Tag Archives: localization

The effect of technological disruption on localization services

by Nikoletta Kaponi, Account Manager at Commit

The continuous emergence of new technologies keeps pushing businesses from all sectors and of all sizes to change, or even reinvent, the way they operate. With the promise of simplified workflows, increased productivity and reduced costs, these “disruptive” technologies constantly evolve and bring about an ever-expanding portfolio of applications relevant to many, and perhaps to any, industries.

While a large number of companies may opt for a more cautious approach towards such new technologies, those with a more “thrill-seeking” culture appear eager to embrace disruption, not only to transform their traditional processes and workflows, but also with the aspiration that this can ultimately serve as a competitive differentiator. Living in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the possibilities for businesses to set themselves apart from their competitors and reach out to new audiences and markets can be endless, and so can be the challenges, with localization being one of them.

Companies are increasingly focusing on creating a “brand experience”, one that evokes feelings and inspires consumers, and does not just depict specs and prices, and such approaches can only be effective when they “speak” in the targeted consumers’ language(s). With the average attention span being as low as 8 seconds, as recent studies show, the importance for brands to be omnichannel and reach out to different audiences in a way that is relevant and appropriate for each locale is greater than ever.

So how do all these affect the localization industry and which are this industry’s challenges when it comes to disruptive technologies? Below we take a look at applications that some of those technologies have in two business areas, those of marketing and customer service, and attempt to identify certain key points for what the future, or rather the present, holds for localization services.

Marketers around the globe are putting on their “all-things-digital” hats and combine, or radically transform, their traditional marketing campaigns with digital tools; pay-per-click (PPC), email and web banner marketing are just a few of those tools, but social media (SM) perhaps stands out as the tool with the most potential. With the number of SM users having grown on average by 21% globally – and as high as 73% and 46% in countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, respectively – in the past year (Digital in 2017 Global Overview by We Are Social), social media platforms prove to be more than just about cat videos, and so marketing campaigns are increasingly becoming “social”; they are enhanced by social media profiling techniques, channeled through a variety of social networking platforms and launched with the objective of reaching out to the world, engaging with specific audiences and achieving higher rates of conversion. Social videos become a powerful tool for raising brand awareness, while SM features like Facebook’s Marketplace boost the web presence and visibility of even the smallest businesses worldwide.

Tired of all the hassle of calling Customer Service when your credit card is not working? Quite a few banks are already using chatbots integrated within their proprietary apps to simplify communication and improve their customers’ overall experience. Chatbots are enabled by cognitive computing, what one could characterize as a “subset” of AI, and this is just one of the fintech tools that the banking sector is using for enhancing its services. Except for chatbots and their various applications in different sectors, further AI technologies, such as neural networks and machine self- and deep-learning, are also penetrating industries like those of healthcare, education and transportation (how would you feel driving next to a driverless car?), while retail adopts Augmented Reality (AR) technologies to facilitate consumers in choosing the right products for their individual needs.

Seeing how disruptive technologies are re-shaping these two business areas, it is no wonder that the client requirements for localization are shifting too. The content that the companies are creating is changing; multimedia assets are replacing lengthy texts, bringing about a “video revolution”, and thus more and more videos require subtitling or dubbing, depending on the habits of the targeted locale. Specialized Content Management Systems get into place, and thus new file formats and tool integrations are brought forward. The agile nature of digital marketing also calls for agile localization processes, stressing the need for global resource teams and “follow-the-sun” workflows. Additionally, with cloud computing being on the rise, cybersecurity and secure file exchange are more than ever critical for all businesses, rendering the standardization of related processes a high priority.

But apart from these technical aspects, the localization industry is also to undertake their clients’ biggest challenge, that of speaking to local markets in their local language. Social marketing is about conveying messages by means of an original, genuine and consistent “brand voice”, regardless of the language itself, so when it comes to going global, perhaps translation is just not enough, and so transcreation comes into play. In a company’s expansion to new, emerging markets of strong growth potential, localization partners are increasingly involved in providing their clients with cultural insights, or asked to conduct locale-specific research relevant to their branding strategies. And with time-to-market shrinking, new language solutions emerge, such as Neural Machine Translation (NMT), aspiring to address the increasing demand for fast, quality translations across all contexts, genres and formats.

These being just some of the ways the localization services are affected by the technological disruption of how businesses operate, they help illustrate that the partnerships between localization service providers and their clients are evolving and becoming broader, in an attempt to best handle and exploit the advancements and almost revolutionary changes that the new technologies render possible across all industries and market settings.

How to ensure the quality of your translated content

by Katerina Pippou, Linguist at Commit

Translating your content into multiple languages can help you expand your business to global markets and increase your brand prominence abroad. Quality is key to your global success, therefore you should make sure the translations you get are accurate, error-free and clearly understood by your target audience.

Although there is no specific formula you can use to measure quality, especially in a language that you don’t speak, there are several ways to ensure a positive outcome before, during and after the translation process. Use this checklist of quick tips and you’ll be able to effectively speak to your customers in their native language.

  • Be willing to invest in translation: If you think translation quality is not important, then think again! Low-quality translations may not only damage your company’s reputation but may also cost you a lot of time and money. If you want to get high-quality, professional translation, you need to have a budget for it.
  • Choose your translation provider wisely: With so many translation agencies out there, it’s hard to know which one you should trust. But if you do your homework, you can find some useful information that will help you pick the right translation provider for your organization. Make sure this provider has expertise in your industry by checking their current clients.
  • Plan ahead: Once you decide to have your content translated, you should contact your translation provider as soon as possible. Remember, a good translation takes time – it may take the same time as creating the content. If you expect large volumes or short turnaround times, you should inform your translation provider in advance, so they can plan their resources accordingly.
  • Prepare your content for translation: A great translation starts with a great source text. You cannot expect the translation to improve upon the poor quality of the original. Ask from your copywriters to be concise and clear, and to double-check the content they create for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. When it comes to software strings, try to include comments and/or screenshots, so as to provide the translators with as much context as possible. This will help you prevent back-and-forth communications and speed up the translation process.
  • Collaborate closely with your translation provider: Translation is a difficult process. Providing precise instructions, reference material, glossaries and style guides, not only could make this process easier, but it could also ensure high-quality results from the start. In case of queries or clarifications, try to answer to all questions promptly and clearly and, what is most important, listen carefully to your translators’ concerns and be open to their suggestions.
  • Use third-party evaluation services: A great way to assess the quality of your translated content is to have a third-party provider review it. Third-party reviews add value to your content if they are performed by experienced, in-country linguists who have a good understanding of the local market and your brand, are not focused on mere error detection, and approach the initial translation in a collaborative and not competitive way.
  • Ask your audience: The best way to evaluate the quality of your translated content is to ask feedback from your users. Consider adding a feedback/rating feature to find out whether your content is clearly understood. This way you will get useful information about the quality of your translations directly from your customers, and you will be able to improve your content.

8 tips for creating global eLearning content

by Eftychia Tsilikidou, Project Coordinator at Commit

According to a recent report, the corporate eLearning (or eTraining) market is constantly growing and it seems that this tendency will continue in the coming years. This comes as no surprise given that the business world is already lead by new-generation employees who are more independent and like to do everything in their own way, and the fact that eLearning is a cost-effective solution compared to the in-class training.

In our internationalized era, where content can reach global audiences in the blink of an eye, the choice to localize eLearning content is self-evident. Therefore, if you are considering creating an eLearning course that will be subsequently localized in one or many foreign languages, there are certain points to take into account:

  1. English is the main language most organizations choose to create their eLearning courses and thus International English is the recommended variation to adopt for the development of your online course. At this stage, it is very important to create culture-neutral content. Avoid idiomatic expressions, colloquialisms and country-specific references, extracts from literature or poetry as this may pose certain restrictions in the translation process. Use humor cautiously as it is very culture-centric. What is considered humorous in one country might be offensive in another.
  2. Carefully examine your target audience and consider issues related to their geographic location, customs associated with the audience, certain language requirements or possible restrictions that may occur in the localization process (for example, right-to-left languages and their support in various platforms, various language variations and the appropriateness of the translatable content for these languages).
  3. A picture is worth a thousand words. An image is, in many cases, a strong means to back a certain theory or illustrate an idea in a clearer way. So, it is essential to choose culturally appropriate and acceptable images for the target audience. Try to opt for neutral images of people, humanoid images or vector images. The aim is always to have a natural target result to achieve the desired purpose. It is also advisable to avoid adding text into images. Texts within the images may increase cost and time, as there is a certain amount of extra work involved in the extraction and import of the text.
  4. Audio: choose the right narrator for your audience. It is very important to know that in some cultures, as in the Middle-East and South Asia, people expect the voice of the narrator to be very authoritative and firm. In other cultures, as in Western countries, people would expect a friendly, informal tone. Make sure your narrator sounds professional for the intended audience.
  5. Use the appropriate authoring tools to create your eLearning courses (Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, and Lectora Inspire to name a few), as they provide a choice to export the course content into an MS-Word or XML document with just a click. These formats are easily supported by the software used by translators and translation service providers and once translated, they can be imported back with yet another click.
  6. Keep in mind that some languages are wordy and the translated content may expand by 30 to 50% compared to the English original. This means that you need to provide ample space in your course for this purpose and possibly provide more time for reading before releasing the next text block in the screen.
  7. Make sure the content can run in most platforms, including mobile devices, which appears to be the most widely used means for viewing eLearning content.
  8. Hire professionals. Professional native translators who are subject matter experts (SMEs) possess the skills required to incorporate appropriate cultural variations and terminology into the translated version. Choose to work closely with your translation partner sharing meaningful information for the correct understanding of your intended message.

The 6 Laws of Translation Project Management*

by Effie Salourou , Customer Operations Manager at Commit  

  1. Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will

First of all, you need to embrace the fact that this risk is real. Be proactive at the early stages of project planning and try to accurately interpret project requirements. Adopt a risk management methodology and try to spot any future problems, needs and setbacks. Whether that is poor scope stability, time consuming processes or insufficient project prep time, you need to identify and eliminate all major shortcomings. Setting clear goals from the start will help you avoid extra work and possible delays.

  1. Lakein’s Law: Failing to plan is planning to fail

Quite often, when project managers receive tight-turnaround projects they rush into execution without doing the proper preparation and planning first. But it is exactly in those cases when we lack time to plan, that we should take the time to plan. Very often, at the early stages of a project, when no one is doing actual project work, rather they are engaged in project preparation, analysis and planning, this is often wrongly interpreted as doing nothing. Yet when it comes to project planning, you should take the time you need. Do not give the go-ahead unless you are certain that you have gathered all the necessary information and covered all aspects of the project.

  1. Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available

You have a week to finish a proposal, and yet you wait until Friday afternoon to finalize it. You have two months to work on a localization project and you make the last QA checks 2 hours before delivery. Do those scenarios ring a bell?

Another example of Parkinson’s Law is cases when you have a whole week to complete a 2-hour task. When you have all this time on your hands, there is a good chance that this task will creep up in complexity and become more intimidating so as to fill a whole week. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s extra work that will fill up all the extra time, it might just be the stress and tension about having to get it done. These situations can be nerve-racking and mentally challenging. To avoid them, set clear deadlines for all project stages, from vendor hand-off to QA, DTP, LSO and final delivery to client. Impose strict but reasonable time constraints for every project step and make the whole team stick to them.

  1. Cohn’s Law: The more time you spend in reporting on what you are doing, the less time you have to do anything

Avoid long, unproductive discussions and meetings. A successful meeting should be all about sharing ideas, asking the right questions and finding the right answers and should only be held if it adds value to the project. Pick the right team members to attend the meeting, assign responsibilities, focus on solutions and end the meeting with action items.

The same goes for written reports. Avoid long, extremely detailed reports. Nobody has the time (or actually wants) to read a 10-page report on the progress of a project. Make sure it’s accurate and contains all the right information but keep it short and simple!

  1. Constantine’s Law: A fool with a tool is still a fool

Software tools are meant to make our work (and life) easier. But with the vast range of translation management programs, CRM software and CAT tools that are offered in the translation market, sometimes we get so overwhelmed that our work ends up being more complicated than it should. Primarily, try to leverage the software you already have at your disposal and make sure you are using all the features it has to offer. If you are experimenting with new tools, do your homework first, then choose the ones that fit your business and make sure you get a proper and thorough training.

  1. Kinser’s Law: About the time you finish doing something, you know enough to start

Do a post-mortem after every major project or in defined intervals for ongoing projects. Sometimes that would be a simple “What have we learnt doing this?” and other times it will be a complete report on time, cost and performance.

Part of it is also measuring the success of your project. A project constitutes as successful if it results in profit, if it brings new knowledge to the organization, if it helps the business expand to new markets or if it improves the existing processes.

Also, try to have your post-mortem directly after a project concludes, while the details are still fresh in your mind. After a while, we tend to forget the things that went wrong in a well-executed project and vice versa. If a project doesn’t go that well, we lose sight of successes as we try to figure out what the problems were.

*This article was part of the 1st edition of “The Elia Handbook for Smart PMs” published by the European Language Industry Association

Does your marketing material speak your buyers’ language?

Print

by Dina Kessaniotou, Project Coordinator at Commit

This is a very good question for businesses wanting to expand their activities beyond their boundaries and go global. Even though English is a commonly used language in many markets, talking to people in a language they understand in depth seems to achieve much better results.

If we take a step back and consider the role of global marketing or the reasons why businesses want to expand in foreign markets, we will start to see the usefulness of the content adaptation to the language the audience understands best. Businesses want to become global for two basic reasons: increase their sales and boost their brand’s reach. The fastest road to increase sales is awareness – through an effectively localized marketing content, that will be global and local at the same time. Global because it will still convey the same consistent message of a business throughout the world and local because it will be customized in a way to reflect the experiences, the values and the culture of prospective local clients. The fundamental purpose of marketing is to penetrate the target audience and get closer to people. This can be achieved only through the language the audience understands best, as this language will become the means to draw their attention, make them want to learn more, and finally persuade them that the promoted product or service is what they really need.

Even if people tend to use English terminology in some industries, the whole communication still needs to be in the audience’s native language as this is the only way the message can resonate with them and touch their heart and mind – leading them to the decision-making process. The language that people understand is the one they will use to search content, read articles, or view a quick video ad from their devices during their free time – it is also the language in which they will share the information with their friends. It is more than obvious that this is the way for businesses to create a personal connection with consumers. The traditional patterns of the one-size marketing campaigns seem to progressively give way to more personalized and interactive approaches. Going even further, localization in marketing material can be the key for differentiation.

That said, we can easily assume that what we need here is not just translation but localization in its full meaning – adaptation, customization and creativity, taking into account differentiation. This is the field where localization can be really fruitful. Modern tools open the way to localization for videos, interactive content and anything that could create a one-to-multiple, but also personal relationship with people, anywhere in the world. Studies have shown that marketing globalization can bring a drastically improved return on marketing expenses.

At this point, it would worth mentioning the role of Machine Translation. It has become one of the main trends in the localization world and we cannot ignore the advantages it can bring in terms of costs and time efficiency. However, its use in marketing content has been greatly debated. If we consider, as mentioned above, that translation in the traditional meaning of the term would not be remotely enough, we can easily assume that marketing material wouldn’t be the ideal candidate for Machine Translation, where the different nuances of a language are usually left out of the whole process. And, most importantly, we would lose authenticity. Marketing localization is a process that can be developed exclusively between humans. The original message should be felt and conveyed to evoke the same feelings to other people. There is no machine that can feel and adapt content and create feelings from one culture to another. This is also a way for businesses to show that they really care for their audiences…

 

Price pressures, a viable business, happy customers – can you have it all?

by Vasso Pouli, CEO at Commit

The pressure for price reductions holds strong throughout markets and industries, both for products and services, for many years now and will continue to do so for many years to come. However, according to the law of supply and demand, a low supply and a high demand increases price, while the greater the supply and the lower the demand, the lower the price tends to fall.

For parties in the translation industry, it is common knowledge and a topic visited often in conferences that reliable, experienced and qualified translators and editors are not that many – no matter the language pair – and even if someone argues that they are, then usually it is their availability that is limited or they are lacking in specialization – always compared to the demand!

So, the first half of the law should apply here, right? The answer is “no”! Despite the very optimistic predictions for the growth of the industry, compared to the stability or even slump in other industries due to the recent financial crisis, the pressure for price reductions in the translation and localization industry is more than ever. Why is that? Maybe because translation is considered as an afterthought in the development of any given product, and often of so little visibility that it gets a tiny bit of the allocated budget, if any? Maybe because we, as professionals in the field, have not fought enough to elevate our ‘product’ to the place it should be in our buyers’ minds? Maybe because technology has taken its toll? Maybe because non-professionals have entered the profession offering ridiculously low rates for a respectively low-quality ‘product’? You can pick and choose, but I would not want to get into that.

Instead, let’s take this for granted and see how we can respond to that fact in a way that is respectful of our customers, our businesses and our resources, and still lead a viable business.

Let’s start by trying to understand our customers’ needs and educate them on our workflow and its importance for their end ‘product’.

There are certain steps a text must go through before a high-quality translation can be delivered. Of course, there is a reason for that and it’s not out of a whim that localization agencies favor the translation & editing process, nor because we want to add to our customers’ spend. Language is flexible. Language is subjective. Language is preferential. Language is also fixed and objective (i.e. industry terminology). Humans create language and they choose how to do it, and each individual may choose a different way, a different word, a different meaning… and all may be saying the same thing! So, yes, humans need to be involved in your translation projects, and the more they are involved, the better it is for you and your content, because the more chances there are that their translation gets closer to YOUR way, to YOUR word, to YOUR meaning. How much time, effort and energy have you put in and how many different people have you involved in the creation of your content, or even your ’slogan’? If you think about it, from enough to too much. So, if it was so challenging to settle on a phrase or to finalize your initial content, how can its translation be considered an easy task, especially when it involves many different markets and cultures?

Our advice would be that you should not try to save from compromising processes and eliminating steps (which correspond to people). Instead you should try to locate what you really need to translate and into which languages, evaluate and streamline your translation processes. If this is something new to you or you don’t know how to go about it, ask us; we can help.

And some more seasoned translation & localization services buyers might question the role of humans and ask where technology is in all that. Although, technology was late to enter our industry and help us benefit, there are quite a few tools that can facilitate our work, and the savings time-wise have been translated to real savings for the customers. Customers must always make sure that their language service provider reflects those savings from CAT tools in their invoice offering discounted rates for previously translated (fully or partially) content. Another new trend is machine translation (MT). It is undeniably a considerable advancement in our industry and will most probably play a huge role in how the future of localization will be shaped, but it does not have a universal application. It can serve as a first draft in some types of fixed-language texts, like manuals, to increase the speed and the performance of human translators, and free machine translation engines can be used to give you the gist of a text for your personal understanding; but, raw MT output is not ‘publishable’ text — at least not yet and not where the message matters. Ιt is merely usable in only some language pairs and in no case does it serve the broad spectrum of the languages of the world, it cannot cater for more creative content, and don’t think of only sophisticated marketing content, just try to machine translate your Facebook status update and see what the engine comes up with in various languages.

In every case, we need to invest in and make the most of all available tools and technologies, not only to save money for our customers but to also streamline and standardize our processes, facilitate our project managers and our linguists, monitor and report on our workflows, and lead a transparent and healthy business.

In terms of business practices, price reductions are usually pushed down to the lower levels of the supply chain, which can either be us as agencies or our external resources. In both cases though, this level involves the actual people who do the actual work, and these are indeed those of value to the customer. In the same way agencies recruit for expertise and knowledge, and train their in-house staff to new trends, tools and methodologies to optimize efficiency, the same investment should be considered for external collaborators. Individuals have invested both time and money to specialize and should be able to keep doing so if they are to continue to efficiently support us and, of course, our customers. Hence, although, regular flows and high volumes or long-term projects can of course justify a negotiation to a certain extent, crunching fees should not be adopted as a standard practice, as it is important that all parties involved in this transaction, be it the customer, the intermediary(ies) or the resources, feel that this is a mutually beneficial relationship.

Ultimately, I feel that the way we conduct our business will determine the quality of customers we attract; fair and reasonable practices will most probably attract fair and reasonable customers, and talent will gravitate towards places it can grow.

How Glossaries Improve the Quality of your Translations

translate

by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

What is a Translation Glossary?

A translation glossary contains a list of a company’s key terminology in the source language and the approved translations in the target language. It can also contain other content specific data and variables such as context, language varieties, definition and approval date or a list of terms that should not be translated such as brand names and slogans. The glossary will help the translator easily identify these terms and follow the client-approved methodology.

What should we include in it?

We should include all key company or project specific terms such as:

  • Brand/Company names
  • Product names
  • Trademarks
  • Corporate slogans
  • Acronyms
  • UI buttons and options
  • Frequently used terms
  • Units of measure
  • Non-translatable terms

 The process of creating one

 Depending on the project, a glossary can be created either at the beginning or after we have gathered a significant amount of translated documents for an account. Using automated glossary extraction technology that identify terms based on their frequency and use in texts, these apps provide a list of terms and their translations that serve as a first, raw edition of a glossary. Then these terms need to be validated for correct usage by the Language Services Provider and by the client’s local reviewers.

 Ensuring consistency

 In any good translation, consistency is key. A glossary helps to eliminate uncertainty about specific troubling terms, thus ensuring consistency between the translated versions of a company’s documentation. Maintaining consistency is even more important if more than one translation resource is involved in the translation process. In case of tight deadlines, many translators may be working on various documents of a project simultaneously in order to meet a specific deadline. Without a glossary and specific guidelines laid at the beginning of the project, each linguist will end up using the translation that he/she sees fit and you might end up with two, three or even more versions of a term. For example, haven’t you ever noticed when a User Guide prompts you to click on a button that is worded differently in the software itself? This would have been avoided if a glossary was created and shared with the linguists up front.

Less time for translation

When translators are confused and uncertain about specific terms, they will send queries. Query management and answering requires a significant amount of time and as a result, slows down the translation process. A comprehensive glossary will help minimize translators’ questions and will increase their speed. In fast turnaround projects, when there is almost no time for a back-and-forth of queries between the linguists and the client, an existing glossary can prove to be a life-saver!

Reducing costs

 As we all know time is money! By having a glossary of terms, not only can translation companies minimize the query management procedure, but they can also automate certain processes, such as quality checks, and make translation more cost-effective for the client.

A work in progress

 Think of your translation glossary as a work in progress, a living, breathing document that needs to be constantly updated with new terms. If your translators come up with a new frequently used term or if they have questions about a particular term, then this should be added in the glossary. The glossary should grow along with your business, your services and your products, and it will end up being your most valuable asset for quality translations.

 

Going Global? Then speak the language of your audience!

12883

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!

 

Common misconceptions about translation and localization

languages_question

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.

KNOWLEDGE ASSUMPTIONS

  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.

ASSESSMENT ASSUMPTIONS

  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.

COST ASSUMPTIONS

  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!

elia-s-networking-days-lyon

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!