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How to find the best translation agency

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a rating system to identify the best translation agency?

Buying translation is a daunting prospect for those who have no prior experience of commissioning this type of service, and if the buyer has little or no knowledge of languages, then it’s hard for them to have a point of reference on what is needed to produce a good translation; specifically: the level of skill, and the combination of education and experience that qualifies one person as a translator rather than simply a native speaker of a language.

Consequently many fall into the trap of buying translation as a commodity; as if buying rice or cotton; and go about comparing quotes on the basis of cost and/or speed of delivery. Translation is a service, however, and like all services, it is performed by people whose education, skills and time all contribute to delivering the final ‘product’ (for want of a better expression).

While it’s logical that you would want a service to be performed by the best people, it’s actually quite alien to most of us to buy a service from a) someone you don’t know b) aren’t ever likely to meet and c) where you as a buyer do not actually consume or experience the service first-hand.

Here’s what translators say about translation agencies

Every now and then I take a peek at what our translators are saying about us on the Proz Blue board, the litmus test with contented suppliers – we are well on the way to being the best translation agency.

Company Rating over last 12 months Overall rating
Web-Translations 5 5
Lingo 24 5 4.9
Thebigword 3.4 4.2
Applied Language 4.4 4.4
Transperfect 3.6 4.1
SDL International 4 4.4
Lionbridge 1 4.6

* Note: The links are to the corresponding blueboard page used by translators to rate each agency for likeliness to work again on a scale of 0-5. The scores in the table above are accurate as of the 29th October 2014.

Think of the last service you bought…

You might have had your car serviced, or maybe you had your hair cut in a salon/barber’s, perhaps you’ve visited the dentist recently? These are all personal examples that everyone can relate to. It’s easy to pay more for a service when you’re the direct beneficiary, the experience you go through and the interaction with the person providing the service can easily and quickly justify the value. Personally I get my haircut on the corner of Leeds city train station, not for its location, I just like the guy that does it and he does a great job.

It gets harder to gauge the value on a service where you have no idea what has been done – we place the trust in our car mechanic when they say there’s a split in a pipe and it needs to be replaced, or when your dentist explains that although there’s no pain, its important you have a filling. This is where trust is important, but because you are personally involved you can quiz the person directly; there is something comforting about looking in the whites of the eyes of a person asking you to buy a service from them.

Business is different…

Unless you need a haircut, don’t drive or need to see the dentist you should be able to relate to the personal examples, however business services are different in that they tend to fall into the rather broad categories of: Legal, Financial, Web or IT. When you choose a lawyer or solicitor you might go by recommendation or you might have looked someone up for a particular skill. The natural thing to do is arrange to meet. Once you get to know someone’s background, invested the time to communicate your situation (giving rise to the need for the service) you have some comfort factor in knowing that you now have a relationship with a person you will entrust to do a good job. You feel confident, you like the person, and so you buy the service.

Now imagine…

You need a document in another language so that someone can understand it. There isn’t any desirability in this purchase; -it’s not something that will ‘happen’ to you personally (like a haircut), neither is it likely to be an on-going business need so you don’t feel the need to establish a relationship (in the way that you might with a lawyer or an accountant). You don’t speak the language, so feel uneasy that you can’t even tell if what you are getting back is excellent, good, average or worse. You weren’t the person who wrote the text in the first place. You just want a document in another language, surely that’s pretty standard right?!..

Not just any translation will do…

Conveying something in another language in a way that reads naturally is actually quite hard. When a text needs only to inform, the reader needs to understand. When a text needs to sell or influence, the reader needs to be motivated and compelled. Achieving the desired outcome isn’t easy.

So please… be kind… show a little appreciation

Web-Translations understand that delivering good quality translation can be a pretty thankless task to the many millions of freelance translators out there. If it wasn’t an art from which people derived satisfaction it would be on a par with legal and accounting services, which (as I understand it) are not quite as much fun in providing. But translators can’t just work for the love of it. They need agencies that fight their corner, justifying better prices, upholding greater values, raising standards.

Web-Translations is a high quality agency

Ultimately it is our freelance translators that provide our service, so in keeping them happy; we are in the best position to pass on a great service. We use highly skilled, educated project managers to develop and nurture great working relationships with suppliers in the same way that we do with clients.

Take a look at our Translation Buying Guide for more tips on how to buy translation.

Help us get the word out…translation quality is worth paying for!

The world’s first multilingual social network: XIHA

Yet another social network – so what’s special about this one?

Finnish-created XIHA is the world’s first multilingual social network. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn do offer content in different languages, but this is supported through a monolingual implementation – you have to choose one language for the user interface, and would mostly update your status & post comments, etc in that language. Multilingual people are therefore not easily able to fully express themselves, as to choose one language might alienate friends and followers who do not understand it.

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Web-Translations is proud to showcase its new portfolio of work

 

 Have a look at some of the recent projects we’ve been working on:

If you’d like to be featured as one of our success stories, get in touch!

Harry Potter and the 64 Translations

With J. K. Rowling’s final instalment of the Harry Potter books coming out in cinemas soon, a blog post about how other countries have learnt about this brilliant saga is long overdue! The best selling series of books has been translated into at least 64 different languages, including Latin and Ancient Greek.

With so many new and invented words, translators had a hard time making the book as magical for their own nation as it has been for us!

Lord Voldemort, meaning ‘flight of death’ in French, has been difficult to translate as his real name – Tom Marvolo Riddle – forms an anagram of ‘I am Lord Voldemort’. This means his name had to change with the language.

In Icelandic, he is called Trevor Delgome; he became Tom Gus Mervolo Dolder in Swedish which is an anagram of ‘ego sum Lord Voldemort’ – that’s Latin, not Swedish! And my personal favourite is the French, where He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named goes by the name of Tom Elvis Jedusor.

Many of the spells in the books come from Latin words, and usually we British can get the basic gist of them. For example, from the word Expelliarmus we could take out the words ‘expel’ and ‘armed’ or ‘armour’ to figure out that this spell disarms somebody.

However, for languages that don’t stem from Latin, other methods were used to create the same effect. In the Hindi version, translators used words that derived from Sanskrit to invent the spells.

As well as the authorised translations, other illegal, amateur translations have been made – in China in particular. Among these was a version completely different to the genuine books. It was called Harry Potter and Leopard Walk up to Dragon. In this book, Harry becomes a fat, hairy dwarf, is stripped of all his magical powers and is made to fight a dragon that embodies all the world’s evil!

Maybe we should just stick to the films for now…

Guest article by Annie Smith.

New EU language Regulations for Pharmaceutical and Medical Device manufacturers

Latest EU regulations demand that all packaging and instruction leaflets for pharmaceutical products and medical devices are translated into the official language of the country they are being exported to.

American companies in this sector who intend to export their products to Europe must comply with these regulations, and indeed should embrace multilingual packaging in order to compete with their European counterparts.

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Reviewing translation – who should do it?

Having shelled out money, time, and other resources on getting a web translation done, it’s important to choose the right person to review it if this step is part of your process. An inexperienced or overzealous reviewer can change the meaning of the text entirely, or introduce errors if they are rushed or their written skills in that language are inadequate.

There’s a delicate balance that must be struck between the translator’s knowledge of their language, and the client reviewer’s knowledge of their company and products. So who is the best choice as a reviewer? (more…)

International Trade – ask the expert!

This month in Yorkshire’s Insider magazine, Daniel Rajkumar, managing director of Web-Translations answered readers’ questions about web translation and emails, and setting up internationally usable websites.

Q: I have set up a new arm of my company in France as a base for drawing in business from across Europe. As I am looking at a lot of different countries do I need translation of the whole of my website or blog into all the possible European languages? Won’t English do?

A: “If you are serious about drawing business in from Europe you will have to have the website or blog professionally translated for the main language of each country you are targeting. People use the web for research and they search in their native language, so if your website is not multilingual, it will simply not be found.

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International Trade will keep your company afloat

Trade figures have recently shown an improvement in business exports  – partly due to the weakened value of our currency. According to research, companies which trade internationally are more likely to stay in business longer and are usually more profitable than those which choose to concentrate only on domestic sales.

Exporting is a great way to expand your business – those who trade internationally grow faster and fail less often than companies that don’t, and the current weak curerncy makes our prices much more competitive, so there’s no time like the present.

Which products/services sell well in Europe?

Machinery, engineering products and consultancy, vehicles, aircraft, plastics, crude oil, chemicals, plastic and rubber, metals, foodstuffs, beverages, textiles & clothing are all in demand throughout the Eurozone, and a little effort in approaching a potential client in their own language can go a long way. Even something as small as localising key pages of your website for a foreign market show that you are interested in foreign customers, and are a forward-thinking company.

What about in Asia?

The main exports to China are electrical/mechanical equipment, precision instruments (medical, optical, photo, technical), plastics, iron & steel, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and Automotive , Biotechnology & pharmaceuticals, Construction, Engineering, Financial services & ICT are all industries which have experienced growth there. As for India, there is a similar focus on engineering, sciences and technology, but in fact opportunities exist there for most sectors.

Where else should we look to?

Emerging markets have been identified in Poland, Vietnam, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Singapore, and Argentina. Opportunities exist in various sectors in these countries, notably design, consultancy and engineering – the sectors that are most commonly successful for overseas trade.

Brazil and Russia will also continue to be key areas for companies trading internationally.

Top Gear: Morse Code Translation

Those of you who watch Top Gear will be familiar with the section of the show which sees an anonymous chap in a white overall drag a range of cars around the test track in as fast a time as possible. Whilst doing so, he often has music (think Baroque) or language learning courses (Greek recently) playing in whatever high horse powered beast happens to be at his mercy that week.

The last few shows, however, have had the – now cult – figure listening to Morse Code. And yes, we have a translation of it…

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