I’m Rachel, the new Project Coordinator at Web-Translations. I’m really excited to join the team and experience the world of translation from this end, having worked as a French and German freelance translator for a year. Prior to this, I completed an MA in Audiovisual Translation at the University of Leeds and a BA in French and German at University College London (UCL). My master’s in Audiovisual Translation focused on the creation of interlingual subtitles and also intralingual subtitles for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences. I also learnt a lot about CAT tools and localisation strategies, which has prepared me well for life as a project coordinator.
As a student, I dedicated my spare time to theatre and film, performing each year at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with various companies, so subtitling was a great way to combine my love of languages and film. Last year, I was also able to combine translation and theatre by taking part in an intensive theatre translation workshop in Paris with Columbia University’s Barnard College. It was an idyllic three weeks, watching French theatre, translating the texts into English, then performing them to test our translated scripts. Other highlights obviously involved consuming copious amounts of good wine and cheese along the Seine.
During my undergraduate degree, I split my year abroad between Montpellier and Berlin, and I fell completely in love with both cities. I made some really great friends in Montpellier (which did wonders for my French!), and I now visit regularly. I love exploring new cities, but I find myself just going back there each time I go on holiday. I couldn’t recommend it enough. As most of my French friends are artists, I have often proofread their English websites or translated information labels for their whacky exhibitions!
I studied at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in my second semester, where I was first introduced to subtitling and also took a module in the translation of comic books (very cool!). We translated a French film into German, which, as an English native, was a bit of a mindboggling task, but our collaborative subtitles were eventually used for the film’s premiere at the French film festival in Hamburg!
I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in at Web-Translations, where I will be able to use the skills I’ve developed as a linguist, not to mention my love of list-making, to make sure your translation projects run smoothly!
Do you have personnel in place to respond to non-English enquiries? If not, consider a disclaimer that telephone enquiries will only be dealt with in English. Also, how will you deal with emails in foreign languages? You may be able to understand an inbound email if you run it through Google Translate, but machine translation will not be acceptable for a reply to a customer. Contact us for more info on timely, professional email correspondence.
The right products
Have you looked into what products are the best for your target market? There is no point translating product descriptions for products that certainly won’t sell abroad. Even if a Peppa Pig hat is a bestseller in the UK, it might not do well in Russia if Peppa Pig is not a well-known character…
Adaptations to products
Do you need to make any changes to the products to sell them internationally? A UK luxury brand which was well-known for the personalisation of products launched an international site and received a lot of interest from the start, however customers were disappointed that the brand could only personalise items with characters that appear in the English language. For any food or cosmetics, you may also need to change the packaging to meet requirements. Speak with the DIT if you are concerned about this; they will be able to advise on any changes you need to make.
Figure out how much it will cost to ship your products and include this info on the website, along with estimated delivery times.
Choose the right domain strategy. For example, www.website.co.uk/fr isn’t ideal for France. A top-level domains or a .com site with geolocation are good options.
Ensure that your website has been professionally localised. Google Translate is simply not good enough. Localisation is more than simply translating content. It involves changing a site to make all aspects of it suitable for the target audience. Have you put +44 in front of the phone number? Added “United Kingdom” to the address? Checked that your images are appropriate for the target country? Looked into the suitability of your brand name and strapline? Separated your Google Webmaster profiles? Localised your checkout?
Social media and PPC campaigns
You undoubtedly make use of social media and PPC advertising for your English audience. Localise this and attract new visitors to your website!
Why the increase?
Companies are discovering how it easy it is to sell internationally in online marketplaces, and via their own websites. With more people around the world shopping online, there are so many new potential customers, even if they are in another country. Savings in tax may make up for international postage and import duties, possibly making it cheaper to purchase something from abroad.
The UK’s top trading partners in terms of exported goods are the US, Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, China, Belgium & Luxembourg, Spain, Italy and Switzerland. By localising your website into French, German, Spanish and Italian, you will have access to 8 of the top 10 countries.
If you are relying on your English website and on English-language online marketplaces, your potential customers will buy from your competitors instead. The easier you make it for someone to buy something, the more likely it is that they will shop with you, so localised eShops and other online listings are the way forward if you want international customers.
To test a market, you could try localising a landing page and linking it to localised google advertising to gauge interest. Starting to trade internationally doesn’t have to be expensive. There are also plenty of grants available from the DIT to help you get started.
It’s a common misconception that bilingual people are all capable translators. Based on the terrible translations that pop up occasionally – from advertising campaigns to user instructions for your TV – this is evidently not the case.
Bilingualism is not the only prerequisite for being a good translator
A professional translator is a bridge between the source language and the target language; they can convey the message of the original text whilst employing appropriate style and terminology to produce content in their native language. A bilingual person may speak two languages fluently, however may not be good at moving information between the two, especially in writing.
We’ve all heard that keeping your brain active is good prevention for dementia. There is conflicting research about this; some scientists feel that the benefit comes from learning new things, as opposed to processing information you previously learnt. If this is the case, doing the crossword won’t be as beneficial as learning to knit.
Learning a new language is a fantastic option for anyone trying to keep those neurons firing, as it combines novelty, challenge and effort for an effective brain workout.
In Scotland, Lingo Flamingo is a social enterprise with the goal of “Tackling Dementia Through Language”. Their workshops in French, Spanish, Italian and German help keep older adults’ brains fit and active. Social interaction combined with sensory language learning is a brilliant idea, especially as learning a language – at any age – can slow cognitive decline.
However, in addition to the theory of learning being a preventative measure, it seems that simply being bilingual acts as a form of cognitive reserve, delaying the onset of dementia.
Research from Canada published in the Neurology journal shows that bilingual patients with Alzheimer’s, one of forms of dementia, were diagnosed 4.3 years later and had reported the onset of symptoms 5.1 years later than the monolingual patients in the study. Recent research from the University of Edinburgh also supports this theory.
Let’s be proudly multilingual, and continue to learn new languages. Cebuano, anyone?
We have had a great start to 2018, and would like to announce
Web-Translations’ Most Valuable Translators for 2017.
We’re extremely grateful to our network of linguists, whose extensive talents allow us to offer translation services across a wide range of industries. We’re privileged to work with many exceptional translators; our MVT awards showcase just some of these.
Our 2017 MVTs have been chosen for many different reasons: some have made important contributions for a single client. Others have helped us out in time-critical conditions, or have gone over and above what was required in order to ensure the highest quality possible for a client. It is a pleasure to work with these translators, all of whom are excellent communicators, provide well-researched and polished translations, and are skilled with translation technology.
The list, in alphabetical order, is as follows (drum roll please!):
*With a special commendation to Alekos Psimikakis, who is retiring this year. We have enjoyed working with Alekos for over 12 years and wish him the very best for his retirement.
Congratulations and a massive Thank You to these exceptional translators!
Click, click, click. My Christmas shopping is nearly complete, and 80% was purchased online. The gifts that haven’t been dropped into my online shopping basket have at least been researched and price-checked online. Judging by the latest eCommerce research, I am not alone.
Consumers around the world are shopping online in increasing numbers. It’s quick and often cheaper; getting the lowest advertised price only takes a quick Google search. And with free shipping options, it’s cheaper than paying for city centre parking! Buying gifts for friends and family in another country is also a lot easier – no queuing at the post office! – and saves the cost of international postage.
With your international eCommerce site, the concerns are very much the same as for English-language only websites, however there are a few additional points to consider for your foreign-language pages. Simply translating the English content is not sufficient.
Make it very clear how much deliveries to the target country will cost. Also include pricing for delivery to the UK as well – many foreign shoppers on UK sites are buying for their friends and family in the UK. And finally, include a table of pricing information for all other countries/regions, as someone using a translated site may need delivery to a different country altogether.
Again, it helps to make it very clear how long it will take for delivery to the UK and to the target country. Information for delivery to other countries should also be included less prominently.
Please include returns information specific to the target country.
Paying with a credit card on an international site can raise concerns for a shopper. What currency will the charge be in? Will a fee be incurred? How secure is the site? Including the option to pay with PayPal is a good idea. This way, shoppers don’t have to input their credit card details on the site as the payment is handled completely with PayPal. Yes, the merchant has to pay a fee, however if it means making a sale that wouldn’t be made otherwise, it may be worth it.
If you can receive and reply to customer queries in their own language, that will work in your favour. If you need advice on this, please contact us directly.
If your company offers personalised items, bear in mind that foreign customers may want items with non-Latin characters printed on them. Are you prepared to print Japanese or Arabic characters on a leather diary? It not, bear this in mind when localising the site. Often, personalisation is key for a brand, and not being able to offer personalised items in the target language is a major setback.
Have you translated reviews consumers have left on your site, or are you displaying all reviews – regardless of language – to every visitor? If you have sufficient reviews from the target country, either option will work. Reviews are key for visitor conversion and can’t be ignored.
Whether you like it or not, it has been impossible to escape the rise of Latin music this summer! From Luis Fonsi’s ‘Despacito’ to J Balvin’s ‘Mi gente’, Latin music seems to be storming both the UK and American charts, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Latin music has experienced various crazes throughout the years, however, with the rise of streaming platforms such as Spotify, its popularity appears to only be getting stronger as Latin music fans across the world can easily listen to this genre of music. This has resulted in many English speaking artists wanting to jump on the bandwagon and break the Latin American market.
It’s clear that Justin Bieber really kicked off the trend of collaborating with Spanish speaking artists in an attempt to create ‘Spanglish’ hits; and that’s exactly what he did! Bieber’s remix of ‘Despacito’ is the second primarily Spanish language song to reach number one of the US Billboard Hot 100 since ‘Macarena’ in 1996 and its official music video became the most viewed YouTube video of all time after receiving its 4 billionth view in October 2017. What’s peculiar is that this all happened by chance. According to Fonsi, Bieber heard the song in a club when he was travelling in Colombia and saw how the crowd reacted to it and just knew straight away that it was something he wanted to work on so he decided to contact Fonsi to propose a collaboration.
Following Bieber’s success, Latin music is everywhere and everyone is wanting to take advantage of this new trend, including The X Factor. Last weekend the theme was ‘Viva Latino’ which saw the contestants tackle Spanish language hits including ‘Reggaetón Lento’ by Latin American boy band CNCO, which was then remixed by Little Mix, and ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias. The theme did leave some viewers confused as some songs featured on the show appeared to have no link to Latin music at all, for example, Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’, which left some viewers questioning whether the theme had been misunderstood. But the fact that the show producers even attempted to incorporate this theme at all is testimony to the Latin music revolution we’re currently experiencing!
There’s no doubt that the collaborations with English speaking artists have increased the popularity of Latin music in the English speaking world, with UK recording labels actually reaching out to Latin American labels seeking collaborations, which is unseen in the music industry. However, what is interesting is the rise of J Balvin’s ‘Mi gente’ which is almost completely in Spanish and has reached the charts without the boost of an English speaking artist. This shows that Latin music is growing from strength to strength and shows no sign of leaving the charts or our radios any time soon!
The web has removed geographical barriers from international trade. If you can overcome language and cultural barriers, the world truly is your oyster.
The UK export trade is worth millions, and with a well-localised website, you are better positioned to tap into these growing international markets. Positioned between the translation and web industries, Web-Translations offers a unique, low-risk, low-cost approach to international eBusiness.
Here are our Top 6 tips for growing your business internationally:
1) Make friends with Google. Google has a host of online tools to help you analyse market data and understand trends around the world.
The Market Finder tool can recommend the best market for your business, providing insights to help you reach the audience in a particular country.
Google Trends shows what topics are trending in a particular country, as well as providing data on individual search terms. More fantastic graphs and charts help you to decide if a particular market really is ready for your products!
The Consumer Barometer tool can show you how people around the world use the internet. Select a country, and find out a load of useful statistics!
2) Digital First. Start with an e-commerce site, and you can be trading internationally very quickly. It’s a lower risk strategy, with the cost of entry much lower than a traditional bricks and mortar business. If business takes off, then you can look to a multi-channel strategy.
3) Involve – and empower – the right people. A dedicated exports team within your business is essential; a separate team will prioritise the export market, making better decisions more quickly. Involving team members from top management will also help by ensuring that the export market is a factor in pricing, marketing and product development.
4) Research your brand, strapline and product names. Knowing what people in your target country think about these is valuable information. Should you localise your strapline? Should you translate the product names? Does your brand name remind them of anything positive or negative? At Web-Translations, we can help you access this information. Contact us about our International Brand Research service.
5) Be bold. First mover advantage matters to business success, so try a number of different markets, and move quickly.
6) Market it! A great e-commerce site is only the first step; digital marketing is essential for getting visitors. Include social media campaigns in your initial plans, as well as PPC advertising. Google’s Keyword Planner tool has plenty of info on international searches, and if you need more help, Web-Translations can create adverts and lists of keywords for you. We can also localise your tweets and facebook posts.
Given that for almost all English speakers ‘privacy’ is a normal, everyday concept, it may come as a shock to find that there is no direct translation for this concept in the Russian language.
To English speakers the idea of not being disturbed or having every detail of our lives on display is very simple and natural to understand. However, in Russian, along with various other languages, such as Mongolian and Latvian, there is no word that adequately describes it.
Having said this, when put into Google Translate, there are actually some results for Russian words which supposedly express the English concept of ‘privacy’. There’s уединение uyedineniye, but this word usually comes with the negative connotations of wishing to be isolated from people and society, therefore it would be better translated as ‘solitude’. So, whilst it does convey the idea of ‘privacy’, in that the person is completely separated from society, this word does not encompass the correct meaning of ‘privacy’.
Another word that google translate offers is тайна taina, however this would be better translated as ‘secret’ or ‘mystery’ and is therefore not adequate as a translation for ‘privacy’!
So why is this the case? We usually hear about foreign words that can’t be expressed in English, not the other way round. The most common thought behind why there is no translation for ‘privacy’ is because there is simply no cultural concept of ‘privacy’ in Russia. Throughout the Soviet times there was no such thing as private property, private space, private life, therefore many linguists presume that there is no direct translation for ‘privacy’ as it simply isn’t a part of Russian culture.
The quality of translations from Google Translate can vary from good to absolutely terrible, and some language pairs are much better than other language pairs.
So, why does Google Translate work better for some languages than others?
Did you know that Google Translate can now translate from Uzbek into Zulu? And Javanese into Chichewa? Surely there aren’t many native Zulu speakers who can also speak Uzbek, or Chichewa speakers who can translate from Javanese…
Google now uses ‘Zero-shot’ translation technology, which means that it uses intermediate languages to match up content, and that no translations between the source and target were necessarily entered into the system.
For example, if English was translated to Uzbek and Zulu, then Zulu can be translated to Uzbek, and vice versa. The output is not going to be as good as for some of the other language pairs in Google Translate, however.
Frequently translated languages with many contributions to the database will produce better translations than obscure languages. By adding more phrases to the database, you increase the chance that segments are linked correctly.
Source languages with a highly structured grammar, such as Russian, often produce better translations.
Legal or highly standardised text lends itself more to machine translation than creative or marketing content.
The closer two languages are in terms of language evolution, the better the translations are likely to be. The word order will be similar, as well as the grammar. For example, translating Dutch to English produces much better translations than French to English.
Even when translating something into your own native language, with output that sounds fluent, you may not spot a mistranslation. Using Google Translate for anything apart from getting the gist of a foreign text is risky, as you can’t check it if you don’t have a good understanding of both the source and target languages.
At Web-Translations, while we wholeheartedly embrace new technology, we use only human translation.
Women in Translation month is an intiative developed by The Reading Agency in order to appreciate women writers, including the writers whose works are translated, and the translators and publishers who transfer them into different languages. August was full of events and discussions around this theme, and our Client Services Director, Jasmine, attended an event in Sheffield arranged by Tilted Axis Press. The event featured Korean and Japanese authors, along with English translators who had worked with them. Some of the points raised left an impression and as a team with a real love for languages, it’s worth shining a light on them.
Under a third of literary translations published in the UK and US are produced by women. Given that only 1.5% of books published in the UK are translations into English, this represents only a tiny fraction of all literary fiction that we consume. Despite these surprising statistics, recent findings suggest that translated literary fiction sells better in the UK than fiction originally written in English.
Perhaps one reason is that languages and translation students are often discouraged from going into literary translation, with it being perceived to be a time-consuming, difficult task with little financial reward. However, it must be argued that there is real personal reward from being involved in such a project, aside from the positive cultural impact it can have. From the translators who spoke at the event, there was a sense of warmth and mutual understanding between the authors of the original works and the translators who produced the translations. This is because the literary translation process is very much a collaboration, with the translator and author being in contact to ensure the translation is as faithful to the original as possible.
Another thing we hadn’t realised was how much influence a translator can have on whether or not something is translated. Deborah Smith, who spoke at the Tilted Axis event, explained how she herself suggested translating The Vegetarian, a Korean book, to a publisher. It was this impetus from the linguist that led to The Vegetarian being translated into English, and subsequently winning the Man Booker International Prize in 2016. Interestingly both the original author, Han Kang, and the translator won the prize and an equal share in the award.
While we have previously become accustomed to translators taking very little credit, with their name often not even appearing on the front cover, it is encouraging to see the translator given equal acknowledgment in this way. The focus must now be on increasing the presence of female translators, which initiatives like the Women in Translation Month can only help to improve. We certainly have some fantastically talented female translators in our team of freelancers!
One of the other important things to take away from this is that linguists should be proactive in seeking out content and being confident enough to propose a translation, rather than waiting to be asked. The next time you read a good foreign language book, check out whether it’s been translated yet. You could be the one who is responsible for bringing it to a whole new audience, which is perhaps the most rewarding thing that a translator can experience in their career.
At Web-Translations, we provide B2B translations to help our clients trade internationally. This includes website translation as well as translation of marketing collateral.
Occasionally we are approached by individuals who require translation of certificates for public authorities to support an application, such as a visa, passport or residency permit, or at the request of other official organisations. Certificates that are requested include birth certificates, marriage certificates and degree certificates.
In the UK, we do not have the ‘sworn translator’ or ‘certified translator’ concept that exists in some other countries. However, translators may opt to become members of official translation organisations, where they are required to present their translation qualifications before being accepted for membership. (more…)
Translation memories are one of the most useful tools at a translator’s disposal. They allow us to save translated work to then leverage it at a later stage when translating a new text by providing matches at the segment level. However, many translation theorists argue that whilst these matches are very useful to a translator, a lot of the repetition in a text occurs at the sub-segment level, i.e. individual words or short phrases. This is where concordance searches come in handy for a translator. (more…)
Adding keywords to your website, in a natural and readable way, is a great idea, but keyword stuffing is considered a black-hat SEO tactic. Even the phrase itself suggests furtive, shady behaviour; something that you wouldn’t want to be caught doing. There are real reasons behind why you shouldn’t include this method in your SEO strategy.
Google’s Matt Cutts warned webmasters about SEO keyword stuffing and over-optimisation, saying:
“We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and a great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect.” (more…)
The likelihood is that all of us will have read a translated book at some point of our lives, even if it was just a fairytale in our younger years. We often discuss translation, and ‘transcreation’, with our clients and fellow translators. This is because, as readers, we tend to spend little time thinking about the challenges a translator may have faced when trying to translate the text we are inwardly digesting.
It is far from reassuring that Daniel Hahn, director of the British Centre for Literary Translation, has described translation as ‘impossible’. But why is it this hard to transfer a story from one language into another? As translators, many of us are accustomed to the widely held assumption that speaking another language makes us naturally able to translate or interpret from that language into our native tongue. The reality is far from this.
Many companies with an international presence have moved to a single site with subfolders for each country.
At Web-Translations, we started with a .co.uk domain in 2003, and as we grew, we added a .com domain, then a .jp domain, and over the next 10 years we purchased domains for many different markets including .es, .it and .pt. It began to get expensive and complicated! In 2014, we moved our primary site to a .com domain, with subfolders for different languages.
Previously, we would have advised against this. Top-level domains, such as .de and .jp, are automatically picked up by search engines, and are therefore good for in-country SEO. However, with newer geotargeting techniques, a single site with subfolders (also known as subdirectories) can be as effective as a ccTLD. (more…)
I have recently joined the Web-Translations team as a Project Coordinator, having just finished my Masters in Applied Translation Studies at the University of Leeds. Prior to this I graduated with a first in Russian and Spanish, again from the University of Leeds. During my MA we studied a module on CAT tools which was geared towards preparing us for the world of translation and the language services industry. I particularly enjoyed this module; especially when we took part in simulated localisation projects which allowed us to mimic a ‘real life’ translation project and workflow. It was these projects which actually introduced me to the role of a project manager and piqued my interest in wanting to pursue a career as one. (more…)
Believe it or not, one of our most popular questions from clients is which languages they actually need to translate their materials into. This may seem obvious on the surface, but it can often bring up the least obvious of answers. Take a look at our top recommendations for getting your language choice right:
Even if there is only one official language, there may be a number of co-official regional languages to consider, as in the case of Spain. You may be missing a trick if you are launching a marketing campaign in Spain and neglect to provide a translation in Catalan, for example, which is essential for capturing the imagination of a Catalan audience, particularly when considering that all important hub of Barcelona.
As a company specialising in website and web-based translation, Web-Translations likes to keep its finger on the pulse when it comes to translation technology. This month we upgraded to Trados Studio 2017; here are some of the new features we’ve experimented with since the move, along with some of our thoughts about their relevance to our day-to-day workload.
The first thing we noticed when firing up Studio 2017 was the changes in aesthetics. Whilst we were relieved to see that the basic user interface has changed very little, we did notice some brighter hues, as well as a new colour-coding system on file completion bars, which is a nice touch.
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