Tom Goodwin, Head of Innovation, Zenith Media writes in his article “Forget coding, we need to teach our kids how to dream” that if we foster creativity, fuel curiosity and help people relate via relationships and empathy, then we empower kids to be totally self-reliant. They will be agile, adaptable to change in a world that we can’t yet foresee. He talks about a future that is not about what we remove, but what to refocus on and on developing 5 key attributes to become robust, happy and balanced people. In a world of change, technological disruption and abundant information, we as translators can take inspiration from these suggested attributes and take comfort in the fact that many of them are already innate qualities of professional translators.
Are you thinking of expanding internationally or entering a new market? One of the first things you are likely to do is to have your marketing materials translated. So how do you get your message and call to action across effectively in a different language?
Choose a translator specialised in marketing
Take the time to find a translator who is experienced in marketing and who understands your business. Think about it. You wouldn’t want a financial translator translating your highly creative marketing copy, you can give them a call to translate your annual report but not your website or brochure. Translating marketing documents requires creativity, cultural competency and an ability to convey ideas whilst at the same time retaining meaning and eliciting a desired emotional response.
Make sure your company name and tagline are appropriate
Your company name, slogan, logo or tagline all feature prominently on your website and marketing materials. I’m sure you’re familiar with some of the more well-known marketing translation fails such as ‘Come alive with Pepsi’ which was rendered in Chinese as ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead’. Beware: a brand name or slogan doesn’t always translate well into other languages and cultures. Getting it right the first time around avoids costly corrective action and damaging your reputation.
Provide style guides and glossaries for your marketing materials
Recurring words or phrases are important to your company’s identity and were originally created to make your marketing content memorable and compelling. It’s therefore important to communicate these to help your translator keep these same qualities and style for materials in another language. Your goal should be to maintain brand coherence as much as possible within any cultural limitations.
Educate translators about your brand
The more informed translators are about your brand, the more accurate and effective their work will be. The translator’s role as a linguist is to take on board your brand voice and personality. They do this in order to convey these to your target audience in such a way that the message really speaks to them personally. It’s important for you to be able to present your company’s unique value to your desired target audience through culturally relevant communication.
In summary, when you are looking to translate your marketing materials for a new market, it’s important to choose a specialised translator, check the cultural relevance of your brand name and tagline, provide or develop a style guide and educate translators about your brand. Putting these recommendations in place will go a long way to ensuring that your translated marketing content retains its original compelling message and stand-out qualities.
If your product or service is only promoted in one language on your website, non-native speakers of that language may have difficulty understanding it fully. The nuanced features and benefits of your product or service may go unnoticed, resulting in reduced engagement with your brand. For many companies, time and budget limitations can be obstacles to not getting a website translated. Too many companies rely on English being the so-called “language of business”. Don’t forget that SEO can only work in another market if your content is translated.
Can’t read, won’t buy
According to Common Sense Advisory, 72% of consumers spend most of their time online on websites in their own language. Even though many people around the world understand English to some extent, it is estimated that half of these do not have a good enough command of English to successfully navigate a website. 55% of respondents only buy from websites where information is presented in their own language. As a result there is a reduction in browsing rates for English sites, non-consideration of a product or service and a limited desire to buy. Put simply, people prefer to purchase from a site that is in their native language.
So you’re going global and need a translation into English but you have to choose between Australian or British and American English. This will of course be dependent on your audience and where you are selling your product or service. I’m going to focus here on Australian English as I live in Australia! Let’s have a look at the main linguistic differences between the two.
What is translation purpose? Most common definitions would agree that the purpose of translation is to “convey the original tone and intent of a message, taking into account cultural and regional differences between source and target languages” (Globalization and Localization Association), but how does this reflect the relationship between translator and client in practice?
“Skopos” is a Greek word for “aim” or “purpose” that was introduced into translation theory in the 1970s by Hans Vermeer. This went on to become the technical term for translation purpose and the act of translating for that purpose. It refers to the understanding that each text is produced for a given purpose and as such should be translated in a way that enables it to function in the situation in which it is used, with the people who want to use and in the way they intend it to function. Translators create texts for clients who may be around the corner, in the same city or on the other side of the world, but these clients are not always good at communicating with translators in terms of explaining what they want or need when asking for a translation (sometimes they don’t actually know themselves!).
Translators can easily fall into the trap of sitting at the computer for ten hours a day or more! This is detrimental to our health and well-being. Putting in place habits to make time for yourself will allow you to experience greater gratitude, happiness and meaningful interactions in both your professional and personal life.
Here are five ways that translators can take time out to look after themselves.
International Translation Day 2016 is just around the corner! This special day for translators is celebrated every year on 30 September on the feast of St. Jerome, the Bible translator who is considered to be the patron saint of translators. I believe we have reason to celebrate: think of all the places, books and movies we access thanks to translation. Our lives would be much less interesting without translation!
The role of translators and interpreters in connecting worlds is to open up the whole world to all of us”.
As any language professional knows, language is inextricably linked to culture. An interpreter needs to have knowledge and understanding of both to communicate across cultures. This includes knowledge of norms and idioms that can often be deeply culturally bound. For example if an Australian says, “no worries, it’s a piece of cake”, they are not offering to make you a cake, they are actually saying that something is easy. Or if someone says you are “on the ball”, they don’t mean literally, they mean that you are energetic, organised, attentive and knowledgeable. How would you render that in another language? One of the greatest challenges for interpreters is conveying terms and expressions that are so culturally bound that they don’t exist in the other language. It is in such cases that
“interpreters do far more than bridge language gaps. They enable people from extremely different cultures to understand each other” (Found in Translation p.20).
So how do interpreters navigate culture and cultural differences? Read more →
As a translator there are many ways to research and improve translation vocabulary. The internet is a valuable tool, however you need to know where to look. I recently discovered another source of new vocabulary for those wanting to express themselves in “proper French” without using any kind of improper “Franglais” or an English calque of a particular word. The different vocabularies together words and phrases recommended by the General Commission of Terminology and Neology are regularly published in the Official Journal of the French Republic in the context of the program for the enrichment of the French language.
The commission’s objective is to enrich the French language to facilitate understanding of concepts sometimes poorly understood by the public and recommend contexts for their use.
Translators and translation are key if you are exporting or importing to a new market. Maybe your business has a great product and you have identified a niche in a new foreign market. You may have invested in setting up a website in English and spent a great amount of time and money developing it with web design experts and copywriters. Now after all this effort, you will need to adapt your website and translate it for a new market. You may also need to translate instructions or other content for your target market.
Where do you start?
One option is to hire a translator directly as most translators work as freelance contractors. The other option is to hire a translation agency which acts as an intermediary, so you won’t be in direct contact with the translator. The second option is preferable for most projects as you will save time and money and a great translator who partners with your business can add real value and help you meet your goals. Most translators in Australia are accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI). This guarantees a certain level of professionalism in a language pair. It is however difficult to know who will be your perfect translation partner.
Found in Translation: How Translation Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche
A book dedicated to translators, gasp! Is this book here to publicly recognise that it is because of us the world communicates? It would seem so. Jost Zetzche, a German translator who has written a doctorate on translation in history and Nataly Kelly, a Spanish interpreter and scholar in sociolinguistics, paint a vivid canvas of just how many aspects of everyday life are profoundly affected by translation. Well researched and presented, Found in Translation reveals the extent to which the products we use and the freedoms and pleasures we enjoy are made possible by translation. Above and beyond world politics and global business, the book is divided into chapters that cover areas as diverse as space travel, legal cases, battlefields, fashion, medicine, terrorism, marketing, the European Union, Ikea, Dr Seuss, the Simpsons, Twitter, Shakespeare, cinema, sport, religion, love, porn, the airline industry, food and more. Each chapter is interspersed with highlighted text boxes that provide examples of funny diplomatic and marketing mistranslations, linguistic facts or quirky stories such as being able to access the ATM in Latin at the Vatican. Read more →
I know that many translators out there might balk at the idea of doing a translation “for free” in what is already a highly competitive marketplace that can all too often be driven by price not true value. But even in translation some things are priceless. Much more than Mastercard. Pro-bono translation is one of these invaluable things. It struck me the other day whilst doing some work for Translators Without Borders (TWB), yes for “free” for an NGO working to fight malnutrition in Chad in Africa, that despite our globalised, virtual and connected world there are still very real physical borders experienced by people living in Africa in particular. People who are struggling to access even the most basic needs including food, let alone quality healthcare services. Most countries in the Sahel region in Africa, experience a severe rate of overall malnutrition which was around 30% at the start of the 2000s is now around 40% (Bureau d’Appui Santé et Environnement). For me, this aspect of my work, this jolt back to another’s reality, lifts my eyes above my laptop screen in my comfortable home office to the world at large. Even though people might think that translators bridge cultures all the time in their work, the reality is that often we can fall into the trap of just translating and not reflecting on the impact of our work. Read more →
Starting out as a new freelance translator can be exciting and daunting at the same time.
Finally you have the freedom and flexibility to do what you love but you also have to run a business and manage your time. Whilst you can get advice before you start out, it’s sometimes difficult to see how that advice will apply. With time to look back, you can identify the things you should have perhaps paid closer attention to. So, after a couple of years of hindsight here are 5 things I wish someone had told me as a new freelance translator:
Don’t underestimate the amount of effort, planning and organisation required
Think in terms of the problems your clients face not just about your skills
You can’t be everything to everyone. It’s ok to say no
Never stop learning and share what you learn with others
Measurement is king in everything you do – hours worked, words translated, marketing activities, accounting
As Seth Godin says in his book, Purple Cow, “Remember you can only improve that which you can measure, so in addition to thinking about the effectiveness of an action, you should always also consider how much it will cost you to measure it.”
I’m still not very good at this although I am improving, little by little. It takes time, discipline and the motivation of potential clients to help you stick with it.
I am a translator. I translate texts from one language to another. Sounds easy doesn’t it?
But to get from one language to another, or from source text (ST) to target text (TT), requires a translator to go through a process. Firstly, this involves the translator making a number of choices about how to interpret the ST. Secondly, it requires the translator to use resources and to apply technical skills in order to thirdly, re-express the message in the TT. From this description, we can conclude therefore that translation is a decision making process. Any kind of process has inherent risk. The Business Dictionary defines inherent risk as “The probability of loss arising out of circumstances or existing in an environment, in the absence of any action to control or modify the circumstances.” In translation, we could say that risk equates to the possibility of not fulfilling the translation’s purpose as proposed by translation theorist Anthony Pym in his 2010 paper Text and risk in translation. I think that this is only a partial view of what we could consider as risk in translation.
Within the decision making process of translation, I see three sets of risks to be managed and minimised. Text, technology and trade risks.
Today, March 20, is the UN International Day of Happiness. I don’t know about you but I have always thought of happiness as a relatively abstract concept, but as an individual one. I acknowledge that its synonyms – contentment, satisfaction, jollity (seriously we don’t use this word enough!) or enjoyment – are easily understandable. As I did some reading, however, I began to wonder about the UN definition of gross global happiness. Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General stated that the world
“needs a new economic paradigm that recognises the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development, social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness”.
I’m all for measuring gross domestic product but gross global happiness…is this a step too far? As a translator, I’m happy when I’m translating because it makes me happy that I can gift someone with the possibility of reading a text in their own language. As Mandela so eloquently said,
“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”.