Category Archives: Translation

Join my seminar at the Language Show Live

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I will be presenting in the Language Show Live in Olympia, London on 18 October 2014. Language Show Live will return to Olympia London from 17-19 October 2014. It offers a wealth of opportunity to expand your knowledge, develop new skills or pick up the latest resources. For more information and register free for the event please click here.

Title of my seminar is How to make customers want to work with you‘. The seminar will take place at 16.45 in Room 4. Wouldn’t it be great if you can get attention of potential customers and keep your existing customers without spending a fortune? I will show you how you can do this by using social media.


To find out more about TTC wetranslate’s Translation Services just call us on +44 (0)1245 216 930 or email for a free no-obligation quote and see how TTC wetranslate can work with you.



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What is customer care in the translation industry?

A friend of mine recently started a new job, and was asked by his employer to call existing customers for testimonials for the company website, only to find that they had many unhappy customers. He had recorded the complaints and passed them on to the orders department following his manager’s advice. His manager also told him to copy messages to number of others so that he could prove he had passed them on. As the unhappy customers would not give him any testimonials, he had to continue calling his other customers in hope of a positive testimonial.

I asked my friend whether he would follow up the complaints he received. He said he wouldn’t because it was “not his job”. I then asked if he was going to check with the department in question if they have dealt with the complaints: the answer was “no” as he did not want to make his colleagues uncomfortable. This made me wonder if the complaint would ever be resolved.

Wikipedia describes customer care as “the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase“: any responsible company would of course agree with this statement, but as we can clearly see from my friend’s example, some companies are not very keen on the after sales phase of customer service process.

If we accept Wikipedia’s description, then what is the implication of this in terms of the translation services we provide to our customers? The translation industry is not any different to any other service industry and customer satisfaction is the key to any company’s success.

The key to preventing customers becoming unhappy with our services is focusing on delivering benefits to our customers at all times: all employees need to see this as their responsibility. Delivering benefits to our customers however is not as easy as it sounds, it requires total commitment to customer care, which needs to be incorporated into the translation company’s culture and organisation structure. Only this will provide total customer satisfaction.

Translation company managers/owners need to find ways to measure the progress and make ‘delivering benefits’ their top priority.


For more info on Translation Services
email: or call: +44 (0)1245 216930

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The cost-time-quality trade-off in the translation industry

As with project management in several areas, cost, time, and quality are three major components in the management of a translation project. They’re interconnected and in constant tension. Translation clients can’t expect to adjust one of the factors without affecting the others. You should understand these variables and be aware of how they interact in this field to get the best value for money.

“Value for money (VFM): utility derived from every purchase or every sum of money spent. VFM is based not only on the minimum purchase price (economy) but also on the maximum efficiency and effectiveness of the purchase.”

  • Cost

In the translation industry, this variable can be seen from either the translators’ or the buyers’ point of view. Translators’ rates are what professionals charge to do the job, whereas the client’s budget is the money allocated for the task. Needless to say, clients and translators don’t always fully agree on this issue: customers usually want to reduce costs, and translators—as with any professional—will seek to be well compensated for their work.

  • Time

This one is quite straightforward: it’s the amount of time allocated for the translation project to be completed. Other common ways of referring to this variable are “deadline” and “turnaround time.” Although it’s usually seen from the client’s perspective (“I need this text by X”), it’s certainly the translator’s concern as well (“I need Y hours/days to deliver this text”). And that’s another area in which tension can arise.

  • Quality

Defining “quality” is usually controversial and depends on the perspective you use.

Common sense dictates that quality in translation means that the final product is accurate, grammatically correct, and in compliance with the client’s instructions (register, use of glossary/style sheet, etc.). However, translators can render a text in different correct ways, depending on the client’s purposes: you can get a very elaborate, polished translation, such as those intended for publication, or a text written without much in the way of style concerns, such as those for understanding only.

Although some might say that the “understanding” end of the spectrum equals poor quality, it’s sometimes all you’re looking for. If your specifications are agreed upon beforehand, and the translator complies with your instructions, s/he will have delivered a high-quality service. Here’s what Chris Durban and Alan Melby say about it in their text “Translation: Buying a Non-Commodity”:

“Sometimes all you want is to get (or give) the general idea of a document (rough translation); in other cases, a polished text is essential. […] In every translation project, the buyer and the translation service provider (translator or translation team) should agree in advance on a set of specifications to be followed while carrying out the project.”

Now, looking from a different perspective, sometimes “quality” is used to refer to the professional’s credentials, expertise, experience, and the like. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that all beginner translators are doomed to deliver poor services, or that every experienced professional is always impeccable. One thing is for sure: everyone expects that more experienced translators deliver better quality—and charge accordingly.

Common scenarios

After my attempt to define the three major elements that influence a translation project, I’ll analyze the most frequent situations that translation clients may face and what they should expect. Of course, none of the “equations” I propose here are true all the time. They’re all hypothetical scenarios that are likely to happen, based on what’s commonly seen in the market.

To begin with, I believe in the following premises:

  • (a) Shorter deadlines impose more pressure on translators—with less time to do careful research and revision/proofreading, they are more prone to make mistakes and produce less polished texts.
  • (b) Lower rates are often charged by novice translators or those who have no option but to work for extremely long hours to make a living. Conversely, more experienced professionals usually charge higher rates, which are, more often than not, proportional to the quality level of their services.

That said, the situations below are what I consider the most likely scenarios in my field.

Time as a fixed variable:

Provided you have time on your hands, this is probably the ideal situation from the client’s perspective. The longer the time you give to your translator, the higher your probability of achieving better quality and negotiating lower rates.

Unfortunately one of the most common scenarios involves tight deadlines. This is when rush fees apply. When translators have a shorter time to work on a text, they’re more inclined to charge more, usually because they have to work after hours and/or reschedule their priorities to focus on your service. Under these circumstances, some professionals outsource part of the project (in these cases, translators are usually expected to ask for the client’s green light before sharing any material with a third party) and are (ideally speaking) responsible for editing the final version and making sure it’s smooth and consistent, as if written by a single person. When time constraints are overwhelming, this revision phase might not be carefully carried out, most likely resulting in poorer quality. Needless to say, two or more professionals cost more than one, and the extra work involved in coordinating a project is time consuming as well.

Time and rate as fixed variables:

The scenario translators dream about is having plenty of time to carefully work on the project while being well remunerated—not to mention that motivation is an extra element that tips the scale in favor of high quality.

This is the worst-case scenario everyone wants to avoid. As I said, the low-rate factor alone is an indication of dubious quality, and a short deadline might increase the risk of mistakes and poorly written texts.

Well, I tried looking into my crystal ball, but it’s not easy to predict the quality of a translation under these circumstances. While low rates most likely reduce the translators’ motivation or the priority they give to a project, a long deadline may help them improve the quality. The second case is even more delicate: if the deadline is too short, a better rate can allow the translator to prioritize your project or hire a reviser, for instance. In extreme situations, however, there’s only so much a higher budget can do.

The bottom line is plan ahead. Giving a translator as much time as possible is perhaps the most appropriate way to get the best value for your money.

Last but not least, if you have no time, no money, and no concerns whatsoever with quality, well, machine translation is there to serve you. Use at your own risk!

There’s certainly a lot to be discussed in relation to the cost-time-quality trade-off and how all these matters interfere in your translation project. Check out other pertinent articles at

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Bianca Bold

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The 7 Packaging Design Mistakes to Avoid for Global Success

Packaging plays an important role in the consumer’s decision to make a purchase or not.

For this reason, companies spend a lot of time and money on their packaging. Getting the packaging right for any product is absolutely essential in order to get the customer’s attention. However, unintentionally getting it wrong can result in painful consequences. Time and money can be saved by simply putting a planning stage in place which will help avoiding the mistakes listed below.

#1 – Colours on the packaging clash with the local culture

Using the wrong colour for the target country can be disastrous for an otherwise good product. For example, some colours are associated with death in some cultures or certain colours may have a religious significance. Packaging colours need to be chosen carefully and should be neutral when possible in order to keep costs down.

#2 – Choosing photographs unwisely

Photographs can help tremendously to increase a product’s appeal.  However, if the photos or graphics used are not in line with the target country’s traditions or consumer expectations, photos that were meant to help can be a problem for your marketing campaign. Therefore, photos and graphics need to be taken into account at the design stage when it is cheaper to resolve any issues that are identified.

#3 – Making the typesetting process unnecessarily complicated

It makes sense to get as many different languages as possible onto the same packaging. This will save time and money. But, different languages, particularly right to left languages, require different skills and resources in order to get the information right.

Using a translation company equipped with a typesetting studio can be a simple and effective solution. They can make sure that all of the languages appear correctly on your packaging.

#4 – Assuming that existing packaging will work in any country

Different countries may have different packaging requirements and restrictions. Therefore, packaging designed for your domestic market that complies with the local regulations may require modification for other countries. The relative costs and time required to do this needs to be taken into account at the planning stage.

Failing to conform to the target country’s regulations may result in delays and, in some cases, in product recalls.

#5 – Not briefing the designer about your international marketing angle

If your designer is not aware of your overseas requirements, they will not design the original artwork with an international mind-set. Using text integrated into graphics will mean extra cost and time as the graphic needs to be localised for each language.

For example, trying to avoid text going over double page spreads or complex graphic shapes with text running around them, will make right to left language formatting, such as Arabic and Hebrew, very easy since the direction of pages needs to be mirrored for these languages.

#6 – Not allocating enough space for text

Text for some languages will take up more space than English text. For example, a German translation will contain approximately 20% more characters than English. If there is not enough space, then a small size type may have to be used, or the design may need to be modified.

#7 – Using product names with adverse meanings in other languages

A global brand name check should be the first step before deciding on the product name and packaging slogan. Make sure that the brand name and product taglines do not have any adverse meanings in different languages.

This may sound difficult, but actually any reputable translation company can carry out a multilingual brand name check and provide a cost effective and painless solution to meet your needs.

None of the above mistakes need to occur. Forward planning and working with the right translation company can help you overcome all of the above pitfalls before they become major issues for your product.

We are here to help our customers and provide them with support and information so that they can carry out their activities without costly delays and product recalls.

If you have any questions regarding to any of the above or would like to discuss your project, please contact me by email or call +44 (0)1245 216930.

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Filed under Business, International Trade, Translation

Why some translation providers hate doing test translations?

Some translators spend a lot energy and time about resisting test translations. I found this quite fascinating. Why pick on doing test translations so much? Why take it so personally?

There are some other translation related issues that really bug me and should occupy other translation professionals instead of this? Some of these matters are; lack of appreciating the value of translations, using machine translation for corporate communications etc etc. Some of these are burning matters for the future of our profession too.

But somehow, being asked to do a free test translation can fire up so much frustration where as simply replying ‘thanks but no thanks’ would suffice for all parties and one one would necessarily be offended.

Lets focus on promoting the value translations can add to any business looking for overseas growth. Translation is about communicating to potential customers in their native language and the image and the credibility of the business. And poor translations can damage a business’s reputation whether they are small or large.

I am very passionate about translations as a means of global communication and the value we can add to any business.

Lets talk about this more often. Happy translating…

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Test translations- waste of time or opportunity?

Test translations have always been one of the hot topics in translation industry and it is not likely to go away any time soon. Share your opinion in the poll below.

For more info on Translation Services
email: or call: +44 (0)1245 216930

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Filed under Translation Powwow: Toronto

I am organising a get together with fellow translators based in Toronto on 12 February 2012. I always find it a great experience to network with other translation professionals. And I am looking forward to meeting with Canadian colleagues.

For details of the event:

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