Friday, May 20, 2011

How On Earth Do I Choose the Right Translation Company?

A translation service helps people by accurately translating documents into their language of choice. Because of various constraints, you may have to search for the best in terms of price, quality, speed, technology and experience. Remember that not all companies are equal, so be sure to check every aspect before sending off your hard-earned cash.


Searching for the right translation company can be tough. You want to make sure that you’re getting an accurate translation for a fair price, so make sure you call around to multiple translation companies. This will give you a base price of what you can expect to pay. Remember to ask them about any deals or promotions they have going on (if you have a bigger order, or multiple orders, they may offer you a discount). Ask for a breakdown of all their fees. It’s best to know the charges up front.


When you are comparing quotes you have to ask about the additional services that are offered and their track record. Also ask to see a few examples of their work. What you are looking for is how well the speech and accuracy of the words come together. Also, ask  how their translators are selected – this can be a big factor in their quality of work. A company should require their translators to take a proficiency test and have a number of years speaking or translating the language before they are hired.


One category that is valued by everyone is the speed of the company’s turnaround time on projects. In most cases, a translator can do about 2,000 words per day, and if there is a larger document, a number of translators can work together to get it done quickly. Speed is another way of checking the company’s quality and service. Slow turn around times should not be tolerated unless the company has a short list of workers. If quick output is crucial for you, then make sure to ask if you have to pay rush charges to get your order on time.


Inquire about the technology they are using to translate your article. There is a software called TMS or translation memory software that will help a translator speed up the translation process, however, not all companies use TMS. This service also prevents the repeat use of words that have already been translated.


Finally, the most important element is knowing how long the translation company has been in business. Some of the companies that have been around for decades are usually the best ones – and they can also be the most expensive. If you are checking quotes, you will see that there are a lot of companies that have been translating for years, but a new company might have a better offer. Look through the website and talk to a representative to  gain insight into their experience level. Some companies give a money back guarantee or a free trial so you can test their services before you pay.

Author: Margo Smith
Source: Classes &

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

25 Things Translators Should Never Do

Despite the title, many of the don’ts apply more to agencies and their staff. Some to individual translators. And some to any service related job.

  1. Never forget to thank the client for requesting a quote (even if you don’t get the assignment).
  2. Never assume a new client has used translation services before, or the converse. Some customers are new to the experience, and some are savvier than you’d imagine.
  3. Never leave a request for information without a response. If you were on vacation/your computer crashed/you’re thinking of a career change, respond to all inquiries no matter how late. “I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. I hope everything worked out alright,” confirms your reputation as a professional.
  4. Never try to impress a client by using industry jargon or acronyms. TRADOS often means little to those in the outside world. In emails and conversations, always use the full explanation of a term the first time it is mentioned.
  5. Never tell a client, “That turnaround time is not possible.” Instead try, “Here’s what I can do in that time,” or offer to start delivering parts of the project within the deadline. Chances are good that your client’s deadline isn’t wholly within their control. Instead of relaying to their manager that you said the deadline isn’t possible, they will pick up the phone and call another provider.
  6. On the other hand, never promise a deadline you know you can’t meet. You wouldn’t want a plumber promising to fix your only toilet within a few hours knowing he can’t do it until three days later.
  7. If a deadline seems tight, do not forget to inquire why it is so. If your client needs to quickly review a document for content, you may be able to deliver a translation “For Informational Purposes Only” by their deadline, and follow up with an edited version shortly after.
  8. Never respond to a request for services with an emphasis on how busy you already are with other assignments. You might succeed in showing how in demand you are, but you will likely make them think twice about calling again. Thank the caller for their consideration and drop them a note when your workload lightens up.
  9. Never hesitate to be truthful when necessary. “You may need to use another vendor for that assignment,” shows sincere concern for your client’s project and will encourage them to contact you again. This applies to individual translators — who are more accustomed to the practice of referring colleagues — and to agencies too. Offer a lead if you are able.
  10. Never let your client hear you denigrate other translators or agencies. Although it is important to get today’s assignment, it is vital to leave a positive impression if you want the client to recommend your services to others.
  11. Never miss the chance to show respect for your client’s knowledge of their industry. Focusing primarily on your knowledge of translation may indirectly belittle their input.
  12. Never assume you already know everything you need to know about your language pair(s) or specialty(ies). Translation is one of those professions where you can continue to learn and grow if you remain open-minded.
  13. Never make excuses for your rate; you are offering a professional service. Do the homework to make sure your rates are within industry standards.
  14. Never increase your rate based solely on your perception of the client’s wealth or budget. Their budget is subject to change from month to month, and you might unwittingly price yourself out of a long-term relationship.
  15. Don’t be too rigid about turnaround times or pricing. After an initial quote, there are often ways to negotiate your services to save the client money. Ask the client to prioritize price, schedule, and quality, and offer to work around those priorities.
  16. Never offer a firm quote without looking at the WHOLE source text.
  17. Never forget to ask a client for a style preference or style sheet on especially long or ongoing assignments. It is your job to know that these exist.
  18. Never wait to look at the source text. Examine it as soon as possible even if you are in the middle of another assignment. Two hours before the deadline is too late to ask for a more legible copy.
  19. Never assume your client has thoroughly examined the source text. You may discover text already in the target language, which is good news; or you may discover text in a third language, which is not.
  20. Never contact the client the first time you come across a discrepancy in the source file. The answer you seek may lie somewhere later on in the file.
  21. Never barrage your client with petty questions, like “Which do you prefer, “AM” or “A.M.”? Have your own default in-house style guide. If you want to check the client’s preference for small stylistic issues, send a note with the finished translation leaving the client the option of not responding. For example, “I used ‘AM’ in the translation. Let me know if you’d like me to change it.” Although you may be finished with the project, it’s probable that your client is not and does not have time to discuss such matters.
  22. Never let the client intimidate you into changing a translation you know is correct. Offer to consult a colleague regarding the proposed changes.
  23. As a translator, never charge for reviewing your own translation. It’s a given. As an agency, be clear about what your price includes in terms of editing, proofreading and other QC procedures.
  24. Never forget to ask the client to confirm receipt of the delivered translation.
  25. Never forget that human translation is an organic product. Be open to reviewing completed translations, be willing to admit mistakes, and be prepared to defend yourself with solid resources beyond, “I’ve been doing this a long time.” You may have been doing it wrong for a long time.
Source: Yndigo Translations

Top Tips for Successful Multilingual SEO

You built a very attractive website for your services, now what? Is that enough?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is neither an option nor a "luxury" for websites. SEO is an absolutely essential step which every website needs before going "live." SEO optimization is even more critical when you have websites in multiple languages. Multilingual websites can thrive or fail based on how well they are optimized for SEO in their global, target-language markets. 

Although your translation company may have mastered best practices for multilingual SEO, you will need a sound strategy for SEO in your source as well as target languages. SEO is a key component in your overall Global Search Engine Marketing strategy.

The Internet now is stuffed with billions of web pages and millions of great websites that provide useful information and interesting experiences for online users to navigate. In the fairly recent past, many web-marketers spent a lot of money on "User Experience" and copywriting to drive users to their web pages but neglected to spend very much effort on Search Engine Optimization.  Successful multilingual SEO starts with good content in your source language.

Don't search for the perfect SEO recipe

There is no perfect recipe for SEO analysis. It will always be a unique experience, based on the website, the market, the brand, the competitors and the problems being worked on, as well as the technology in question. Therefore, instead of thinking of every possible component that could be a factor for SEO, think of the top factors that will have the greatest impact SEO for your website in all target as well as source languages.

Top factors to achieve success with SEO

  • URL structure: Let's think of your website structure and URLs as the basic map plan for search engines to find every single piece of content you host on your website. The URLs represent the primary value for SEO. Look carefully here and represent your URLs in the most direct and accessible way possible. Every URL should be visible and search engine-friendly.
  • Website Crawl: How efficiently can your website be crawled? This includes ensuring that URLs are structured cleanly. It is even more important to ensure that your website is accessible for website crawl without overuse of JavaScript, AJAX, Flash, and other barriers.
  • Loading Speed: How fast is your website? Website performance is especially important, because search engines like fast websites; they "value time."
  • Website Navigation: Crawl paths are the important pathways given to search engines.  Do you have smart navigation placed on your websites? Do you have Google sitemap? Bing sitemap? This is a very important consideration.
  • Content: Always focus on refreshing and updating your website content. Search engines place high value on fresh content. Display your blog and news feeds on your home page to keep it auto-updated. Also make sure that your unique content gets sorted above all the other content.
  • Meta data: Meta data is now an important part of technical SEO, with the rise of rel=canonical.
  • Robots.txt: It's important to consider what robots exclusion is taking place on a site with Meta robots and robots.txt best practices.
  • HTML is still the King: Your website content needs to always be indexed. The best route to success with that is providing accessible content in ways that search engines demand. If you use flash and interactive content, (which will not be indexed), you can always limit it to just embedded components working side-by-side with indexed text content.  You may try HTML5 as well.
  • Title: <Title> tags are one of the strongest factors when it comes to on-page optimization. Title tags will show as the header for your indexed page on the result page. So it is not only about the keywords you index in that title, it is also the first thing the user sees to help him make a decision about visiting your link or not.  Use a combination of copywriting and search engine optimization for each title you have on your website. Naturally, this combination will be critical for multilingual SEO on your target-language websites, where you translation company can provide assistance.
  • Backlinks: Although a great deal of time and effort are required, we believe that companies should invest time and money in building backlinks for their websites. After a great deal of investigation with a lot of auto submission software and tools, GPI still believes that organic search and "white hat" techniques are the most effective way to build backlinks.
  • Google Analytics: Analyze your website traffic resources and top content. Monitor your statistics and visitors. By charting successful campaigns and trends, you can carry your success into more portions of your website. SEO cannot succeed without constant monitoring and analysis.

SEO rewards are worth the effort

Focusing on these top factors in SEO, over time you will achieve measureable success. Although you will probably not reach your goals "over night," effective SEO will have a demonstrable effect on your website visits and revenues. This is multiplied by the number of target language websites you may have, with which your translation company can provide assistance. With the world as your market, you want to ensure that your website content is attracting all potential customers in the language they can best understand.

Source: Globalization Partners International

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How Translation Is Changing the World

In today's interconnected world, is language really still a barrier? The answer is yes, but not for long.

The world's population is projected to reach seven billion by the end of 2011. Nearly two billion of these individuals have internet access. The majority of online users (80 percent) speak just ten languages, but there are 6,912 known living human languages.

Only 2,261 have a writing system. So, video and audio communication are essential to enable people from all parts of the world to communicate in real time.

The printing press, radio, and television were each important milestones in expanding the scope of global communication. But the internet gives people access to information in all three of the forms they prefer (audio, video, and text), making it the only communication platform capable of reaching people in all of the languages they speak. Before the internet, conquering Babel was simply a dream -- now, it's an attainable goal.

The internet also may help slow down language loss. Speakers of less common languages are often marginalized from the larger societies their communities inhabit. As a result, they assimilate and learn the language of a dominant class or social group. Parents often encourage their children to embrace society's most dominant language, viewing it as a key that will unlock important economic and social benefits that would otherwise be unattainable. As a result, younger generations abandon their mother tongues, often viewing them as inferior.

But programs like the National Geographic's Enduring Voices Project -- conducted in collaboration with the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages -- seek to preserve endangered languages by recording them and sharing them with the world through their own YouTube channel. Thanks to this project, people across the globe can hear two young men rap in Hruso (also called Aka or Angka). Hruso is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by 4,000 people in Arunachal Pradesh, India. A video that shows a gentleman counting in Foi (also called Foe or Mubi), makes it clear why video content is essential. Viewers hear him pronounce the numbers in his language, which is spoken by 2,800 people in Papua New Guinea, but they can also see how he uses his body to count. Just imagine how a miserably a textbook would fail to convey the same information.

Companies like Microsoft and Google have also been working to increase the number of languages in which their customers can receive and share information. As Carla Hurd, who oversees Microsoft's Local Language Program, points out, "There are languages we've encountered where the terms we need to translate simply don't exist, so we end up working with the local communities on terminology development. This ensures that they tell us how they'd like to see the terms translated -- not vice versa." Hurd's program enables speakers of 59 different languages -- including Assamese (India), Basque (Spain), Igbo (Nigeria), and Inuktitut (Canada) -- to use Microsoft's products.

No single organization in the world is doing as much to demolish the Tower of Babel as Google. The company's flagship product, Google Search, is available today in 136 languages. Google Translate, the company's automatic translation tool, enables users to instantly translate content between 57 different languages. While there's a long way to go to reach all 6,912 languages, the company has made no secret of its goal to remove the language barrier. It operates a vast online translation community, using volunteer translators who want to see more information available in their native tongues.

The scope of Google's language-related work is expansive, but it also engages in more focused, timely projects. For example, the company recently engaged more than 1,800 multilingual professionals to convert more than half a million words of online health-related text into Arabic, Hindi, and Swahili through a pilot project called Google Health Speaks. Jennifer Haroon, who oversees the project, explains, "To demonstrate our commitment to increasing health information online in local languages, we paid professional translators to translate and review a portion of the articles."

Why is translation so important? Information is power, but the amount of information that is currently inaccessible to the world population is mind-boggling. Much like scientists who discover more each day about the mysteries of the human brain, translation enables us to tap into more of our collective repository of human knowledge.

Our thirst for information will never be fully quenched unless we can access all of the information that we might want to obtain -- no matter which language(s) we happen to speak, no matter who created the content, and no matter the form in which it's available. Until the world's content is accessible to all, the internet is not truly global.

The worldwide web must also be wordwise. Slowly but surely, we're getting there.


By Nataly KellyChief Research Officer, Common Sense Advisory

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Singing to Children May Help Development of Language Skills

Parents should sing to their children every day to avoid language problems developing in later life, according to a consultant. Too much emphasis in the early years is placed on reading, writing and numeracy, and not enough on the benefits of singing, according to Sally Goddard Blythe, a consultant in neuro-developmental education and director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology.

Singing traditional lullabies and nursery rhymes to babies and infants before they learn to speak, is "an essential precursor to later educational success and emotional wellbeing", argues Blythe in a book. "Song is a special type of speech. Lullabies, songs and rhymes of every culture carry the 'signature' melodies and inflections of a mother tongue, preparing a child's ear, voice and brain for language." Blythe says in her book, The Genius of Natural Childhood, to be published by Hawthorn Press, that traditional songs aid a child's ability to think in words. She also claims that listening to, and singing along with rhymes and songs uses and develops both sides of the brain. "Neuro-imaging has shown that music involves more than just centralised hotspots in the brain, occupying large swathes on both sides," she said.

Growing numbers of children enter nursery and school with inadequate language and communication skills, according to the National Literacy Trust, often because their parents have not helped them develop communication skills. Blythe believes that singing to and, later, with a child is the most effective way to transform their ability to communicate.

"Children's response to live music is different from recorded music," she said. "Babies are particularly responsive when the music comes directly from the parent. Singing along with a parent is for the development of reciprocal communication."

Beverley Hughes, the former children's minister who established a national curriculum to set down how babies are taught to speak in childcare from the age of three months, agreed that nursery rhymes can "boost child development".

Hughes cites research showing that music and rhyme increase a child's ability in spatial reasoning, which can enhance a child's mathematical and scientific abilities.
"Singing nursery rhymes with young children will get them off to a flying start," she said.

Daniel Dwase, editor of the online Child Development Guide, agreed that nursery rhymes set to music can aid a child's development. But, he added, teaching a child to dance is also important.

"Music assists in the development of a child's speech," he said. "Singing nursery rhymes and simple songs teaches children how language is constructed and assists with the acquisition of language. Singing songs with your child will also teach them about tone, beat and rhythm.

"Even better than just singing, though, is to teach songs with actions and encourage your child to dance along to the music, they will learn balance, co-ordination, body awareness and rhythm," he said.

Author: Amelia Hill

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Are Computers the Future of Translations?

Machine translation – using a computer to translate one human language into another – is the sci-fi dream that’s coming true. While the claim of translator droid C-3PO in the Star Wars films to be “fluent in six million forms of communication” can’t be matched by current computerised systems, Google Translate does already offers 57 core languages, giving over 3,000 possible language permutations.

So surely, it’s only a matter of time before human translators are out of a job?

Or maybe not. Existing machine translation systems are more about complementing human translation rather than replacing it, and here’s how they do so.

The Internet means an exponentially greater amount of content is being published than at any time previously in human history. There is more information out there than there has ever been. But accessing this information can be difficult. For example, less than two percent of all Internet content is currently available to the world’s 280 million Arabic speakers. Machine translation allows them to get at the other 98 percent.

In fact, anywhere that the utility of the information is more important than its presentation or nuances, machine translation performs an invaluable service.

To give a commercial example, in foreign-language versions of Microsoft’s technical support pages, some of the articles are machine-translated and others have been translated by humans. Users are asked whether the information solved their problem – and the proportion of yeses is identical for the machine and human-translated articles.

Likewise, mechanised translation facilitates communication. Every day, people around the world use it to translate emails to and from others with whom they have no language in common. That has to be a good thing.

The next step is to apply this to verbal communications. And sure enough, this January Google duly unveiled an “alpha” version of Google Translate’s “conversation mode.” Speak into a mobile device, and this will speak back a translation of what you have said in another language.

Yet for all the staggering advance in machine translation, no computerised system can achieve even the consistent grammatical accuracy of professional human translators, let alone their fluency or style. Why is this?

In recent years, automated efforts have increasingly focused on so-called statistical machine translation, the approach that underpins Google Translate. In Google’s own words, “it looks for patterns in hundreds of millions of documents, [and] by detecting patterns in documents that have already been translated by human translators, [it] can make intelligent guesses as to an appropriate translation.”

Essentially, it scans through millions of human-translated documents looking at each sentence/phrase/word, and then looks in the translations to see how the two languages’ words and phrases map to each other. This means it can be used for any combination of languages for which there is a large enough “corpus” or body of text. It also means new languages can be added in fairly short order; in response to last year’s Haitian earthquake, Google Translate added Haitian Creole to its list of languages in less than three weeks.

But it is entirely a data-driven process. The software is not trying to “understand” the words it is translating, let alone the nuances of social convention, cultural context and tone. And that is why for anything that is designed to engage the emotions, machine translation remains a long way from being a viable solution. Information, it seems, moves much more easily between languages than presentation.

This applies not just to literature and poetry, but to the creative translation, known as transcreation, that is needed to engage consumers in advertising and marketing communications.

For instance, it is important to remember that machine translation is typically a process initiated by the reader. Someone has already decided they are interested in the text, and that is why they are getting it translated.

But with advertising, this interest cannot be assumed, it must be created. In the era of information overload, audiences need a reason to bother with content. That reason might be humour, passion, intrigue or elegance of style, but it will almost certainly be something that is not machine-translatable.

As Wayne Bourland of Dell’s Global Localisation Team comments, “In a recent usability study conducted in Germany, Dell observed that buyers who needed to form an emotional connection as part of the purchasing process were both distracted and disappointed by translation errors.”

And of course, anything that requires creativity or originality is almost by definition not suitable for statistical based machine translation – because a system that only leverages past translations can never come up with something as creative and original as a human being.

Ultimately, good translation is a creative process. Machine translation is an incredibly powerful tool, but thinking it can replace human translators is like thinking an oven can replace a chef.

(opinion article by James Bradley, Head of English Copy at Mother Tongue Writers, the UK’s largest specialist adaptation and transcreation agency based in London and New York.)
Source: Responsesource