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BTS - Business Translation Services » Translation Blog http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english Empresa de Tradução Wed, 08 Jul 2015 21:26:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 What translation agencies don’t tell translators… http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/what-translation-agencies-dont-tell-translators/ http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/what-translation-agencies-dont-tell-translators/#comments Tue, 26 Apr 2011 13:51:07 +0000 Luiz Fernando Casanova Doin http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/?p=145 Despite the rather controversial title, the intent of this article is to help translators to understand what translation agencies do and how they operate. Translators quite often ask, “Why doesn’t agency X call me to translate any more?”, or “Why agency Y doesn’t assign me any work?” The points below may help in explaining these [...]

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Despite the rather controversial title, the intent of this article is to help translators to understand what translation agencies do and how they operate. Translators quite often ask, “Why doesn’t agency X call me to translate any more?”, or “Why agency Y doesn’t assign me any work?” The points below may help in explaining these and other questions.

1.Yes, we do have our preferred translators

The secret of any translation agency’s success is in the relationship it has built with its translators. This relationship is nurtured over time and involves mutual commitment and trust. Agencies normally send a small translation job to a newcomer. The goal here is to ascertain the quality and timeliness of the service. If anything goes wrong, there will still be time left to have it redone by some other professional. Once a translator has passed this first test, we can then assign them increasingly larger jobs, and so on until they take really big ones.

It is very risky to send a large project to an untested or inexperienced translator. Agencies, of course, don’t do this, unless they are really desperate. Nevertheless, verified translators, as well as those with whom the agency already has developed a business relationship will have preference. In other words, the more work a translator has done for any given agency to earn their trust, more jobs that agency will assign them.

There is yet another element to be considered: availability. It does make sense indeed for a translation agency to try and keep their translators busy with its work most of the time. Nothing can be worse than calling a translator with an assignment, to find out that they are too busy working for others. Therefore it is natural for an agency to concentrate their work on a short list of translators, in order to strengthen their relationship with them. This somewhat explains why some translators are assigned so much work from any specific agency, while others complain that they seldom get anything.

2.We would like to be treated as direct clients

Some translators seem to deal with agencies and direct clients differently. They seem to reason that since they are working for an agency, it may be taken for granted that their work will be reviewed. Yet worse is when they reason that “since the agency is paying me less than a direct client I shouldn’t put as much effort into my research… let their reviewer figure it out!” This rationale reflects directly on the quality delivered, and agencies can certainly see through it. Some translators get obviously careless when they work for an agency instead of a direct or end client.

Since agencies use comparison to select translators, those who work harder, research more, and deliver a job requiring the least rework will certainly be preferred.

3.Translation mistakes may be forgiven, tardiness will not

The deadly sin in translation is missing delivery deadlines. It’s unforgivable, unjustifiable, except in case of act of God, such as the very translator’s demise!

Freelance translators are often unable to say no. They are afraid of losing the client if they refuse work. As a result, they take more jobs that they could possibly deliver, however by then the damage will have been made already.

In our company we keep a late translators black list. Unfortunately, these will never be called again. Some translators do a great job, however we can’t risk late delivery.

This is a heads up for translators. Organize your schedule, work smart, and, if you have to turn down a job, do it (it’s better than taking it and delivering late, or doing it in a hurry and delivering sloppy work).

4.Altered file, ruined service

Nothing can be more upsetting than having a translator completely change the original formatting of a document. Believe it or not, this happens more often than most people can imagine. If we send a document in Word, using Arial 10pt font it should be obvious we don’t want it translated Times New Roman 12pt, yet it apparently isn’t. Some translators dare to change typeface, bolds, italics, spacing, etc. This calls for unnecessary rework and can jeopardize the delivery deadline.

Why do translators do this? Apparently they do it because they ’haven’t yet mastered the basic tools of their trade: Microsoft Office software and translation memory management programs.

One of our translators insists that his Trados is uncontrollable, and it changes Word formatting, uses bold where it shouldn’t and removes it from the proper places. Definitely strange, but true.

5. Translators’ lips should be sealed

Upon confessing their misdoings to a priest, a congregant feels reassured in their belief that such secrets will be eventually taken to a grave, undisclosed.

Confidentiality is a very sensitive area in translation. Agencies seek to protect themselves, by securing non-disclosure agreements signed by their translators. The overwhelming majority of professionals uphold these agreements; those who breach them will have committed a serious violation.

We have seen samples of such breaches of confidentiality, like translators who list specifics on their resumes regarding projects they took from a given agency. In other words, instead of just mentioning that they had provided services to translation agency X, they list the name of its clients, at times including specifics about projects they worked on. This may sound silly, however more than once companies have demanded that their names not be mentioned as clients. Any whiff of a possible breach of confidentiality would definitely ensure that the agency would never hire that translator again.

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What does it take to be a good translator? http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/what-does-it-take-to-be-a-good-translator/ http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/what-does-it-take-to-be-a-good-translator/#comments Tue, 08 Mar 2011 16:16:56 +0000 Luiz Fernando Casanova Doin http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/?p=177 Dear Sirs: I am a bilingual secretary at Company X and I also do translations in my spare time. I have attached my resume, in the event there is any interest in my working with you. Sincerely, Jane Doe We often receive e-mails like this; a bilingual secretary who translates in her spare time, probably [...]

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Dear Sirs:

I am a bilingual secretary at Company X and I also do translations in my spare time. I have attached my resume, in the event there is any interest in my working with you.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe

We often receive e-mails like this; a bilingual secretary who translates in her spare time, probably to pad her income. However, there is a problem. We don’t want part-time translators in our company. We want full-time professional translators committed to their craft, who are specialized, take refresher courses and – well – just live and breathe translation.

Back to the subject, what exactly does it take to be a good translator? As it may be seen above, it is pretty clear that one should to devote their body and soul full time to the profession to begin with – like in any other trade – however that is not enough. Based on my 10+ years’ experience in recruiting and searching for talents in translation, I have drawn the list below, which I believe to be the fundamental features of a good translator:

1. Good writing skills

A translator cannot translate properly if they don’t write well. Good writing is a basic requirement for any good translator. I often ask new translators to write something on their own before taking any kind of translation. They look at me with amazement as if I were putting them through a college entrance exam. Many people do not associate the importance of good writing skills with their responsibilities as a translator; while poor writing usually prevents their translation work from rising above mediocrity.

2. Be an avid reader

This item is directly linked to the previous one. You have to read a lot to write well. Therefore I suggest that you read as much as possible – books, magazines, newspapers, etc. Reading expands your vocabulary and increases your general culture. Your writing will certainly improve, as well as your linguistic repertoire.

3. Stay up-to-date

Once again, this item goes pretty much hand in hand with the prior one. A translator needs to stay well informed, and hence should read as much as possible. Keeping current is part of a translator’s daily routine. After all, they will probably be requested to translate material related to current issues and events, usually discussed in the media, and understanding the subject well may take you half way there.

4. Develop research skill

No matter how familiar a translator may be with any given subject, now and then an unknown term or expression will come up. This is when your research skills come into play. Google is generally a great research tool, however there are many others, such as on-line glossaries as well as Wikipedia (albeit some of its glaring mistakes), etc. Nowadays you can find answers to most of the translation questions on the Internet. Therefore, excuses are no longer acceptable; all you have to do is to explore the vast array of on-line material out there, not to mention specialized dictionaries (hard copy), which should be part of your own library.

5. Ask your peers and join translator newsgroups

If you still have a hard time finding an answer to your question, no matter how hard you try, you can always ask your fellow translators. Networking with your peers should be broad, reaching as many people as possible, since there should always be someone who knows the answer you are looking for. Another good tip is to join in translators’ newsgroups. I can suggest trad-prt as just one from an extensive list. Translators can ask their questions there to hundreds of other translators, some of which may have that elusive answer.

6. Specialize

I always ask translators I am recruiting what are their areas of specialty and I get utterly floored when they answer: “I translate in all areas,” or “I specialize in finance, culinary arts, medicine, auto mechanics, chemistry, biology, astrophysics, soccer, legal contracts, as well as social sciences.” I honestly doubt it. Even worse, such answers tempt me to get rid of these candidates faster. We have translators working for us who focus exclusively on medicine, while others specialize in legal work. I would like to mention, by way of example, a friend of mine and an excellent translator, Márcio Badra, a former bank executive who naturally specialized in translating finance, and has been very successfully at it, given his command of the jargon and his thorough knowledge of the industry.

7. Take specialization or refresher courses

Once again, this holds true for any profession, yet a translator is not allowed to disregard it. It may be a course on the new Portuguese spelling reform, translation techniques, legal terminology, or computer assisted translation programs such as those taught by Danilo Nogueira, who has an in-depth knowledge of programs like Trados, Wordfast, or Déjà Vu; it is absolutely essential to keep current. I would also like to mention specifically the courses offered by the language school Alumni, for translator and interpreter training, which I rank as excellent.

8. Master computer technology

Here I must mention a rather sad story. We sent a file in Word format to a translator about to do his first job for us. The file had been carefully laid out, including words and titles in bold, italics, and using varied fonts, plus an automatically generated and linked index, etc. When we received the translation, it came in plain text, without any of those bolds, italics, different fonts, etc. I was dumbfounded and immediately called the translator who gave me this rather bizarre answer, “I printed out the file using Word and translated it from hard copy, because that’s how I work.” No comment, and it goes without saying that it was the very first and last time we ever hired this professional (?).

So it is essential to master Microsoft Office. If I send a file with some specific formatting (exception made to PDF files, of course), I expect to receive it exactly the same. Therefore a translator knowing their way in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint is always taken for granted.

9. Understand and learn to use some computer assisted translation program (Trados, Wordfast, Déjà Vu, etc.)

As the owner of a translation firm, I often hear translators complaining that “they are forced to work with Trados (or Wordfast, etc.), because agency X, for whom they have been translating so requires.” The software is assigned to be the villain. The agency uses it to make a profit on the poor translator. This may even be true in some cases, however translators seem to overlook the key issue: these programs are productivity tools, i.e., they serve to increase the translation professional’s output. However regardless of whether a job is for an agency or a direct client, using them means higher productivity in the long run, resulting in more money.

I can’t imagine a translator nowadays still doing it in the good ol’ way, i.e. without being boosted by such software. These tools increase productivity, standardize terminology, save on typing (copying numbers, for instance), just to name a few benefits. In this case, translators should overcome their skepticism and start using them.

10. Pay attention and become a perfectionist

This might seem overrated, however I think that paying attention is essential for a good translator. I have lost count of how many times I saw translators simply skipping a word (or a whole sentence!) in a translation, or typing the wrong date (which is awfully bad in a plain translation, yet unacceptable in a sworn translation) or even commit gross subject-verb concordance mistakes. A translator should pay close attention upon translating and review the work with utmost care. Taking this one step further, translators should work toward becoming perfectionists, as both agencies and direct clients expect a flawless, error-free finished product, and requiring as little rework as possible; this is the benchmark all translators should strive to achieve.

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How’s the translation market doing? Just fine, thank you very much! http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/hows-the-translation-market-doing-just-fine-thank-you-very-much/ http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/hows-the-translation-market-doing-just-fine-thank-you-very-much/#comments Mon, 07 Mar 2011 16:04:34 +0000 Luiz Fernando Casanova Doin http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/?p=163 Working in translation for over 10 years, the word crisis is one that has certainly been a major concern, and has crept in each one of them. Nevertheless, facts have shown quite the opposite: a market growing by leaps and bounds. Common Sense Advisory, an independent firm that surveys and analyzes the translation market, expects [...]

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Working in translation for over 10 years, the word crisis is one that has certainly been a major concern, and has crept in each one of them. Nevertheless, facts have shown quite the opposite: a market growing by leaps and bounds. Common Sense Advisory, an independent firm that surveys and analyzes the translation market, expects 2012 to record US$ 25 billion worldwide, not too bad. Furthermore, this is an extremely democratic market. There is room for translation agencies, freelance translators, good and bad translators, expensive and inexpensive ones, as well as hacks, unfortunately. There is a little of everything, because after all is said and done, the customer is always right.

The translation market being democratic implies that we must endure predatory competition from price-slashing translation companies; however it leaves the option for companies to search and find serious agencies offering quality in translation as well. When I say that there is room for everyone, I mean that each can carve out their own niche.

I constantly hear about vultures scavenging the market with preposterously low prices. They are out there indeed, and there certainly are agencies in this category, however I don’t rank them as our competitors. They have a market niche and this may explain why one translation company charges X, another one charges 4X, and the latter is up to its ears in work. The market is considerably segmented.

I have also noticed that demand is not evenly spread over time. There are peaks and valleys – periods of high demand interspersed with calmer times. It is also interesting to note that when demand is at its peak, it seems like all translators are busy, while during dry spells we receive many calls from translators asking for work. Apparently the market tide is the same for everyone: when it is high, everyone is in demand; when it’s low, idleness takes over.

Translation agencies may not experience this oscillation as intensely as freelance translators, since an agency works with a number of language pairs and for varied sectors. There are times when English to Portuguese translations are down, but Portuguese to English demand is up, and vice versa. However as we have a business structure in place, we must translate a certain minimum volume per month to break even, which certainly causes additional pressure on agencies during crises.

I am highly optimistic regarding the future of this market, as it has continued to grow, which led us to expand our translators team, the number of project managers, reviewers, etc. Unfortunately, there is no Brazilian or Latin American translation market study (at least, that I was able to find in my research) to corroborate my feelings and observations expressed herein, so they are merely empiric, based on our experience.

To wrap it up, I will outline the current Brazilian translation market. It is undergoing a period of growth, however there are fluctuations, i.e. peaks and valleys in demand, which is something we all have to get used to, because this behavior puts a great deal of pressure on both freelance translators and translation agencies alike, and a period of slack demand may suddenly turn into an avalanche of work. The market is also highly segmented i.e., there are several niches to be supplied, and now is the right time to do it.

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Ye without mistake cast the first stone. http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/ye-without-mistake-cast-the-first-stone/ http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/ye-without-mistake-cast-the-first-stone/#comments Sun, 06 Mar 2011 16:14:05 +0000 Luiz Fernando Casanova Doin http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/?p=172 We translators have a peculiar trait: we get a kick out of spotting and exposing our peers’ mistakes in translation. I say ‘we’ because I plead guilty as charged of doing it myself. Our company’s first two newsletters were about this: translation bloopers, many of them hilarious. Clients just loved them, found that to be [...]

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We translators have a peculiar trait: we get a kick out of spotting and exposing our peers’ mistakes in translation. I say ‘we’ because I plead guilty as charged of doing it myself. Our company’s first two newsletters were about this: translation bloopers, many of them hilarious. Clients just loved them, found that to be very amusing.

However such sadism in our trade seems somewhat self-defeating. Right now we carry the stones, but later on we might become the targets. After all, who has never made a mistake? And who doesn’t ever make mistakes? Particularly in a profession like ours, where we are subject to very tight deadlines and an increasing pressure from our clients to produce every time more in less lime.

I recall the first time I had one of my translations criticized. It’s tough. And it hurts, especially when the client is right. However, in spite of our various quality control systems in place, it may happen, just as a doctor can miss and maim or kill a patient, or an engineer may miscalculate and cause a bridge to collapse. In other words, we are fallible.

Our relief may be in – differently from surgeons – our mistakes not killing anyone (though they may cause substantial financial losses). On the other hand, I never saw any physician gloating over a colleague’s mistake. On the contrary, their group solidarizes and they defend each other.

There are certainly bad professionals in any trade, be it health care, engineering, or our own. Most likely these people are responsible for many of the errors and other bizarre things we see now and then. Maybe the difference is in our pleasure in “exposing” the sloppy work from these bad professionals, even if detrimental to our category as a whole.

Instead of praising and applauding the great translators and their masterpiece translations, we prefer to bash and publicize the work of mediocre translators. It seems to be done absentmindedly, however we love to criticize anybody else’s work (just browse the messages in some translators newsgroups).

The message I’d like to leave is clear: why don’t we behave like other professional categories, by simply ignoring the bad professionals and their ludicrous mistakes, and acclaiming the good ones for their pristine work? Our profession shall be thankful…

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Automatic Translation vs. Computer Aided Translation (CAT) Software http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/automatic-translation-vs-computer-aided-translation-cat-software/ http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/automatic-translation-vs-computer-aided-translation-cat-software/#comments Sun, 06 Mar 2011 16:10:35 +0000 Luiz Fernando Casanova Doin http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/?p=168 One recurring question from our clients is, “Do you employ automatic translation?” Most likely they are thinking of tools like Google Translate, Babelfish, and alikes — free online services where all one has to do is to enter their text in one language, and have it almost instantly translated into another. No, we don’t use [...]

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One recurring question from our clients is, “Do you employ automatic translation?” Most likely they are thinking of tools like Google Translate, Babelfish, and alikes — free online services where all one has to do is to enter their text in one language, and have it almost instantly translated into another. No, we don’t use such tools simply because the translation quality is bad. Unfortunately (or fortunately for us, translation companies) there are no miracles. These automatic translation contrivances serve only to provide a general idea on the text being translated, however they are far from offering professional translation.

On the other hand, we use the so-called CAT (Computer Aided Translation) Tools (Trados, WordFast, Déjà Vu, etc.), that are programs that help (a lot) translation being done using a computer. Differently from automatic translation, such programs don’t translate anything on their own. Translations are done by live “bone and flesh” translators who use such software as their translation platform.

Yet, if that Computer Aided Translation (CAT) tools don’t translate on their own, what’s the point in using them? Basically to increase productivity and to ensure terminology consistency. Upon translating with the aid of such software, as we translate documents for a specific client, it builds a database with the translations we’ve done so far. The more we translate, the larger this database will grow. We, agencies, call these databases TMs – Translation Memories. They are actually files that contain all translations done, divided into smaller segments (usually one sentence each), containing the original text and how we translated it.

What are the advantages of having a translation memory for any specific client? Many… I’ll mention first the financial advantage: the CAT Tool software queries the translation memory; if it finds identical or similar phrases in the database, it will suggest a translation. So the program identifies segments that have already been translated, and automatically proposes the translations used then. In repetitive texts, productivity gains are staggering. The translation agency saves a considerable time, avoids a lot of unnecessary rework, and can transfer that benefit to the client as a discount on repeated texts (which we call “matches”).

I believe that the savings for both the translation company and the client is obvious. However that’s not all of it. There is also the extremely important issue of keeping a constant terminology. I’ll show with a practical example: we work for some audit firms that have their own “standard” translations for the balance sheet items. For instance, Company X translates “cash and cash equivalents” into Portuguese as “disponibilidades”, while Company Y insists that the proper translation is “caixa e equivalentes de caixa”. For us there is no problem, as we keep a separate translation memory for each client. If by accident a less alert translator uses “disponibilidades” as the translation of “cash and cash equivalents” for Company Y, the software will show them that the translation memory indicates the proper translation as “caixa e equivalentes de caixa”.

When one project involves several translators, CAT Tools are the only way to ensure that all of them will translate a specific term exactly the same way. Otherwise we might have Translator A using “disponibilidades”, Translator B preferring “caixa e equivalentes de caixa”, Translator C choosing “caixa e bancos”, and finally Translator D opting for “caixa e equivalentes a caixa”. In other words, four translators, four different translations. Imagine what it would take to manually consolidate this terminology, without the proper software. Wouldn’t it be insane?

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Translation agencies and translators: friend or foe? http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/translation-agencies-and-translators-friend-or-foe/ http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/translation-agencies-and-translators-friend-or-foe/#comments Fri, 25 Jun 2010 16:27:51 +0000 Luiz Fernando Casanova Doin http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/?p=181 I believe we have great relationships with our translators, some of being true friends; however I must admit that the relationship an agency has with translators often entails grievance from both sides. Whatever may cause it, let’s go into it anyway. Many translators see translation agencies as mere in-betweens who set out to exploit them. [...]

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I believe we have great relationships with our translators, some of being true friends; however I must admit that the relationship an agency has with translators often entails grievance from both sides.

Whatever may cause it, let’s go into it anyway. Many translators see translation agencies as mere in-betweens who set out to exploit them. Once a translator posted a message in one of these translator newsgroups saying that “agencies should set a markup of 30% on our work, as it is more than enough for them to make a profit.” Disregarding the nearsightedness in our fellow translator’s vision, I will step back to my college days (I graduated in Business Administration). More specifically, I’ll focus on the class dealing with “The Purpose of a Company.” The answer was, “to maximize the shareholder’s wealth” (or the partners’ wealth in case of a limited liability company). In other words, the purpose of a company is to be profitable; since this is the only way for it to prosper and stay in business. Considering this as the fundamental objective of a corporation, we should take another glance at that translator’s remark. Was he right or wrong? If the purpose of a company is to maximize its shareholder’s wealth, then higher profits are best. So why not increase this margin to 60%, 100% or even 1000%?

The intent in my questioning here was not to confront or outrage translators, but simply to state an obvious truth. In the current capitalist world, companies are out there to make money, hence the highest possible profit. Such statement on its own cannot be challenged for being wrong or immoral. If a company can ethically make a 100% profit in today’s highly competitive market, it deserves to be congratulated on its competence and luck.

I am sure that many should be wondering that, if agencies are making a profit, then they are obviously exploiting translators. Is that true? Maybe… Several companies out there are paying US$5.00 or US$6.00 per page (equivalent to BRL 0.03-0.04/word) to translators. In this case, I’d agree that there is exploitation, however I also think that anyone accepting such compensation 1) lacks the necessary experience or qualifications, 2) is desperate or 3) both (most likely). This not only affects translators but serious agencies as well. After all, if a company pays US$ 6.00 per page they could sell it for, say, US$ 12.00, reflecting a gross margin of 100% and yet offer a very low price to the final client. Fortunately, these clients soon realize that such translation is useless junk, and look for another vendor.

So, answering the question, yes, there may be some exploitation but this grueling concern over how much the company is “making” on each translator should be mitigated. Of course, agencies will pay less than direct clients. Some reasons for doing so are evident: translation agencies are the ones who actively sought the end clients, funded all the marketing and advertising costs, negotiated terms and conditions, secured orders and managed translation projects, and, last but not least, who collected payment. Translators are relieved from the most tedious parts of the work, and can concentrate on what they know best – translation. The price a translator wants to receive from a translation agency as compared to what they would charge a direct client is their own decision.

I would challenge any translator’s perception that an agency is no more than an in-between on their way to the final client. This is simply not true. I’d like to show an example to make it very clear that a translation company in fact adds value for both translator and the end client. We often receive financial statements to translate in PDF file format. So, what do we do? We have a professional to convert these files from PDF to Word-compatible ones, and then formats them before sending to the translator — who will get a clean, neatly formatted, ready to translate file. If the translator had received the copy straight from the client, they would have had to format the text from the PDF file. The file is then translated and returned to us. Afterwards, it goes to a finance-specialized reviewer who will check it (this is where we most certainly add value for both end client and translator —, who did the job and can rest assured that it will be revised). Once the translation has been finalized, it is sent to one of our formatting specialists, who will reassemble it in PDF file format for final delivery (once again, adding value to the end client who will receive a translated and edited file).

Therefore we should regard translators as allies and, likewise, be equally regarded as such. After all, we do rely on good professionals for our success, and we can offer a rewarding workload to translators i.e., generate demand for their work. Our overall relationship with them should be professional, involving mutual respect and trust and, of course, “partnership” (though this word has been much abused lately).

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Shopping for (low) price http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/shopping-for-low-price/ http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/translation-blog/shopping-for-low-price/#comments Thu, 27 May 2010 16:30:49 +0000 Luiz Fernando Casanova Doin http://www.btsglobal.com.br/english/?p=183 At times I really wish translation was a tangible product. I wish that it were actually like a car. When a customer buys a car, they buy it for its features, like design, internal space, horsepower, fuel economy, etc. They know the difference between a Mercedes and a jalopy. Unfortunately, upon hiring translation services many [...]

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At times I really wish translation was a tangible product. I wish that it were actually like a car. When a customer buys a car, they buy it for its features, like design, internal space, horsepower, fuel economy, etc. They know the difference between a Mercedes and a jalopy. Unfortunately, upon hiring translation services many clients haven’t the faintest idea on what they will be getting.

Companies, especially those hiring translation services via their purchasing departments treat that like any other goods. The conversation goes something like this: “I need 20 pages of translation from Portuguese to English.”  The major decision-making criterion is the lowest total price. In other words, the vendor who will land the job is the one bidding the lowest price.  Yet, do they know what they will be getting?  I honestly doubt it.

Since translation is an intangible service, the client has no way to compare the quality from Company A against B or C prior to purchase.  If the criterion is the lowest price, I’m sure that they will be getting a lemon under the illusion of having purchased a Mercedes.

It’s unlikely that our company will bid the lowest price, however I do believe that we will be offering the best value for their money (it’s different, right?). Moreover, anyone paying the lowest possible price will probably get a lemon, and may only realize it upon receiving the finished translation.

A translation agency, or a freelance translator, should educate their clients about what they are about to purchase.  If I ask for X, and another company wants only 60% of X, there must be something wrong here.  One of our clients recently called, somewhat apologetically saying that “unfortunately, another company has bid 40% lower for a certain job.” Weird, isn’t it?  Maybe not to this client, who might have just traded in their Mercedes for a lemon.

Translation is no commodity at all. Clients often come to realize it after they get a really bad job delivered.  It is very important for us to educate companies and their purchasing departments, as some buyers have no clue on what they are purchasing.  This applies not for translations alone, but for other “intangible” services as well.

The question is how can we make the client envision our excellent translation service? There are several ways: offering to take a small translation test, providing a resume of the people who will be translating for them, showing some of your success stories in the specific client’s industry (provided this entails no breach of non-disclosure agreements) or eventually offer some references from satisfied customers in the same industry (again, as long as no confidentiality issues are involved, and the clients have been duly advised, and agreed to offer their endorsement).

O post Shopping for (low) price apareceu primeiro em BTS - Business Translation Services.

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