Archives for Translation - Page 2
Let’s imagine we’ve had a busy morning and are on our way to grab a cup of coffee together. With us is a colleague who speaks three European languages, including English, but is a native Russian speaker.
We’re doing what you do in narrow corridor: walking fast, talking, gesticulating and twisting around. Just in time, I spot a pool of liquid up ahead.
In a split second, and ever mindful that 28% of the 77,593 non-fatal workplace injuries reported in 2013/14 were slips and trips, I throw a warning over my shoulder to you and our Russian-speaking colleague.
OK, you’ve been there. You can picture the scene. Now, let’s run the soundtrack. But hold on a minute – which of the 17* ways of saying, ‘Careful, someone’s spilt their coffee, don’t slip!’ will I plump for?
One of the great strengths and delights of English is the sheer number of words in the language: every time I open my mouth or put pen to paper I’ve got a working vocabulary of around 35,000 words to choose from. And I’ll keep adding one new word a day until I’m well into middle age.
Non-native speakers living in the UK work hard to keep up. They add between two and three new English words to their working vocabulary every day. But, by any count, building up a good store of health and safety speak is going to take them some time.
Non-native speakers aren’t only up against it coming to grips with our mix of idiom, dialect and regional accent. We love our catchphrases culled from sport, pop, TV and film. And don’t forget to factor in trending slang, and even perhaps the odd workplace obscenity. It’s no wonder that making assumptions about the language we use to warn of danger is fraught with danger.
English is rich and can be very precise, but for the non-native speaker working in the UK, our colourful, colloquial, idiomatic language is often more like a trippy, slippery minefield of misunderstanding – in other words, it’s an accident just waiting to happen.
*You can probably think of even more.
We’re working with an increasing number of companies to translate their Health and Safety policies and procedures into the languages their workers speak and read fluently. Companies and HR managers employing us to translate everything from policy documents to induction packages and factsheets report strong business reasons for investing in quality translation services. We can also provide interpreters in over 100 languages so that you can communicate with staff and customers who speak languages other than English.
Don’t worry, we’re both qualified police interpreters, so it’s quite normal for the police to invite us down to the station for a few words. We don’t normally work together, but they needed both of us for this job; seven people held in custody on suspicion of false imprisonment. Though we knew what the term on the charge sheet meant, we did some research and found the legal definition of false imprisonment. We translated it and discussed it. We had all evening to prepare in our mother tongue for the sorts of issues and legal terms we’d need to translate quickly and accurately the next day.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)
We got to the police station at 9am. The sergeant said: ‘I hope you’re ready to spend the next 12 hours with us, it’s going to be a long one’. He was more than right. Police interpreters are used to working anti-social hours and long hours don’t scare me. It’s a good way to challenge your brain.
We’d known that it was never going to be a straightforward job, and unusually, we’d even had time to prepare. Then, just as I was interpreting the ‘rights’ for the first suspect, he was further arrested for rape. My job just got even more challenging. More circuits in my brain lit up. I remembered back to the Diploma of Police Interpreting course I took with Cintra. We had a lovely lady trainer – a police retired officer – who shared with us some of her experiences getting to know the victims of sex crimes – and the criminal perpetrators. She introduced us to words that didn’t need definitions.
Back to the sergeant: he asked me to help interpret for the doctor so he could take intimate samples from the alleged male offenders. Well, the interpreter’s job is to explain what’s going on, and the sergeant was happy I was a male.
The solicitors started arriving, so things got rolling. Each consultation was one and a half hours long. Then solicitors had to be changed as they discovered conflicts. Before I realised, six hours had gone past. Back in the waiting room on a short break, I could hear my stomach rumbling, but it wasn’t the right time for lunch. A couple of new solicitors arrived. We had to get things going. You can eat later, I told myself.
Two hours later another interpreter arrived. That was my lucky break – I snuck out for a juicy McDonalds. And I managed to get some chicken for my wife. It was hard to find each other between interviews and consultations. She didn’t really enjoy that meal, bless her.
Half an hour’s break and that BigMac recharged my batteries. Back at the interviews the detectives were meticulous. They were all ears as I interpreted their blunt questions and the suspect’s answers. All this while my wife and the other interpreters were in adjacent interview rooms. Like me, they were listening intently and choosing their words carefully. It went on and on, and then it was time for the very last interview.
You could say I was the last man standing, so lucky me, I got to interpret for the last interview. It was 1 o’clock in the morning when we entered the interview room. The solicitor had to put a lot of questions. One and a half hours later: conflict! With that last solicitor gone, the police had run out of legals to call on.
After two hours of phone calls, looking in vain for solicitors, the police officers finally reached a solution. They could get a legal representative at another police station, so we bundled into cars and managed a quick transfer. Well, even at 3 o’clock in the morning, it was a 50-minute drive. Good thing it took me closer to home. And now my wife had finished her shift, at least she was able to turn up the expensive ‘central heating’ and sleep in the car.
I realised I was at that stage, past sleep, where I could go on and on. Just as well, because this final interview was very long and the questions from the detectives seemed like they would peel the skin off this man they had arrested on suspicion of rape.
Finally finished at 7am. I was not so much relieved as frustrated when I left the police station – 22 hours after walking in.
That’s it. That’s the end of my story. I can’t tell you why it was frustrating, or give you more details. I’m a police interpreter and the work I do is highly confidential.
Our interpreter blogger, Cristian, is originally from Romania and is a qualified interpreter with a Diploma in Police Interpreting.
Photo credit: Geoffrey Lebrec/freeimages.com
The second in Cintra Translations’ series on how to research new customers and markets abroad focuses on the ways your local Chamber of Commerce can plug you in to a hugely valuable international network of expert advice and practical support.
First stop is the British Chambers of Commerce international trade website, ExportBritain. For companies at the early stage of evaluating opportunities and researching target markets, the British Chambers’ Overseas Market Intelligence services offer regularly updated market snapshots sharing data and insight.
Use the International Directory to get in touch with British Chambers located overseas in just the markets you’re considering.
Your local Chamber of Commerce will already be running regular events highlighting opportunities for export. There’s real depth and breadth to seminars and workshops exploring potential growth markets. Over the next couple of months alone, the Norfolk Chamber is assessing opportunities in Kuwait; Surrey is looking at doing business in Brazil’s massive marketplace, and Cambridgeshire is planning an event with the UKTI to help businesses find out more about what wealthy Saudi Arabia can offer UK exporters.
Find out more on the events page at Export Britain: http://exportbritain.org.uk/events/ You’ll also find webinars you can attend from your desk or your iPad. Expert-led discussions on prospects in India and China, and in niche sectors such as agri-business opportunities in Colombia on are on the current schedule.
Are you ready to export? While you’re looking at how ready and receptive overseas markets will be for you and your products, how prepared are you to take the leap? Have you got the staff, skills, resources and logistics in place to make a go of it? Probably not – at the moment – but chances are, it won’t take much to fill the gaps. Find what they are and how to get in shape via the Chambers’ Export Readiness Assessment service.
Seeing the wood for the trees You’ll have realised by now that figuring out if export’s for you and where to focus your efforts isn’t going to be a journey you make on your own. It’s clear there is plenty of support out there for SMEs. In fact, there is some criticism that there’s so much on offer, businesses feel daunted and can’t see the wood for the trees.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)
To provide an encouraging and genuinely supportive, and yes, we have to say it, joined-up, approach very much in mind, the British Chambers of Commerce, the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been in formal partnership since 2012. They’re also working with businesses like us here at Cintra Translations to help businesses find the extra skills and professional support services they need to get into those new markets on the front foot. As an example, take a look at the package of services and benefits for exporters on offer from the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce. We’re proud to signpost you to our contribution to their Global Membership package – including exclusive discounts on Cintra Go Global translation services! Find out more
We’re working with an increasing number of companies to translate their Health and Safety policies and procedures into the languages their factory workers, warehouse staff and field hands speak and read fluently. In a sector where margins are slim and employers and recruiters are traditionally wary of any additional costs, the companies and HR managers employing us to translate everything from policy documents to induction packages and Slips, Trips and Falls factsheets report strong business reasons for investing in quality translation services.
1 If safety was just common sense, UK companies wouldn’t have lost £2.9bn to health and safety failings in 2012/13 – the last year for which figures are available. Like other aspects of culture, attitudes to health and safety at work and what’s an acceptable level of risk vary enormously between countries.
At the very least, bear in mind that people panic in emergencies. It’s hard enough following first aid instructions or emergency shut down procedures in English when you’re under pressure. Asking workers from overseas to translate and understand before they act wastes valuable seconds and could cost lives.
2 Fines and custodial sentences for companies and individual managers and directors guilty of health and safety failures are getting tougher in 2015
Regardless of the size of the company, or the nature of its business, managers and Directors are increasingly held personally accountable for the safety of all their employees.
New sentencing guidelines proposed by the UK’s Sentencing Council complete their consultation phase this week (18 Feb 2015). The new guidelines will come into force later this year and will cover offences ranging from workplace accidents, and dangerous products that cause death or serious injury, to near misses where there was a culpable risk of injury even if no one was actually hurt. Once confirmed, guilty companies and managers can expect longer terms of imprisonment and fines in the region of £2 – 10 million.
3 OHSAS 18001 is out: ISO 45001 is coming in
The introduction of a new, improved international safety standard – ISO 45001 – by October 2016 puts considerable emphasis on enabling businesses ‘to proactively improve its OH&S performance in preventing injury and ill-health’. Experts expect auditors will want to see real evidence of continual improvement to preventative practices. Read more at http://www.shponline.co.uk/ask-professionals-iso-45001/
related post: 17 ways to slip up on health and safety
Like us, you probably googled for Valentine’s Day gift inspiration. As we whiled away a lunch-break looking for something beyond the usual flowers and chocolate, we were struck by just how hard marketers and retailers are working to get us in the mood – all those websites awash with luscious over the top language.
And that’s when two of our translators, German Jakob and Svetlana, from Bulgaria, decided to have some fun. ‘Let’s take some of the floweriest gift descriptions we can find, and see what Google Translate makes of them.’
We’ll confess to a love/hate relationship here. We’re translators: we’re never going to be sending red roses, champagne or chocolates to a machine that is great at mathematical relationships but can’t manage the fine nuances of human communication.
Jakob and Svetlana love chocolate any time of the year, so they started by feeding some luxury truffles into Google Translate:
Created to make you feel utterly pampered and adored – with sparkling pink rosé, luxurious Pink Champagne Truffles and Eton Mess Slab – presented in a stylish ribbon-tied bag.
Jakob was a little disappointed at what he got out the other end. Google’s English to German machine translation was a bit of a grammatical mash-up.
Erstellt, damit man ganz verwöhnt und verehrt fühlen – mit funkelnden rosa Rose, luxuriöse Pink Champagne Trüffel und Eton Mess Slab – in einem stilvollen Band gebunden Beutel.
Here’s an English version that shows the sort of impression the German product description made on Jakob’s sensitive ear:
Created so that you feel completely pampered and worshipped – with sparkling pink rose, luxurious Pink Champagne Truffles and Eton Mess Slab – bound in a stylish Belt. Tied. Bag.
‘In German, the first part of the sentence doesn’t mean anything,’ says Jakob. ‘The machine has put in a plural verb, fühlen, for a singular noun. And the last clause, which is meant to get you excited about the look of this special present, is just three words strung together – the German is literally Belt. Tied. Bag. Even if it were correct, the adjective ‘gebunden’ (tied) has no agreement with the noun, so it jars on the ear.’
That’s a thumbs down on the machine-translated truffles then. Better luck with the bubbly and body butter gift hamper? Sadly, no. This is the luscious original:
Indulge and pamper her with a box of everything she loves, from a bottle of bubbly to sensual body butter and the very best of our chocolates.
And here is Google’s translation:
Verwöhnen und verwöhnen sie mit einem Feld von allem, was sie liebt, von einer Flasche Sekt auf sinnliche Körperbutter und die besten unserer Pralinen.
As a machine, Google Translate doesn’t have the aesthetic sensibility to make indulge and pamper two distinct verbs, so it uses for the same word for both – Verwöhnen und verwöhnen – losing the sense of luxury in the original.
In another context, such as talking about a spreadsheet, the word Feld could be a reasonable translation for box, as in tick box. But in this context, Jakob says, ‘Feld doesn’t mean a box of chocolates or some kind of hamper. It means a field like on a farm or a spreadsheet, or it can mean a mathematical array. Google struggles to manage context’.
Here’s how Google back-translates its German product description into English:
Indulge and pamper you with an array of all she loves from a bottle of sparkling wine in sensual body butter and the best of our chocolates.
A bottle of sparkling wine in sensual body butter could catch on, but it’s not what the high-street chocolatier is planning to sell customers in its indulgent Valentine gift box!
Maybe Svetlana had more luck with Google Translate’s Bulgarian?
Отдайте се и я поглези с кутия за всичко , което обича , от бутилка шампанско за чувствено тяло масло и най-доброто от нашите шоколади .
Okay, so your Bulgarian’s not so hot. As it turns out, Google Translate hasn’t spent much quality time in Svetlana’s home country recently either.
Google Translate’s Bulgarian reads like this to Svetlana:
Give yourself (plural) and spoil her (singular) with a box for everything that she loves, from the bottle of champagne for sensual body oil and the best of our chocolate bars.
We asked Tess Wright, our Chief Exec, what she thinks of Google Translate and other machine translation tools. ‘I would never say that Google Translate doesn’t have a place in the translation world – it’s a free, quick tool that can give you the gist of a communication and is often better than nothing. Often, but not always – if you’ve spent months crafting a slogan for your brilliant product, and Google renders it ridiculous – or even insulting – in your chosen markets, you’d have done better to stick to English.
‘Like most technologies, translation tools need humans to make them work intelligently. If you want to be taken seriously in your chosen markets, or if it’s vital for legal or safety reasons to have an accurate translation, or even if you want to be funny, relying on Google Translate is a big risk. For anything complex, subtle or playful, you need a good human translator. People tend to assume that translation is rather like maths – there is one right answer and that’s that. In fact, it’s often much more of an art, full of nuance and colour, just like life!’
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Everyone in business understands that people like to buy from companies they know and trust. When you’re selling into markets overseas, it really is a no-brainer that, to get the leads and sales you need, you’ve got to talk to people in their own language. So, with that in mind, you look at the marketing materials you’ve already got – all those leaflets and flyers, brochures and product factsheets. You’ve seen the return on your investment in all that promotional material, but it’s all in English, of course. You go online, count the pages on your English-language website, and wail, “Where do we start?” “How much is translating all this going to cost?”
Don’t shelve your plans and pull up the duvet just yet. Have a look at our marketing materials for export success how to. It’s a checklist we’ve developed to help you achieve the goals of every successful export sales campaign:
- Create the best possible impression for your company and brand in your new marketplace
- Communicate with relevant and effective marketing materials in your customers’ languages
- Secure real value for money and return on investment in translation services
The Cintra marketing materials for export success how to checklist:
What are you going to translate? Why? Who are your readers?
You don’t have to translate everything. Our Go Global basics list is a good place to start:
- Website: home page, about us and product page/s
- One company brochure
- Promotional poster/s for events and exhibitions
- Product or services fact sheet or leaflet
- An email introducing your company to agents or distributors
- A standard response email
Other materials to consider for translation are:
- Critical legal documents and contracts
- Your business terms and conditions
- Technical manuals and product brochures
- Contracts of employment
2. Get the timescales right
Professional translators and interpreters are used to working to very tight deadlines, but it pays dividends to give them time to polish the nuanced translations your marketing messages deserve. Think back to how long it took you to agree the final wording in English!
3. Quality originals
Language and layout in the original source documents you want translated should flow naturally, be clear and engaging.
4. No gobbledegook
Describe your products and services as simply as possible, and avoid clichés, jargon and acronyms that will need to be explained to customers who aren’t familiar with life in the UK.
5. Share your big picture business goals and the thinking behind your export campaigns
In return you’ll benefit from the expertise of native speakers and their professional insight into the day-to-day lives and expectations of customers in your target markets. Add the translator’s personal experience to your own in-depth research and you’ve got a real head start on understanding local market conditions and the dos and don’ts of business etiquette.
6. Fit your message to your audience
Your company’s distinctive tone of voice is an important element of each customer’s experience. And you can expect expert translators to add enormous value to your marketing campaigns. They’ll do more than translate word for word: they’ll find exactly the right words to get the features and benefits of your offer across in ways that will strike just the right note with new customers your target overseas markets.
Translators will also find the right tone for your marketing communications. In just the same way that you wouldn’t want to turn up for a business meeting wearing the wrong clothes, misjudging the balance between formal and more colloquial language can be a deal-breaker.
7. Work smart on layouts and formatting
Supply documents in easily editable formats that don’t need to be reformatted before the translator can start work.
Some languages are wordier than others, which means word counts vary between languages, so ask ahead about changes you might need to make to the formatting and layouts of documents and web pages. 100 words expands to around 130 when translated into French, for example. On the other hand, English to Lithuanian works out more shorter, as there are no a’s, an’s and the’s to take up space.
8. Mistakes and typos mean careless in any language
Make sure a native speaker checks spelling, grammar, punctuation and contractions just as carefully as you’d expect for your English-language documents.
9. Take advantage of advice and grants for export on offer
Our Planning to export? blog series points you to the wealth of information available for exporters from the Government and through your local Chamber of Commerce.
Start by visiting their online advice sites
Read case studies and download resources; find out about local events, briefing sessions and training courses.
Businesses can get details of Government grants and support, including an expert communications review to help with translating your marketing materials.
One in four people worldwide understand English at a useful level.
Three out of four don’t.
Let me introduce my cousin Tina. She’s a primary school teacher living and working in Bielefeld. Naturally enough, German is her first language. Fortunately for her monoglot British relatives though, Tina is one of the 1.75 billion people worldwide who use English very effectively as a second language. While my German was not so much taught as inflicted by teachers drilling grammar by rote, Tina had fun singing along to the Rolling Stones and watching American films. No prizes for guessing that when we get together I’m doing the usual British thing, squirming with embarrassment because I can’t switch between languages as she does.
Skilled as she is in English, though, there’s a limit to Tina’s patience, vocabulary and conversational comfort zone. She would not be impressed by the sales director I met recently at a trade show and who declared unequivocally, “English is the international language of business. Why should I communicate in anything else?”
The short answer is that most of your customers aren’t in business, and whatever they are doing, they most probably aren’t doing it in English. Just like Tina when I’m not visiting, your customers are getting on with their own lives – in their own language. Tina’s got two children and elderly parents to care for. Like all customers everywhere, she’s got a life, and she lives it in her mother tongue.
So while Tina is happy chatting with me in an English punctuated with a little German and some sign-language over lunch in a Bielefeld bistro, when it comes to spending her hard-earned cash, she, quite reasonably, prefers to weigh up the pros and cons of features, benefits, price, quality and delivery options in her own language, thank you very much.
Six more reasons sticking with English will lose you export sales.
Or – why my cousin Tina – who could be your next customer – prefers to buy in her own language.
- “Yes, I can speak English, but I make decisions in German.”
- “If you speak to me in up-to-date, everyday German, I’m much more likely to take on board and remember your marketing messages.”
- “My family like British brands, but our lifestyles are different. Show me how your product fits in my day-to-day routine here in myhome, not yours.“
- “You want to me to spend money with you. Show me you care about me.”
- “I’m much more likely to trust your promises about customer service and product support if you’ve taken the time and trouble to translate them for me.”
- “I’m a busy person. The bottom line is, if you speak my language, you’re making it so much easier for me to do business with you.”
Wenn Sie mich verstehen, dann werden wir uns gut verstehen!
Guest blogger Kaye Coleman-Rooney runs marketing communications agency, Doing Words . She’s a member of Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce Communications sector and is a coach with Accelerate Cambridge, part of the Cambridge Judge Business School.
blog image credit: mebell / www.freeimages.com
The last question was about whether it is necessary or desirable for the Welsh government to spend time and significant amounts of money on translating information into Welsh, providing interpreters and teaching Welsh in schools, when it is spoken by only a small proportion of people living in Wales.
The questioner was booed when he asked the question, and the panel unanimously (perhaps running scared) said that it was both necessary and desirable (although a substantial part of the audience later disagreed when they voted on it).
I had a look for some information on this, and found an article on the BBC website –http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11304255 It’s from 2010, but still interesting reading.
The Foundation for Endangered Languages held a conference in Camarthen, West Wales, appropriately enough to discuss the facts that although there are over 6000 languages spoken worldwide, up to 1000 of these are only spoken by a handful of people – and 25 languages are lost every year.
Samuel Johnson said ‘language is the dress of thought’ – if you lose the language, you lose the knowledge it expresses, and also individualism and identity.
Others say this is nonsense – it’s about cultural change, how do we ever progress if we have a romantic desire to cling on to the past, to things that were once useful but are now irrelevant. We should focus on teaching people useful languages like Chinese Mandarin, Spanish and English.
I can’t make up my mind on this. Part of me loves the idea that we don’t just do things because of their usefulness, and I think the past matters – not just romantically, but because of what we can learn from it. The other part thinks that when resources are limited and need is great, we should spend money where it will do most good – and if the language hadn’t progressed, we would still be speaking Anglo Saxon, or Middle English – which were surely of their time and not relevant for now (much as I love Chaucer!)
What do you think? Do add your comments below.
Tess Wright, Chief Executive
image credit: Pontus Edenberg / www.edenberg.com
I was listening to Midweek on Radio 4 last week and was fascinated by a guy called Benny Lewis, who says he couldn’t speak any foreign languages when he left school but now speaks ten, including Mandarin, Arabic, Portuguese and Hungarian!
I don’t think he means he can speak them well enough to do interpreting or translation, but enough to hold a conversation with the people in whichever country he is in that goes beyond ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘where are the toilets?’
Enough to give him an impression of the language and culture – by joining in – that is much richer than the superficial impression most visitors would receive if they can’t understand the language.
He does it by total immersion – going to live in whichever country whose language he wants to learn and refusing to speak English. One of his main techniques seems to be don’t make excuses such as ‘it’s too hard’ or ‘I’m too old’ or ‘they’ll think I’m an idiot’ – these rang a bell with me!
He’s just been made National Geographic’s Traveler of the Year on the back of all his learning trips.
You can hear the programme via the Radio 4 website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03y13zd
and you can visit the website of the man himself at http://www.fluentin3months.com/about/
So what do you think – is it possible to learn a language well enough in three months to do more than get by as a visitor? And is it just the British who are scared of looking stupid when they try and speak other languages?
Look forward to your comments below.
Tess Wright, Chief Executive