My Experience in Ellis Island: Nation-Building in Translation

With Independence Day and the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the US entry in WW1 on Bastille Day (even though it really happened in April), it seems that July 2017 was an important month for American national sentiment. Having recently paid my second visit to Ellis Island, I was particularly struck by the role translation and interpretation played in literally building the nation.

Click on the first circle on the left of this album to discover how.

 

All the photos and facts displayed in this gallery come from the excellent exhibition of Ellis Island. More info on their official page.

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Translating for MOO: Pantone’s color of the year 2017

Before you take off for greener pastures tomorrow, take the time to read this colorful memory. What you will find in this post: a bit of recent history, a short analysis, some marketing tips and a glimpse at my work, all on green screen of course!

At the turn of the 21st century, color specialist Pantone launched an initiative that was soon to become an authority in design and marketing: the announcement of their color of the year. Every year since then, this American company has called in experts from all around the world to determine the most representative hue for the year to come.

Go green in 2017

The choice of 2017 caused much (green?) ink to flow. Greenery (see above) is a bold green. It is a positive and refreshing color, which echoes the need for a more durable lifestyle, free from short term imperatives. It combines a reference to the ecological challenge of the century and one to nature as an escape from an overly connected lifestyle. Pantone Color Institute vice-president Laurie Pressman told Forbes:

« There’s a growing desire to reconnect with Nature and what is real and find ways to disconnect from technology. We need a break. We need to stop and breathe. [Greenery] is about unity and community—connecting to oneself and others and a higher purpose, Nature. »

2017 is clearly meant to be zen and organic: matcha tea, avocado, Granny Smith… Though Pantone insisted on the positive connotation of Greenery, it is also the green of the Mask, the Grinch or radioactive substances as we imagine them. Laurie Pressman also commented on this sour side:

« This [colour] wasn’t meant to be soothing. This was meant to be bold. We’re living in a time where your voice needs to be heard. »

Because it has a lot of yellow in it, Greenery tends to be an assertive colour. There is a reason why civil rights and environmental movements adopted Greenery in the sixties and seventies. And the multiple messages this colour has conveyed may come in handy in your marketing.

MOO’s tips, translated by myself

Shortly before 2017, the MOO team had analyzed the various possibilities and limitations offered by Greenery. The resulting post contains precious tips which I enjoyed translating and that I happily share with you today, for the second half of the year…

If you were planning on rebranding during the summer or simply if you wanted to catch up on your marketing culture, have a look at the article in French or in English. Beyond the Greenery fad, MOO’s tips are applicable in the long term!

Discover MOO’s colorful tips in English…

…or read my translation in French!

A little something to share…

The latest version of my portfolio is now online. Check it out and don’t forget to share! Feedback always welcome.

New office setup!

office space, translator at work, life of a freelancer

New year, new challenges: this is my new office space! I opted for a sea green desk – I like a bit of colour.

My resolutions included posting a bit more here, so stay tuned!

A Day at GBBS: Brexit or Not, Going Global

localisation, expansion to the French market

Every year Kensington Olympia hosts The Great British Business Show, a huge meeting point for Britain-based companies of all sizes and industries. This year was no exception with the major truck show taking place on November 17th and 18th. All aspects of business were represented and of course, as a language service provider, I was particularly interested in the ‘Going Global’-themed sessions.

Going Global offered several interventions from professionals of the international business development industry, including localization services. For businesses looking to expand, this was a valuable opportunity to learn about the dos and don’ts of localization. Here is a little digest of the subjects discussed by the panelists.

Why localizing

Why having it done by professionals? This question was omnipresent in interventions from language service providers, which is a giveaway of how language professions are still perceived. Comparatively, no carpenter would make a case of why you should use their services to repair your roof instead of doing so yourself…

In this recurring argument, one figure stood out: 72% of people surfing the internet do so exclusively in their own language. If your contents are not localized, let alone translated, they will probably never know who you are. More languages equal more content for your company, therefore more traffic and better SEO. And if your contents are localized, there will be more engagement from people (less bounce rate) and even better SEO.

Evaluate your needs

The speakers gave their audiences a series of valuable tips to run a localization project as smoothly as possible. As repeated throughout the event, translation, and particularly good translation, comes at a cost. Before rushing into the process, it is therefore important to evaluate your needs, keeping the end user in mind. For a sound localisation project management, determine the following parameters from step 1, with the help of your service provider:

  • What documents should be translated?
  • In what language? Choose your languages carefully: 90% of online traffic is done in 13 languages only. Amongst the most significant are: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Chinese and Japanese.
  • What technology should be used?

In order to answer these questions as accurately as possible, market research and the study of search engine bids are essential. Once all these elements are determined, it is crucial to set a clear brief, that the translator or copywriter will be able to follow.

Looking into the future

I lost count of the episodes in the big Machine Translation debate. But at GBBS, I was horrified to hear one of my fellow translators state that, thanks to MT, translators’ fees were getting cheaper and that, eventually, MT would replace human translators. Not only do these assertions hurt our credibility as a profession, they also hide two realities that have placed, and will place, the translator at the centre of the technological evolution:

  • First, MTs will always need linguists to maintain and update them. IT specialists alone will not be able to develop satisfactory MT, because language is not their expertise. They need to work with linguists.
  • The speakers also spoke about how a lot of the marketing contents that need to be quickly published (tweets, for instance) are no longer translated. Instead, it is drafted directly in French by copywriters, who share their writing skills with translators. This is how a translator like myself also provides top quality transcreation and copywriting services.

In a globalized world, localization is the opportunity to adapt the company’s voice to a new market, creating a more competitive offer. Better preparation of the project can make a real difference in the efficiency of the localized contents. The panels at Going Global were the opportunity for the clients to collect tips and for Language Service Providers to keep up with the evolution of their professions. Far from disappearing, language services are bound to evolve with their clients’ needs. As of now, this means combining specialized translation services with copywriting and transcreation abilities. As far as I am concerned, I am looking forward to the next innovations in my field!

International Translation Day 2016 in London: a few highlights

British Library, ITD 2016

Though not a holiday, September 30th marks an important milestone in a translator’s year. It is International Translation Day (ITD, for insiders).  For the first time, I was able to celebrate in London and I am delighted to share my experience with you!

To begin with, why International Translation Day? Coincidentally, September 30th is also the day that celebrates St Jerome, famous for translating the Bible into Latin. Started in 1953, International Translation Day is an opportunity for all language professionals to gather and focus on one translation-related theme. This year, the theme was ‘Connecting Worlds‘.

For my first ITD in London, I attended the British Library’s ITD 2016 conference series.   At the British Library, the focus was on how translating literature promotes intercultural dialogue. Thanks to a well-designed format, the agenda was a fantastic occasion to discover the ins and outs of literary translation and its inherent challenges.

From Author to Reader

The opening session of the day aimed at introducing all aspects of translating a book for a new market. This exciting journey in the generation of a translated book allowed the speakers to discuss the challenges in today’s translated literature.

Several subjects were raised during the debate; the most striking topic was probably assessing the status of translated literature in publishing. The panelists agreed that despite the galaxy of literary festivals present throughout the UK, little emphasis was placed on translated literature. Sarah Braybrooke, publicist at Scribe UK, pointed out that translation is a sign of publishing success in the country of origin of the book. While that in itself should be a selling point for the translated version, she continued, translated books in the United Kingdom prove harder to sell. To further illustrate this paradox, Sarah Braybrooke eloquently asked: would you imagine a “local book for local people?”

Thankfully, initiatives to promote translated literature are flourishing. Fiammetta Rocco, books and arts editor at The Economist reminded the audience that The Economist now has a regular slot for books in translation and that the Man Booker Prize has become the first of its size to divide the prize equally between the author and the translator. As for publishers, many make the choice of specializing in one country’s literature. Among the speakers present at the British Library alone, there were publishers specialized in Spanish, Ukrainian, Italian and French translated fiction. Additionally, the numerous associations supporting literary translators also presented. Brighter times are coming?

Midsummer Night's Dream, literary translation, ITD 2016
Celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare on ITD

Multilingual creativity

The themes of the afternoon sessions focused more on the translation process itself. In literature as well as in sign language, speakers showed how translation can be a vehicle for creativity and a source of inspiration.

A majority of people in the world are at least bilingual and, to add variety, there are a lot more than one regional variations of the same language. That means that the traditional opposition between the monolingual norm and the ideal figure of the native speaker are not realistic conceptions.

This raises a fascinating challenge for the translator: how to translate multilingual and multicultural influences. Ellen Jones, who does research in the subject, introduced authors who deliberately chose to write multilingual texts, taking the multilingual experience even further – that is, texts in Frenglish or Portuñol, for instance. Participants agreed that multilingual texts benefit from collaborative translation, which may be more truthful to the versatile nature of the source text.

The closing session took the relationship between creativity and multilingualism one step further through a presentation of sign art. While the creative use of signage goes back a very long time, Youtube and a better access to video-editing allowed sign artists to acquire a broader audience and to combine written words and signage. This was a complete discovery for me and I was impressed with how language and translation, in these videos, became a source of inspiration, a vehicle for expression and art.

A Final Word

The British Library’s series of events was a 360° view of literary translation and a fabulous opportunity for translators to discuss all aspects of their profession. Because this is the main event taking place in London, I believe a cross-disciplinary approach would be interesting, gathering various areas of translation practice (business, institutional, technical…). Next year, perhaps?

About Pricing: Translation

When it comes to pricing, do you feel lost in translation? Take the time to read this short memo, which lists the various parameters of translation pricing – and provides a clear breakdown of my prices.

The Market

The standard price unit in translation is the word. Translators can adjust their price per word according to the language combination, the level of expertise of the document or the number of repetitions.

  • Most common pricing unit: per word
  • Prices generally vary from one language combination to the other.
  • Technical documents are sometimes subject to a higher price per word.
  • Tight deadlines generally drive the prices up.
  • Repetitions can be subject to a reduced price per word.

My Pricing Policy

Language Combination

It is easy to understand that varying prices from one language to the other are based on offer and demand.

Where I stand: Whatever language combination you are seeking, you are expecting the same service and the same quality. This is why my price per word is always the same for all language combination.

Expertise?

Why single out technical terminology? A text branded simple because it contains everyday language can prove very hard to translate. Yet for these grammatical or idiomatic difficulties, the prices are not driven up.

Furthermore, it is not easy to quantify the technicality of a text. Without a standard scale to determine the technical nature of a text, it is possible that the customer (you) disagrees with the translator.

Where I stand: I believe all texts are equal. Terminology research is only invoiced where you explicitly asked to receive a glossary with the translation.

About Repetitions

Discounts on repetitions help reduce the final price. Yet while repetitions are now a mainstream factor for discount in pricing, it should be important to know what is considered a repetition. The recurrence of prepositions in a text cannot reasonably be considered a factor for repetition. The fact is that repetitions are determined by a word count software or a CAT tool. Within the tool, the result varies according to the selected settings. As a matter of fact, it is unlikely that the final client has any control over this calculation.

Where I stand: I believe in trust and transparency. Rather than chopping texts and selling parts at a discount, with little accountability on the pricing method, I consider that a commercial gesture is more pleasant and transparent than a confusing, systematic discount. As a result, I do not offer reduced prices on repetitions, but I do offer general promotions on a regular basis! Should you want to learn more about my work or my prices, you can contact me via the form available on this website.