Marketing Translation – Languages and Marketing, such a good combination

Marketing translation

Marketing translation – Never two areas were as complementary and necessary as they are today, language and marketing.

In recent years, the fields of marketing and translation have experienced great interest from professionals and consumers, due to the arrival of television on demand, social networks and, in general, the force with which it has broken the digital realm in our lives.

In this context, people with training in languages ​​and in marketing and communication have much to offer, because we combine commercial knowledge, that is, what tools and techniques are the best to sell in the digital environment, with excellent knowledge of our language, and marketing translation.

As a marketing translator, I have tried over the years to extract the best of these two disciplines. I would like to share my experience of marketing translation with an excerpt of an interview held on Buzzsprout in November 2019 about translation and marketing. Here it is…

What are you currently focusing on?

Currently, I dedicate 100% to digital marketing. As a freelance translator, I work on social networks, email marketing campaigns, social media ads, blogging for companies and SEO which I translate from English into French.

In addition, I always dedicate an important percentage of my time to training and updating, since the marketing translation sector is always constantly evolving and it is essential to be up to date.

What has led you to devote yourself to digital marketing from the linguistic field?

The truth is that, in my case, it has been a natural process, nothing premeditated. While it is true that I studied Translation and Interpretation of English and French, from the beginning I have been more linked to the business sector than to translation itself.

Throughout my professional career, I have worked for SMEs and also for large multinationals and all that experience has opened the way for me and clarified the ideas about what I want to do, what I like, what I do better and also, of course, where I don’t want to go back to.

In digital marketing, I really enjoy developing my creativity and it is also a very dynamic task, where every day is different. You can’t fall asleep on your laurels because you have to always be up to date. And that motivates me! On the other hand, working on my own has given me the flexibility I needed to spend time with my family. And, unlike other translation projects, where sometimes you get a subtitle project that you have to deliver in two weeks and you need to work day and night during that time to meet the deadlines, in marketing translation, projects are not as urgent. They are usually long-term jobs, with which I can make work and family much more compatible. That factor is my case has been decisive.

Do you combine marketing with translation or is it something you do sporadically?

No. Although I do a lot of English and French subtitles and dubbing, today I can say that I dedicate 100% of my time to digital marketing. However, digital marketing and translation, linguistics and communication are areas that go hand in hand. So many times, I translate web pages, translate content for blogs from English to French ​​or correct texts that are going to be published, so I apply my linguistic and marketing knowledge in equal parts.

After all, the possibility of combining my two passions is fascinating and enriching.

What are the main challenges you encountered when you decided to start?

The challenges facing an entrepreneur are always the same, with the difference that not everyone has the same economic and family situation.

In my specific and particular case, undertaking marketing translation meant not having the stability of a job with a specific schedule and salary and looking for something better, more flexible and more motivating.

It is never easy to lose your comfort zone, especially when we have been taught that you have to aspire to have something fixed, whatever it is, whether you like it or not and try to retain it forever. However, experience has taught me that if we are going to have to work a lifetime, it is very hard to perform a position that you do not like or feel that your work will not have any progression in the next 30 years.

So, the biggest challenge was to visualize myself doing what I liked and go for it. I think you’ll always regret not having tried to do what you love, whatever it is.

What challenges do you think the translation sector faces today?

From my humble point of view, I believe that the greatest challenge is to get the work of a professional translator sufficiently valued, so that machines can never replace a job as complex as translation.

On the other hand, I believe that curricula for Degrees of Translation are totally outdated and disconnected from the real world that the translator will find at the end. It is an aspect that should be changed urgently. I believe that areas such as taxation, business administration, human resource management and even personal development or stress management should be reflected in some way in almost all studies.

Remember that we are in a globalized world, where you may study in Berlin, do internships in Tokyo and end up setting up a company in Bali. We need more training to get as far as we want.

What about challenges in marketing translation?

Digital marketing has numerous aspects and, in my opinion, there are two important challenges:

Create versatile, integrating and powerful tools that include all the work of marketing in one, to facilitate the work of professionals from a single platform. From where you can program, analyse, monitor and manage a multitude of platforms (websites, networks, blogs, e-commerce, advertising, translation, etc.). We are currently forced to have 200 applications and 500 programs to cover everything. And that makes the task difficult and affects productivity.

Humanize the world of marketing. By that, I mean stop thinking like machines and see the customer as a person. Empathize with him/her and avoid the dreaded bombing of campaigns we receive from some companies. It’s hard to set a limit, but I think we should make marketing a friend of the customer and not an enemy. In other words: ‘make as many marketing campaigns as you would like to receive as a customer.’

What added value can a translator bring to the field of digital marketing?

Very much. There are many professionals in the marketing translation sector who, for one reason or another, have moved to the digital marketing sector.

In my opinion, once a translator has been trained in this area and has even deepened in one of its areas (SEM, copywriting, SEO, web design, etc.), either with work experience or through a course specialization, your work can be very valuable for both a company and working as a freelancer.

We must bear in mind that translators specialized in marketing translation have a very deep knowledge of communication itself, as well as mastery of one or several foreign languages. If you combine this with any field of knowledge, the result will be truly exceptional. But in marketing, in addition, I think writing, communicating, expressing yourself, being able to convince and persuade, empathizing, generating emotions, these skills have an enormous value…

A translator trained in digital marketing will feel valued, versatile, useful and, above all, motivated, if he/she likes to overcome challenges and not stagnate.

What would you say to translation and interpreting students who are considering taking this path?

The truth is that I’ve been in this industry for 25+ years and I’ve found many translators along the way. Each and every one of us can have family, economic or health difficulties, but the limitations in the end are in oneself.

A translator who is completing his/her studies does not have to think that they should spend the rest of their life sitting by their computer translating because they have no other option (without belittling anyone who wants to do it). There are a lot of options beyond that. Either linking their translation skills to digital marketing or other sectors. I think growing is key.

And if a person feels motivated by advertising, communication or marketing, go for it! From my point of view, a translator has a lot of future in marketing translation and digital marketing, as long as he.she trains, is patient, constant, humble and gives himself/herself time to evolve. In my opinion, a translator can go as far as he/she wants. It only depends on their ambition, desire to learn and overcome challenges.

Translate into English – What Your Customer Wants

Translate into English

One of your customers wants you to translate into English (or any other language for that matter) some documents?

Here are some tips that might be useful to many translators when accepting a job, whether for a translation agency or a direct client.

Be truthful. When in doubt, say No

If you are unsure whether you can meet a deadline or take on the project, be honest and say ‘No’ or ask for more time before accepting it. Asking for more time after the project starts will cause many problems.

Don’t Start without a Written Confirmation

If you do not have a clear written confirmation, a project number, and a work order, DO NOT start working. 

POs (work orders) include all project details such as schedule, agreed cost, list of files to translate into English and instructions. The translator should invoice only the amount included in this form, so read the PO and confirm all the details given before starting work on the project.

Don’t be afraid to ask

Customers are often happy to help as best they can, and you should always answer any questions you may have. If the Language Service provider cannot answer, they will ask the customer.

Follow the instructions, always!

Before you translate into English, always analyse customer requirements in detail. When dealing with a translation agency, the agency should have prepared a list of instructions for you. These instructions are most often included in the confirmation email, along with documentation for the project, to assist the translator during the translation process. It is essential to follow them. Otherwise, the translation agency and/or the client may need to ask you to redo the job.

Always use the Reference material provided

A good translation agency will always try to get the most reference documentation, definitions and context information from their customers. It is essential for the translator to read and understand this material before finishing the translation into English. This also shortens the completion time.

Check before you deliver

Always check your work very carefully before handing it over. A Language Service provider will likely return any work that has problems. This includes running an automatic (as well as manual) spell checker such as Antidote before delivering any work. Misspelled translations are unacceptable.

If you are a proofreader and the quality of the translation into English you need to review is poor, let the agency know before you begin. 

Always exemplify the problems. The LSP should review them and decide what to do. Also, remember that you can’t charge the agency more for the extra work unless they approve the additional cost before you start.

When you Translate into English, improve if you can

Proofreading means more than correcting purely linguistic errors. It also includes all aspects of a translation. When you translate into English and proofread your translation, you are expected to check for accuracy, spelling, grammar, style, uniformity, formatting, terminology, audience readiness, etc. Verifying means not only identifying errors or aspects that can be improved, but also correcting them directly in the translation to produce a finished text. If there is something you can translate better, change it.

Mark your changes and give feedback

It’s always nice to know what the proofreaders have changed in the translations. So, when reviewing a translation in Word, use the Track changes function, and when working in Excel, highlight the changed cell with a different background colour (you don’t need to mark each word unless you are required to do so). 

If the client needs detailed comments regarding the changes, they will ask and tell you where to make them. 

Always avoid using strikethrough, as it is laborious to finalize the text (as well as use the feature). 

Agencies often encourage proofreaders to provide feedback on translations. Do not be afraid to give your opinion!

If a change doesn’t improve the translation, don’t mess it up

Be critical when finalizing a translation after final customer proofreading. Always verify that the requested changes are correct or improve the translation before applying them. If not, do not implement the change and explain why.

Don’t be afraid to ask, but think before you do

When you translate into English , clients like it when you ask questions; it shows that you are paying attention to the project, but too silly or too misplaced questions can show that you do not know the subject or know what you are doing, and that can be a shot in the foot.

Try to Be as Professional and Objective as Possible

When giving your feedback, try to be as professional and objective as possible. Stick to the facts whenever possible with links or transcriptions of grammars, dictionaries or other references.

Improve the text if you can, but don’t split hairs to justify your job. Sometimes, the translation is really very good. In this case, praise the translator.

That’s it for now. I hope you found those tips useful and have a better idea of what customers really want when they order a translation into English from you, or any other language.  

Translator Skills you should have with your translation clients

Good Translator Skills

How to Ruin everything by lacking Translator Skills

Translator Skills: When running a translation business, it makes sense to have good basic translator skills i.e adopting the right attitude with customers and colleagues. If not, you take the risk of not being able to keep your current translation clients, if you are getting any clients at all.

Here’s the list of mistakes to avoid ruining everything and improve your relationship with your translation customers.

12 Mistakes You Avoid if You Have Good Translator Skills

  • Not having an online presence (or not knowing how to behave professionally with your online presence)
  • Disclose confidential information
  • Complain in social networks about prices, about customers, about colleagues
  • Be rude (to clients and colleagues)
  • Take a long time to respond when the customer contacts you
  • Avoid networking
  • Bragging
  • Disrespect clients and/or colleagues
  • Not telling close people (friends, relatives) what you do – someone may need a translator right now
  • Just translate, without trying to solve customer problems
  • Not knowing how to negotiate (deadlines, prices).
  • Lying (about areas of expertise, knowledge, skills, etc.)

Your Reputation: your Greatest Asset 

What amazes me most about this list is that it reflects a huge lack of attention to one of your greatest assets, which the translator should make part of his/her translator skills: your reputation

The ‘speak well, speak bad, but speak of me’ attitude that we see every other week is not compatible with our autonomous life. 

We depend on our good reputation to get new customers and keep old ones. 

And how do we do it? How do we build our reputation? 

Participating in congresses, in-person events, being part of associations (yes, good customers consider this a sign of professionalism), thinking very carefully about what we post on Facebook and other social networks.

Protecting Your Image is part of your Translator Skills

Speaking badly about clients, disclosing confidential project information, cursing colleagues, all of which is bad for our image, not to mention the possibility of criminal prosecution (yes, there is a law for that, and it applies to everyone).

‘But ah,’ one might argue, ‘my clients will never know! there is no way they can find out…’

What if I tell you that the other day, I saw a fellow Spanish translator chatting loudly with the owner of a US agency who is my client. 

Agency owners talk. 

Project managers talk. 

Translators talk. They even – amazing! – meet occasionally for coffee or lunch, or meet at the many translation conferences taking place around the world. 

Do you really think that, after learning of the ~ indiscretions ~ that some translators drop on the four winds on social networks, potential clients will give those translators a chance?

The Three monkey maxim - to be remembered for great Translator Skills

Don’t Disclose Confidential Information

Very serious, too, is disclosing confidential customer information. Most of us sign confidentiality agreements (NDAs) that prohibit disclosure of this information. 

Some NDAs even forbid commenting on the fact that you are working on certain projects. But even if you don’t have a signed contract with a particular client, the ethics of the profession dictate that you should treat any and all information as confidential.

‘But my client doesn’t care about these things, he doesn’t care if I disclose sensitive information!’

If your client doesn’t care about the ethics of the profession, I’d be worried about that client. The next victim of your client unethical attitude might be you!

That is why it is crucial that you fine-tune your Translator Skills.

Translating Video Games – Your Personal Entertainer

translating video games

Translating video games is a part of the localization process of the game and implies, in addition to the translation of the text, the cultural adaptation of the texts and materials, its revision, the assembly of the screen texts in the game, the layout of manuals and boxes, audio or dubbing recording and testing.

Video Game Companies may Outsource Translation

Large video game companies may have internal translation or localization departments or, on the contrary, outsource these services through localization agencies

A Considerable Increase in the Volume of Video Games to be Translated

In recent years there has been a great technological advance, which has led to a considerable increase in the volume of text to be translated, which in some cases can reach one million words. The consequence is that it has become impossible for a single translator to carry out the work load, so it is necessary to establish a good project management strategy and use tools that guarantee the cohesion of the different product texts.

When Translating Video Games, dialogues, webpages, marketing materials need to be Translated

For example, Nintendo has a translation and localization department in Frankfurt from where the entire process is centralized. Normally, the translation is covered with internal resources if the project has few words, but for large titles it is necessary to use specialized localization companies that offer not only translation services, but also dubbing. Translating video games implies translating the text that will appear on the screen, but also the text that will end up being dubbed. Also, the text that appears on the screen can be divided in turn into text boxes that appear on the screen (e.g. menus) and graphic text, which implies more work by the developer since they have to be integrated graphically into the video game. In addition to the video game text itself, all associated products such as web pages, marketing brochures, etc. must also be taken into account.

Translator in charge of Translating Video Games must be Familiar with the Game itself

In any case, it is very important that the translator familiarize himself/herself with the game that he/she is going to translate in the original version, since he/she will be able to understand the game in its context and translate it better i.e play the video game itself. However, this is not always possible: if the translation is done internally, there are usually no problems, but if you send it to an agency, the pitfalls caused by confidentiality problems can become insurmountable.

Normally translators work in environments known as CAT tools, text editors (Word), spreadsheets (Excel) or databases, to which the texts of the original version are exported.

Translating Video Games is a Tricky Process

However, this does not mean that the translation process is exempt of difficulties. 

Some of the problems facing the video game translator are the following:

  • Text length: there is usually a character limitation that should not be exceeded
  • Platform: this is usually related to the type of console. Some do not allow much text or that it is very small, because if it could not be read, such as the Nintendo Switch
  • Problems due to lack of context, which are especially acute if the original game is not available to the translator.
  • Age classification: PEGI is a pan-European code that establishes an age classification of Pan-European Games Information (the marks are +3, +7, +12, +16 and +18). This, on the one hand, gives the translator an idea of ​​the player or target receiver of the translation, and on the other hand, it tells the translator what kinds of expressions he/she can use and which ones he/she cannot (swearing).
  • Language differences between countries: the translator will have to take into account not only the use of bad words in the country he/she is from, but whether those words are available in other cultures that also speak the same language. For example, the use of the verb ‘catch’ in Spain has no major implication, while using that word in a game for children in Argentina can lead to problems. The use of violence can also be another controversial issue that can also cause a game to be censored.
  • Gender use (masculine and feminine): while in English we start from a single base with hardly any distinction between one gender and another, in French, this distinction is necessary. Previously, when there was less awareness of the phenomenon of localization, the texts tended to neutralize as much as possible. Nowadays, games adapt more and more, since the number of players has increased, and there may even be different phrases for boys and girls, men and women.
  • Objects: in the same line, translating objects can also be a problem as they can have different genres. In this case, the translator works directly on the code and must be very careful not to erase or corrupt certain codes, as this could result in the game ceasing to function at a certain point.
  • Accent by characters: in this case, the translator is free to decide if any of the characters adopt a particular accent or not, depending on the role he/she has in the game
  • Naming characters: translators usually have enough freedom here to develop their own creativity, unless the client demands to keep the name in English.
  • Cultural references: the rule is that the text should be kept as timeless as possible so that, if a player wants to download a game 10 years after it was developed, he/she can still play without getting lost into cultural references of the past that are no longer in force.
  • Cultural adaptation: here, examples are multiple and varied. For example, when translating a Japanese video game which might include events that are typical of Japanese culture, of which a gamer here knows absolutely nothing. In this case, if the client does not wish to invest in the total adaptation of the game (which in this case would imply changing its structure), it will be necessary to keep it as neutral as possible.
  • Religion: religion is another cultural aspect that must be taken into account. Again, the best thing to do here is to try to neutralize its aspect as much as possible. Unreliable religious references can cause a game to be withdrawn from the market or its launch delayed (Sony had to temporarily withdraw Little Big Planet because of the inclusion of verses from the Koran.

Translating Video Games Requires a Thorough Review

These are just ‘some’ of the problems that the translator will face during his/her work. Then there will also be a review phase in which an expert will be in charge of approving it before it is sent back to the developers.

Testing Phase of Video Game Translation

Finally, there will be a testing phase, an expert quality control in which the final product is reviewed. It involves playing with an almost definitive version of the game, with the translated text and the final sound mounted, in order to detect all the errors that may have remained, the bugs, with the aim of reducing them to zero.

And all this being done against the clock, with the pressure of a given release date that, if not met due to translation problems, can cause great losses to the company.

A career in Video Game Translation maybe?

As you can see, translating video games is not an easy task. Translators might take this into account whether they might consider a future career in video game translation. As for video game players, you might get a better understanding of all the work involved in video games; work necessary so that you can enjoy your favourite video game in your mother tongue.

How do you become a translator?

Become a translator piece by piece

How to become a translator?

How to become a translator? There is no simple answer to that question. A career in translation is like a book. It is made of several chapters, many stories. It is not just a question of knowing several languages. Otherwise, many people would become a translator.

What do I need to do to become a translator?

First of all, if I’m being honest, I would make sure that apart from the fact that you should like languages, you should enjoy being in front of a computer, translating all kinds of content.

Particularly at the beginning, when you may have to translate different materials because you don’t have a lot of choice. So If you want to become a translator, you should really be curious about all sorts of things. What you are translating may not be a topic that you are passionate about, but you’ll learn a little from everything”

What does a translator translate?

I started translating very technical documents and later, I would read instruction manuals with more interest or even, after translating a gigantic project on oil prospecting, I would be very excited to visit an oil museum in United States, which contains all kinds of instruments that I would recognise thanks to what I had translated.

As of today, I translate and review video games, marketing and a lot of software, and I love it, but before that, I translated things that were not ideal, but that interested me equally. Even sometimes, there are heavy things that I translate or review on a daily basis, but I like those things equally or at least, I do not dislike them.

Therefore, before saying ‘how do I look for clients or companies to work as a translator’, I would like you to ask yourself if you really see yourself doing that. It’s easy to imagine translating the latest Resident Evil or the latest success series, but you always have to do a bit of everything; Ask other professional translators, to see what they tell you.

Do I need a degree to become a translator?

I say this because you will have to invest a lot of time in training. A degree in Translation or Interpreting or a specialised master’s degree if you come from another career is important today.

Is it possible to become a translator without a degree?

Of course, there are great translators who have not studied Translation. But today, what matters most is, most translation companies and clients already have many translators to choose from – there is a lot of competition – who have that basic training, so you will be at a disadvantage if you don’t own a degree.

As you can see, it is very important that things are clear in your head about what it is to be a translator.

Should I become a translator?

Many people think that being a translator would be an ideal job for them because you stay quietly at home and you make some money. Yet, translation can be laborious and goes well beyond being a simple hobby with a bonus in the end.

If you think that, chances that you throw the towel after a few months is quite high because you can’t find what you’re looking for, because you do not like what you do or because you not making as much money as you think you would.

Having said that, then how do you really start if you already have minimal training?

Well, first of all, start consulting translation company directories for offers. I always like to recommend ProZ.com, not necessarily for the offers themselves (they are not all interesting and/or well-paid and there is a lot of competition), but because you can get a list of agencies, filter them and there you have a list of companies you can contact. I also recommend having a profile in ProZ.

On the other hand, you should be well aware of social networks such as LinkedIn.

Of course, I would recommend that you write down which companies you sent your curriculum to in an Excel spreadsheet, note if they responded. At the same time, try and customise your email, try to be creative. By the way, make sure your resume is well designed and that it really sets you apart from the rest of the candidates.

Make it piece by piece, and become a translator

Warren Buffet said: “Don’t Compare Your Chapter 1 to Someone Else’s Chapter 20!”

Learn from others and from those who have more experience, but try not to compare yourself to them. At 22, I was a kid who did not know half of what I know now, but at least I knew I would do everything possible to devote myself to translation.

In the meantime, best of wishes for your chapter 1 as a translator and do not worry if you write your chapter 2 later than expected, as long as you write those chapters of your translation career little by little until you reach chapter 20.

Videogame Translation in China

China: the Largest Videogame Market in the World

The Asian giant has now become the largest videogame market in the world and as such becoming a big part of the videogame translation market. According to the latest HIS report, the videogame market in China represents a $38 billion in revenue in 2018. In addition, the income of the sector of Video games in China accounts for 25% of the world total: one in every four dollars of the video game industry is being billed in China.

In 2017, most of the revenue came from PC titles. However, video games for mobile phones or tablets outperformed the rest of the platforms in 2018. Spending on mobile games grew 55% in 2018, and increases of 24% are announced for 2019.

Meanwhile, consoles still cannot find their place in the Chinese market. The sales figures of the PS4 and Xbox, barely exceeded 500,000 units since they launch.

An Overpopulated Country

All this avalanche of figures is driven by the huge population of China. The Asian giant has a population of about 1400 million people. In addition, taking a closer look at the demographics of China, we see that about 21% of its population is between 15 and 40 years old.

We could discuss what is the average age of a gamer, but surely many of us agree that it is probably in this range. This means almost 300 million potential gamers, with stable jobs and growing purchasing power. Recall that the unemployment rate in China is around 4% according to official figures, and that the country has an increasingly large and stable middle class.

A Generation Without Computers

Unlike what happens in the West, where many of us have our personal computer, in China the situation is very different. It is estimated that around 95% of Internet users in China access the network through their mobile phones.

In France, cybercafes were a revolution for the year 2001, when high-speed connections still did not exist and we couldn’t play StarCraft games every time we would receive a call at home (damn 56 kbps connection!).

Cybercafes in France were a hit in all cities. Neighbourhoods were filled with gamers’ nests. Tournaments, night marathons and birthdays were organised as well as all kinds of events. Cybercafes happened to become social centres for many young people.

However, with the advancement of technology and the arrival of high-speed connections to French homes, cybercafes moved into the background and many of them had to close in 2003 or 2004.

Today, China continues to have thousands of cybercafes throughout the country. In addition, Chinese cybercafes have gone one step further: they offer 35-inch screens, hundreds of games, sofas, home delivery and very low prices, even for Chinese stores. In fact, many Chinese decide to use cybercafes as hotels in some areas of the country: it is much cheaper to spend the night in the cyber than to sleep in a simple room in a hostel.

Mobile Phones as the Dominant Platform

The situation of cybercafes in China is a very important fact to understand the impact of mobile platforms in China. For the vast majority of Chinese people, their mobile phone is their personal computer.

It’s the device they use every day, the one they take to work, to school and the one they still use when they go home. It is with what they use to read the news, follow their social networks, watch movies or series online. In addition, of course, it is becoming the favourite platform for Chinese to play video games.

Honor of Kings, the mobile version of the League of Legends, is currently the most profitable game. According to official announcements, Honor of Kings is expected to report to Tencent, the developer of the videogame, a profit of more than 3 billion dollars. Such is the addiction and reception that the videogame received in China, that Tencent has decided to limit the number of hours of play per day to those under 18 years of age.

Tencent, the Largest Videogame Company in the World

The Chinese company Tencent is the largest technology company in the country and one of the most important in the world (Tencent owns 40% of Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, that says it all). For the last few years, they have been investing very strongly in the videogame industry. As you may know, Tencent today owns large Western companies such as Supercell, Riot Games and is a large shareholder of other major companies in the sector, such as Epic Games or Activision Blizzard.

Image for the Epic Games Fortnite

According to specialists, Tencent’s greatest competitive advantage lies in the enormous social network infrastructure available to it. The two largest instant messaging platforms in China are owned by Tencent: Wechat and QQ. These Chinese social networks have nearly 1,000 million active users per month, of which more than 700 million daily use their services daily.

In addition, Tencent is one of the pioneers in the implementation of applications called hub. This type of application integrate different services or programs within the same application. In this way, you do not have to change application to use maps, view images, read the news or play mobile games. This is a total revolution in China, and Tencent is one of the leaders.

To make matters worse, Tencent announced the re-launch of Wegame in 2018. Wegame is a video game download platform that will compete with Steam in China. Tencent’s game publishing platform now has more than 200 million registered players.

Tencent’s monopoly in China is slightly threatened by its biggest competitor, NetEase, another giant technology group in charge of operating games such as StarCraft II, Overwatch and Diablo III in China, among other titles.

Videogame Translation in China

According to the latest Chinajoy convention, the most important videogame fair in China, the Asian giant develops and publishes more than 30,000 mobile games every year, almost 2500 new games every month.

However, not all of these games go through localisation processes. Some are not even translated into other languages. The Chinese game developer and entrepreneur still does not understand the importance of localisation and videogame translation.

In my opinion, this is mainly due to two reasons. First, that the domestic demand of the country continues to grow year after year. There is still room for growth by exploiting the internal market and many developers prefer to invest their money in national promotion.

Second, the lack of national competence to locate games in other languages. The Chinese developer has today two basic alternatives for videogame translation: foreign companies or Chinese companies. The first one, the big international translation companies based in China, are very expensive. They suppose an investment too big for a service that for many videogames companies, today, is complementary and optional.

Secondly, specialised translation companies in China are very young and have little resources. Most of these companies are pretty recent, founded 4 or 5 years ago. The services they offer are economically affordable, but their results are far from satisfactory.

The number of foreigners living in China is very low today. If you’re looking for experienced video game translators, you are looking at a tiny professional population.

Videogame translation in China is being carried out mostly by people without training or experience in the sector. The mere fact of being native and proficient in English is usually enough to enter into a selection processes for any Chinese video game translation company.

As China’s domestic demand is satisfied and profit margins within China are shrinking, Chinese videogame companies will begin to attach much more importance to international markets and to the localisation and translation of content. Given the low competition that exists in the sector, today China is a world full of possibilities for video game translators.

Videogame Translation: What Language?

Due to proximity and ease of work, the majority of localisation work from Chinese are done in Asian languages, such as Korean, Japanese or Thai. The adaptation of contents tends to be much more discreet when it comes to marketing products regionally.

However, French is rising as one of the most important languages ​​for the gaming sector in China. The growth of emerging economies such as the French-speaking African countries is raising the demand for French translators in China.

FAQ About the Videogame Translation Market in China

If you have come this far, surely you have many doubts about the videogame sector in China. I will try to answer some of the most frequent questions. If you have any other questions, leave your question in the comments!

Is it necessary to know how to speak Chinese to work in China?

No. It is advisable, though. As a general rule, knowing how to communicate in English is enough to survive in China. The new generations of Chinese learn English from a young age and are always eager to practise it with foreigners.

What are the trends of mobile games this year in China?

In recent months many games about the Second World War are coming out. PVP games with very good graphics. Games where you control ships or warplanes. A good example of this type of game is War Wings, by Tencent Games.

How much does a freelance translator charge in China?

It depends. It is estimated that the average should be around 200 RMB per 1000 words for English to French (about 26 euros per 1000 words) and a little more from Chinese to French.

Nowadays, it seems to be difficult to live on freelance videogame translation in China. Sometimes huge projects arrive, of 100,000 words. Other times, only small projects of 2,000 or 3000 words.

How much does an in-house translator charge in China?

In-house video game translator positions are very much required in China. Conditions are usually quite interesting, although salaries depend on the city and the experience of the translator. To give an indicative figure, a professional hired as “Specialist in localisation of video games” can make between 12,000 and 15,000 RMB per month (about 1600–2000 euros).

What About Delivery Time?

As you can imagine, in China there are hardly any labour regulations, agreements or standardisation in this sense. Much less if we talk about sectors as recent as the videogame translation. The goal of Chinese translation companies is to get the job out as soon as possible and in the best possible way.

When working as a freelancer, you can almost always negotiate your availability with videogame translation companies. However, the faster you complete the work, the more likely you are to collaborate with them again.

Once again, each project is different and many times delivery depends solely on the deadline set out by the end client. Either way, translation companies expect an output of 2,500 words a day for part-time translators and about 5,000 words a day for in-house or full-time translators.

As a general rule, Chinese companies do not differentiate repetitions from the rest of the text, so you will normally charge 100% of the work done. However, some companies might pay 50% for repetitions or that do not even count them or pay them. In the end, it is up to you to choose whom we want to work with.

The time you devote to each videogame translation is up to you. There will be people who are able to translate more than 1000 words per hour, while other people might need more time.

There are many factors that determine the speed at which you do translation: your level of commitment, concentration, typing speed, how well you master your translation software, the familiarity you have with the type of game you are translating, et cetera.

Personally, and as a reference, I think I can translate about 1000 words per hour from English to French. Of course, it is impossible for me to maintain this level of concentration for a long time. I need to unplug from time to time to avoid mistakes.

What is the worst thing when working with Chinese videogame translation companies?

Working with Chinese companies can sometimes be a very exasperating experience. Rigour, consistency and precision are not usually attributes that are highly valued by Chinese translation companies. As I said before, times are fundamental in an economy that grows to more than 7% each year.

Many times you can find yourself lacking in resources to do a good job. Sometimes, communication with the project manager or with the final client is not very good.

For those who translate video games, software or applications, it is essential to know the context of a word. It is very important to have good communication with the client to know what this loose word refers to, without context. For example, attack or raid are widely used words in RTS games. However, seeing them loose in an Excel box, is it a verb? A noun? Who performs the action?

Another problem that we can find is often confidentiality. When working as a freelancer for a translation company, it is unlikely that you will have any contact whatsoever with the videogame developer.

Many Chinese translation companies have confidentiality agreements. How can you translate a video game if you have not had the opportunity to play it? How can you adjust your writing style if you don’t know what the game looks like? Unfortunately, consistency is sometimes secondary when translating for Chinese companies.

However, there are other companies that much more sensible and determined to deliver a good job. Lately, I received some projects for which I was given some days to familiarise myself with the game before being given the document to translate.

What is the best thing about working with Chinese translation companies?

The lack of rigour and consistency can be unbearable for more experienced translators. In addition, translation rates in China are much lower than those offered in Western countries. However, China offers enormous possibilities for development and growth for any translator.

To give you an idea, in just over two years working for Chinese translation companies, I must have translated more than 50 video games and as many mobile applications. Some of these projects are small card or casino games, but other projects had more than 250,000 words.

Nowadays, China allows you to work whatever you want. There is a huge and growing demand in all sectors and very few professionals to cover it. It is an ideal country to train and get experience. Also, if you are willing to sacrifice part of your free time and become a multi-employer, you can start saving money and start making plans for the future, something that today does not seem so easy in European countries.

How can I find a videogame translator job in China?

Chinese videogame translation companies are always looking for translators. Many translation offers are published on portals such as 51job (Chinese and English). Another way would be to directly contact some Chinese translation companies, such as Gametrans, among others.

Proofreader or proof reader – it’s a dog’s life

Proofreader or proof reader is a strange breed

The Proofreader or Proof Reader is a Sick Puppy

They say that every proofreader or proof reader suffers from OCD. Do they? Jokes aside, being thorough is a fundamental condition for those who long to pursue this profession.

In addition to the high degree of attention to detail, liking reading should also be part of the package. But liking alone is not enough – you must love it. Unconditionally. After all, your days of proofreading texts could alternate between so many topics: vampires, zombies (that’s right, it happened to me. Dealing with the topic, I mean), chemical formulas, maps, cake recipes, sadomasochistic millionaires and there’s no way for you to escape!

The Proofreader or Proof Reader is a Suspicious Dog

It is also recommended that the proofreader or proof reader should have a chip on his/her shoulder: doubting everything and everyone. No data or spelling can be beaten. At the slightest sign of mistrust, one must leave all the supposed certainties behind and search as if there were no tomorrow.

“Seetle down” – Why and When to Seek

And this is leading to a delicate point in the process: how to know when (and to define a real need) to intervene in the text and the time to respect the choices of others?

* dramatic pause *

Proofreaders are a Strange Breed

Reviewers are definitely a breed on their own. Why is that? Because they need to take a critical look at a text and at the same time accept other people’s choices, even if they do not agree with them.

How do they do that? Common sense.

Is that easy? Um … more or less.

“Don’t Touch”

When reviewing, practice does not lead to perfection, but at least it teaches us to make some more conscious and mature decisions, such a bit of detachment. Yes, it is difficult for the proofreader or proof reader to understand/accept that he does not necessarily have to tinker with everything (show that is doing something and that the service is justified, while making sure it is not a dog and pony show). But also if you do not fiddle with anything you should be wary that there is something wrong (there will always be mistakes!). This middle ground is what embeds everything and sometimes ends up leaving authors/translators angry!

Let sleeping dogs lie (or in Doubt, Don’t Do Anything)

But let’s calm down, people! After a few years of experience, I basically learned that: whenever it is optional, leave it as it is; if you want to include some suggestion that you consider relevant, a pencil post (or comment) does not hurt anyone, but when there is ERROR … there you can use the red Stabilo with utter joy!

Proofreader or proof reader – a critical role (pun intended!)

Finally, we need to keep in mind that every professional has his role in the editorial process, which seems obvious, but in practice it is not quite so. The reviewer is the first reader of a text. A more critical reader, a kind of filter for the public. It is he who will choose words, adjust phrases, correct vices of language, finally, leave the fluid text in the native language of the common reader.

A careful review, that’s what’s needed.

“Wait”

In a (very) general way, the proofreader or proof reader’s job is to correct spelling and grammatical errors.

Oh, if only that… * deep sigh *

Now, reviewing includes much more than that: checking for cohesion and coherence, eliminating lingering traits of the foreign language, ambiguities, repetitions and vices of language, analysing the layout of the elements on the page (if there is no hole or overflow), checking the weights of the titles and pagination, beat the summary with the kernel, hit the font size, etc.

Phew!

See, people? It is not just switching ‘There’ to ‘Their’, no!

“Watch me”: You’d think that’s all there is to it

And it is important to mention that the works cited above, most of the time, are divided into stages: preparation (copydesk), first review, second review, re-reading and quality control. Not all of them are contemplated in the process, either for lack of budget or term, which makes it impossible to divide the auditor’s role exactly in each one.

Every Dog Has his Day (any chance of a job for me?)

The field of activity of the proofreader or proof reader is extensive: publishers (books in general, magazines, newspapers, educational material), advertising agencies, universities, schools, translation agencies, publishing companies, graphics, etc.

Literary publishers (proofreader or proof reader’s dream: 9 out of 10 reviewers) usually do not have internal staff. Usually, the work is outsourced, through the contracting of freelancers. In publishing houses working with textbooks, it is very common to have a contracted team working internally.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Hope this gets this strange breed better understood.

Are there any other proofreaders out there that would like to add something? Please feel free to share your thoughts.

The Beginning & Remember Why You Started

Talking about translation and the beginning of a translation business is the easiest and most difficult thing for me to do. Easier because it is one of my favourite subjects (please don’t judge 😊) and harder, because there are so many things to talk about, still so many things to experience that I barely know where to start.

So let’s start with … the beginning:

Do you need to train in translation to become a translator?

I have been participating in groups, forums, email lists about the translation industry for many years and there have always been people wanting to join the career, but having doubts about how to go about it. The main one being always – ”Do I need to train in translation to become a translator?”. Well, let’s face it, if we are only talking about the practicality of things, you simply don’t.

Translation Is Not a Regulated Profession

Regardless of all the controversies in this regard, translation is not a regulated profession, like so many others in which you need a degree in the field to be a translator. Whoever is in the translation market knows that regulating the translation industry between so many different languages would be somewhat difficult. But that’s another matter, right?

Translator as a Choice or as a Change of Career

For this very reason, starting a career as a translator is very particular. There are translators (yours truly) who knew very soon that they wanted to be a translator. I remember I was about 12 years old and I loved studying English and Spanish. When I was 15, my dad was posted as an expatriate in (English-speaking) Nigeria, so languages were always something very present in my life. And so just a few years later, I decided I would become a translator (obviously, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but here I was).

Many Reasons as to Why You Want to Be a Translator

There are also those who come across translation during their career. Many of these translators already have another profession and, for some reason, decide to translate materials from their area of expertise (or not).

Prepare Yourself for a Smooth Ride and Being Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The possibilities are many and very specific to each translator. It is likely that for every translator to whom you ask the following question: “How did you get started in the profession?” you could well receive a different or a similar answer, but probably none will be exactly the same.

The most important thing is to know that, regardless of how we started in the profession, there are some basic things we should know. We should know about the market, about values, about the differences between freelancer vs. internal translator, technical, literary, sworn translation, about CAT tools, about terminology, about corpora, about a myriad of things. That is, we have to prepare ourselves not only in the matter of professional practice, but also on everything that involves our profession so that the beginning in the profession is both smooth and promising.

Enjoy it

However and whenever you start, and for whatever reason you decided to become a translator, my advice is simple: don’t forget to enjoy it. Just like any other business, there might be many pitfalls, but just like you enjoyed the beginning, you should and enjoy the end and the continuation in between.

Translation work – R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Aretha Franklin-Translation work need some respect

Find out what it means to me

I have a lot of translation work to do.

It’s Easter today and my kids are home, not at school. After hours of playing on their Ipad, they are getting bored and suddenly feel that I should become their personal entertainer.

As a result, it looks like my productivity is going down the drain. Sound familiar? Time to gain some respect for my work and have my job as a translator taken seriously.

A Little Respect (Just a Little Bit)

Many people complain that the work of a translator is not recognised or valued by clients and the labour market, and that we are increasingly underestimated mainly when it comes to values. However, we barely realise that it is equally important to educate those who spend the most time with us i.e our family.

When doing translation work, let’s agree that no one deserves to hear from relatives things like “But you do not work!” Or “You simply stay on your computer all day!”. Not to mention having to deal with gatherings of all sorts, whenever it seems that everyone has decided to meet and share party dips and you have a very tight deadline. And you have to fence the occasional “When will you stop what you’re doing and have some fun for once? This can wait” Or even worse – ”When will you get a real job?”. Well, here are some tips for you to impose your chosen profession and get rid of those unpleasant questions.

Aretha Franklin-Freelancers working from home also need some respect

R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the Concept

Do people know and/or realise what you do when you do translation work? If not, explain it to them. You are a translator, not a language teacher, a walking dictionary or a living grammar book, for crying out loud. You may be a language specialist, but it is important to make people understand what you translate, and while translation – didactic and linguistic – may complement each other, they are different activities that require different skills.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T for your translation work

People who live with you need to understand that your home is your place of work. If you have decided to turn one of the bedrooms of your house into a home-office, please state that there must be silence during a certain period of the day, with as few interruptions as possible. If necessary, customise a beautiful “I’m working” sign and hang it on your now-office door. For the worst case scenarios, go for a “Do not disturb” sign and work happily in your little corner.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the fruit of your work

As a translator and a freelancer, you are a provider for your family. Don’t think otherwise or let people think otherwise. So when your favourite aunty wants to share a nostalgic moment with you, or just chat, show them that your translation work is a money tree in your household. Whenever or wherever you practise, you need to work to pay off your debts. Combine to interact with them at lunchtime, tea at five o’clock, or any other appropriate time, but not during work hours.

Translation work – Keep on tryin’ (just a little bit)

As translators, we face a daily struggle to win new clients, gain values ​​that match our efforts, stand out in the midst of the job market, be recognised as a serious category (not just as a “complementary” profession) and to impose a set of limits that determine our professional well-being. So my advice is this – If you cannot organise a work-at-home routine, you will not have the necessary structure to process these activities.

Imposing limits is a necessity. Other people might know little of our profession, and it is up to us to establish certain parameters. Just as you had to remind this nice customer of yours who called you two or three times during the night that your time zone is different from theirs, you should teach whoever shares the same roof with you that there are working hours in your business.

All I’m askin’
Is for a little respect when you get home (just a little bit)

So kids, whether you’re home or coming back from school, after I have taken care of your tea, no loud music, no unnecessary interruptions, no sudden intrusions.

I’m working. OK?

After all, Aretha taught us: Respect is needed.

Translation Project Manager – a Busy Bee

translation project manager is a busy bee

What a Translation Project Manager does

Much is said of the Translation Project Manager (the so-called PM) as the person who has control over everything that is happening inside a translation agency. It is believed that he or she is responsible for every aspect of the translation project, ranging from selecting the right translator to the translator’s payment date. The fact of the matter is that – more often than not – the person behind the PM position is not directly involved in all processes until delivery to the end client. As a matter of fact, many other people participate and have an even more determining role than the individual in charge of managing the project. Still, you’ll find out that your PM is a busy bee.

So Many Bits and Bobs Before a Translation Starts

As translators, when we receive a translation request from a PM, we usually do not think of everything that happened back then until our name is chosen for that particular project. We do not think about the negotiations that had to take place between the customer and the agency, all the bits and pieces that were put in place before the actual project went through.

In an ideal world, the PM Would Have His Say Over the Value of a Translation

For that client to have reached the agency, he had to be contacted by the agency’s sales man or had to contact the translation agency. Then, a negotiation of value ​​(with the customer not always thinking that the translation is worth the price mentioned) and terms too (the customer sometimes thinking it can be done in a shorter time) had to take place.

It is only after that that the project reaches the PM. You might think that, at the stage, it is the PM who determines the value of a translation. This is hardly the case. Usually, this is​​ determined by the owner of the agency and, in some cases, with margins negotiated by the sales representative. There are rare cases where the PM has control over the amount to be paid for a translation.

In an ideal agency, the PM would work with the sales department to determine the value of each text according to its linguistic complexity and layout, timing, and other relevant factors. However, most agencies work with closed – non-negotiable – values, with some difference in value for shorter deadlines (the so-called “emergency rate”).

Translation Agency Owner Has the Final Word

In addition, you might think that it is the PM who determines a price per word for the translator. Again, the owner of the agency intervenes. The PM may be able to negotiate an increase in tariffs, but the final word is never his.

Regarding the choice of the translator for a project, it is true that the decision is almost entirely the PM’s. It is the PM who decides which translator to allocate for a given job. However, other factors may influence their decision, such as negotiated discounts with the client (which will consequently change the value of the translator), customer choice, among others.

Translator Reputation – Yet critical – Is Just the Beginning

The translator’s reputation in terms of quality, timely delivery and specialty in the subject are fundamental aspects when making the decision. Even so, a PM may decide to choose another translator for different reasons. Many agencies prefer to work with the same translator for a particular client (using that old maxim that “do not mess with a winning team”). Many translators are experts in the subject, but won’t accept the fee paid by the agency and the PM may not always interfere in this process.

An Organised PM Will Keep All the Good Resumes Handy

Another misconception is about selecting new translators. The difficulty of getting an answer (be it positive or negative) from an agency is not always related to the PM’s lack of interest in hiring new talent for his agency. Often, the PM might receive a CV from another translator that fits the agency’s needs perfectly at that time; or that project did not go through; or the PM is involved in another project with a higher priority. An organised PM will keep the resumes sent so that they can contact the translators when the time comes. When I used to apply to translation agencies, I submitted resumes and sometimes would receive an immediate response, but more often than not, I would receive an answer months after I sent my resume to agencies.

“Hi, Honey, I’m home!”

Are you kidding me? There is still Review, DTP, Comments, possible Crisis to manage

Anyway, let’s get back to that translation project of ours. You think it ends here? Not at all! After delivery by the translator comes the review phase, layout (if applicable) and delivery to the customer. And after all that is done, you still have to wait to see if the customer has any comments, suggestions or criticism about the work delivered. It is up to the PM to receive the client’s feedback and pass it on to the translator and/or reviewer, as the case may be, for future adjustments. Then, it might be necessary for the PM to manage a possible crisis (when the translator does not deliver the translation in time or deliver later than what was agreed, when the client does not approve the translation or when the client does not pay, just to name a few).

PMs Need to Be Flexible

What freelance translators need to understand is that the PM function requires much more than simple language knowledge. The PM needs, first of all, to be flexible, to know how to solve problems quickly and to deal with the various human elements involved in a translation project. Just as we translators might sometimes complain when a client is insistently asking if the contracted project is ready, the PM also finds it inconvenient for translators to ask about their submitted CVs, deadlines for payment, ask for an advance, etc.

The PM is a Busy bee – Take Care of Your PM

So next time you do not receive a response straight away to a resume you’ve submitted, instead of thinking that it has ended up in the bin, think about all the other tasks that the Translation Project Manager has to perform during the day. Write, but use your good judgement to know when and how to write. After all, the PM is a busy bee. If you remember that, you’ll go a long way with your Translation project Manager.