Is Translation an Art or a Science?

Translation

Both. Some will say a “Science” and others an “Art.” Most of the time, those who actually translate will say it is a science in some ways, but definitely an art form in the end. The “science” aspect involves following certain rules like grammar and sentence structure in your target language, and using technology as an indispensable tool in today’s world. Tools like Machine Translation (think Google Translate), and CAT Tools (software that keeps track of translations to be used on future projects).

Machines can create algorithms that produce automated translations that are mostly accurate and helpful, but anyone who can speak two languages and has tried Google Translate can agree that these translations are far from perfect, they will still need a real person to do a final editing. Without the creative process infused into the actual translation by the translator, the end result will be dull, lack soul and rhythm, sound unnatural, and definitely not pass as native speech.

In the end, every translator’s final translation will have his or her personal tone because humans can’t help but “create” elements of it… which makes it an “art” form.

Small Agency vs. Large Agency: who are your confidential files safer with?

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People ask us sometimes what the difference is between a smaller translation agency that is privately owned like ours, and a largetranslation company with 1000’s of translators all over the world and offices everywhere.

There are so many differences that it would take a lot of space and time to share them all, but below are the ones we believe to be the most important:

1.       Personal touch: the big guys have automated all their transactions via cloud based platforms. It’s hard to find a real person when you need one. They are sometimes too big and too busy to care for each individual client. Agreed, the whole world is moving in this direction and part of our new launch does include more cloud based project management. But you will always be able to reach one of us with just one quick email. Promise.

2.       Security: did you know that even if a company says they have an ISO27001/2 certification it doesn’t mean that your confidential files will be completely protected? Because they are too big to handle each project individually, they have to rely on their online project management tool to find translators to cover projects, and the only way to do this is by “broadcasting” their client’s projects online to ALL the translators in their database, sometimes to over 100 translators all over the world, and waiting to see who sees the message first, downloads the file to his/her laptop or PC, and is willing to do the project at the low rate they have set for the job. Yes, crazy right?

That’s what we think too. Instead, we personally select the team and only after the team has agreed to take the project do we share the files with them, and only via a secure online platform. Don’t worry, we also take security very seriously and have received a SOC2 security certification PLUS we just passed Walmart’s “Vendor Assessment” Security Audit, so we have been approved by the largest company in the world (by revenue) to work on confidential files.

In today’s environment where even the largest, and riches companies in the world get hacked, we recommend that you know exactly who is opening your confidential files.

3.   Flexibility and Savings: a small agency can be flexible on pricing since you are working directly with the owner or someone close to him or her. Your PM can make decisions about not charging for a “rush” charge or project management fees, or even reduce the rate a little if they can. A small agency can also move faster when you need it. If you need a project today, they are more likely to get it to you quickly since you don’t have to go through so many hoops to get the project started.

6 TIPS FOR DOING BUSINESS SUCCESSFULLY IN CHINA

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#1 THE SMALL PRINT IS WRITTEN IN MANDARIN AND THEY SPEAK CHINESE AMONG THEMSELVES.

If you want to import from China, you should know that this nation is the merchant’s “paradise.” The numbers expressed by the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China confirms this: from January to April, 2018, the total value of imports and exports from China was 1,414.71 billion dollars (USD), this value has an alleged 16.5% year-to-year increase.

However, there’s data, information… that can only be obtained by experience, and mostly: from bad experiences. Someone had to take the first bite, right? It was a brave soul, who in this case got lucky, but had to take the risk! The same thing happens with business in China. Many took the risk blindly and went through countless obstacles to see the business succeed. Here, they share some tips of things not to do based on previous mistakes. And we step ahead to the end: THE LANGUAGE. Understanding what they’re talking about is decisive between closing a good or a bad business deal.

1.    The small print is written in Chinese. This means that: contracts can be written in English or in Chinese. However, in the case of a conflict, the contract in Chinese will be the one considered valid, so pay close attention to translations. It is important to have a team that masters the language efficiently, not only to translate but also to serve as interpreters. You should always ask and be sure you read and clarify each of the sections outlined in the contract.

Chinese business culture: According to the official page of the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, the judicial system does not guarantee a fair trial for foreign citizens. There is a high degree of corruption in the country, especially within the CCP.

It also explains why the language used to implement justice is: Mandarin.

China has several arbitration institutions, such as the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC).  Only those litigations presented as an “external factor” can be arbitrated outside of China. For more information on the Arbitration Law.

2.    There’s nothing like understanding the Chinese language and not seeming to do so. Here’s an anecdote shared by a wholesale supplier of Sport’s equipment for Latin America: “In one of the visits to the fair, we stopped at a stand selling fishing kits. One of the salesmen gave me an initial price. The other associate argued with him in Chinese telling him he had given us too low a price. The salesmen responded: “Don’t worry, I’ll charge him double for everything else”… Our translator who had spoken to them only in English, responded in Chinese: “We will not do business with you because you are not trustworthy”… “they were amazed.” Certainly there is someone at every stand that will serve as a speaker, but they’re not always informed in the subject… that’s why it’s ideal to have someone who speaks Chinese (Mandarin preferably) because it’s the language they speak most amongst themselves: Being able to understand those mumbles and conversations is beneficial. “There are some ill-intended merchants that seek to take advantage of foreigners with little experience. Not all of them! But it’s good to stay alert for the signals,” advised the merchant.

3.    Some people swear that China only sells at minimum one shipping container per product: False! There are suppliers that sell smaller quantities. Usually it’s through companies that group several factories and buy merchandise under their name: known as trading. Although the prices aren’t as low as through factories themselves, the advantage is that it offers assorted merchandise in fewer quantities.

4.    Alibaba is a website that can be used as a window. Doing business directly through their site is not recommended if you do not have prior experience with the Chinese market. The first contact by excellence should be in a fair. Among the most popular is the Canton Fair. It’s safe to say that it is the largest catalogue of all that is “Made in China.” It’s the surest bet: The meeting is personal, directly with the providers, and with samples of the products. It’s even important to consider their behavior, their comments, etc.

5.    It’s very difficult to work in China without proper counseling. Although the first encounter was presence-based, once the person “goes home,” the business is in the hands of the suppliers who will do things their way. Even the quality or the characteristics of the product can change, one thing is what they show you, another what they send you. That’s why it’s key to check the merchandise before delivery. The norms and certifications are a point in favor, but you need to understand what they mean (the following link is a downloadable with the definitions). Another aspect that gives confidence is the company’s trajectory and their years of experience in the field. However, it’s always advisable to rely on a person who remains in direct contact, guiding the supplier and constantly monitoring them.

6.    When the goal is to CREATE A BRAND, or import a specific brand exclusively… the advice is to “secure it.” In other words: register it so that no one else can commercialize that brand. We spoke to a shoe-importing company for Latin America who shared their experience: “In our case, the brand already existed in China. It wasn’t very common in the region, so we were the first to bring it in. We registered the name in the Autonomous Service for Intellectual Property (SAPI – for its acronym in Spanish). In this manner, we prevented a future “take-away,” because it’s something that can happen. Simply because someone else is interested in commercializing the brand and offers a lower price… or the Chinese suppliers are tempted to commercialize it directly if they see an increase in sales and an optimum growth of the brand.”

Download our guide to NORMS AND CERTIFICATIONS to understand what they mean, and our comparative table of Chinese Laws vs. Western Laws.

BUILD A GLOBAL BRAND

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Multilanguage Web as a Tool

Once upon a time there were borders, until digitalization came and erased them…The Web is a window to the world. The e-commerce boom and social media are a constant and “almost obligatory” invitation to globalization. There are multiple advantages of becoming a global brand. Here, we give you a few tips for opening up your company to the world.

1.    KNOW THE CLIENT: Research market studies carried out by known companies. Use the DATA. That’s the magic word for this new era. Social Media has the appropriate tools to describe your audience’s profile. Take advantage of this and build your brand based on the experiences the clients wish to live.

Cultural differences are key: Being able to identify the market niches will help you create the appropriate message for each. Generalization is never the answer. Start off by UNDERSTANDING: that is our motto because our experience has demonstrated it.

Current clients want brands to make their lives easier: Does your brand do this? How can you interfere in their lives in a positive way responding to this need? Base your mission and vision on this.

2.    ANALYZE THE COMPETITION: without fear and objectively. Find your distinctive value and project it.

3.    Build a SWOT matrix: A SWOT analysis is a framework used to evaluate a company's competitive position by identifying its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

4.    Develop your brand’s image: Everything is communicated! Take care of the details. From the logo, the colors, the message, and the media where to present it, the packaging.

Social Media are great Branding boosters. The client has to live the experience from anywhere. Speak from emotions and not from the product.

ATTENTION: regarding Global brands: the guidance of an experienced interpreter is necessary and we can help you.

There may be words: that are in the brand’s name or slogan that can mean something negative in countries other than the one of origin. You must work the message in each language so that it can communicate what is intended.

READ MORE ABOUT The Importance of High Quality Translations in the Corporate World

The advantages of the digital world and things to consider:

1.    THE IMPORTANCE OF A WEBSITE IN MULTIPLE LANGUAGES:

When dealing with Global Brands a Multilanguage website will be a helpful tool to get close to clients. There’s a prejudice that says: “English is the universal language.” It’s not completely wrong, but it’s not true either. To make clients feel “at home,” there’s nothing like speaking to them in their language. They will understand and live the experience more closely. It will be significantly more efficient and increase sales. It’s an invaluable point in your favor, since it makes it easier for entrepreneurs to do more specific searches within the site.

ATTENTION: We repeat: a Multilanguage Website is not the same as translating a website. Messages have to be adapted to transmit their true essence. With the guidance of a specialized translator, communications will be consistent with the weight that the user gives the message depending on its culture. For China, India, and Brazil there is huge cultural baggage that you must consider. It’s not hard: it only requires someone with the expertise. We can help you.

2.    For e-commerce: advantages and disadvantages. It gives companies profitability and allows Global Brands to reach markets that don’t have a developed distribution system.

3.    Take advantage of digital tools and transform them into sales:

A great percentage of consumer procurement processes originate in search engines, assisted by queries on social media and specialized websites. Companies must skillfully handle electronic media if they want to position themselves in the search results of clients. In Google’s case for example, key word planner AdWords and Google Trends,.

ADDITIONALLY: these tools help you know trends, searches, and niche opportunities for the product in other markets.

They will also help you measure results, work to boost your marketing plan and evolve. Compare your results in Google Analytics and measure your KPI’s.

Being an ally to help you “understand” the “Global” world without borders, is our specialty. We have experience and have been successful creating Global Brands that can serve as a guide to position your brand. We not only master the language: we understand the culture, which translates into added value for your brand.

Experiences about how to import from China

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The huge price differences of up to 50% less expensive compared to other markets, are the numbers that attract entrepreneurs to the Chinese market. However, simply because it’s a popular place, doesn’t mean it’s easy to find good business deals. Being so wide, diverse, and attractive can sometimes confuse and overwhelm future investors, as well as groups of people who wish to “take advantage” of inexperienced dreamers who venture blindly into what they consider is a commercial paradise.

The disadvantages of going to China without proper counseling:

-       Loss of time translated into loss of money: the fairs are extensive and immense with thousands of suppliers of different types of merchandise, quality and prices… Five days is not enough to cover them all. So, you need order and guidance! If not, you will never finish seeing what you are interested in.

-       The probability of being deceived by false merchants: How do you know if the supplier you liked is trustworthy? What does the contract say? How much do they mumble in Chinese? Is the cheapest the best? …

As an answer to these disadvantages, the so-called “offices” surge, they are consulting companies specialized in importing from China. They accompany salespeople throughout the entire process: visiting the fairs, contacting the best providers fit for your requirements, checking the merchandise, with profit margins of 10 or 5% depending on the volume.

“Our experience in China began in 2000,” commented the Director of the Sports Brand Yston, “At the time, even finding something similar to Western food was complicated! The market hadn’t opened up like it is today. It was even more complicated to do business with no type of guidance. They were hard times, that included stories of fraud. Everything changes when you can count on an ally or a guide.”

Regarding the experience of working with advisors: they save time and consequently, money. Moreover, they are organized and know how to guide you according to your needs. They have a list of suppliers and know how to evaluate them. They also serve as a bridge accompanying you to fairs and factories. At first, you cover their transportation costs, but once you do business with them, they assume these expenses.

In China, many tend to take advantage of people, especially when the inexperience is obvious. We must not generalize, but it is frequent. The advisers do a follow-up on the negotiation and check the merchandise before delivery. They have knowledge on topics such as: costs, quality, norms and seals, as well as responsible companies with a great track record. Sometimes, the Chinese will lower their prices even “to sell at a loss” simply to win over a client. They will later try to recover the costs either by lowering the quality of the products with cheaper materials or by imposing high post-sale taxes. This is knowledge only acquired through experience. In addition to the consultants, you also have to consider: an excellent translation of the contracts so that everything is clear.

Regarding the brand: YSTON. Before traveling to China, they had already registered the brand. They only designed the logo there. “We quickly ‘secured it,’ in other words: registered it formally – commented the Director – It’s a way of protecting it so that no one can do business with that name. When the Chinese see optimum growth, they may want to keep the brand and sell it on their own.” You must decrease the risks.

Important information:

Chinese business culture:

-       What we know as “Chinese food” in the West is an interpretation created in New York. Their food for westerners is completely different and unknown. It may even be hard to eat.

-       When you ask for a glass of water, they serve it hot.

-       Regarding norms and protocols, it’s important to know that when you give or receive a business card: do it using both hands. It’s a symbol of respect.

-       Punctuality: is very important. They are always on time.

-       They are very courteous and willing to help: when you schedule a visit to the factory, they send you a driver.

-       It may be taken as disrespectful if you don’t accept to drink tea. They traditionally drink a lot of tea and it is a special moment for them.

10 Myths About Corporate Translations

The field of corporate translation has become increasingly important for large corporations across the world as successful and profitable business has become synonymous with international business.

However, there is still an abundance of misconceptions and inaccuracies surrounding corporate translations. Here are our top ten myths of corporate translation:

1. Machine translation services are useless and have no value for large United States corporations.

Truth: Appropriate use of machine translation can act as a helpful aid to people translating. It can help fix simple errors in professional translator’s writings if used well.

2. Machine translations are just as good as human translators and are a better value.

Truth: Important corporate and business information needs the human elements of nuance and contextual reference to be fully translated. Relying on a machine is a foolish move that can lead to big trouble in certain topics such as ethics violations with foreign workers.

3. All translating services are the same, give or take.

Truth: Make sure the company you use has the necessary expertise, reputation, and qualifications to successfully represent your business through corporate translation.

4. There are no guarantees that you can get consistently accurate translations online.

Truth: The right company can distinguish themselves with effective quality control methods to ensure the best corporate translation results every time.

5. Interpreting and translating are interchangeable words.

Truth: Interpreting refers to oral interpretation, the spoken word, typically seen in meetings, conferences, and court depositions for example. Translating is a written document being translated into another language.

6. There is only one type of interpreter available.

Truth: An important distinction in interpretation is between consecutive interpreters (the interpreter speaks during the pauses) and a simultaneous interpreter (the interpreter speaks at the same time as the native language speaker).

7. It is difficult to find out how accurate the corporate translation I received is.

Truth: only hire an agency that has a proven track record. One way you can be sure they will do a good job for you is to find out who their clients are. If established, reputable companies trust the agency, you probably can too.

8. Our thick employee handbook will surely take months to be translated.

Truth: Full translation of a 50-page document can be expedited to under 10 business days and the normal completion time is around 10-15 business days.

9. It is not necessary to have a translating service for our US-based business.

Truth: The US has the fifth highest Spanish speaking population in the world. It behooves any US based company with Hispanic employees to translate their HR materials.

10. Corporate translations for non-Spanish and non-Chinese clients are impossible to find.

Truth: weLanguages offers over 30 different languages ranging from Amharic to Zulu!

Latin American Cultural Differences

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Though many outsiders of Latin American countries perceive many of them to be basically the same, they are, in fact, quite different from not only the U.S., but also from their neighboring countries. With over two dozen different countries, it should be expected that language, appearance, celebrations, and architecture, can and is different.

Cuba • On a decidedly different note, the Cuban government is still not recognized by the United States and all business and law specifically prohibits private commerce with the island by Americans. Culturally, it takes a lot to roil a Cuban but once done, reconciliation is just as difficult.

Argentina • The South American continent is home to Argentina, the most Spanish inspired culture. Argentineans make over 70% less money than Americans, but in turn, spend over 80% less on health care. Honor and respect can be expected in day-to-day life in the home, community, and business, and include making eye contact, greeting with a handshake from eldest to youngest, and when leaving, saying good-bye to each person individually.

Brazil • Unlike Americans who live to work, Brazilians work to live, putting their family, outside work life, and vacations first. Americans often don’t use all of their paid time off, whereas Brazilians appreciate and use all of their vacation time. The “time is money” concept does not apply in their laid back mind set and lunches can often run 2-3 hours long… something American’s surely wish for!

Venezuela • Similar to Brazilians, Venezuelans are generally unpunctual because in general, they do not really stress over time, unlike Americans who generally go by the “if you’re not early, you’re late” motto. In America, time represents something to be used wisely, whereas in Venezuela, it is meant to be enjoyed and not something to worry over.

Chile • Appearance is not taken as seriously in Chile like it is in America. Generally, expensive hand bags, accessories, and clothing are not widely sought after, clothing is fairly inexpensive, and fashion trends are not a concern. Greeting with a kiss is common, Christianity is widely practiced, and because of this, homosexuality is not accepted and divorce is looked down upon.

Asian Cultural Differences

As any student of languages can tell you, there are a variety of ways that the cultures of the Far East and the West differ. These differences manifest themselves in various ways including how one greets another person, how business is conducted and how much physical contact is allowed. While the nuances of every Asian culture would take an entire book to explain, here are some of the basics for seven of the most popular Asian destinations:

China – Social relationships are highly formalized and involve a very ritualized sense of reciprocal obligation. For the unwary, gift-giving can be quite confusing so obtain the services of a local before presenting anyone with a gift. Direct confrontation is also considered poor etiquette and negotiations will usually last far longer than a Westerner expects.

Taiwan – Although rooted in Chinese culture, Taiwan is far more westernized. Still, there are some distinct cultural differences from the West. In particular, handshakes are rare except among friends. Instead a slight nod of the head when introduced by a third party – yes, that’s the etiquette – is all that is required. Finger pointing is a no-no as is touching anyone’s head. Lastly, be restrained in your actions and you will offend no one – loud and boisterous behavior is considered uncommonly rude.

Japan – The simple act of handing or receiving a business card in the Land of the Rising Sun is fraught with the possibility of insult. If handed a card, you must study it for at least two minutes and remark upon its qualities or you will be guilty of rudeness. On the other hand, once the business day – usually a very long one – is concluded, you will be expected to be entertained by your hosts for many more hours of drinking and singing.

Thailand – Bhumibol Adulyadej, king of Thailand, is very respected. Concerning this subject, it is probably best to bypass this topic so a harmless statement is not mistakenly taken out of context. The people of Thailand are otherwise generally friendly, outgoing people. It is custom to enter a home only after removing your shoes, to return a friendly gesture, such as smiling, and also never to touch someone’s head.

Philippines – While Filipinos can be fairly obtuse when speaking, they are much more physically oriented in person – at least for members of the same sex. Do not be alarmed if a Filipino man whom you have just met puts his arm around you and guides you to your seat. Also, refrain from pointing at a person as it is considered rude. Filipinos are far more cognizant of eye contact and a simple nod will get their attention.

South Korea- Like many Asian cultures, bowing is a common way to show respect. Being introduced to a group of people, meeting someone for the first time, and leaving a room or gathering should all be accompanied with a bow. It is also important to remember that in South Korea, eye contact is seen as a threat and/or challenge and should be avoided.

Indonesia – Propriety is considered sacred in the Muslim country. Always be on time, never use your left hand to receive a gift or touch another person and always greet people with the word “Selamat.” The country is also quite crowded so physical contact is to be expected and one’s personal space will be far smaller and may make the unprepared Westerner uncomfortable.

The top 5 worst translation mistakes in history

Working in an environment of multilingual employees presents unique challenges that can be difficult to anticipate. Problem solving can be one of the most difficult aspects, but also the most rewarding. Being able to help overcome issues that stem from different cultures and languages at work is something that all employees need to learn, but it is particularly important for managers.

When confronted with a problem at work, regardless of what that problem is, the employee or manager should take the time to fully understand what the problem is before trying to resolve it. Even when employees all speak a common language, their understanding of a second or third language will be influenced by their culture. For example, an employee may come from a culture where people are very direct. To some this approach may seem to be critical or offensive. The best approach to take when there are multilingual employees is not to be easily offended. Strive to see the problem from multiple angles, and it will be easier to understand how an employee or manager arrived at a certain point of view.

When working with multilingual employees, think of several different ways to provide instructions. Take the time to make sure that everyone is on the same page, and projects will go faster and more smoothly.

It is easy to think that because multilingual employees can generally speak one language that they can understand any information presented to them. One of the biggest problems facing multilingual employees is that native speakers of the language often forget the limitations of having to constantly think in a second language at work. At the end of a presentation or meeting, take the time to address questions and concerns. Allowing employees the opportunity to get clarification will help avoid problems.