Translation Expectations

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Translation is a unique art which requires great attention
to detail, creativity, and a vast knowledge of two languages. It also requires
open conversation between the original content creator and the translation team
to achieve the best possible results.
As a rule, our job as a translation firm is to adhere as
closely as possible to the original content being translated, while
appropriately conveying the information in the new language. However, this is
not always what the client is expecting or looking for in a translation.
At times, a client may need a very literal and exact
translation for legal or other reasons. In this case, the translator will often
forego alterations that would make the translation sound more natural in the
new language. They will adhere to the same structure and syntax as provided in
the original.
In other instances, the client will not be looking for
adherence to the original at all. They may be open to the translator altering
sentence structure or order, even omitting or adding information that is not in
the original. These cases are a bit trickier, as it takes more knowledge of the
source document, the intended target audience, the nuances of the meaning in
the source and how those meanings may be best conveyed in the target language. Our
translation team is often able to provide this to a degree, but this is where
we must have more extensive conversation with our clients.
After some conversation, for example, we may discover that
the client isn’t really looking for a translation at all. Afterall, a
translation implies having a source document, and bringing that same content
into a new language. However, sometimes what a client is really looking for is
for new content to be created specifically for a new market. In cases, like
these we may advise our clients that what they actually need is a marketing
team in place in the new target country to handle creation of the new content. The
marketing team will have a better understanding of the product or service, and
the intended effect the content is supposed to have on the new audience.
It is important to chat with your translation vendor about
your intended goal and audience for content you are bringing into a new
language. With a brief conversation our team will be better able to advise on how
you may wish to approach your translated content.

PDF Files – Useful for translation?

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PDF files are a great file type for sharing content. PDFs can
be generated from almost any software as a way to exchange data easily without
any specific program requirements to read the content. Anyone with a phone,
tablet or computer should be able to view a PDF without issue. PDFs, however,
are not design files and are not meant to be edited or altered. This makes them
problematic to use for translation.
Most of the translation work completed by our company and
other translation vendors like us, involves overwriting the source text of the
original file. This involves opening the file in the original software which
created it and replacing all text with the appropriate translations.
Unfortunately, PDF files are not designed to be overwritten. Without the
flexibility of design software, our ability to replace the original text with
the translations and then format the translations is greatly restricted.
This does not mean that we can’t work from a PDF, just that
it typically involves a little more work. If the PDF was generated from
Microsoft word or Excel, it may be a simple matter of saving the PDF back to that
file type, at which point we can begin work like normal. However, if the PDF
was generated by more complicated software like Adobe InDesign or Illustrator,
we would need to recreate the file from scratch, in order to allow our
translation teams to properly work on the file. This is a more time-consuming
process, and often involves extra charges.
If you have a PDF that needs translation, send it over to a
PLG team member today and we will be happy to chat about the best way to handle

E-Learning and Translation

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Technology has changed the way the world learns. With information just a few clicks away at any given moment, E-learning has continued to expand as a primary method of education in the 21st century. With education programs accessible from anywhere in the world, it is increasingly important for companies to recognize the role of translation in their programs. 
Our client, Mastery Coding (https://masterycoding.com), has been working closely with our team to have their coding education programs localized into Spanish. Our work together includes several courses being taught over multiple semesters, over 100,000 words estimated for translated content and many hours of voiceover. 
As a translation service provider, our goal is to integrate new languages as smoothly, and seamlessly with your product as possible. When it comes to E-learning, and computer coding in particular, there are several unique difficulties which have to be confronted when translating:
  1. Voiceover – E-learning often comprises of educational videos and corresponding worksheets, tests and quizzes. In order to ensure that all students receive and understand the same content, it is important to have content available in their native language. This includes providing narrators and educators who speak their language. Video voiceover with an experienced team greatly increases students’ comprehension of the material. Considering the tone, vocabulary and syntax used in videos is important across all languages to ensure the same quality of content is being provided to all students regardless of the language they speak.
  2. Technical Content – Computer coding is often a daunting topic with complicated jargon, so when teaching the topic to new students, it is vital that the vocabulary is nailed down in all languages. We work closely with our clients to make decisions regarding terminology, syntax and tone of any content we translate. In some cases, that means leaving the term in English and in others it requires extensive research to find the right term or phrase. 
  3. Audience – At the start of any project we inquire about the intended audience for the translated content. In E-Learning this is especially vital as it can influence the tone and vocabulary used. Is this for young students with no current experience in the subject, or is it for experts who are learning about the newest innovations in their field, or is this for a corporate training event?

If your company is looking into providing training programs, videos, worksheets, or other educational material for an international audience, give us a call and we can discuss how to best prepare your multilingual content!

Preparing for International Trade Shows

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Tradeshows are becoming larger and hosting more international companies than ever. The 2019 International Home and Houseware show boasted more than 2,200 exhibitors from over 50 countries. While the 2019 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago is slated to host over 100,000 visitors from over 100 different countries. With an international presence like this, many U.S. businesses are finding it necessary to provide their marketing materials in multiple languages. 
While the tradeshow circuit tends to slow down during the summer, it is important to prepare in advance for the coming events. If your company is looking to attend any shows or expos near the end of the year, we would suggest that you begin discussing what international markets you want to target now. Below are the most common types of materials that are translated before upcoming trade shows: 

  1. Bilingual Business cards – Have one side of your business card in English and the other in another language. Most common languages include Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and French. 
  2. Brochures – Translate your brochures and sell sheets to have available at your booth. If costs are a concern, you may want to only translate important or key information or brochures for your top products.
  3. Product Catalog – If you are looking to attract buyers from around the world, it may be beneficial to have a full catalog of your products available to peruse in multiple languages. 
  4. Slideshows or other sales materials – If you have a slideshow or other digital presentation at your booth, you may also want to translate that too.  Give your guests the option to receive a copy of the presentation as well, either through a CD or through e-mail. 
By preparing for the international visitors at whichever trade show you will be attending you are showing that your company has a global presence, interested in selling internationally. By presenting information in their native language, your customers will be able to absorb the message that you are trying to send. You may also have potential buyers out there that are going to go with you instead of one of your competitors because you have your materials translated when they do not. Being prepared could mean the difference between solidifying a sale and having the client walk away.

5 tips to stay on budget with your translations

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  1. Discuss your budget goals with your translation service provider
    • A key part of our business is forming partnerships with our clients. As a trusted advisor and service provider for our customers, we are always happy to discuss budget, timeline and any other details as you begin looking into a potential translation project. If a client of ours has a strict budget, we are always happy to chat beforehand and discuss, if the budget seems reasonable for the project, or what we can do to help them stay within their desired spending range. This could involve changing the project scope, timeline, languages or other key details to ensure we meet our clients’ goals. Reach out to us early on during your project planning phases, and we will be happy to provide estimates, and provide helpful advice to lowering the cost, turnaround, or any other special requirements you have. 
  2. Send larger volumes of text at one time
    • One of the most important factors on project pricing is the volume of text we are translating. The more text we are translating, the better per unit rates we can offer our clients. Whenever possible we tell our clients to combine files together into one project. Grouping as much text together as possible will provide you the cheapest possible per word rates. Smaller projects are charged more based on the time involved than the amount of content being translated, so this results in higher per unit costs. If you find yourself frequently sending small projects for translation, see if you can hold off and group several of the projects together. This helps streamline our processes, utilizes fewer resources and can therefore offer better prices. 
  3. Translation Memory (stick with your LSP)
    • Our translation memory system is crucial for offering discounted translations, improving accuracy and consistency across documentation, and speeding up turnaround times. However, this only works to its maximum potential when we have been working with a client for a significant amount of time. If you are frequently switching language service providers, or using multiple vendors, it is possible that you are increasing your spending and missing out on translation memory discounts. The longer we work with a client the larger our database of translations grows for their company. The larger that database grows, the more likely it is that we will have translated some similar content in the past. Some of our largest customers wind up with more than 50% off their translations, or even getting translations back for free, simply because most of the work is already completed through our TM. If you find a translation provider who does good work, is quick and professional, stick with them and you will see even greater benefit down the road.
  4. Sort through your text first, keep a record of previously translated content
    • If you frequently translate very similar content, another way stay on budget is to keep a record of and store anything you previously had translated. Some of our clients keep an excel sheet with content that has already been translated. They can then do a CTRL + F search in the sheet to find the content and its corresponding translations. This can save some serious time and money by not having to resend content you’ve already had translated. You can use this tactic to eliminate pages from a catalog or paragraphs on a brochure that no longer need to be processed or worked on by your LSP.
  5. Leave plenty of time for translations
    • The final big impact on translation cost is time. Our highly budget conscious clients know that translations take time, and so to avoid paying higher fees, they ensure that they have plenty of time allowed for our translation teams to do their work. Our team is always prepared to meet a tight deadline, work overnight, or through holidays, but this typically comes with added costs to our clients. If you know you have a project coming up in need of translation, and you already have a set deadline, reach out to us early on. Even if your content isn’t finalized or ready to be translated yet, giving our team a heads up can go a long way to ensuring we have our resources in place and can help keep the cost lower. Sending something with no heads up and needing same day or next day translation, will almost always require our team to add rush charges. 
Use these 5 tips as you plan around your translation needs, and you will be sure to keep your budget under control!

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Trade War vs. Trade Trend – PLG’s real-world observation

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In the first half of the year we have witnessed a surprising trend with our business card translation requests dropping by nearly 50% compared to the average numbers over the past several years. This may indicate a drop of business travel, reflecting companies are cautious in forecasting future business volumes due to uncertain international relationship among the U.S. and its major trade partners. 

In the meantime, while people many are worried about slowing international trade, we have surprisingly also seen a 60% jump in our document and multimedia translation business lately comparing to early months of the year. This is absolutely a solid evidence that international trade is still very resilient, and that companies are optimistic regarding the future. Based on opinions of how trade relations might change some newcomers in the game may be hesitant to begin investing in their international presence. While others, who may already be established in foreign markets are confidently doubling down, and ensuring their content is available in multiple languages. 

The question is: What will you do? 

Interested in reading more? Check out this New York Times Article which discusses the same topic.

Machine Translation

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The question that every Translation Service Provider answers several times a week. “Why can’t I just use Google Translate?”, and the truth is that you can! Online machine translation tools are a great resource for quickly understanding content, learning how to say a simple phrase while traveling, or doing a trend analysis on large volumes of text. When it comes to professional content being used in a business, legal or medical setting which holds some liability or company image however, that is when it is imperative to seek professional help. 

Machine Translation (MT) has evolved greatly over the years. It started as a basic substitution program, which would replace one word in the source language with the “equivalent” word in the target language. Obviously, this had fairly bad results, as it doesn’t take into consideration changes in syntax, grammatical structure, verb conjugation let alone the issues of context, culture, and other nuanced issues while translating. 

Over the years this system has greatly improved to what is known as Neural machine translation, which is what Google Translate is now. NMT uses a neural network, aka a brain like network, which has the ability to learn grammatical structures and phrasing based on statistical analysis of translations that already exist. Over time the system learns to create better and more natural translations as more and more datasets (i.e. translations) become available to it. 

As amazing as the technology has become, and not doubt will continue to improve, it still has large flaws. For anything beyond basic phrases and sentences, any native speaker can look at a text output from google translate and know that something is off. Even if there are no glaring mistakes, or hilarious gaffes in the translations, they can often simply come across as not quite natural sounding. 

If your goal is what we refer to gist translation, then MT might be perfect for you. No point in paying to have an email translated, if you simply need to know if someone said yes or no to a request. But if your translation is going to be the face of your company in a new country, or hold the risk of physical, legal or financial injury should something be miscommunicated, then Google Translate just isn’t going to cut it. 

Translators spend decades of their lives becoming fully fluent in multiple languages, studying a myriad of topics in both languages, testing and certifying their skills with various organizations, and continuously improving their knowledge sets to perform their jobs well. While there may come a day in the future, where machine translation is flawless and beautiful; conveying everything from technical engineering datasheets, to love poems in perfectly balanced couplets, we are still a long way off. So in the meantime, reach out to your preferred translation vendor for your next multilingual project, leave the languages to us!

Translation Memories

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Translation Memories are perhaps the most important and vital technology advancement in the translation industry. They allow us to perform our jobs faster, more accurately, with higher consistency and lower costs than ever before.  TMs however, are NOT that same thing as machine translation, and take significant practice and skill to use effectively. 

At PLG we utilize the commercial software Trados, which is the leading TM program used to store previously completed translations and assist our translators in current projects. As our professional translators work, they enter their translations into a stored database built just for your company. When future material comes up that is similar to something that was previously translated, the software suggests the “memorized” translation to the translator. The translator then reviews the translation, makes any adjustments necessary, and saves the updated translation to the memory once again. This memory applies to content that is repeated not just within a given document, but across documents and projects.

Over time as we work with a client the translation memory grows larger, and our translators have more material to reference. This allows us to provide more accurate, consistent translations both faster and less costly. Two good examples are the TMs we have built for our customers at Walmart and HoMedics in the past years. The TMs combined have over 3 million translation pairs of sentences between a source language and the target!

Localization vs. Translation

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Translation can provide difficulties in many formats. Some text is highly technical and requires hours of research to find appropriate terminology. Other text might have an idiom or play on words that doesn’t exist in the new language. These are dilemmas that translators must deal with daily, and this is where two forms of language services come into play. Localization vs. Translation. 

Translation’s first priority is the source text. It is the translator’s job to adhere as faithfully as possible to the original content. Without the liberty or freedom to alter the content, translators must be creative while still staying “inside the box” to come up with solutions that will be coherent and concise in the new language. Translators must always walk the line between literal word-for-word translation to stay as faithful as possible, and adaptation of the text to better flow in the target language. Where on that line of balance the translator lands will vary from project to project but staying closer to the source text is always considered the “safe” route. 

Localization is when translators have much greater freedom to alter the content in order to adapt it for the target audience. This might entail changing an idiom in the source text to a different idiom in the target that holds a similar meaning. In the case of an acronym or alliteration it may require even more thought and consideration to come up with a viable solution. Localization focuses the efforts of the translator on the target language. They must be willing, and have the authority, to change the original content and perhaps even alter the meaning to ensure better reception by the target audience. Translators often struggle to offer this service without very close communication and cooperation with the client. It takes a great deal of diligence as well as freedom to alter the content and can thus pose a lot of problems for those who are not the original content creators.

Outsourcing Translation to an LSP

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Many companies face the internal decision of either outsourcing their translation needs or keeping them in-house. Over the past decade there has been a trend for companies to outsource as much translation work as possible, and for good reason. 

When keeping translations internal, companies face the choice of either staffing an entire translation department dedicated to translating various company documents or utilizing current staff such as sales or marketing reps to translate content. 

1. If you decide to create an entire department for translation, you must first have significant enough translation demand to justify hiring and paying salaries for dedicated translators. As with any company you can expect increases and decreases in the demand for translation over a given year. This can result in significant downtime for translators with nothing to do, or slow down production when everyone is waiting on the translation department to work on their content. 

2.If you decide to utilize current staff to translate content as it comes up, then you likely don’t have as high a demand for translations. This, however, means that you must take time from your employee’s standard day-to-day functions in order to allot time for translation. Additionally, in these situations we tend to see that employers assume that being bilingual automatically qualifies an employee to translate content, when in fact this is not true at all. Translators undergo years of training and practice to become proficient at the art and skill of converting content from one language to another.  Utilizing untrained staff for translation work can result in embarrassing errors, or mistranslations that can cost a company dearly.

Outsourcing translation work ultimately eliminates all these dilemmas. By working closely with an LSP, companies have access to a larger network of resources, lowered costs, quicker turnarounds, and greater flexibility. LSPs have the resources to build glossaries, store translation memories, access to content specialists, and stay up to date on industry standards and certifications.