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Guest post: Do translation customers really care what kind of people they’re buying from? November 18, 2014

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation.
9 comments

I don’t normally accept guest posts, but I am making an exception for this one. This needs to be heard and discussed.

Guest post by Terena Bell of In Every Language.

Maybe people really don’t care. That’s what I thought this morning as I got out of bed and read today’s news on my cell phone. Maybe people don’t care, maybe they don’t want a better world, maybe there are no rewards for the good or punishment for the bad.

I’ve written in my MultiLingual Magazine column before about how American culture is trending so that people no longer want to spend money at businesses where they find the owner’s behavior deplorable. Well, I’m writing this blog to say that I was wrong. Or at least I was wrong about how or when this particular macrotrend would affect our industry.

See, there’s this little thing going on right now — maybe you’ve heard of it — Crain’s New York is calling it the TransPerfect Storm. I’ve got to admit, the title’s catchy. For those of you who haven’t seen the press, Liz Elting and Philip Shawe, co-owners of translation giant TransPerfect, are going at it in the courts, in the office, in the breakroom — pretty much everywhere these two can find a place to disagree, according to Crain’s, they’re doing it. And it’s not just Crain’s reporting the story either. It’s The New York Post and The New York Daily News, too. And when The Daily News – which let’s face it, is pretty much a fancy tabloid – starts covering the story you know it’s salacious.

According to Crain’s, the two owners “are suing each other for malfeasance and mismanagement, and each wants the other thrown out of the company. The parties have asked a judge to break the deadlock, and a hearing is scheduled for Nov. 18.” The translation industry will be watching today’s results with bated breath.

See, here’s the thing: Many in the translation industry have thought for years that Elting and Shawe are not what most people would call good people. Multiple media reports of Elting kicking Shawe with her heels and pouring coffee on him during work, all the media reports of the f-you emails back and forth, filing restraining orders against the other, all these reports of what – if true – is clearly unprofessional, childish behavior, well juicy as the news maybe, it’s not a surprise to many who work in translation for a living.

In October of 2013, the blog TranslationEthics.com called TransPerfect a “sweatshop” because of the well below standard rates it pays its translators. As far back as 2011, a different blog, TransPerfect Translation Concerns, reported, “It’s only a matter of time [before] a hungry investigative reporter will has burst the … TransPerfect PR bubble [sic], and release some less than glowing information.” Well, that time is now.

So here’s my question, and here’s what has me writing a blog entry before breakfast: Do clients even care? Court documents for the case claim Fortune 100 clients have either threatened to pull or have already pulled over $20 million worth of work. But there’s a big difference between threatening to yank your business and actually doing it. In the sales meetings I’ve been in with current TransPerfect customers, the topic hasn’t even come up. As a TransPerfect competitor, I haven’t had a single client come to me saying, “Oh my, their ethics are horrible, they’re just not good people.“ Have you?

You don’t become the kind of person who would assault your ex-fiance at work overnight. Nor do you develop so much hate for someone overnight that you would sue them in open court to the detriment of your own business. No. If the press is revealing who the owners of TransPerfect are, if this scandal is revealing the way they live their lives, then they have been the people they are for quite some time. Any client kickback now is simply because the world finally sees Elting and Shawe for who they apparently are. But where is the kickback really?

Maybe I’m wrong. What do you think? Will TransPerfect actually lose business because of this? Will clients actually leave? Do translation customers really care what kind of people they’re buying from?

Terena Bell is the chief executive officer of In Every Language, a language services provider offering translation, interpreting, and localization. She served on the Association of Language Companies Leadership Council. She is a member of the Obama Administration’s White House Business Roundtable, which has taken calls from the president and the vice-president, as well as senior advisors and members of the Cabinet. She writes the “Micro/Macro” column for MultiLingual Magazine, and has been quoted by Inc., Forbes, and CNN Money.

New translation tool on the market November 11, 2014

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, Tools, Translation.
4 comments

There’s a new translation tool on the market. Bad Translator was developed by Ackuna Translator to show just how funny things can get with Machine Translation. Enter any text in English then click “Translate!” to start. The program translates the text back and forth using FreeTranslation.com, TransPerfect, and Yandex, then displays the final English translation.

Happy translating!

Bad news for those who work for CLS Communication November 10, 2014

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Translation.
4 comments

Lionbridge to Acquire CLS Communication

Lionbridge is delighted to announce a definitive agreement to acquire CLS Communication! CLS Communication is a global leader in translation services for financial, industrial, life science, telecom, legal and public sector organizations. This acquisition will further expand Lionbridge’s end market diversification of translation solutions.

CLS is a complementary addition to the Lionbridge team, as both organizations have excelled in vertical market expertise, geographic scale and technology and program management. The joining of our teams will allow us to deliver greater scale, velocity and global knowledge to our clients and enable them to engage their customers across any geography, market, language and channel.

For more information about Lionbridge’s acquisition of CLS Communication, view the informational video from our CEO Rory Cowan and read the full press release.

John Oliver on military translators and interpreters October 20, 2014

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Translation.
2 comments

From last night’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Translators who have aided the U.S. Military in Afghanistan and Iraq are in great danger in their home countries, but red tape is making it impossible for many of them to leave. John Oliver interviews Mohammad, one translator who made it out.

In the process he made millions of Americans aware of a problem many of us in the industry have known about for years. Thanks, Mr. Oliver! And thanks for sharing this, Rose!

Also, Afghan interpreter Mohammed started a petition on Change.org to help save his family’s lives http://t.co/l7Gc1UoXW7 Please sign and share.

Linguee to launch in other languages today December 4, 2013

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tools, Translation, Translation Sites.
3 comments

One of my favorite tools when I translate is Linguee, an online search tool that searches millions of bilingual texts in English and German for words and expressions. It is also available for French and Spanish. It uses translated text (aka corpora) that are on the web and compares the original sentence and the translation.

When you search for a term or phrase, it shows the actual sentences in which the term is used on the web side-by-side, allowing you to get an idea of how the term has been translated on other sites and giving you some possible ideas. One caveat is that some of the examples are poorly translated, but it can be an excellent starting point for your thought process when trying to find a good solution for a particularly tricky phrase. Just think critically before using the term or phrase blindly and if you are unsure make sure you double-check it using other means.

They are branching out into other languages such as Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Italian and others as of today. As they explain, “In Germany, France and Spain, Linguee’s new bilingual dictionary concept is already a huge success story: over a million daily unique users have recently reached 2 billion searches.” (although probably a thousand hits a day are probably from me ;-) ).

By indexing translations available online, Linguee can provide 1000 times more entries than the largest traditional bilingual dictionaries. While traditional online dictionaries offer editorial content only – which sets natural limits on its size, even for the most elaborate ones – Linguee is able to search a vast amount of translations published by companies and various institutions on the internet, leveraging the know-how of millions of translators.

Using the site is really easy, but if you need a quick overview please watch their video.

This just in: thebigword pays out big bonus of over £1.5m to one of its directors November 21, 2013

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation.
5 comments

“With its global headquarters in Leeds, thebigword interprets two million minutes of speech and translates 35 million words every month. With 2,500 clients speaking 234 languages across 77 countries, the family-owned business has more than 8,000 freelance linguists and uses automated technology to co-ordinate its global operation.”

This “unnamed highest paid director who took home a total of £1.99m during the year” and is getting an additional “discretionary bonus of £1.68m” should be proud of the work the company has done… oh wait, none of the 8000 translators or interpreters – who do the ACTUAL WORK – are seeing any of that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got another e-mail asking for yet another 15% pay cut. You know, because the company is hurting so much in this economy. You know they certainly won’t be RAISING rates since it seems they are now doing so well.

Note from the Conference November 8, 2013

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Translation.
1 comment so far

Quote of the day: There are three kinds of translators: perfectionists, imperfectionists and transperfectionists.

SAPterm October 4, 2013

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tools, Translation.
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As most people who deal with SAP know, SAP is a language unto itself. SAP has often used its own terms for areas and items that already have industry standard naming conventions. In some cases, SAP even use existing terminology for different purposes. It’s enough to make you want to tear your hair out. SAP realizes this and offers a terminology database to make our lives easier. The SAP terminology database offers access to thousands of terminology entries in over forty languages.

SAPterm

Second Annual Shreve lecture on Friday, Apr. 13, 2012 March 28, 2012

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Translation.
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If you are within driving distance, the Institute of Applied Linguistics at Kent State University in Ohio cordially invites you to attend this event.

The IAL is sponsoring the second annual Shreve lecture and invites you to come hear their distinguished Translation Studies speaker, Professor Rosemary Arrojo. The lecture and reception will be followed by a showing of the documentary Woman with 5 Elephants (If you haven’t seen this documentary, you should!).

When: Friday, April 13, 2012 at 3:30 PM
Where: Satterfield Hall – Room 112.A

“Translation as Subversion in Latin American Fiction”

Refreshments will be served. All are welcome.

The IAL is pleased to present the second lecture in the annual Gregory M. Shreve Lecture Series in Translation Studies, instituted in honor of the IAL’s founding director. The series is made possible through the generosity of alumni, IAL faculty members, and friends of the IAL.

Dr. Rosemary Arrojo is a leading translation scholar. She is currently Professor of Comparative Literature at Binghamton University (SUNY). She has been teaching translation theory since the 1980s and has published extensively on the interface between translation studies and contemporary thought (psychoanalysis, deconstruction, post-colonial theory) and on representations of translation in fiction, both in English and Portuguese. Her work has also appeared in German, Spanish, Turkish, and Hungarian.

Tips on How to Better Connect with your Freelancers (GALAxy newsletter article) March 22, 2012

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation.
4 comments

I was recently asked to contribute an article for the Globalization and Localization Association’s GALAxy newsletter, which was just published in the last few days. GALA is holding its 2012 conference in Monaco this week, so the timing couldn’t be better. Since GALA is targeted to globalization and localization companies, they thought it would be interesting for me to write about the qualities a good translation company should have. Jiri Stejskal, CEO of CETRA, wrote a similar article from the company’s point of view entitled LSP with a Human Face: Connecting with Freelancers. In his article he offers “suggestions from an LSP perspective on how to develop a successful working relationship with contracted freelancers.” I was asked to take the freelancer’s perspective on working with translation companies and share advice on “how to create lasting and fruitful relationships with translators.” You can read my article here (note that I consistently used “translation agency” instead of “LSP” (because we are all LSPs) in my article. I had to defend my choice to the newsletter editor, but she agreed that I had a valid point and allowed me to use “translation agency.” I wonder if anyone in GALA even noticed. I am honored to have been asked to write the article and hope you all enjoy it.

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