29 September 2011

Seeking_#4: SRM that follows up on C-suite promises

High-profile translators often receive special requests directly from the personal assistants of C-suite executives with special translation needs. This type of job usually has to be done immediately, overnight or over a weekend and it must be highly polished to suit the end purpose, typically a high-profile presentation or press conference. Translators who know their worth then negotiate special rates to cover out-of-hours work and an additional reviser or two as well as the payment deadline.

I would be keen to hear from others who have had an experience similar to mine. First,  the C-suite assistant earnestly, and probably sincerely, promises that people at his/her level can guarantee faster-than-normal payment. Then what happens? When the payment is already several weeks late, you enquire to discover that the company's supplier relationship management (SRM) system cannot, I was told, be configured for faster-than-normal payments.

Does anyone know if this is likely to be true? Are SRMs really this limited?

On one occasion, I spent a long night honing a C-suite document to near perfection. The document explained how relations between my customer and its suppliers (I presume they meant the industrial kind, not service providers working directly for senior executives) were moving from traditional supplier relationships to new-generation partnerships.

From my perspective, the relationship with the C-suite assistant in question felt like a partnership in every respect, except one. Apparently I failed completely in my efforts to explain that a translator working directly for the CEO on a special project of special interest would have appreciated proper follow-up to the assurances given regarding how long I would have to wait before receiving payment for the job.

Perhaps this contains the germ of an idea for an SRM software house. Produce an add-on enabling C-suite teams to guarantee follow-up on promises made to selected suppliers.

Well, either than or I'm just poor duffer who is silly enough to think that because I honour my promises to deliver on time, the customer should honour his to pay on time.

Technical, but not tough_#1

It is widely believed that technical texts are more difficult to translate than so-called ‘general’ texts. Indeed, many language service providers (LSPs) charge more for technical texts than they do for ‘general’ ones.
This translator believes that surcharges for ‘technical’ texts are based on the assumption that all translators are generalists hence, by definition, not specialised in any particular area. This may be true of many translators and may be more common for certain language combinations than others, but it certainly isn’t true for all LSPs.
Today, many translators working in highly-sought-after language combinations find that they can provide better service, work faster and earn more by specialising in a small selection of fields.
For these translators, more technical often means better translations, particularly if the original uses consistent and accepted terminology. If the meaning is clear and the terminology familiar, specialised translators can produce good work by leveraging specialist subject knowledge using proven work methods.

28 September 2011

Seeking_#3: Graphic agencies that respect fellow professionals

Today I'm looking for feedback from into-English translators and English-language journalists and technical communicators based in non-English-speaking countries whose work is frequently laid out by local graphic artists and layout teams.

I'm hoping that colleagues in Europe and elsewhere will tell us about experiences more efficient and less unpleasant than those suffered by myself and trusted colleagues based in France.

And here are some precise questions I'd like answered.
Do the teams that lay out your work:
- Always remember to reset the language of their layout software to English before starting work on an English version? (And when they don't and proof reading reveals a myriad of errors, do they reduce their bill accordingly?) ;-)
- Do they use English-mother-tongue operators who understand what they are laying out, including how and where to break headings and the like?
- Do the layout personnel insist on retyping short headlines, captions and the like -- instead of using copy & paste, as they should, particularly if they are not working in their mother tongue?  (And when they don't and proof reading reveals a myriad of errors, do they reduce their bill accordingly?) ;-)
- Do they know how to use and adjust the settings of the hyphenation function for optimal results (as judged by mother-tongue readers)?
- And do they respect the translator's or writer's punctuation or insist, like one of very large agency in France, on running automatic punctuation software to the dismay and anger of anyone who knows anything about punctuation in English, not to mention anyone with the least notion of the respect due to other professionals (I refer to translators and journalists) supposedly working with the agency to give their shared customer the best possible service?

Last but not least, has anyone ever encountered a graphic agency with quality assurance procedures taking into account any of these issues?

27 September 2011

Seeking_#1: Graphic standards to accommodate cultural preferences

Can anyone point me to a graphic standard (charte graphique) catering for  the cultural preferences of readers of the different language versions of bi- or multilingual technical publications?

This series of 'Seeking' blogs is the direct result of frustrating experiences involving English-language versions of technical publications laid out using graphic standards developed by French agencies to meet the cultural and artistic preferences of French customers (i.e. the company publishing the magazine, brochure, datasheet, etc.) with little thought for the cultural preferences of the technical (i.e. most engineers) English-mother-tongue readership of the English-language versions.

Many layout templates designed by French graphic artists present problems for into-English translators and their end readers (i.e. the customer's potential customers), including:  
1) No white space between paragraphs; yet studies in the US demonstrate that American readers at least often choose to skip any text that appears as a single, large, indigestable block.
2) Higher proportion of text in ALL CAPS than corresponding layout designed in English-speaking countries*; whereas English-language sources on typography often point out that for  English-speaking readers, ALL CAPS is the equivalent of shouting and difficult to read. More.
3) High proportion of headings in ALL CAPS which, in technical documents for technical readers can make it difficult to distinguish between selected acronyms, plural acronyms, initialisms and other words (IT vs it; CATS vs CATs vs cats, etc.). Tradenames and product names with mixed upper and lower case letters are another frequent problem in this area (e.g. InDesign).
4) "Quotations both in quotation marks and in italics" where, in English, the usual practice is one or the other, not both. See How to format block quotations. Also Rules about quotation marks.

Web templates by English-mother-tongue graphic artists at Webmaster Templates.

* Comments, links and other feedback welcome. 

Seeking_#2: Layout specialist interested in bilingual docs

Translator with long experience in bilingual (FR-EN) technical journalism seeks layout specialist (i.e. graphic artists, typographers, InDesign experts, etc.) with suggestions as to how to accommodate the cultural preferences of readers of the different language versions of technical magazines, brochures, etc. by tweaking selected aspects of the layout template.

19 September 2011

Desperately seeking translators! No experience required!

Amazingly, this headline is from a real advertisement. See for yourself at realtranslatorjobs.

I trust translation buyers will find this encouraging.
Later: Fortunately, it turns out that it's a scam. See tjsdaily.blogspot.

More on a very similar scam at realwritingjobscom-scam-legit-review.

15 September 2011

TAUS survey at FIT 2011 conference

For translators: 
From a TAUS article on a survey conducted at the 2011 FIT conference:

High-quality translation will gain recognition

As machine translation becomes so universally available, it is clear that there isn’t just one single translation of a text that fits all. To differentiate their product offerings and appeal to specific customer groups, buyers will recognize the need for high-quality translation - call it personalization, transcreation or hyper-localization. This means that, machines will not replace human translators.

On the contrary, non-perfect MT output will stimulate the need for high-quality translation in a broad range of communication situations. The challenge we face as an industry is to agree on the criteria and the measurements for the level of quality that is needed for each situation. Sometimes MT is simply not an option. Sometimes MT is the only option. 


Translation becomes a business of choices

Today, you can choose to be a ‘boutique’ translator, specializing in a domain and providing hyper-localization or transcreation services. In this case, you will drift away from the original concept of a translator once you start specializing in your domain. You may be asked to create local content instead of translating text written for a different culture. 

13 September 2011

Now out!

I have just published “French-English Glossary (1980-2000) of Earth Observation and Applications” via Lulu in searchable, indexable pdf format. You can purchase a copy for just €4.50 by going to French-English glossaries by Steve Dyson

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

12 September 2011

Translation - getting it right

For translation buyers:
For non-linguists, purchasing translations can be frustrating. "Translation - getting it right" explains how to reduce the stress. Available in various languages, including French. Téléchargez "Traduction, faire les bons choix".

If you are a translation buyer and read two or more of the languages in which 'transcreated' versions this publication are available, you may find it very instructive to compare the said versions and consider what impact this approach could have on your own documents.


For translators: 
Translation blogsextensive regularly-updated list of translation blogs
Translation Journal, an electronic journal, mostly in English, for translators
Translation blogspot by colleague John Smellie of E-Files
The Prosperous Translator, advice for translators compiled and edited by Chris Durban
Tradutor Profissional, translators' blog in Brazilian Portuguese
Thoughts On Translation by Corinne McKay
McMillan Translation by Karen McMillan Tkaczyk
WorldWideWords for English language etymology
Anglocom FR-EN translation resources

Les trucs d'anglais qu'on a oublié de vous enseigner by Grant Hamilton, President, Anglocom Inc., Canada
Intercultural zone by Patricia Lane. Highly recommended. Services include workshops for French communicators who need to present or to pitch in English to international clients.
Les Piles Intermédiaires, une traductrice (et très bonne plume) de l'audiovisuel s'exprime avec clarté et beaucoup d'humour.

Naval & maritime

MarineTraffic To locate ships at sea
Mer & Marine  Newsletter in French
Naval Technology News, views and contacts from the global Naval industry

Sea & Navy Newsletter in English from France 
Ships A list compiled by Mer & Marine

Other categories: 
All in the mind, ABC radio program on neuroscience
Lingua Franca, ABC radio program on language
TED Talks for language lovers

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