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Omelettes, and frequently misused words

egg2We talk a lot about quality in the translation community.

Or rather, we debate a lot about quality, especially as it relates to grammar and style.  What is considered to be ‘correct’ grammar or usage by one person may be viewed differently by someone else.

The Guardian recently published an article listing “the 35 words you’re (probably) getting wrong”.

Some of these 35 are based on etymology as opposed to current usage, such as alternatives (there can only be 2 alternatives; if there are more than 2, it would be ‘choices’). When carrying out translation QA we would be more likely to consider this as stylistic preference, instead of labelling it as incorrect.  Also featured in the list are words which are commonly misused, such as inflammable.  It is synonymous with flammable, which could lead to some dangerous translations if someone thought it meant not flammable!

Language obviously evolves and what was once considered to be incorrect usage may now be perfectly acceptable, however there are still some common errors which cannot yet be considered as acceptable…yet! Our pet peeves are below:


If you can count something, use ‘fewer’.  If it’s a quantity that you can’t count, use ‘less’.

There are fewer eggs in this omelette.
There is less cheese in this omelette.


The use of is or ‘s instead of are is increasingly common, especially spoken English.

is -> when there is one thing
are -> when there is more than one thing

No: There’s eggs in this omelette
Yes: There are eggs in this omelette

10 points to the next person who hears someone say ‘There’s less eggs in this omelette!’


Translation Tips from our Translators #Top11

Thinking about a career in translation? Read through these top tips from Web-Translations’ qualified and experienced translators.

Guest post by Georgina Cornforth


1)   Master your mother tongue

According to Web-Translations’ linguists, the best way to start is by mastering your mother tongue as much as possible. Translations should have smooth, uniform and consistent usage of language, which is not possible without a good foundation.  If you will be translating into English, bear in mind that the English language has over 170,000 words currently in use!

2)   Join online translation communities

Online translation workplaces are a fantastic way of finding potential jobs and getting your name out there. The most popular one is, where freelance translators can respond to job offers from outsourcers around the world. Although there is the option of becoming a paying member on the site, it can still be used without cost to a relatively good standard. is also highly recommended by freelancers. Create your own web page (this can be done for free on or WordPress for example) and a portfolio for yourself so that people can find your services more easily.

3) Be professional

Never deal with translation as a secondary job (even if you have another job and translate part-time). Respond to emails promptly and courteously. Become a member of associations, participate in important events (conferences, workshops), and have a good online presence, remembering that your twitter account can be seen by potential clients; think of your online presence as a shop window, and always be professional.

4)   Specialise

Many translators recommend specialising in different fields, as this can enable you to develop the specialised terminology and understanding of particular subject areas required for a good-quality translation.

5)   Manage your time wisely

Time management is crucial to finding success in the business. Rushing to meet a deadline can often greatly affect the accuracy of a translation, so keeping on top of jobs is always advised. Greek translator Alekos Psimikakis feels that when you deliver translations on time, clients can be sure that you are trustworthy and may be more likely to use your services again.

6)   Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

It’s a popular phrase used by a lot of translators, but it’s true. Try to work for multiple clients and don’t just depend on one or two. Work is not always guaranteed on a regular basis from the same client and you can go from only receiving a few sentences to translate one week, to a 5,000 word translation the next. Whatever job you are given, remember to be dedicated and to do it to the best of your ability – a client will be more likely to recognise your hard work.

7)   Use CAT tools to help you out

Translation software (CAT tools) such as SDL Trados Studio and MemoQ are very popular and are now being used by the large majority of translators as they greatly speed up the process of translation. Multilingual translator Sabine Sur believes that CAT tools are particularly useful when working in a specific field or for certain clients who reuse the same terminology, as well as providing glossaries (containing single terms) and translation memories (often containing whole sentences). They can be expensive, but you will be sure of delivering quality work to your client.

8)   Never stop learning

Language is constantly evolving and translators need to use correct and up-to-date terminology for the target audiences of their translations. Researching any terms you are unsure of when doing a translation is important, but continuing to learn about your key subject areas, as well as other related areas, is equally important.

“As translators, we deal with all kinds of subjects and, even if you are specialised in some subject, let’s say, legal, for instance, you may need to translate a contract in sports, or civil engineering, oil & gas, IT. This means you should take as many courses in different areas as you can, and read every kind of material you come across.”  

– Adriana Sobota, Brazilian translator

9)   Invest in your health

If you plan to work as a freelance translator, working from home can be harder than it sounds. It’s easy to fall into a routine of bad habits, such as not eating properly, working all night and becoming sedentary. Create a work/life schedule, making sure you have time to eat, sleep and enjoy life, as well as work. Establishing good health habits and giving yourself a comfortable workspace with an ergonomic chair are essential for increasing your productivity as a translator. Noise cancelling headphones may become your new best friend!

10)   Don’t panic

If you have a difficult job, try not to panic. Spanish translator Mónica Monzonís suggests using forums on websites such as and to voice your queries and get the opinion of fellow translators or native speakers. Speak to your Project Manager early on if you are really struggling, and feel free to ask them for help understanding difficult terms in the source language.  If the Project Manager doesn’t know, they can check with the client.

11)   Understand the writing style

Try to imitate the style of the source text when translating – is it sarcastic, serious, humorous? It’s easy for a concept to become ‘lost in translation’, so aim to keep the intended style of the text by translating phrases and ideas rather than word for word.


Thank you to our fantastic translators for the helpful tips! We appreciate you taking the time to help us put this list together.

The Importance of Languages and Dialects

Endangered language

Endangered language

Guest post by Georgina Cornforth

With an estimated 6,000 languages already being spoken around the world in 2017, it’s surprising that there are enough speakers of the tens of thousands of dialects which we often don’t even realise exist. Although it is believed that languages and dialects are becoming extinct at a rate of around 3-5 each year, new ones are slowly evolving such as ‘Textspeak’ or even ‘Emoji’. If ‘Emoji’ were to one day be officially recognised as a language, it would certainly facilitate communication between people from all over the world and break down language barriers, however simple that form of communication may be. Nevertheless, dialects are extremely specific to certain regions and villages, so therefore maintain a great deal of culture within them which a possibly universal language such as ‘Emoji’ simply could not.

What is a dialect?

A dialect, (‘un patois’ in French or ‘ لَهْجة ’ in Arabic) is a form of an official language specific to a region or social group of any country. The English language itself has over one hundred variants across the world, such as Yorkshire, Bermudian English or Maori English which can often be difficult to interpret by speakers of other English dialects. France is another European country which is known for its wide range of dialects, much due to its proximity to and borders with other countries. The Franco-Germanic dialect of Alsace (Alsatian) is spoken by 1.44% of people in France – that’s 548,000 speakers. It tends to be used by more of the older generation, due to the passing of Alsace and Lorraine between the powers of France and Germany until it was finally returned to France after World War II. Although it is still taught in various schools throughout North-Eastern France, it is becoming of lesser importance due to its complexity, especially for speakers who are not proficient in both French and German.

The diversity of Spain is often related to its numerous co-official languages and dialects which all contribute to the different cultures in the regions where they are spoken. Apart from the official language of Castilian, the co-official languages of Spain are Galician, Basque and Catalan and are spoken in the regions of Galicia, the Basque Country and Catalonia/Valencia/Balearic Islands. Dialects include Andalusian, Murcian and Extremaduran.

Are translators needed for certain dialects?

The use of the tens of thousands of dialects continues to have great importance in all societies as they are often a reflection of a country’s history, be that of a colonial past or of its developed culture. Many people in small, remote villages, such as in Peru, often only speak a regional dialect as their mother tongue and thus have difficulties in acquiring the official language of their country. This complicates communication, particularly between a government and its people, therefore even translators are needed even for languages such as ‘Taa’ which is spoken by less than 2,600 people in mainly Botswana and Namibia.

Most people who speak a dialect do however tend to speak a more common language to a fairly fluent level as well. Inhabitants of the Ivory Coast often speak Baoulé as their mother tongue, but can also speak French due to it being the official language of the country and thus used by the government and taught in schools.

Why are certain languages and dialects disappearing?

It is said that once a language stops being taught to children, it may become non-existent. However, it isn’t necessarily easy to pass on one’s heritage as children are more likely to wish to speak the language of their peers, so are not always interested in learning the native languages of their parents, although they may be able to understand it. A trend has also grown of regarding official languages as being of higher status than dialects of villages and is thus another reason as to the decline of dialects.

It is vital that we hold on to as many languages and dialects throughout the world as possible, particularly those which are only spoken by minority groups. Africa has been named as the continent with the highest number of languages, as over a third (2,000) of all of the languages of the world are found here. However, if these languages are not passed on to future generations, it is feared that half of all of its languages (1,000) may become extinct within the next fifty years. Along with every language which is lost, we also see a culture disappear (often one that may date back hundreds of years), so wherever possible we should try to recognise and save as many languages in our lifetime as we can.

Is English still the world’s lingua franca?

striped globe cropAs the ever-expanding translation industry brings people more content in their native language, and on the eve of talks aiming to set out Britain’s exit from the European Union, it has been suggested that English is starting to diminish as the world’s lingua franca.

This blog post seeks to establish if there’s any truth to this idea.


Plural patterns

piggy In English, we say 1 pig, 2 pigs, 3 pigs and so on.

So, does it follow that in another language it should be
1 [insert translated word for pig], 2 [insert translated plural of pig], 3 [same again] and so on?


Earlier this month we worked on a project for one of our clients, a customer review network, which reinforced the fact that plural usage can vary greatly between languages. For this particular project, the translation source text included two snippets of text, one of which had a variable:
1 review
Showing {{number}} reviews

As the translation was into 27 languages, we saw many different patterns. We found this really interesting, and wanted to share them with you.


How to sell the benefits of yourself as a human translator

Reports last week claimed that 40% of jobs would be replaced by machines by 2030, and that they will be able to ‘translate and interpret text quicker than humans’.

Many companies already use machine translation to provide quick and free translations of their websites and other materials, so it is down to us as language service providers along with our team of trusty translators to explain the added value of human translation.

But where do we start explaining to a company with their eye on the bottom line why they should invest in professional translation? Here are a few of our suggestions:


Translation agency fees: what are you paying for?

In a world where machine translation (MT) is on the increase, it’s no surprise that someone might wonder whether they could save some money by having their text translated automatically. A performance comparison of machines vs humans is one factor in the debate, and is something we’ll touch upon soon. For this week however we’d like our clients to consider: what are you paying for when you hire a professional translation agency? Or to phrase this differently: what do you forgo when you choose to put your translation into a machine? (more…)

Translating mqxliff files in Trados Studio

Have you been sent a MemoQ .mqxliff file to translate, but you work with Trados Studio instead? Don’t worry, we can help you work with the .mqxliff file in Trados.


Would your SMS be over the limit?

Ever contemplated a multilingual marketing campaign that uses SMS messaging to contact your customers? Or simply wanted to practise a bit of French with your latest foreign speaking acquaintance? Then you may want to have a serious think about size. Because when it comes to texting, it really does matter.

As English speakers, we are lucky enough to be given a grand total of 160 characters per text message. These days, our mobile providers generally allow us to exceed these limits and will concatenate multiple messages into one long message, billing us for the equivalent number of messages. UK mobile networks use GSM encoding, which supports a character set consisting of the Latin alphabet, numbers, many other symbols, and some support for non-English accented characters. ‘Extended’ GSM character sets are also provided in some countries and offer additional characters, but this can vary depending on the mobile provider and handset. Often, using these characters will also subtract more than one character from your precious 160 character allowance. In fact, even using your favourite smiley or salsa dancing emoji will instantly convert your message to Unicode and reduce your character limit to 70. And if you send a special character to someone with an incompatible handset, which is tricky to know beforehand, it may simply appear as a ☐. (more…)

LSP insights: getting hired as a freelance translator

translationJob applications can be daunting in any profession; not least in the language service industry, with most agencies operating a rolling recruitment process for new talent across various languages and specialisms. What does it take to stand out in a crowded inbox? The Web-Translations Projects Team weigh in on what they look for when hiring new translators.


Guidelines for writing for translation

content_highlightedIn the translation world, we talk a lot about quality.  The first building block of a top-quality translation is a quality source text.

Writing source content with translation in mind is critical.  In addition to the standard rules for well-written English, there are specific guidelines to follow when creating source content for translation.

Keep reading to find our Top 10 Guidelines for writing for translation.


Writing for translation

bookcountriesThe London-based author Kazuo Ishiguro writes with translation in mind. ‘I want my words to survive translation,’ he says. ‘I know when I write a book now I will have to go and spend three days being intensely interrogated by journalists in Denmark or wherever. That fact, I believe, informs the way I write – with those Danish journalists leaning over my shoulder.’

Ishiguro concedes that the process of globalisation, of appealing to and ensuring that one is understood by audiences around the world, may lead to a ‘greyness’ of language: ‘There are a lot of things I don’t write now. I stop myself writing certain things because I think, for instance, that it wouldn’t work once it’s translated out of English. You can think of a line that’s brilliant in English — with a pun or two, you know — but of course it becomes nonsense once translated into a different language, so I don’t use it.’


New government grants for exporters

britain_eu_mashupDIT funding worth £6.7 million is now available to businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber

The Department for International Trade (DIT), known as UK Trade & Investment until it was rebranded last September, has 9 English regional DIT branches, as well as Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish branches.

The DIT Yorkshire and the Humber will deliver a programme of £6.7 million of funding for its Enterprise for Growth programme.

Funding for the programme comes from the EU to strengthen the region’s businesses. Targeting both first time exporters as well as businesses already exporting, companies can access matched financial support to develop exports and create jobs.

To qualify for the funding, companies in the Yorkshire and the Humber region must work with the DIT, who will help them to develop their international trade plans. Funding provided will support a company’s export strategy, which may include translation of marketing collateral for international visits, website localisation to improve positioning in target markets, translation of product packaging, and more.

If you are interested in the programme, please get in touch and we can facilitate contact with your local International Trade Advisor, who will help you get started.

The results are in… 2016’s Most Valuable Translator awards

Happy New Year!  We have had a great start to 2017, and would like to announce
Web-Translations’ Most Valuable Translators for 2016.

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. (more…)

Style. It’s not just for Versace…

I awoke this morning to find…

I woke up this morning and found…

When I woke up this morning, I found…

When I awoke this morning to find…

When writing original English copy, there are multiple options for conveying an idea. Similarly, there is almost certainly more than one way to translate a particular idea from another language into English.  The same is of course true when translating from English into other languages, to varying degrees.

You can probably think of other ways to express the idea of waking up this morning and finding something.  Imagine how many variations there are in a full sentence, a paragraph, or a page of text. (more…)

Is your site mobile-friendly?

Ours is! You can easily check with Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.

Visit, pop in your URL, and Google will analyse your site. Having a mobile-friendly website is incredibly important, not only because so many people rely on their smartphones for internet access, but because Google uses mobile friendliness as a ranking signal. (more…)

When’s a paella not a paella? When it’s rice with stuff…

The rise of social media giants like Twitter and Instagram have changed the food industry. With instant access to an audience voraciously consuming ‘little twist’ recipes and how-to videos, TV chefs are now better placed than ever before to sell their brand to the public and attract more fans. However, increased access to followers works both ways, and the risk of a misguided post going viral is one downside to this new form of exposure. This is something Jamie Oliver found out on Tuesday when he took on Spanish gastronomy and lost.

Jamie_paella (more…)

Happy International Translation Day!


We would like to take the opportunity to wish all of our lovely translators a Happy International Translation Day!

The event began in 1991, when the International Federation of Translators set the 30th of September as the date for an annual celebration to recognise the translation profession. This particular day was chosen as it is the feast day of Saint Jerome, the translator of Biblical texts and patron saint of translators.

Celebrating the European Day of Languages in Leeds


Join us and other members of the Leeds language community in celebrating the European Day of Languages on 26 September.

For a list of events happening in the Leeds area, visit

At Web-Translations, we are excited to be participating in some of the events:

Francesca has been interviewed on video as part of a career advice programme for sixth-form students, Jennifer will be presenting at the Language Showcase on the 26th, and Jasmine will be attending the Business Breakfast on the 27th.

Please stop by and say hello!

Google’s new Expanded Text Ads: what we understand so far

With the new-format Google ads running alongside standard text ads for nearly a month, we’ve noticed some quirks, understood a bit more, and most importantly – seen the benefits.

Google announced the change back in May, and launched the new Extended Text Ads (ETAs) at the end of July.

Advertisers have until 26 October to create old-style standard text ads (STAs); after this only ETAs can be created. Google hasn’t given an end-date for running STAs, but it’s in your best interests to make new ads. We recommend you start by running both sorts of ads simultaneously; if your ETAs don’t perform as well as your old ads, tweak them until you are comfortable removing the old ads.

The Google guide to expanded text ads is helpful, as is the Google blog post from the day of the launch.

More Content
The old-style character limit rule of 25/35/35 no longer applies. ETAs have 2 headlines and a description, and the fields will allow 30 characters in each headline + 80 characters in the description. However, the new format is based on the pixel width of a letter instead of the number of characters, so it is highly possible that your ad might be truncated, even if it is approved by Google. Google has recommended the combined number of characters in the headline should be kept to 33 to ensure the headlines are are not truncated, but this seems like a wasted opportunity if you might be able to use 60 characters… The ad preview is not entirely reliable, either. It seems the only way to know your ad displays 100% correctly is to actually see the ad running, which isn’t very helpful.

Overall, you can make longer ads, which give you more of an opportunity to convince someone to click on your ad.

The lack of a set character limit is making translating the ads more tricky; each ad needs to be checked in the editor/preview, and tweaked as necessary.

Longer Display URL
Previously the display URL as a field with 35 characters, but the new version combines the domain from the Final URL field with 2 fields of 15 characters each, separated by / characters, which will allow the display URL to take someone deeper into your site, but possibly not to a specific product, which you may have been able to do before.

Google says the new format is to help advertisers ‘succeed in this mobile-first world’. With an iPhone 6, I noticed that the entire first screen is taken up with sponsored ads, requiring me to scroll down to see the organic search results.

Improved CTR
At Web-Translations, we have seen higher CTRs for our primary keywords with the new ETAs. Perhaps our competitors haven’t all started using the ETAs, but whatever the reason, the ads are performing better for us. The data below is based on English-language ads from 2016.  ETA data is only from the month of August; we expect these figures will drop in the coming months as more companies move to ETAs.


keyword Standard Text Ad
Extended Text Ad
professional translation 2.41% 3.43%
translation services uk 2.19% 3.23%
professional website translation 3.26% 5.36%
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