Category Archives: Verbatim Services Spotlight

A PhD in Translation Studies? The New Academic Discipline

Happy International Translators Day 2013

When you think of translation, you may casually consider it merely a matter of conversion; the linguistic equivalent of converting kilometers to miles, for example. This impression could certainly be strengthened by the existence of automated online tools such as “Google Translate,” or various digital dictionary devices.

Translation, however, is a subtle and complex endeavor that writers have struggled with for centuries. The English poet and translator John Dryden lived in the seventeenth century, and wrote essays about the difficult choices a translator faces. He described the way in which a translator must sometimes choose an equivalent meaning, rather than simply rendering the exact words of the original source, and he said, ” it would be unreasonable to limit a translator to the narrow compass of his author’s words.”

Translation choices to make

What happens, for example, if you’re working with a language like Arabic, which often has no punctuation at all? Do you render the Arabic directly into equivalent English words and risk making the writer sound incoherent? Or do you take the commonplace Arabic sentence and re-work it so that it ends up being an equally commonplace English sentence? In other words, do you place higher value on accurately conveying the straightforward nature of the original thinker, or do you place higher value on word-for-word technical equivalence?

Academic study of translation

Students of literature continue to be entranced by the subtleties of this field, and an increasing number of universities worldwide offer courses of study in literary translation. An example of one of these programs is The Center for Translation Studies at Barnard College (a part of Columbia University in New York). At Barnard, students can earn undergraduate or graduate degrees in translation studies, and the college describes the importance of the discipline in this way: “Translation Studies places language at the core of current debates about globalization and its impact on cultural identities.”

The life of a translation student

At Brown University, an undergraduate in a literary translation class says that he’s currently working on the problems of puns: “What if a pun doesn’t translate? Some would try to translate literally, forgoing the humor. Others would let that pun go, then insert a new pun into the translation, where there was no pun in the original, to maintain the humorous spirit of the piece… Oh my gosh, there is so much. It is a huge, very subtle, very complicated discipline.”

As Professor Rainer Shulte, co-founder of the American Literary Translators’ Association says, “In the act of literary translation the soul of another culture becomes transparent.”

We want to take time to celebrate and thank the team of talented and experienced professional translators that we work with day in and day out. Their hard work through out the year results in thousands of happy translation customers!

Human Translation vs Computer Translation

Everyday people use computers to look up the meanings of words and phrases. Sometimes computers can be accurate and provide a basic meaning of a word or sentence. The rise in the use of computer translations has caused some to doubt the usefulness of human translation. While it is true that computer translation programs and websites are more prevalent, they are not taken seriously by professionals. Professional human translation services are very much necessary for anything beyond personal use.

Computer Translation

Computer translation is a popular, yet inefficient alternative to human translation. There are many different websites and computer programs that translate words into English as well as other languages. Many of these websites of free translations that are often completed within minutes, but they are really inappropriate for any type of professional endeavor. Machine translations are typically literal translations of the words on the page and they take no consideration about the context or cultural associations of the words and phrases. Relying on a computer program for translation can lead to a lot translation blunders that can make a person or company seem unprofessional. Although a program may provide an accurate translation of a word, it will begin to falter when it comes across complex phrases, sentences, and idioms. These programs rarely offer smooth, cohesive translations. Computer translations are suitable for people at home who want to get an idea of about what something means in another language.

Human Translation

Human translation is essentially a requirement for any type of serious professional endeavor whether it is a translation of a legal document or a literature book. Computer programs may understand the meaning of certain words, but they are unable to effectively translate the complexities and nuances of language. They lack the cultural background and knowledge to understand the context of a complex sentence or phrase. Human translation ensures that the document will sound natural and effectively communicate the original meanings. Medical, legal, and government documents are usually handled by human translators because translations used in these situations demand accuracy. Even if a computer has translated a word, it does not know how to perform localization, which is another way to further express the meaning of the document in the vernacular of the people that will read it. Human translation may take longer, but it provides a level of accuracy that computers are not able to perform.

Computers have come a long way, but they are still unable to provide accurate translations in most situations. It is acceptable to use them at home to research a couple of words and phrases, but the more complex tasks must be left to professional language services that only humans can provide.

Translation & Confidentiality

When it comes to translation services, there is no better way to meet your demands than putting your trust in a professional translator. Choosing the right service is entirely dependent on your personal needs and preferences – but one thing you can always be sure of with reliable, human translating is that all documents will remain strictly confidential; there is no reason to opt for another, automatic translation service in fear that the job will be lacking in confidentiality in the hands of another human being.

To be sure that any rights to confidentiality are not at risk, it is important that clients choose to limit their choice of service providers when making contact to acquire a quote. Instead of going for five providers, clients are better off sticking to two or three. This is the first step in making certain that the given documents will remain secure.

When contact with the specific translation company has been made, clients will usually be asked for the entire document for translation before the most precise possible quote can be provided. In this case, it can be a good idea to inquire into sending a sample document which does little in giving away any identifying particulars. Consider providing the service provider with a description of the document summary, word count, subject, title and language – if translation services are aware of the confidentiality of the document, they will usually provide a pretty accurate quote without the actual document.

Once a service provider has been settled on, the importance of the said document’s confidentiality should always be stressed. Clients may go into details and take advantage of their freedom to inquire – How many people are likely to be handling this document? Does the specific service keep hard copies locked safely away? What happens to the hard copy after it is no longer needed? Vague “guarantees” should never be enough to convince. It is always wise to assert the right to have a non-disclosure signed.

The word “confidentiality” is defined as “ensuring that information is only accessible to those permitted access”. In reliable human translating services, all personal information that is exchanged between professional and client will stay confidential – everything is processed in secrecy and with total confidentiality by the translator, interpreter, graphic designer and consultants. All Verbatim Solutions professional translators are well versed in the subject of confidentiality and proper handling of confidential documents.

Tips for Buying Translation Services

Whether you’re doing business with a company overseas or you’re buying a vacation home in another country,  you may need the services of a translation company. Working with a translation company is more reliable than working with freelancers, since the company is established and must follow stricter guidelines in translating documents or audio files.  Since you’ll most likely be unfamiliar with the language you need translated, you’ll have to fully trust that the translation service provided is accurate in every way. Here are a few tips to follow in order to find a reputable translation service company for your translation needs.

Tip 1 – Know the Difference Between Oral and Written Fluency

Although you may be tempted to hire a translator who fluently speaks the language you want translated as a first language, keep in mind that there is a significant difference between oral translation and written translation. Make sure the people you hire have both oral understanding of the language and written fluency of the language. This way you can make sure that every document they translate it translated professionally.

Tip 2 – Resist the Urge to Use Software

There are literally hundreds of software programs available boasting the ability to translate any language into English or English into any language. However, these are just rough translations. These programs lack the ability to pinpoint the subject matter.  In addition, translation software translates language based on common words; however there are many words used in business that aren’t considered common, so the translation program will not translate these accurately. Make sure the company you chose does not base their translation services on the use of translation software.

Tip 3 – Note the Difference Between Interpretation and Translation

If you have something that needs to be translated immediately, make sure the company you choose can  provide expedited service. However, if you have an audio file or you having a conversation that needs translating real-time, you’ll need to hire an interpreter. Interpreters are usually able to interpret language as well as translate written documents. Interpreters have the ability to listen to a language and translate it immediately. Translators may take a little more time to convert one language into another, so they may not be able to perform the service in real-time.

Tip 4 – Hire Professionals

The best way to know that you are getting the most accurate translation service is to hire well-educated translators or interpreters. Some translation service companies hire individuals who belong to well-established translation associations. These translators are highly-credible. Some examples of translation associations would be the Finish Association of Translators and the Japan Association of Translators.

Tip 5 – Understand The Need for More Time

Most translation services set deadlines based on the length of audio or per page.  However, from time to time the translator may contact you to let you know that they require more time with the document or audio file, especially if it’s difficult in nature. Always plan for a day or two extra for more difficult translations, some services take weeks to translate these types of documents.

Following these tips can keep you ahead of your competition while also ensuring that your business gains the reputation it deserves. Our goal is to provide you with an easy and seamless translation service experience.

Optimizing your Document for More Efficient Translation

Any time that a client wants to get professional and error-free translation for a document or set of documents, there are some important things that those ordering these results can do to optimize what they get back from a professional translation firm. Here are some of the items that help to make sure documents will be ready to translate, and will get translated in the best possible way.

Organize and Paginate – documents must be well organized and clearly paginated in order to provide translation professionals with the clearest guide for how the results will be formatted. Translation can change the length of a document, which makes this kind of organization even more important.

Specify Localization or Target Dialect – without a very detailed understanding of what language community will be reading the documents, translators may not be able to match client needs as well. For languages that have various regional dialects or different language communities, it’s critical for clients to point out where a readership will generally come from, and what kind of dialect they will be expecting from the printed page.

Clearly Express Overall Goals and Objectives – for items like marketing materials, and for many other kinds of business documents , it’s absolutely important for clients to emphasize their major goals for a translated document. Often, documents provide some of their own context, but a fuller context will give translators a better vantage point to work from in making word choices and otherwise reaching out to a readership.

Clarify Any Proprietary Language or Jargon, As Well As Branding – another potential problem with translation results has to do with any language that is not part of the standard lexicon in the destination language, or the language that the translated document will be written in. This includes a lot of industry-specific wording that may not easily translated. It also includes brand names, which are translated differently than a standard lexical set. All of these must be accounted for in order to ensure the best results from the translation of any type of business project or other document.

Communicate Additional Notes As Needed – along with all of the above, there is much more that a client can tell a translation firm about what they want translated results to look like, and what they want to deliver to an audience. This can include style clarifications, issues of source attribution, or anything else that relates to a given project.

All of these essential tips help clients to communicate well with our translation team in order to get back something that looks like the original image you had in their mind when you ordered translation services. Professionals utilize all of the feedback they receive to come up with precisely targeted documents that reflect a client in the best possible way and have the maximum effect on readers.

Benefit of Localizing your Marketing Materials

Companies with an international or global reach are quickly realizing that there’s a lot of value in making their marketing or outreach materials more precisely targeted to a particular audience. This is often called “localization” and is pursued along with other marketing efforts such as technical translation of documents into multiple languages. Localization is becoming a higher standard that companies use to make sure that they get what they want out of international or multi-lingual campaigns. Project managers, creative directors, and others are looking at how to secure services that can work localization into various parts of a campaign, from brochures and visual ads to web content and printed slogans on different kinds of product marketing inventories, and using professional, highly trained experts to perform quality assurance on their efforts.

Principles of Localization

What localization takes into account is that technically translated communications are often more effective when they appeal to a particular local dialect and culture. Here, the idea is that language, to a local audience, is much more than a set of words or “lexicon.” It’s the way words and sentences are said, along with references to local culture and customs that help the language seem authentic, to give communications the appeal of “language on the street” rather than artificial or formal language of many technical communications.

Why Localize Marketing Materials?

When people read marketing documents or take in marketing campaigns in any media format, they’re more likely to pay attention to things that ‘sound the way they do.’ Many technically translated marketing documents may not sound quite right; they don’t have the common mannerisms, characteristics, and inflections that a local population uses every day. Materials can sound wooden, stilted, out of touch, or even forced or contrived. Professional translators who can match results to a local population through localization deliver a much different set of results: materials that engage, that catch the listener’s or reader’s attention, and that fit into a local culture seamlessly.

Benefits of localization include better customer loyalty over time, higher rates of conversion, better returns on investment, and a better reputation for the business that’s behind the marketing campaign. All of this is accomplished through the same principle of “language precision” that suggests that in order to be effective, language has to really match a local community, and not just a technical standard. Think about using professional translation firms to work localization into what you use to reach out to customers.

Qualities of Professional Translators: Expect the Best

Some of those who need translating services, but don’t know a lot about the translating industry, may not understand some of the differences between amateur translators and individuals who work for companies providing professional translation services to clients. There is a general principle in this industry that not all translating services are “the same” and that there’s a lot to be gained by choosing commercial or technical translation services that employ qualified and experienced professionals. Part of this difference is in the way that professionals anticipate challenges and provide radically different results than those unprepared for higher level translation or interpreting tasks. Not all of the business leaders and others who are “shopping” for translation or interpretation services know how to figure out the difference between professional firms and other services, but a few basics can help.

Handling a Lexicon

Professional translators are experienced in the target languages that they provide to an audience, whether that’s a live audience or a readership. Professionals understand that translating terms in a given language goes beyond using cognates or simple associations, and that language is not linear, but complex. That’s why the results that listeners or readers get from professional translators are more accurate, well targeted, and easy to understand.

More Features of Targeted Language Delivery

Professional translators will also deliver results that sound familiar and authentic to a particular listening audience. Those who are skilled and trained in specific target languages will often have a better understanding of dialect and regional language. These individuals can distinguish, for example, between Castilian and regional Latin American dialects, to present in a way that matches the audience and where in the world the translation service is needed. Knowledge of dialect and target language cultures means that the translator can adapt the tone and style of a presentation to make it more palatable for a given audience. This can make all of the difference in how a message is received, and whether translation services successfully accomplish their goals.

Looking for Professional Translation Firms

Finding professional firms that offer high-level and targeted translation services doesn’t have to be difficult. Shoppers for translation services can ask company reps about past projects and how goals were met. They can also ask about the experience and credentials of in-house translators and how these will lend themselves to any given project. Matching specific language resources will help those who need translation to make sure that their choices will provide effective and pleasing results.

As a professional translation service provider with over 20 years of experience Verbatim Solutions is a clear choice for high-quality, low-cost translation services. As your translation partner Verbatim will provide you with a team of talented and experienced translators, project managers, and account support. Get started today with a Free Quote.

Event-Based Translation: Professionalism Under Fire

Qualified careerists offering professional translation services often work for companies with a wealth of experience in matching a language expert to a task. One of the ways that this can show through is when a professional translator needs to handle more high-pressure or higher-level jobs involving translation or interpretation.

Translation on Paper and In the Field

Generally, companies refer to translation services as services that revolve around the translation of written work, while the work of translating spoken word for audiences is referred to as interpreting. However, the line between these two can often get blurred, and a translator can find themselves having to work in impromptu situations involving multiple speakers, sound issues, and a variety of other challenges.

Professionals and Event-Based Translation

Those providing professional translation services know how to handle last-minute changes to a task. At events that may not be completely planned, these individuals, who are skilled and trained to offer technical translation services to any audience, can adapt much quicker than others who may not have these kinds of skills and qualifications.

One way that professionals work with a demanding event-based translation job is to quickly prep each speaker before the beginning of the session, to make sure that they understand some of the basic issues around real-time translation. These include clarity of speech, limiting jargon, and above all, the importance of keeping translatable speech in shorter and smaller pieces. Any translator can quickly become overwhelmed when asked to translate units of speech longer than several dozen words or about one minute. Although the specifics differ quite a bit, the general is to keep language in manageable chunks, which involves some pre-emptive preparation and anticipation of the challenges at hand.

Along with these common-sense preparation techniques, professionals also have an arsenal of resources to deal with other challenges involved in translating spoken word for audiences. Many of the shortcuts and translation enhancements learned by experience professional translators can mean the difference between a smooth presentation and one that goes off the rails. That’s why, when it’s important to have effective multi-lingual support at an event, the most savvy managers choose firms that offer fully professional translating and interpreting services based on a first-hand knowledge on what’s involved. Look for companies that can demonstrate experience and professionalism in the kinds of services needed to fully deliver understandable results to an important audience.

Verbatim Solutions can provide you with an on-site or telephonic interpreter as needed. When the occasion requires on-site interpreters, notice, preparation, and details are important to provide so our team can get the right interpreter for your event.

Why Localize?

Companies with an international or global reach are quickly realizing that there’s a lot of value in making their marketing or outreach materials more precisely targeted to a particular audience. This is often called “localization” and is pursued along with other marketing efforts such as technical translation of documents into multiple languages. Localization is becoming a higher standard that companies use to make sure that they get what they want out of international or multi-lingual campaigns. Project managers, creative directors, and others are looking at how to secure services that can work localization into various parts of a campaign, from brochures and visual ads to web content and printed slogans on different kinds of product marketing inventories, and using professional, highly trained experts to perform quality assurance on their efforts.

Principles of Localization

What localization takes into account is that technically translated communications are often more effective when they appeal to a particular local dialect and culture. Here, the idea is that language, to a local audience, is much more than a set of words or “lexicon.” It’s the way words and sentences are said, along with references to local culture and customs that help the language seem authentic, to give communications the appeal of “language on the street” rather than artificial or formal language of many technical communications.

Why Localize Marketing Materials?

When people read marketing documents or take in marketing campaigns in any media format, they’re more likely to pay attention to things that ‘sound the way they do.’ Many technically translated marketing documents may not sound quite right; they don’t have the common mannerisms, characteristics, and inflections that a local population uses every day. Materials can sound wooden, stilted, out of touch, or even forced or contrived. Professional translators who can match results to a local population through localization deliver a much different set of results: materials that engage, that catch the listener’s or reader’s attention, and that fit into a local culture seamlessly.

Benefits of localization include better customer loyalty over time, higher rates of conversion, better returns on investment, and a better reputation for the business that’s behind the marketing campaign. All of this is accomplished through the same principle of “language precision” that suggests that in order to be effective, language has to really match a local community, and not just a technical standard. Think about using professional translation firms to work localization into what you use to reach out to customers.

With over 20 years of experience in the localization services industry, Verbatim Solutions is the perfect partner to provide marketing localization services. As a market leader we provide you with a team of talented translators, project managers, and account services to ensure your projects are delivered on-time, on-budget, and on-target for your audience.

Keeping Corrections at Bay

In translating, as in any industry, some mistakes are inevitable, but at the same time, there is a lot that a company offering professional translation services can do to make sure that any result is relatively error-free, and that any small errors that may occur will not reduce the quality of translation or interpretation.

Our professional translators have resources at their disposal to limit the chances of making mistakes in translation. Working together, companies and professionals advance toward higher quality and higher-level technical and professional translations for clients.

Consulting and Reference Resources

One way that our professional translators avoid translation mistakes is with a range of technical and consulting resources such as dictionaries, lexical lists and other references. Having high-quality software products on hand can also help. When a professional translator may realize that something doesn’t quite seem right, he or she can quickly go to a reference resource to double-check and provide the exact word or phrase that is needed.

Targeted Knowledge

Another resource that our professional translators draw on is their past experience in the field. Translators who have learned target languages through immersion or otherwise studied these languages in detail can understand where a given phrase may have more than one translation, and where a specific option is more appropriate. With a thorough understanding of local dialects and cultures, translators armed with intimate knowledge of a language can make choices that will affect the readability of the translated text. A professional translator can spot areas where language needs to be more or less formal, or where certain tag words will get the attention of an audience based on the urgency, formality, or other factors in communication.

Preparation for Translating and Interpreting

Another factor is that professional translators are often better prepared. Mistakes in translation can happen when a translator is rushed or under pressure. Many of the more experienced career professionals use specific techniques to prepare themselves mentally for the task ahead – they may take more time and use time more effectively, in order to guard against various kinds of translation mistakes, where less experienced individuals may make mistakes by hurrying or responding to the pressures of the job.

All of this contributes toward a set of skills that make a truly professional translator valuable in the workplace, and valuable to clients who need specific kinds of results. The best translating companies connect clients to these kinds of professionals and take a consultative approach, helping customers to figure out how to source these services for a specific task.