It sometimes takes more than translation for a project to be understood abroad. Understanding your reader’s culture is equally important. A translator may be able to make you aware of cultural issues in your text, but your marketing team needs to do its homework too.
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is an excellent illustration of cultural misunderstanding. Skeleton Jack, from the Halloween world, accidentally discovers the Christmas world and Continue reading →
Just like being able to speak English is not enough to be the next Oscar Wilde, not every job that involves a foreign language can be allocated to a translator. There are times when a translator is the wrong person for the job.
To come up with a snappy slogan or a memorable acronym, you have probably delegated the task to a skilled person within your marketing department or even hired a professional copywriter. Many translators can Continue reading →
Some translators are not so keen on working with direct clients (as opposed to agencies) partly because clients are not always familiar with the translation process. For me, working with direct clients is far more rewarding, and it is an opportunity to help people better understand, and therefore appreciate, what we do rather than see translation as a mere commodity (a view largely reinforced by most agencies).
Occasionally, translators are contacted by new clients who, after getting a quote, ask for a discount simply on the basis that they are a new client and that, so they claim, there will be more work to come. Nice try.
There is no incentive there for a sole trader for the obvious reasons that 1) a discount effectively means a direct reduction of our personal income; and 2) the promise of future work may never materialise – whether it is a genuine promise in the first place or not. Besides, Continue reading →
The fact that, after completing an MA in translation, some qualified students decide not to pursue a career in that field after all shows that even aspiring linguists can have misconceptions about translation, and that “speaking another language” is far from enough to be a capable translator.
Some students, believing that their degree in two or more foreign languages already gives them the skills required and that an MA will only Continue reading →
Each language has its own logic, sets of rules and exquisite weirdnesses. If something looks strange to you in the translation, it may be due to such idiosyncrasies rather than a translator’s mistake.
For example, in French there is a hard space in front of certain items of punctuation such as question and exclamation marks, colons and semicolons, and quotation marks. Also note that the latter Continue reading →
When two translators meet, you can bet on the questions that they will ask each other; they are always the same. Yet it is never boring. In fact, it is an important conversation and clients can benefit from asking those same questions to any translator they meet.
I have recently started to work on an ongoing multilingual project (an online art-collection management tool) which is proving a challenge for everyone in the team due, amongst other things, to the end client’s lack of experience with translation projects.
As an online tool, the platform only has occasional sentences in isolation, the bulk of the work consisting of section of field headings, i.e. short stand-alone strings of words, or even Continue reading →
If the tone or content of a text can affect how you feel when reading, the work of translation goes further still as you must somehow absorb the author’s ideas as your own, feel the tone of the text and process them to recreate them faithfully. While the majority of assignments (in my case anyway) may be engaging at an intellectual level only, some documents can affect the translator emotionally too.
A small art publisher recently asked for my rate while warning me that they didn’t have the budget of a large company. Such a query can be translated as: “we’d love to have our books translated but can’t afford it”.
While translators may show some flexibility with regards to rates or other terms, it goes without saying that we can Continue reading →
As 2016 has started with large projects to work on, I have not had time to think much about a post for this week. Instead, you may wish to read this article, which shows how relying on machine translation is very dangerous indeed. Continue reading →
Accents are important in life and deserve your respect. They are not exotic decorations that you sprinkle about like glitter over the Christmas tree. They have their place in this world and many languages would not be the same without them. So when writing or typing foreign words, don’t forget to Continue reading →