Thursday, April 20, 2006

Forthcoming Article on Translation Quality

We worked quite hard on this article, which will be titled "Translation Quality Measurement: Using the Translation Quality Index to assess the quality of translations". The article deals with such questions as:
  • Why measure translation quality?

  • Why are translations so difficult to evaluate? What methods are available to help assess translation quality?

The article is scheduled to appear in the June 2006 issue of Multilingual, which should also contain other articles about translation quality.


The article will actually appear in the July/August issue, not in the June issue.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Advice to Beginning Translators (3) - Contacting Prospects

Today I received an unsolicited message with an attached résumé from a youger colleague.

The message was written in Italian (though our company is based in the United States), was not addressed to anybody in particular (in fact it just started with "I'm an interpreter and translator...", without any salutation, and was signed with the first name only (no surname) of the sender.

I think that when we approach our prospects we should put our best foot forward, and this clearly was not the way to do it. My advice to this younger colleague was:

  1. Draft your résumé to conform to the format used in the country where it is sent. For instance, since our company is in the United States, adding such personal data as your date of birth is really inapprpriate.

  2. The text of the cover letter (or e-mail message) also should take into account the preferred format(s) for the target country; therefore, in this instance, the message should have been written in English, should have begun with a salutation, and should have been more formal (hence, no first name only as a signature).

  3. Do not send unsolicited résumés as file attachments, because, unfortunately, doing otherwise might mean that the attachment is automatically deleted by the security settings of the e-mail client or antivirus program. On the other hand, a text-only version of the résumé could be appended at the end of the message.

  4. Do not set the message to send an automatic read confirmation: in the case of unsolicited messages many people prefer not to reveal to the sender whether the message actually arrived or not (this helps preventing spam).

My previous posts on this subject are:

Advice to Beginning Translators (1) - Résumés


Advice to Beginning Translators (2) - Sending Out Your Résumé

Friday, April 14, 2006

If You Do Something, Do it Right

From the Daily News Record online.

This paper started to add local news in Spanish. According to this letter, the reader's first reaction was "this is great", swiftly followed by "I noticed that there were many grammatical errors. My first language is Spanish and I found it difficult to read."

I find this very typical: companies realizing they need their material translated, but then not bothering to have it done properly - whether because of a desire to spend as little as possible (with predictable consequences), or because they really don't know how or where to get a professionally done translation.

I think that our professional associations (but also us, as professional translators) should be much more active in communicating what professional translation is and why it is so important to get it done right.

New Azeri-English Translation Software Released

(From Trend)

According to this press release, a new Azeri-English translation software, called Dilmanc, has been released, and it already claims 6500 users.

From what I know, most commercial MT programs have normally been aimed first at much more widespread languages, to take advantage of the larger translation market for those language combinations.

I wonder, though, whether MT translation isn't actually more useful for languages combinations (such as Azeri-English, perhaps?) where the number of professional translators available is limited: in such cases it mught be argued that the choice would not be between machine translation and (better) human translation, but between machine translation and no translation at all.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Many mediocre translators earning high salaries (?)

"High", of course, is a relative concept: This article about the booming translation market in Shangai, from the Shanghai Daily, says that "While many unqualified translators are over-paid, some real good translation and interpretation professionals are under-paid".

The article goes on to say that the officially suggested guidelines for the pay of non-professional Chinese-English translators indicate 120 yuan ($ 14.80) for 1,000 Chinese characters, but that actual rates range from 30 through 250 yuan.

Several of the complaints voiced in the article will sound awfully familiar to any experienced translator:

"Many employers don't have any idea about what a qualified translator is"

"...some employers don't care about the translation quality at all"

"...unqualified translators [...] take the position and [this] leads to unwarranted pricing"

Although the title of the article says that unqualified translators earn good money, what the article suggests, at least to me, is that, in China as elsewhere, unqualified translators willing to work for peanuts depress the market for the rest of us.