all designers are qualified to work in other languages. Not being familiar with the norms and conventions of a language can create more confusion and mistakes. Instead of saving time and money, this can result in more expenses for your company. Moreover, as previously mentioned, after the DTP stage the language service provider will pass on the file to a linguist for a final linguistic check, making sure that the final file looks and feels as if it was initially created for the intended target language market.

Translation Studies vs. Translation Agency Workspace: Two Different Worlds of Translation


by Yiannis Nistas, Translator at Commit

Have you ever wondered what are the differences between studying translation and working at a translation agency? Like most professions, learning a science/art/trade is worlds apart from actually practicing it in real life and having to deal with actual clients. We will lay out the primary differences by focusing on three main aspects: communication, accountability and deadlines.


Talking to your classmates is not the same as addressing your colleagues, clients and vendors. At the university, which is an informal setting, students are accustomed to a more relaxed way of communication. They can talk to each other in a more direct way. On the other hand, at the workplace, people have to stick to a certain level of formality and politeness.

In addition, at the university you do not get to deal with clients or vendors. At a translation company, the employees, especially project managers, have to interact with people from all over the world. This task is quite demanding, because communication is in English and, most of the time, between non-native speakers. A project manager has to get as many information on a project as they can in a polite and respectful manner, by email or telephone.

In a nutshell, courtesy and formality are not as important in the simulated working environment of a university as they are in the actual workplace.


A translation student can have multiple failures without experiencing any major consequences. Except, of course, for a drop in their grades. This lack of accountability gives students more freedom to experiment and be more creative with their translations and try new ways of expression, which is not necessarily bad. The university should leave room for trial and error as a means for improvement. Students should be encouraged to explore new ways of rendering words and conveying messages into their target language.

Unlike studying translation, working as a professional means that each and every linguist as well as the agency as a whole are accountable towards their clients. A failure might mean no future projects from the affected client to the agency, and this will also have direct consequences to the employees. As a result, experimentation must be put aside and priority must be given on the standardization of translation work along with the strict observance of the clients’ instructions.


When studying translation, the main objective is to hand back quality translations––i.e. target text with natural flow, translation based on research, and correct terminology. In that context, the turnaround time plays a secondary role. However, this is not the case at an actual work environment. The language service providers are asked to provide top-quality translations within a limited timeframe and make sure that all the clients’ instructions, style guides, glossaries, reference material, etc. are taken into account. In real life, in order to be successful you need to have the perfect combination between quick turnaround times and uncompromised quality.

The University will prepare the students for some of the challenges they will face in the work environment but not for all of them. While its purpose is to show the correct path and the right way of practicing a profession, there are some aspects that one will figure out only by actually working under real conditions, like working under pressure, working as part of a team, taking responsibility and carrying the burden of one’s mistakes.

Common misconceptions about translation and localization


by Vasso Pouli, Customer Operations at Commit

Have you ever requested translation services? When you did for the first time, did you know what was involved in what you were asking? Translation is commonly misunderstood for something any speaker of a language, native or foreign, can do on the fly. However, this is far from true. Here are some common misconceptions clients usually are under when it comes to translation, the industry and its professionals.


  1. Anyone can do a translation or assess a translation piece as long as they know or speak the language.

Not really! In order to transfer the subtleties and nuances of a language system into another, in-depth knowledge of linguistics is required, just the ability to speak the language does not suffice. After all, the Americans have said it best as, according to Illinois state law, it is illegal to speak English, and the officially recognized language is “American.”

  1. Translators are walking dictionaries; if they know what they are doing, they should be able to come up with a complex term over the phone and they can translate 20 pages in a couple of hours. After all, translating “apple” and translating “methyl tertiary-butyl ether” is the same thing, if you are a professional translator.

If that were true, translators would be the richest people in the market. Allow for reasonable time for translation requests. Translation is a complex process which, besides knowledge, requires time for familiarizing with content, for terminology search, to allow creativity to work, to review and to finalize a piece of writing.


  1. The translation you’ll get back will be completely in tune with the style and attitude you happen to have in mind at that particular time; the translator should be able to know what’s in your mind.

How easier translating would be if that was possible! There are so many different ways one can say something that it is highly unlikely that the translator will choose the one you have in mind. Localization is a highly collaborative process that requires the guidance and insight of the customer and content owner, at least in the beginning, so that the desired result is achieved.

  1. I do not have to be involved in the process.

Wrong! To elaborate further on point 3, each piece of text, even the seemingly simplest one, may present challenges when it comes to being transferred to a different language and the translation professional is faced with many choices word after word; it would be helpful to have the customer’s guidance as to the preferred options regarding certain issues.

  1. Everything that is not to my liking in the translated text is a mistake.

Do leave a margin for doubt! Language professionals, assuming you are indeed collaborating with a qualified professional, possess in-depth knowledge in the various aspects of the language. Before hurrying into accusations like “this is like Google Translate”, do express your concerns to the translator and see what they have to say about it. More often than not, you should be fully covered with their explanation.


  1. Translation is just a necessary evil in the world of globalization. It is simply an additional expense without any additional value and which one should limit as much as possible.

Wrong! In a world where local markets are quite saturated, competition is fierce and entering new markets is the obvious profitable choice, translation & localization is the only way for products to be established in foreign markets, as consumers seem to prefer buying products whose collateral is written in their native language.

  1. Translation is unjustifiably overpriced.

Translation involves much more than just looking up or translating words in another language. It is about transferring meanings and intentions, explicit and implicit, assessing appropriateness, exploring alternatives to find the most suitable one, searching into various resources and evaluating the validity and correctness of the findings, putting one’s creativity and imagination to work in order to rise to the level of the text’s circumstances, it demands dedication and perseverance and being 100% accountable for one’s choices. So, NO! Instead, those at the other end of the line, namely the professionals of this industry, would say that it is quite the opposite!


ELIA Networking Days Lyon – in review!


The latest edition of ELIA Networking Days took place in beautiful Lyon. What made the event special was the fact that it was ELIA’s 10th anniversary and it was celebrated accordingly. Amongst other events, the 10th anniversary dinner was held at the Abbaye de Collonges, “powered” by the famous chef Paul Bocuse! The conference itself took place at the Lyon Convention Centre with session rooms providing a beautiful view over the river Rhone and the adjacent park.

Sessions covered lots of topics related to the translation and localization industry, with tracks ranging from Technology to Life Sciences, and from Business Management to Smart Sales. As always, here’s our quick list of takeaways from the event.

  • Clio Schils, in a double session, shared her vast experience and talked about the future of life sciences. Some amazing things are in store for life sciences; M-health is here and taking over! As for LSPs:
    • The higher the risk (of the medical/pharma product etc.), the more documentation there is to be translated.
    • Follow regulatory news if you want to provide some added value service to your clients.
  • Anita Wilson described how to leverage transcreation as a service. A few “tweets” that stood out:
    • Translating “I’m loving it” for McDonalds should cost a lot more than €0.30. Doesn’t it cost tens of thousands just to create the motto?
    • Marketing translation is not a service to be charged on a per word rate.
    • Do you transcreate images? Make sure to replace small boats with big yachts when targeting rich countries!
  • Sabrina Ferrari talked not only about the importance of KPIs but also how to leverage them for marketing and sales purposes. Have you thought of including KPIs in your company collateral? For example, your customer retention rate could be a key selling point!
  • Gerry Lynch described the experience of doing business in the US, lots of interesting (to say the least) stories. Merging with a local company was the best solution he said. And if you are worried about the city you pick, just look if there is competition around. If so, then opportunities are there, as well as resources.
  • Doug Strock provided ideas about diversifying your business. Be careful though not to damage your brand when adding a new service to your portfolio.
  • In a session-turned-workshop, Britta Weber tackled the ever-challenging topic of customer complaints. When a customer complains, your first reaction is important! Talk slowly, say your name, and reduce aggression.
  • Matthias Ceasar provided insight coming from years of personal experience as to the growing pains of an LSP, and what is the perfect size, if there is one. The conclusion? There is no right or wrong, it depends on how you see yourself in the future. “Success comes with maturity and curiosity”.
  • Tony O’Dowd and Jeff Allen – besides providing music during the dinner – pointed out how the cloud provides opportunities to small companies and how minority languages can be leveraged as a business proposition respectively.

Finally, in an inspiring keynote speech, Ralph Blundell addressed the topic of “Ethics as a business differentiator”.

  • Positive stories are your most powerful marketing tool.
  • Nobody really works for the money (!) If you do so you would become a drug dealer!
  • Moderation is necessary: excess is always damaging. There is an optimum size and growth for everything. If only more people applied it in everyday life!

Happy Birthday ELIA and thank you for a wonderful conference! Next ND stop: Krakow, October 1-3, 2015. See you there!


How to find the localization partner that is right for your business


by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

Finding the right localization partner can be a challenge, but is also crucial for your business as it reflects on the quality of your products. But, how can you ensure that you’re buying top quality services when you are not familiar with a language and cannot evaluate the results yourself? Below you can find a few tips that will help you streamline the whole process and make the right choices.

  1. Set specific criteria – Determine your budget, the languages you’ll need localization services for, the overall volume of your project, the timeframe etc. Once you have a clear understanding of the requirements and expectations your localization partner should meet, it will be much easier to narrow down your choices.
  2. Ask for references and information – After selecting a couple of potential providers based on the above criteria, ask them for references and detailed information on their experience in the specific field (e.g. translated volumes, end clients from the same industry, type of translated content). It is also advisable to ask for a sample translation and have this checked by a third-party; it is a small additional cost that can save you a lot of time and money in the future.
  3. Look out for hidden costs – Cost is always a decisive factor when making a business decision, but it shouldn’t be the only one. Although lower prices can be attractive, they can prove to be really expensive at the end. A higher rate that includes not merely translation, but editing and proofreading as well, or even project management, e.g. file preparation and formatting, may actually represent a more reliable and cost-effective solution for your business, as it will not only ensure high quality but it will also help you save time and resources.
  4. Take value-added services into consideration – If you have difficulty choosing between two equally qualified providers, with similar financial proposals, the value-added services they offer can play a decisive role. For example, if you’re looking to localize a software application, it would be best to work with a partner that can handle both linguistic and functional testing. Or, if you’re localizing your product brochures, why spend your time and effort looking for a DTP expert, when your localization partner can offer you the same services?

In short, while it may seem that finding the right partner can be a time-consuming and arduous task, it is well worth it. Consider it an investment that will keep on giving for many year to come, offering you all the benefits that come from a successful partnership!

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