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.

The truth in Legal Translation Services, nothing but the truth

legal translation services

Technical language from overseas – Now, that’s a challenge!

Technical language in a foreign language, particularly legal translation provided within the scope of Legal Translation Services is always a big challenge. With the growing collaboration between countries in the commercial, legal and economic spheres, information exchange flows very quickly.

Imagine a French doctor who has an opportunity to take a specialization course in an English-speaking country. Studying the technical terms in English is of prime importance and a major challenge. This professional will have to study how to say “head”, “surgery”, “scalpel” and other English expressions. Owning good dictionaries and reference material is essential. Once a doctor learns these and other key terms in the English language, he/she is prepared to face classes in a foreign country.

No Equivalence Between the Legal Terms in French and English

Let’s look now at the example of a lawyer who has the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in law in the United States. Like the doctor in the paragraph above, he/she will have to study the technical language in English, in this case, the legal-technical language. Besides all the challenges faced by the physician in the pursuit of technical language acquisition, the lawyer will face one more obstacle: the fact that, for the most part, there may be no equivalence between the legal terms in French and English.

Using comparative law to approximate concepts between legal systems from different countries

The legal professional providing legal translation services, however, can never interfere with translating into English the concept he/she needs to use to express himself/herself correctly. An essential instrument is the use of comparative law to approximate concepts between the legal systems of different countries, that is, with the prior knowledge, in this case, of the French legal system. The professional should dedicate himself/herself to know, at least, the structured foreign law, only then to begin the process of shifting concepts from one language to another. According to Soares “[…] ‘Comparative Law’ has a reality in the universe of law science, since it will always be possible to compare legal systems from different countries, with scientific methodology, to establish common and differentiated principles, including even a general theory of legal comparativism (in the manner of a universal grammar of all existing languages). 

In Comparative Law, the aim is to make a comparison and, once done, start with a double task:

a) to know each term, in isolation, in its individuality and specificity, in each system face to face and

b) the approximation of both, distinguish the elements that exist in common and, from the discovery of common values, make the comparison. Comparative law should provide value judgements of the type ‘are equivalent’, ‘produce similar effects under the same circumstances’, ‘are comparable’, ‘provided that such factual elements are disregarded’, which judgements should lead to a final decision that, in essence, would lie in ‘recognizing an unknown institute’ in its effects, in a particular legal order. ”

Legal Dictionary Is Your Friend with Legal Translation Services

An emphatic suggestion is the use of commercially recognized legal dictionaries. One is Elsevier’s Legal Dictionary: In English, German, French, Dutch and Spanish.  One of the most respected English – English dictionaries on the market is the Black’s Law Dictionary. Access it for free.

A question many translators ask me is: “Is it essential to have a law degree to be a good legal translator?” My answer is: It is not essential to be a law graduate to be a good legal translator, but it is indispensable, yes, to have a basic knowledge of Comparative Law. What’s more, this task is a lot of fun!

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.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (with different types of translator)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (with different types of translator)

10 most common types of translator(alien)

There are different types of translator. Some are a strange kind of alien. Let’s see if you recognise or can identify any you might have previously encountered.

1. The translator who never accepts the reviewer’s changes

Whenever you receive revisions for you to approve or at least arbitrate, these types of translator tends to have a slightly grown ego and does not accept improvements, because he believes he is always right. Of course, there are times when they are right and the reviewer is wrong…

You have to be humble and know that four eyes see more than two. The final client will appreciate this.

Several eyes see more than two

2. The reviewer who always changes everything

One may find the complete opposite: perhaps out of frustration (for not being the translator in the first place), or simply because he’s having a bad day, these types of translator show no mercy with the text they receives and change it as much as possible so that it is clear who is in charge here and that their version is better. In addition, this justifies their work.

Surely, they think, if there are not so many changes, one should not dispense with reviewers.

If the translation is really bad, you should notify the client first to see how to proceed. If the translation is normal, then hey, things can always be improved one way or another! But if it’s correct, respect the translator’s work by avoiding preferential changes.

3. The translator or reviewer to whom everything seems wrong

It is an evolution from the first two stereotypes. It does not matter if they translate or if they proofread: for this alien, the client has no clue about how to do things, reviewers don’t have a clue about what they do and, should he be the actual reviewer, the translation is a disaster. Of course, all potential criticism find their place on social networks.

Again, you have to be humble. If something’s wrong, better tell the interested parties in the best possible way to try to improve the project. Social networks should be used for other things.

4. The freelance translator who works in his pyjamas

Come on, let’s change the tone to something more positive. This is a classic: raise your hand if, as a freelance translator, you’ve never worked in your pyjamas! Well, or even without a shirt if it’s summer.

You can also use accessories. In winter, nothing like a good blanket or electric shoes to be warm, as well as using mittens so that your hands do not get frozen even if you have to type slower…

I have never done it: I swear!

OK, sometimes but at least not today. The first thing I do when I get up is to go to the gym or for a run, shower and get dressed. This way, I feel in a better mental state to work. And that is the truth.

5. The freelance translator who makes videoconferences with pyjama pants

Although many like to stay in their cave with their pyjamas, sometimes you have to meet with teams of translators or reviewers, or with clients directly. When not showing up on the screen is not an option, it is always acceptable to wear a good shirt or a sweater … and those good comfortable pyjama pants.  

I would swear that I’ve never had to do this, not that I haven’t thought about it but should I have to get up to fetch something, then I would be in trouble. (I do know some who do, but I won’t name names).

6. The translator who spoils discussion groups talking about tariffs

Oh, yes, rates… An eternal debate! Everything was going well in a discussion until someone asks how much is usually charged for a specific task. In the end, things start to degenerate and some translator start saying that there are types of translator who throw the market with ridiculous rates, and that should we setup an organisation of translators to regulate rates…

Debating on this topic is a good thing, but always with respect and by throwing valid arguments.

7. The video game translator who cannot say what is working on

This is no fun, since it happens to a vast majority of video game translators. Here you will find everything: from clients who put all the translators in the same location to translation agencies that make you sign that you should never talk about the games you have translated.

Recognition, I think, is necessary to help make the work of these types of translators more visible in general.

Time has taught me not to obsess about this topic, because after all we have to be aware that we are providing a service for which we are paid, and in reality, we consume many of those products without knowing who is responsible for making them. The same applies to technical translators whose work is also very important but not recognised.

Obviously, I support recognition and I am the first one who likes to be recognised for things like the games I worked on at Nintendo, but as I say, maybe over time, I have learned to cope.

By the way, an argument that is usually given is that the identity of the translators is not revealed because the client can contact them directly instead of going through the agency, but in my experience, the large client will prefer to use an agency to avoid having to deal with each translator individually (especially when there are many languages involved).

8. The interpreter who always has to clarify that he is an interpreter and not a translator

Even nowadays, it is very common for people outside the translation industry to call people dedicated to consecutive or bilateral interpretation, ‘translators’. Yet, translators work with written words, while interpreters work with oral language (I am simplifying a lot, but for us to understand each other).

9. The freelance translator who never gets sick

If you do not work, no invoices, no wages, no money, so what is going on if you have a cold, fever, back pain or a tremendous cough? The truth is that being autonomous has an advantage after all: you become resistant to diseases!

Of course I get sick from time to time, especially with colds and a little headache from time to time. But I sincerely believe that, in my more than 25 years as a freelance translator, I have hardly ever stopped working (More because it was windy outside and I had to go kitesurfing).

10. The translator who lives in a mansion and has a private jet

Seriously, that’s a joke.

Translators can live very well. Yes, I do not have to have a mansion in Madrid or a private jet, but I like the freedom that comes with the job.

Of course, there are more stereotypes/aliens. Should you think of more stereotypes, please let me know in your comments.

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.

…Not That Kind of Professional Translator

novel translator - professional translator

When I say I am a Professional Translator…

Oh, you’re a professional translator?
You translate books?
Can you translate this song for me?
A friend: Can you translate this email for me? (You answer yes, and get pretty much an entire report from a chemical company to translate…)

A Very Vague Idea of Translation

After I graduated, I became accustomed to always explaining what my profession really is, but I would not judge. When I was in University, I also had a very different and vague idea of what ​​the real world of the translation was and everything it involved. In my imagination, I thought I would graduate and translate books (novels, of course!).

The Hidden Translator

Also, when facing questions from people curious about the profession, in their defence, I also think that the professional translator is always a little hidden, and many people forget that behind the movies, books, manuals, magazines, articles, there is always someone who is shaking their head so that they always receive exactly the message that the author wants to communicate.

Translating to Learn New Things Every Day

The reality, and what I think is fantastic, is that quite contrary to what I used to think, the translation profession allows us to learn new things every day, from the most varied subjects. And that boy who hated technology, today loves the more technical subjects and those manuals that before seemed impossible to be understood.

The Professional Translator Has a Responsibility

The translator has the responsibility to translate not only words, but ideas and thoughts in the most faithful way possible, and for that, dictionaries are not enough. It takes a lot of culture, a lot of sensitivity and a lot of knowledge. He must respect the structure of the source text, always keep in mind the target audience and have patience to search for specific terms and grammatical structures, thus maintaining the fluency of the text.

Any mistake, however small, can completely change the meaning of the original text, so it is very important that the professional translator remains extremely focused during his work.

Keeping the text alive

In addition, the language is alive, so we must always be following its changes. And when I think about machine translation! No, they are not the dream of any translator. In fact, they can even be a nightmare! A text translated by an automatic tool requires much more time for revision, since the choice of words, the grammatical structure and the ideas did not start from a brain, but from a program. A machine does not follow the language evolution and cannot interpret the author’s emotions and intentions. We have to think a lot, so that the same message is passed, regardless of the language in which it is written.

Translation – Not Something to Improvise

Many people, when they come back from a season abroad, begin translating to earn a little ‘buck’. I have just mentioned a few examples that prove how complex our profession is and how it is not enough to know, for example, English and French very well. This applies to any area, really. A person might think that they can run a restaurant because they like cooking. But like any profession, translation requires professionals. Any other way and the text, and the ideas that need to become communicated die with a bad translation. And, we do not want that to happen, right?