Monthly Archives: March 2016

Software Translation Tips!

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Did you know that when you translate a software program you should…?

  • First, translate the software screen images
  • Second, translate the user manual or help manual
  • Finally, translate the “strings” – the error, warning or help messages the software issues when users make mistakes

A good principle when translating these three components is keeping the translation memories (TM) as separate files.  You will be able to obtain leverage by having more than one TM open when translating, but, for example, for the translation of the “”strings” you should only use and save into the “strings” TM and so on.

Keeping these 3 things separate will help create consistency in the long run.

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As a translator, interpreter and a project manager who has worked with over 70 mining companies, engineering firms and mining software companies, I have seen and lived through the mining industry’s ups and downs in my 24 years of experience; today I am seeing a broad industry downturn.

I have personally translated the complete feasibility study for one of the largest gold mine construction projects in the world today, and my multilingual team has translated many feasibility studies, environmental studies, corporate sustainability reports, tailings reports, pipelines assessments, web sites, contracts, policies, procedures, etc. for some of the largest mining companies around.

From the translation professional’s perspective, I see two issues / problems emerging:

  • Transfer of knowledge – during a downturn people leave a company, often with little notice, resulting in situations where nobody knows who was responsible for maintaining the translation memories and/or bilingual databases, or where these items are located, for all the company’s projects that are on hold/stand-by while the company waits for the commodity prices to go up.  When the projects do proceed, if there was no transfer of knowledge, then the company often has to pay for translations again which were already complete, or were only updated, causing extra costs to re-invent the wheel.  I have experienced this first hand because when one of the largest mining companies in Vancouver was acquired in 2003, I was asked by the acquiring company to translate a project’s feasibility study (which had undergone small updates), however, I had already completed over 70% of the translation this project for my original client who had been acquired!
  • Using unskilled staff or over qualified staff – during a downturn, companies try to keep their staff occupied and minimize external costs; this leads to an assumption that because the person in the reception is bilingual, for example, he or she can translate or edit documents.  However, as we say in Spanish “lo bonito, cuesta caro” (cheap things are expensive in the long run). That person in reception may be great as a receptionist, but likely has no idea about translating at a professional level (i.e. the choices in the use of the language, new grammar and punctuation updates) where life and death consequence may very well arise from the translation. On the other hand, using your lawyer to translate isn’t smart because his or her $300 to $500 per hour rate is better spent on doing what he was trained to do.  To round my point, neither of these two people will be using translation memory software and they will tend re-invent the wheel over and over again choosing words and phrases for which you may already have a corporate preference.

What do you think?

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When to Use Consecutive or Simultaneous Interpretation

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A few weeks ago AZ World Translation and Interpretation was asked to provide a proposal for a one day work shop. The client requested consecutive interpretation (meaning that the speaker does one, two or more sentences and the interpreter repeats after that) for a full day training workshop in the use of optical networking solutions for critical communications applications.

We replied that we would not provide a quote for a full day workshop using consecutive interpretation because it was not the right way of doing it. For a training session, you have to use simultaneous interpretation (meaning that the speaker does one sentence and the interpreter goes one sentence behind repeating everything, without interruptions, usually there is an interpretation booth and the interpreters could even be outside the room, however for a small group of 3 as it was in this case it can be done by whispering).

The client asked us why we refused to do the cheaper option of the consecutive interpretation and our answer was that it was not right to do consecutive. The best example I can come up with is you do not sell a 2000 computer for 2016 technology. Though that technology can do the work it is not right for the client needs. It was during the Nuremberg trials that simultaneous interpretations was chosen as the right way of interpreting conferences and AZ World was not going to go backwards!

To summarize:

  • Consecutive works great for a Q/A period and simultaneous interpretation works better for a conference, presentation, training session, etc.
  • Translators and interpreters/translations agencies have the duty of keeping our clients updated on what goes on the translation and interpretation world and should pass the benefits of our learning and discoveries to our clients.

Any thoughts? Do you want to share your experience?


“You’re Welcome” or “Not a Problem”

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I am a member of “Generation X”, meaning that I was born in the late 1960’s after the World War II “Baby Boomers”; during my schooling in Latin America I was taught that to answer “not a problem” was impolite and that “you’re welcome” was the better response. Today, that is not necessarily the case; in fact, to answer “not a problem” is the preferred way of answering for “Millennials”, the generation born after the early 1980’s through the early 2000’s.

As a linguist, I can only add that if I have to choose one way over the other, I will always choose “you’re welcome” if the text is polite, the register is high and the target audience is educated and born before 1970.  I might choose to use “not a problem” if the audience is younger, or it is an informal reply in a blog.

Sometimes in translation there is not a single right or wrong answer, it all depends on your target audience and whether we want the language to look and feel either “old fashioned” or “avant garde”.

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