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1995~2002 Harbin university. Engage in the fields of accountancy, economics, business administration, marketing, etc.


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Feb 28, 2007

How To Improve Your Freelance Proofreading Career

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

If you are trying to build your freelance business, it can be difficult to find the time to take a training course. Who has the time to travel back and forth from college to get this degree or certification? We won’t even mention the costs of enrolling into the college either. But proofreading training courses can be done online. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can use a mail based proof reading course as well if you like.

Take classes when you have time. The cost is much less than that of a traditional college. The best part is that if you take the time to find it, you can take the proof reading courses through an accredited college meaning that you are actually getting a college education.

To become a professional proofreader, you must have many skills. It is not a simple job that anyone can do. It does take training and it does take skill and dedication. A proofreading course is a simple step on the way to ensuring a great freelance career. Because they are readily available, it is easy to find them, easy to get in, and well worth it in the cost department.

Establishing yourself as a professional is hard work. It is much easier to get into the field and gain the trust of someone who can later open many more doors for you when you have a certification behind you. It just makes sense to make the time to take the courses and to learn from them so you can excel in your freelance business.

The Google Language Translator

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

A lot of emphasis in the business world today has been placed on the importance of globalizing your product or service. Well, in order to do that, business owners often look for translation and localization solutions that will help their business reach a global market. These businesses have various options to choose from when deciding how to go about doing this. One of the methods that I have seen advocated at various places online is the use of freely available online translators.

There are many of these translators available from various websites that are easily accessible. However, before describing one of the more popular ones, it's important for business owners to know that these services are not anywhere close to a substitute for a professional translator. So while they will not be useful for translating a contract from English to Spanish, they can be useful to help you understand a gist of a document, or get an idea of what an email contains that someone sent you in another language. One of the more popular online translators is the Google translator.

Google is one of (if not the most) widely-used search engines today. It follows, then, that they would have a language translator available for use because they are a worldwide brand and company. The Google translator can be found at www.google.com/language_tools?hl=en and is also available off of their homepage by clicking on the Language Tools link. Once you arrive at the language page, there are a variety of options that are presented to you. The first is that you can choose to narrow your web search by pages written in a specific language and/or pages located in a certain country. The second language option is the one we are interested in here, the translation box.

The Google Translator gives you the option of either inputting text in a text box, or typing in the URL of a webpage you would like translated. For either of those options, you can choose the language pair and direction you would like your translation to be. So if you have a text in English and would like it to be translated into Spanish, you just go to the drop-down menu and choose that option. The same thing works for translating webpages.

Another great thing about the Google translator is that you can download the Google toolbar, which can translate words on English pages into other languages. That way you never even have to go back to the Google translator webpage to translate individual words.

One of the things that I like about the Google translator is that it is a really simple interface to use. Many online translators have designs that can be fairly convoluted and complex. Google's, however, is pretty straightforward.
One of my critiques, though, is that they don't tell you the character limit for the text box. Many free online translators only allow you to translate a certain number of characters and they let you know right up front what that limit is. Google, however, doesn't tell you. Maybe they don't have one for all I know. It would be nice to know either way.

All in all, the Google translator is the one I like using should the need arise. As long as you remember that the quality is only as good as what you're paying for it (it's free), you'll be OK.

How To Receive Payment as a Freelance Translator?

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

Basically PayPal lets you send and receive payment over the Internet. It bases its service on the existing bank and credit card networks, but it is not a bank in itself.

Registering is free; all you need is an email address. Sending money is free - receiving money however, is not. You pay 3.4 % of the received amount unless you are receiving dollars; in this case you pay 2.9 % of the received amount. Then you have to pay a flat fee for each transaction: 0.35 Euros or 0.30 Dollars. In addition you have to pay a cross boarder fee of 0.5 % - 1.0 % if you receive payment from someone located in another country.

Then you have to pay a small fee when you withdraw your money to your regular bank account. (Unless your bank is located in the United States; then you don’t have to pay this fee.) How much this is depends on the country you are located in. I for instance live in Switzerland and have to pay 0.50 CHF to withdraw to my account. Banks in countries within EU, except the United Kingdom, all charge 1.0 Euro.

Lets have a look at an example. I perform a small translation and charge a minimum fee of 20 Euro. 3.4 % of 20 Euro is 0.68 Euro, plus the flat fee of 0.35 Euro. Add the cross boarder fee of 1%, which is 0.20 Euro. So, of my 20 Euros PayPal takes 1.20 Euros. In addition comes the fee of 0.50 CHF for withdrawing the money to my regular bank account.

If the agency sent me a check instead of using PayPal, my bank would charge 7.50 CHF (4.80 Euros) for cashing the check for me. Each bank has its own fees for cashing checks and receiving wire transfers. But for smaller amounts PayPal is definitely the cheapest way of accepting payment. You will have to do a small calculation and see how large amounts you can receive before the PayPal fees exceed the fees your bank charges.

But is it safe?
Most freelance translators using this way of receiving payment are satisfied with the service and have had no problem with PayPal. I have only heard of one-two translators having their accounts frozen by PayPal for no legitimate reason.

Some negative aspects of PayPal

The problems with PayPal only start when you have a problem, so to speak. Resolving a problem can be very time-consuming and frustrating, and in many cases no solution is reached. Their customer support is not exactly something to brag about. It is very difficult to get behind their wall of auto responders and answering machines!

Another thing to be aware of are scams. There are numerous scams around, from people sending out emails pretending to be from PayPal asking you to confirm your credit card numbers, to hackers going in to your account and spending all your money.

Other negative aspects of PayPal are that it is not available in all countries and you can only receive payment in a few currencies.

By using PayPal you take a large risk compared to using the normal banking system. The chance of loosing your money is there. At the moment there are several lawsuits filed against PayPal and a lot of people who have lost money and not received any compensation.

Have a look at these web sites:


A few tips for using PayPal
The majority of the people having problems with PayPal are people selling items via auctions etc. Some examples: Payment is cashed from the buyers account and not transferred to the sellers account. A buyer uses a stolen credit card number to purchase items from you and your account risk being frozen for being involved with criminal activity.

As long as you use PayPal to receive money and don’t connect you PayPal account to a credit card the risk is relatively low. In the worst case you could lose the money available on you PayPal account, threw whatever reason: hackers getting in to your account, PayPal freezing your account etc.

Having read a few of the horror stories about PayPal, I am very cautious using their system. But I still use it for receiving small payments. Basically out of lack of alternatives. PayPal was the first company to offer this kind of service, and for a long time it was the only company providing this service.

In the last year or so a few other companies have started providing the same service or very similar services. Most of them are very new companies and still not industry standard. When I ask agencies if they pay via Moneybookers for instance, they have never heard of this. But many of them can offer payment threw PayPal.

I am sure there soon will be very good alternatives. But for now it seems we are stuck with PayPal whether we like it or not.

Guidelines for using PayPal

The only advice I can give is to be careful using PayPal. Here are some tips to help minimize the risk of loosing money threw PayPal.

1. Only receive smaller amounts through PayPal.

2. Never leave large amounts on your PayPal account: Withdraw your money as soon as you have a couple of hundred Euros/Dollars.

3. Log in to your account and check that everything is ok each time you expect to receive payment.

4. Be prepared to lose the money on your account.

How To Create A Great Electronic Resume

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

After creating the perfect resume, you then need to distribute it. You'll likely be sending some professionally printed hard copies, especially to "A list" companies or organizations you've set your sights on. But just as likely, you'll be distributing other copies electronically.

Presuming you've written a great resume to begin with, here's what you really need to know about your electronic version:
1. It must be searchable.
2. It must be in ASCII format.

Someone searching the Internet resume banks for the perfect candidate (you) needs to be able to weed out all the unqualified candidates, which potentially number in the tens of thousands nowadays. Typically, they'll enter search terms intended to eliminate the vast majority of posted resumes and select the most promising. They do this much as one might perform an Internet search on Google or another search engine, by entering key word search terms

Their search might be limited to a certain geographical area, a certain skill set or qualification, or a certain job description, among obvious search categories.
The geographical part is easy - your contact information will help someone looking for a software designer in San Francisco Bay area or a pretzel maker in Milwaukee find you if you are qualified and live in the right part of the world.

However, if you have technical qualifications that can be searched in different ways - "Bachelor of Science" and "B.Sc." for example, your resume should use both variants so that a search engine finds you either way.

And if you possess job experience that's highly relevant to the job in question, be sure to describe it in the most common ways that it would likely be searched on.
Tip: Read through your completed resume and see if you can't describe qualifications, degrees, or job titles in multiple alternative ways throughout the resume. This will increase the chances you'll be found in an online search.

ASCII Format:
Your professionally laid out and formatted paper resume may end up looking like gibberish if simply transformed into an electronic copy. Programs like Word allow you to format nice looking documents with features such as tabs, bullets, centering, bold, italic and other word processing niceties.

Unfortunately, when converted to electronic form, many of these word processing features are lost. Worse, what's left over may bear no resemblance to the exquisite resume that you labored over to produce.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution. You can prepare a simple text version in a text editor like Notepad or any of the dozens of other text editors out there. In this case, you'll replace many of these text effects. For example, you'll replace bullets with asterisks, word wrap with a hard carriage return, and tabs and justification effects with simple spaces.

Another solution is to use a program specifically designed for writing resumes like WinWay Resume Express. (See the "Do It Yourself Resumes" page at http://www.impressive-resumes.com/ to learn more about this inexpensive handy program.) It features an easy way to transform your resume into a searchable electronic version with very little effort after you've created the word processing formatted version.

No matter which method you use, be sure you've taken these simple preparations for electronic distribution before you hit "send." This will greatly increase the chances that your resume will reach its intended audience.

Getting started as Freelance Translator

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

First Steps
Although the translation industry is booming, it's hard to find well-paying work if you don't have either a degree in translation, some translation experience, or excellent language skills plus training and/or experience in a technical field.

The easiest way to get samples and references is either to volunteer/intern, or work for low-paying agencies who will hire beginner translators. Organizations such as the American Red Cross, Translators Without Borders, refugee assistance programs, and public health clinics are often looking for volunteer translators and interpreters. In addition, many translation agencies offer unpaid or paid internships, and some low-paying agencies are willing and even eager to work with beginners. For example I was recently contacted by an agency looking for interpreters with "at least some college" and paying - an hour, or about half to one quarter of what an experienced, professional interpreter would probably charge. These are all good places for a beginner to start.

In addition, although many people think that anyone who is familiar with two languages can be a translator, this isn't the case, for several reasons. First, translators are also writers. Your translation might be correct "word for word," but sound horrible when read as a whole, which won't make the client happy. Second, there are some conventions in the profession that beginners are often ignorant of. For example, when you translate an official document like a diploma or birth certificate, you need to format the translation as closely as possible to the original, not just type up the translation in paragraph form. Last, but possibly most important, in order to translate subject-specific documents, you need subject-specific knowledge in your own language. If you're translating a computer hardware document and you don't know the difference between a hub and a router in English, you'll be even more lost when reading this type of information in another language.

Once you have a degree in translation, some work experience or some translation samples, it's time to look for clients. Some of my best suggestions, with examples from my experience, are:

Be realistic. When you're looking for a full-time job, all you need is one offer. To work full-time or close to it as a translator, you need a sizeable list of regular clients. Unless you have very marketable skills in an in-demand language pair, it may take a year or more until you are working full time. In my case, I contacted about 400 translation agencies (not a typo) over the course of my first year in business, and it was about 18 months until I was earning an amount equivalent to my previous full time job.

Never quit marketing. Once you have steady work, it's tempting to think that agencies will keep contacting you, freeing you from the hassle of contacting new prospective clients and touching base with previous contacts. However, this is a bad assumption. Work flows go up and down, agencies go out of business, the project manager who loves you quits and is replaced by someone who brings in his/her own person, etc. Plus, you never know when an "out of nowhere" project offer will be perfect for you, and/or allow you to raise your rates. Even though I usually have about as much work as I can handle, I still send my resume to 3-5 new agencies per week just to keep the ball rolling. Recently, one of these agencies (in Europe) contacted me with a multi-thousand dollar project because I was the only U.S.-based French to English translator in their database, and a client wanted a project translated into U.S. English.

Don't ignore the local market, especially if you present yourself better in person than on paper. My first clients, who I still work for today, were local agencies who I contacted and offered to meet with to show them a portfolio of my work. Check the yellow pages or Internet under "translators and interpreters." Even if the agencies say that they don't hire beginners or don't have work in your language pair, go visit them anyway and find out what they do. You'll understand more about what your potential clients want, and they'll know you for when your skills are more in line with their needs.

Join some associations. The American Translators Association and its local chapters (a list is available on the ATA website, or Google "translators your state," replacing "your state" with your actual state) are a great way to establish your seriousness as a translator, and to meet other translators.

Ask for advice. While it's somewhat risky to contact a translator in your own language pair for risk of sounding like you're trying to swoop in on his/her clients, most translators enjoy their work and like to talk about their jobs and how they got started. A freelancers group I'm in has a tradition called "Take a successful woman to lunch," where an aspiring translator/writer/web designer/artist, etc. offers to buy lunch for a more experienced person in exchange for a conversation about the profession.

Orient your resume toward translation. Especially for people who are native speakers of a language other than English and have specialized professional skills, this is key. Highlight specific skills right away, such as "Spanish-bilingual software specialist," "Native speaker of Arabic with mechanical engineering background," etc. rather than expecting the agency or client to see that you have these capabilities.

Offer services that more experienced translators probably don't. The translation industry is booming, and many experienced translators with a full house of regular clients don't have a financial need to work nights, weekends, rush jobs, etc. Make it clear to prospective clients that you can fill in in a pinch, and be willing to actually do this!

Get certified. Certification by the American Translators Association isn't a must, but can lead to a big increase in business as the credential becomes more recognized. In my case this happened when, shortly after I passed the certification exam in French to English, an agency I work with was requested by a major client to use only certified translators on certain projects.

Be realistic your earning potential. While translation is definitely well-paying as compared with other careers that allow you to work from home in your pajamas on projects that are often very interesting, remember that 25-40% of your income as a freelancer will go to things that your employer normally pays for when you have a full time job. Most people count in the biggies- taxes, health insurance, retirement plan contributions and vacation/personal/sick time, but over the years other expenses like dictionaries, office equipment, continuing education and professional travel add up too. Over the course of the 8 years I worked full time, my employer paid for literally thousands of dollars of "extra" stuff like this, including half the tuition for my M.A. degree and two trips to France. These days, I spend about a thousand dollars a year just to attend the annual conference of the American Translators Association, plus various other workshops. Remember also that the time it takes to do non-translation activities like accounting, collections, billing, updating computer systems, even cleaning your office, is "off the clock."

Find the economic advantages to freelancing. As a corollary to the tip above, freelancing is far from all bad news when it comes to earnings. You may be able to take significant tax deductions for business related expenses, unlike when you have a salaried job (talk to a tax professional about this). Furthermore, if you work from home you won't be paying commuting expenses, lunch out, work clothes, etc.

Keep in touch. As you apply to agencies, keep a file of the person you talked to or e-mailed with, and what his or her response was to your inquiry. As you get more experience, periodically contact these people again to let them know a) you're still there and b) you have some new projects to tell them about.

Show an interest in the profession. Once you explore the tip of the translation iceberg, you'll be amazed at the number of translation-related websites, magazines and newsletters out there. Contributing to them allows you to both educate yourself and present yourself as someone who's really passionate about the industry, not just someone who likes to work in your pajamas!

Never take on work you can't handle. Especially in a small community of translators and translation consumers, the surest way to sabotage your emerging freelance business is to take on something that's too technical, too long, or too complex. Clients will appreciate your honesty and use you for projects that you can handle. Sometimes this involves protecting clients from hiring you for work that *they* think that you can do, such as translating into your second (third, etc) language. Politely explain that this work is best handled by a native speaker of that language and offer a referral.

Keep your clients happy. While this could be an article in itself (when I have time!) it's worthy of mention. Finish every project on time and on budget, and NEVER miss a deadline without notifying a client as soon as you realize that despite your good planning, the project won't be done on time. Return all phone calls and e-mails as soon as you can, always within one business day. When you're not available, help solve the client's problem by referring them to a colleague. In all of your dealings with your clients, remain professional. If you encounter a problem, it hurts to have your skills or qualifications questioned, but remember that the client is already in high-anxiety mode if they're not happy with your work, and you need to remain calm rather than making the client more upset. Probably one of the best pieces of advice I've ever been given is "don't hold onto your clients by charging less, hold onto your clients by charging more and proving that you're worth it." Of course there are some agencies and direct clients who only care about getting the work done for one cent per word cheaper than the last translator they used, but most clients care just as much about quality as they do about price. Keeping a good relationship with the client and doing outstanding work proves to them that often, you get the level of service you pay for.
By Corinne McKay

Feb 27, 2007

Career Paths

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

First Steps
Translators translate, so if you are a translator, you are going to translate. For however long you are in the translation profession, you are going to translate. There are, however, a variety of other tasks in the translation process that translators can and do become involved in.

First, however, you have to get started. Not all languages and subject areas are equal in the translation industry at present. Your fate in the translation profession, particularly at the beginning, will depend in no small part on factors you have no control over. Unfortunate, perhaps, but true.

I've seen many fine, talented translators complete training programs or even degrees only to discover that their skills are not in demand in the translation marketplace because their language combination is too obscure or too well populated by competent, established people, their subject expertise is too limited for them to do anything but the most elementary work, or their skills with the software tools necessary for translators are insufficient.

Languages like Spanish and French are too commonly known in the United States for a newcomer to have an easy time getting work. Further, such languages don't pay well because of the law of supply and demand, which in terms of the translation profession states that if there is a given demand for translation in one language and the supply of translators rises, then the rates paid to the translators will fall. Conversely, languages like Japanese and Chinese are sufficiently rare and the demand for translation sufficiently high that if you have the requisite skills, you will do better in general than someone with Spanish or French.

I know this will disappoint those of you who have spent years mastering the language of Cervantes or Voltaire, but I would rather share this now than have you unprepared. By the time you are ready to consider being a translator you have already invested heavily in your languages. Although it is always possible to learn another one, you know well what it took to learn those you already know.

Consider instead developing secondary skills if you want to work in-house or offering ancillary services if you want to be an independent contractor. Translation agencies and those companies that hire translators full-time will be more inclined to hire you if you have strong computer skills, including with MAT (Machine-Assisted Translation) software like Trados, if you have desktop publishing or graphic arts skills, or if you have editing skills. Freelance translators when first starting can gain experience and income by teaching or tutoring people in their languages, getting involved in home-based telephone interpreting, and even just temping through a temp agency like Parker, Kelly, or Manpower, all of which, by the way, I did during my first year as a freelance translator.

Also, don’t overlook other skills you have. I’v heard of would-be Spanish/English translators who somehow forget they have a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). The combination of language skills and accounting can sell well. Further, some people start out doing both translation and interpretation, as have a number of colleagues of mine, and then the market determines whether they focus on translation, interpretation, or continue doing both.

The First Job
Where and how you start in the translation profession will depend on the languages you know, what if any training or certification you have, and what subject are you can handle. Some language pairs will prove very difficult to find good work in, while others will be easier. So don’t take personally a failure to find work; you may have to consider less apparent options or even a different career path altogether.

A search on major job sites on the Web using "translation," "localization," "bilingual," or the name of a particular language as keywords inevitably yields positions in localization, positions involving translation, project management positions in a translation agency or company that is active in several countries, software, hardware, and games testing, law enforcement and military positions, to mention just a few. Many of these positions are for work going from English into other languages, usually not the languages Americans study in high school or college.

The following statistics make this point nicely. According to the Education Life section (p. 21) of the New York Times (Nov. 11, 2001), in 1998 the eight percent of college students were studying foreign languages were mostly taking Spanish, French, or German (90%). This means that less than one percent of American college students were studying other languages. Also worth keeping in mind: few college students ever go beyond the second-year level.

In other words, although few Americans ever gain fluency in a second language, the majority of the translation positions require a native language other than English. When the position requires English as a native language, the second language is often one of those "one percenters," a language like Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or Arabic. So competition may make your entry into the profession difficult.

What to do? There are many possibilities. First, you may be able to find a translation position for your language pair and in your subject area. However, because many employers prefer experience translators, you may have to start with a different type of work. Such work includes bilingual testing of computer hardware, software, or games, staff positions in companies in which translation is a part of your duties, or if you are attempting to become a full-time freelance translator, jobs that involve editing, proofreading, desktop publishing, or related work for translation agencies instead of translating itself.

Since many translators learn their trade on the job, an obvious question emerges: how do they get such a job without already having experience? The answer is that for entry-level positions, particularly outside of the United States, translation may be one of a variety of language-related tasks such people are hired for. For instance, I did my first translation work for the City of Kawasaki Board of Education when I was on the JET Program in Japan in 1987. Although hired as an Assistant English Teacher, my Japanese language skills resulted in occasional requests for translation from Japanese into English. In a similar fashion, many translators cut their teeth in the profession.

Career Paths
Once you have started in the translation profession, there are several possible career paths. The first and most common is to continue translating, often working at a higher level with more challenging material and at a higher salary. Eventually you may become a senior translator, the person in charge of a group of translators all working in the same languages or even in charge of all of the translators in an organization. People in such positions spend part of their time translating, and the rest of their time training and evaluating their staff, managing the ongoing projects, and dealing with the technology the group uses.

In larger companies the senior translator is distinct from a translation manager. While the senior translator will be the most experienced and competent member of the team, whose responsibilities may include hiring and training, working on translation technologies like MAT tools, and preparing terminology databases, the translation manager may be an individual with little if any translation or language skills but with the requisite business and management ability. On the other hand, often translators can become translation managers, particularly in organizations that want such managers to have a clear, complete understanding of translators and the work they do.

A project manager is an individual in a translation company or in the translation division of an organization who oversees the translation projects, assigning specific sections of material to individual translators, keeping track of productivity and progress in various jobs, evaluating technologies for use in the translation process, working with clients and vendors to prepare quotes for a translation project or deliver a completed job, and handling any and every problem that arises with the staff, outside vendors, or the technology. Such people must be able to multitask to an incredible degree, be cool and confident under pressure, and be willing to work often long hours. Although a background in translation or language is not required for such positions, it is obviously extremely helpful, and so not surprisingly this is a frequent preference, particularly in translation agencies.

A localization manager is similar to a project manager in terms of job duties and personality. The difference is that a localization manager works for a single firm, usually a high-tech firm, and is focused on the preparation of corporate materials in foreign languages. There are many levels of localization managers, with responsibility and the size and scope of projects increasing as one rises to higher levels. Knowledge of common localization tools and technologies (including, for instance, Trados, Catalyst, or Deja-Vu), as well as standard documentation management and project management tools (including, for instance, Microsoft Project, XML, and web site management software) is vital for such positions.

Another possibility is terminologist. Large-scale translation operations, particularly localization operations or any other situation in which MAT software is used regularly, require precise, ongoing management of the terminology used in the translations. This task usually falls to a full-time terminologist, an individual with a strong background in translation or linguistics and with the requisite subject knowledge to define precisely and accurately in two or more languages the terminology to be used in the translations. The terminologist typically works closely with both translators and translation managers, and must have a good command of common software tools for translation, along with database software.

There are, of course, other positions and other opportunities to use one's translation skills, but they are sufficiently obscure and unusual that they will not be discussed here. Often, creativity and resourcefulness are invaluable when looking for a new, more challenging and lucrative position within the translation profession.

Foreseeable Forces and Factors
The dominant factor in the translation profession since the mid-1990s has been the Internet. The high-tech boom of the late 1990s created rapid growth in the localization industry, which became the tail that wagged the translation dog for several years. Although the dot-com boom is long over, the Internet continues to influence how and where translators do business.

The advent of online job site such as Translatorsbase.com have introduced a new model for doing business in the translation profession. Translation agencies and businesses that need to have translations done can offer work directly to freelancers, who bid against each other to win the job. This is created considerable downward pressure on prices in the translation market, particularly for language pairs available in two or more countries in which the cost of living and the cost of doing business differ considerably.

Although such sites represent an interesting opportunity for new translators as well as a good way for freelance translators to find work, like auction sites there is little accountability for individuals or organizations that cheat, and little quality control, particularly in regards to the ability of an individual translator to do good work or the capacity of an organization to pay in a timely fashion for the work.

Nevertheless, such sites will continue to flourish and represent one common path by which translation work is done. When quality, reliability, or secrecy are paramount for a project, translation agencies still prefer to work directly with someone they know, and so such sites do not now and will not in the foreseeable future take over the industry.

The other critical factor influencing the translation profession is Machine Assisted Translation (MAT) and Machine Translation (MT) software. MAT provides a variety of forms of assistance to a translator, particularly when working on a large project, or a project that is similar to one the translator has done previously. MT ideally provides finished copy in the target language, though the reality at present varies from acceptable quality for certain purposes to garbled text.

More and more translators are required to use MAT software, and few find themselves in a position to do all of their work without it. As long as you have an electronic version of the source document, translation memory containing terminology or useful concurrences, and material that is redundant or repetitive, the software improves productivity, particularly in terms of accuracy and consistency with terminology and phraseology. The cost of such products, particularly Trados, remains prohibitive for many freelance translators, however. In translation agencies and companies, these products are so commonly used that job applicants must already be comfortable with them. Many freelance jobs, as can be seen by viewing the listings in Translators’ Café or Proz, also require such technologies. The translator who does not take the time to become well-versed with them will ultimately be without work.

Making the Most of It
Long-term success in the translation profession requires not only dedication to your languages, but also a willingness to continually improve your knowledge of translation technologies and maintain your expertise in the subject areas you work it. The ATA now requires continuing education credits to maintain certification, as is common in many other professions.

Successful translators will have to routinely attend classes, workshops, and seminars in order to stay on top of their profession and abreast of all new developments. Fortunately, the annual ATA conference, specialty conferences given around the year by the ATA and other organizations, classes and workshops held at local community colleges, and seminars given by chapter organizations of the ATA all represent good opportunities for translators to continue their education.

There is, however, a tendency for translators not to stay the profession for very long. Rare is the translator has 10 or more years of full-time, continuous experience in the field. Many move on to related professions, change careers entirely, or simply stop working to devote time to raising a family (this, of course, is more common for women translators). The reasons translators leave the profession vary considerably, though naturally income and job satisfaction are the primary motivations. There also seems to be a certain degree of burnout, particularly among translators who have to work very hard at low rates in order to earn enough to scrape by during the first couple of years in the freelance market. The amount of work coupled with the low income and little prospect for improvement has led to a number of disgruntled translators who have left the industry for greener pastures. Finally, some translators succumb to repetitive strain injuries (RSI) such as carpal tunnel syndrome or thoracic outlet syndrome. Although technologies such as voice input software can compensate, many people find it easier to change careers.

There does not seem to be an "old translators' home." I personally know several translators who retired in their 60s after a long and successful career, and I know translators who left the profession after 2, 5, or even 10 years of work. Ultimately, how your career evolves will depend on a variety of factors that you cannot anticipate until they happen. The important thing is to make the most of your career while you are working in the translation profession, and if the time to leave does come, then to do so gracefully and move onto something else.

Make Money as a Spanish Translator

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

There are lots of ways to earn a living in the world today. Sometimes we only seem to think that doctors, lawyers, or rocket scientists are the only ones who can make any money. However, if you're bilingual in Spanish and another language, you can be a Spanish translator and earn a good income.

What it takes to be a Spanish Translator
A lot of people think that anybody that speaks two languages can be a translator. This is not the case. A Spanish translator must be able to understand not only English and Spanish, but also has to know the culture of the people that speak the languages, and be able to write well. Also, in order to be a freelance Spanish translator, you need to have drive and determination to make your new business work.

Becoming a translator will not make you rich over night. In fact, I know very few translators that would classify themselves as rich. However, that doesn't mean that there isn't money in translation. You just have to know how to make some of it yours.
Using Spanish to Make Money

Once you decide that you'd like to be a translator, you have to realize that as with any other business you might start, people need to know about it in order for you to have any business. If you just say to yourself one day, "Great, I'm going to be a translator starting today," and then do nothing else, you won't be anywhere nearer your goal of making money as a Spanish translator.

You have to market yourself.
This is probably the most important step you have to take in order to become a successful translator. Some translators will probably scoff at me for saying this, but there are translators that aren't very good but get a lot of business because they are good marketers. On the other hand, there are very good translators that don't get any business because they are very bad marketers.

Marketing Your Translation Business
There are a lot of ways to market your newly formed translation business, and I'm not going to outline them all here right now. However, as I've talked to translators over the years, I've come to the conclusion that the hardest period for translators is right at the beginning of their careers. It's when they're just starting out that they have the most trouble finding work.

The way to beat that is simple: Tell everyone you know and meet that you are a Spanish translator and that you are open for business. Give everybody a couple of business cards and tell them to pass one on to someone else. This might seem intimidating at first, but you should be proud that you are bilingual and able to translate. There are a lot of people in the world that wish they had what you have.
By telling everyone you know that you are looking for translation work, they can keep their eyes and ears open for you. And once you get clients, it's a lot easier to have them keep coming back to you for all their needs than to go out and find another client.

There are a lot of Spanish translators in the world today, but if you take yourself seriously and start marketing yourself as outlined above, you'll be able to make a niche for yourself in the translation industry and make money as a Spanish translator.

Translating your web

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

Considering that 43% of Internet users cannot read English, translating your web site into a foreign language is a powerful way to promote your business.
But getting your web site translated can be an expensive exercise. Rates can vary between 0.04 US$ and 0.12 US$ per source word, depending on target language, length and subject matter being translated.

However, translation is a must if you want to reach foreign Internet users, who actually make up a larger slice of your target market pie.
The following is a guide on how you can translate your web pages 'for free', or how visitors to your web site can translate your web pages themselves.

1) Finding partners
This is obviously the best solution - the optimum, using a latinism. Using a human translator guarantees authenticity.
Luckily there are many freelance translators 'eager' to find a partner, especially one who is a web designer. Most translators are aware that having their own web site can enhance their business success. They will often accept a plan for the creation or enhancement of their web site in exchange for the translation of yours.

Before you look for a suitable partner, consider which language you would like your web site translated into. By far, Spanish is the most widely spoken language on the Internet. However, if your web site is science-orientated, then translating into German is probably more effective.
I recommend you choose a freelance translator rather than go through an agency, as freelance translators are usually less demanding.
To find a partner, browse the following newsgroups:
sci.lang.translation sci.marketplace

2) Using online dictionaries
There are several web sites offering online dictionaries. Some of them allow you to copy their dictionary interface and place it on your web page. This is a good solution for foreign users who know English, but are not familiar with specific technical terms.
Adding a link or links to online dictionaries, will make it easier for users to look up certain terms and then return to your page.

Furthermore, an added feature such as an online dictionary is a great way to increase traffic to your site. Before adding a dictionary, consider which languages you wish to cater for. This is important if your web site has a lot of technical content and users need a quick and easy solution for looking up difficult terms and concepts.
I have provided a list of web sites below that offer such a service:
http://eurodic.ip.lu/cgi-bin/edicbin/EuroDicWWW.pl http://www.june29.com/IDP/IDPsearch.html http://www.logos.it/dictionary/owa/old_dictionary.sp?lg=EN http://www.langtolang.com/ http://www.allwords.com/

3) Using automated translators
In my humble opinion, using an automated translator is the absolute last resort! An automated translator today cannot accurately or effectively translate localised meanings, slang and grammar, but is acceptable if you only want to give your users a general idea of your web page's content.

Having a link to an automated translation service can also increase traffic to your web site. Unlike human translators, automated translators have the capacity to cater for multiple languages. In short, this is an affordable, all-round solution.
The most important developer of automated translators is surely SYSTRAN S.A. -
FreeTranslation.com - http://www.freetranslation.com allows you to copy its automated translator interface and place it on your web page.

Of course it is possible to use a combination of all of the above services - especially when your web site is large. Have your main pages translated by a human translator, and minor pages translated or available for translation by an online dictionary or automated translator service.
It is strategically important that the first page users see is translated (or a link to a translated version available). This will ensure that foreign users will feel compelled to stay and browse your entire web site.

Cultural Sensitivity in Business

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

Forget the saying "the world is getting smaller "it has gotten smaller. Advances in transport and communications technology combined with the development of a world economy have resulted in people from different nations, cultures, languages and backgrounds now communicating, meeting and doing business with one another more than ever.

There are some observers that claim this new found intimacy has lead to a greater understanding of "the other" and as a result our cultural differences are in fact diminishing. However, in reality the opposite is true. As we come together our cultural differences become accentuated as we start to realise that the rest of the world is not reading from the same book. One area where this is now being felt is in business.

Very few businesses can escape the need to at some point in time deal with foreign colleagues, clients or customers. Business is international and if an organisation wants to develop and grow it needs to harness the potential an international stage offers. Twenty years ago British, European and American organisations doing business abroad had very little competition due to the lack of rival industrialised nations. Back then it was easy to do business "our way". Today some of the world's largest economies include Japan, China, Mexico, Brazil, India and Korea. As a result there has been a small shift from "our way" to "let's try and understand your way". Why? Because western organisations are feeling the impact a lack of cultural sensitivity can and does have upon business performance.

Many organisations are now investing heavily in providing staff with language lessons in order to be able to crack foreign markets as well as providing cultural sensitivity training to address issues such as etiquette, protocol, communication styles and negotiation approaches. In a competitive world such businesses appreciate that greater cultural sensitivity will assist them in forging longer and more prosperous relationships. Yet progress is slow. Unfortunately a subconscious sense of cultural superiority still seems to reign; one that assumes the rest of the world does business like us and if they don't then they should.

The world's inhabitants however come from many faiths, cultures, world views and experiences which makes such an assumption futile. We are all different and as a result doing business across borders (whether political, religious, cultural or linguistic) requires cultural sensitivity, meaning a sense of empathy, flexibility and creativity informed by cultural knowledge. As with most things in life, business has learnt the hard way.

To illustrate how these lessons have been and are still being learnt we will look at some examples where a lack of cultural sensitivity has let a company, individual or product down. For the sake of brevity these have been summed up in two simple categories: culture and language.

Culture comes in many shapes and sizes. It includes areas such as politics, history, faith, mentality, behaviour and lifestyle. The following examples demonstrate how a lack of cultural sensitivity led to failure.
* When colouring in 800,000 pixels on a map of India, Microsoft coloured eight of them a different shade of green to represent the disputed Kashmiri territory. The difference in greens meant Kashmir was shown as non-Indian, and the product was promptly banned in India. Microsoft was left to recall all 200,000 copies of the offending Windows 95 operating system software to try and heal the diplomatic wounds. It cost them millions.

*The fast food giant McDonald's spent thousands on a new TV ad to target the Chinese consumer. The ad showed a Chinese man kneeling before a McDonald?s vendor and begging him to accept his expired discount coupon. The ad was pulled due to a lack of cultural sensitivity on McDonald's behalf. The ad caused uproar over the fact that begging is considered a shameful act in Chinese culture.

* A nice example of how pictures don't translate well across cultures is the time staff at the African port of Stevadores saw the "internationally recognised"symbol for "fragile" (i.e. broken wine glass) and presumed it was a box of broken glass. Rather than waste space they threw all the boxes into the sea.

* When the US firm Gerber started selling baby food in Africa they used the same packaging as in the US, i.e. with a picture of a baby on the label. Sales flopped and they soon realised that in Africa companies typically place pictures of contents on their labels.

* Pepsodent tried to sell its toothpaste in South East Asia by emphasizing that it "whitens your teeth." They found out that the local natives chew betel nuts to blacken their teeth which they find attractive.

* The film "Hollywood Buddha" showed a complete lack of cultural sensitivity by causing outrage and protest on the streets of Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Burma when the designer of the film's poster decided to show the lead actor sitting on the Buddha's head, an act of clear degradation against something holy.

* The concept of Big Brother was somehow taken to the Middle East. The show was pulled of the air after its first few episodes due to public protests and pressure from religious bodies stating the show's mixed sex format was against Islamic principles.

* A golf ball manufacturing company packaged golf balls in packs of four for convenient purchase in Japan. Unfortunately, the number 4 is equivalent to the number 13 due it sounding like the word "death". The company had to repackage the product.

The business world is littered with poor translations that have caused great embarrassment to their perpetrators due to their lack of cultural sensitivity. The following are some of the choicest examples.
* IKEA once tried to sell a workbench called FARTFULL - not a hugely popular product for obvious reasons.

* Both Clairol and the Irish alcoholic drink Irish Mist did not properly consider the German language when they launched their products there. Clairol's hair-curling iron "Mist Stick" and the drink "Irish Mist" both flopped - why? 'Mist' translates in German as "manure".

* The Japanese seem to have a particular flair for naming products. The country has given us gems such as "homo soap", "coolpis", "Germ bread" and "Shito Mix".
* A new facial cream with the name "Joni" was proposed for marketing in India. They changed the name since the word translated in Hindi meant "female genitals."
* Coors had its slogan, "Turn it loose," translated into Spanish, where it became "Suffer from diarrhoea."

All the examples cited above could easily have been avoided by conducting some basic research in respect to checking the concept, design, shape, colour, packaging, message or name in the target culture. In the majority of cases it is simply assumed that "if it is OK for us it is OK for them". If businesses want to succeed internationally, cultural sensitivity must be at the heart of everything they do; from their personal interaction and relationships with clients to the products/services they develop.

Quality Assurance for the Freelance translator: A Primer

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

Quality Assurance (QA) in translation can be defined as all the systematic and planned actions established to ensure translation services adhere to client requirements and meet the expectations of the target market. The translation service provider bears the responsibility of establishing the methodologies and processes necessary to meet customer quality requirements.

Language and Technical Quality:
To ensure the highest quality translation, you should only accept translation jobs where you are a native speaker of the target language and possess professional expertise in the subject matter. Having a "near-native fluency" in the target language may not be sufficient to accurately relay cultural idioms or inherent language subtleties and nuances. Additionally, appropriate educational certifications and professional credentials are essential for technical translations.

As part of your language and technical quality strategy, make sure your translation goes through editing and proof-reading stages, besides the translation stage. After you've completed your translation, have it reviewed by an editor to verify its accuracy. This final, edited version should then be proofread for the consistency, fluency and integrity of its content.

Review and Prepare the Source Text
Any mistakes, omissions or inaccuracy in the source text will inevitably be repeated in the target language, unless an initial review is carried out. It is essential that you analyze the linguistic and technical quality of the source text and make any necessary modifications - be they simple or extensive - to incorporate quality. Make sure you contact your client and advise them of any initial review you deem necessary.

Ask Where and Why
Culture is an integral part of language, so make sure you know your target audience. Ask yourself the two-simple questions of Where and Why on every single translation project your work on.

Ask yourself "why translate this text": is it to educate, persuade or sell? The objective of each translation project will determine the language register, as well as the translation style you will use.

Another important question to ask is "Where to translate"? Am I translating to a French audience in France or in Quebec? Is the translation intended for professional PC expert or the casual user? An understanding of the target audience of your translation, as well as a thorough knowledge of regional as well as group-specific language variations will eliminate the risk of any misunderstanding and will assure the quality and integrity of your translation.

Visual and Functional Quality
It is essential to verify the quality of the presentation and functionality of the translation to make sure it accurately reflects the quality of the source material.

Visual checks include the verification of typography, page flow and cross references. Functional checks test the functionality and output features of the translation, be it documentation, software or website. These may include the duplication of the functionality of the source software, compatibility with respective platforms and hardware, and correct output, such as publishing and printing standards.

Establishing translation quality assurance processes does not only yield increased quality but ultimately facilitates successful translation projects and reduces turnaround times as future translation projects come into the mix.

Document Localization

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

With the millions of people all over the globe online, many companies profit from making their products and services available to this global market. The process of preparing a product or service for this global market is known as globalization and is made up of two primary components: localization and internationalization.

Localization tailors the product for a specific locale while internationalization enables the product to be used without language or culture obstructions. Both are important for ensuring that your product is accessible to anyone, anywhere, but neither can be done by just anyone. You need to find experts in not only language but culture as well. Millions every year are lost because a company going global shortcuts on document localization. Entire ad campaigns wrongly translated will not only be a huge waste of money but also damage your company's brand.

The Localization Industry Standards Association or LISA defines the process: "Localization involves taking a product and making it linguistically and culturally appropriate to the target locale (country/region and language) where it will be used and sold." Successful localization and translation requires understanding of the source material, understanding of the target market, and a deep knowledge of the culture and language. To compete in this global marketplace you need to adopt a work locally think globally mentality. This means that you are customizing your service to local markets while expanding into new ones. A cookie cutter process won't make you competitive globally.

A simple google search for "document localization" will help you find numerous expert globalization service companies. Finding the right one will help you increase your localization ROI. Remember that there are more differences than just language when globalizing your business. Culture differences need to be understood as well. Each globalization service company should have a specialist who works directly with a certified team of translators and cultural experts, reviewing the original material, building a glossary, and ensuring accurate translation takes place. Utilizing these experts will ensure that you are getting a good return on your localization efforts.

Document localization is much more than literal translation. It's providing you with a localized product that maintains the original tone and feel of your original message, while conveying it in a culturally appropriate manner. Document localization covers a variety of documents including: Help files / online help, product documentation, user guides, white papers, promotional materials, and technical business documentation. Face it documents are everywhere: brochures, specifications, instructions, training material, slide shows, annual reports, bulletins, customer magazines, maintenance manuals, etc. - internationalizing companies invest considerable amounts of time and money in document language versions.

Document localization services are indispensable to any market expansion endeavor, when there is a difference in culture and language. Through localization, your company and your products can be correctly presented to your target audience ensuring smooth and hindrance free acceptance projecting an international image of the company having high quality products. Localization ensures cultural acceptability by eliminating the language barriers and any offensive colors, graphics, symbols, geographic significance, etc. has a centralized team of linguistic and technical quality assurance professionals. Together with our worldwide network of native-speaking translators, they deliver the highest-quality to ensure your localized documents speak to your international customers.

Translation Services

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

Translation services are categorized by specialization. Most translation agencies turn out product manuals, catalogues, newsletters, patents, brochures, data sheets, and trade posters in the desired language versions.

Common areas of specialization broadly include decipherments (translation of ancient texts into modern languages), administrative translation (translation of administrative texts), commercial translation (translation of business texts), computer translation (translation of computer programs and related documents), economic translation (translation of texts relating to economics), financial translation (translation of financial documents), legal translation (translation of legal documents like contracts), medical translation, technical translation (translation of technical materials such as research, patents, user manuals, and repair manuals), scholarly translation (translation of specialized texts written in an academic environment), and scientific translation (translation of scientific texts).

There are a few areas of translation that cannot be attempted by a layman, as an error could lead to grave consequences. Medical translations involve medical devices, research, and patents. Therefore, medical translators require training in translation and medicine. Likewise, legal translations necessitate training and experience in translation as well as knowledge of comparative law and industry-specific expertise.

Literary translation (translation of novels, essays, poems, etc.) has given us bodies of work from diverse cultures. Important works in Russian, Cuban, African, and regional European languages, in addition to Latin and ancient Greek classics, were made accessible to wider audiences, owing to the efforts of literary translators. American authors whose works have been translated into European languages include Mark Twain, Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, Pearl Buck, Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind), and Upton Sinclair.

Decipherment is of particular significance to archaeologists. The term is used by archaeologists to refer to the translation of ancient languages and scripts into modern languages. For example, The Rosetta Stone shed light on Egyptian History and culture; the work of Jean Francois Champollion shed light on the written history of ancient Egypt. Other examples of decipherment include Harappan hieroglyphs, Indus script, Linear A, Linear B, Maya hieroglyphs, and Olmec writing.

The Potential of a Chinese Website Translation

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

China is constantly in the news at present due to its phenomenal economic expansion. With more and more businesses wanting to invest in China and more Chinese businesses wanting to export abroad, the Chinese market is booming. In short, China is on the fast-track to becoming a world economic heavyweight.

The potential for lucrative business ventures within the country are unquestionable. One avenue that offers businesses huge inroads into the country is the internet. A Chinese website, properly structured and considered, provides a point of contact to millions of potential new clients and customers. All the signs are pointing to the fact that companies that act now in getting their websites translated into Chinese and properly marketed using local search engines, stand the best chance of capitalizing on a fairly young economic gold mine.

Looking at recent business activity and reports from China, the internet is looking strong and healthy. Both Google and Yahoo! are now involved with the Chinese internet industry in one way or another. Google most recently launched its Adwords business in China. The local Chinese search engine Baidu.com just floated on the stock market with massive success. Statistics show that the number of internet users in 2005 stands at 103 million users, a mere 7.9% of the Chinese population. With greater access to the internet and falling prices for computing hardware, this figure will only increase. Furthermore, an increasing number of European and American companies are seeking to break into the market through Chinese websites, most notably Liverpool and Manchester United Football Clubs who both clearly see the financial potential of selling their goods to a hungry Chinese audience.

The sign clearly says, "China - Land of Business Opportunity". For businesses wanting to profit from this growing market place the Chinese website is critical. Chinese internet users are turning more and more to the internet as a source of information, goods and services. Companies that deal with anything from clothing to tourism to consulting are all in demand. Those that get a place in the market now will see secure future revenue.

In the grand scheme of things, the returns a Chinese website brings outweighs the small initial costs involved in producing it. A Chinese website will act as your marketing tool, attract new customers, give you a competitive edge and ultimately increase your revenue.

Prior to having your Chinese website translated or designed you need to know who you are targeting. When this article refers to China it means mainland China. In China the "simplified" script is used. However, in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia the "
traditional"script is used. Be sure to use the correct script when having your website translated.

There are two ways of going about presenting your Chinese website. Firstly, to have your whole site translated into Chinese. This however can only really work for small, compact sites. Larger sites will need a larger financial outlay. Secondly, a company may decide to produce a "microsite". This is where the most important information about a company is translated and condensed into a few pages so a Chinese visitor can access the basics about who you are, what you do and how to contact you.

To get your Chinese website up and running you will need a good translation or localization agency. They will be able to analyse your current site, understand the purpose of your site, help define your target audience and then take care of the translation of the site's content into Chinese. Some agencies can also take care of the website design work too.

Other services you may need to consider ensuring maximum impact of your site are a Cross Cultural Assessment and Search Engine Marketing. A cross cultural assessment is carried out by an expert in cultural differences. They will look at the structure of your site, the use of colours, pictures, logos and presentation to make sure it is not offensive to a Chinese audience. They will also advise on what could help boost your site's appeal. For example, the use of the colour red is considered auspicious in China.

Once you have your Chinese website you will need to be found. A few companies now provide multilingual search engine marketing. This is where your website will be submitted to major Chinese search engines and directories; structured using certain key search terms and phrases and promoted on the internet through links from other sites.

Expansion beyond national borders is imperative for today's businesses seeking long term growth. China clearly is a fantastic opportunity for businesses looking for a potential source of revenue from overseas. A young, internet savvy population demonstrate that a Chinese website is one of the most reasonable yet highly successful means of tapping the market.

Feb 26, 2007

How SEO Goes Hand in Hand with Website Translation

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

Understanding the power of the internet and its influence on marketing strategy is the first step towards the realization of the importance and requisiteness of website translation to reach not just the native language market but the global market as well.

In today’s world, most people are using the internet to find information and gain access to resources they both normally cannot access or would require some travel and effort to acquire. The internet solves this disparity between customer need and customer access by enabling any user in a myriad of countries with a portal to the internet to have access to all the information/services/products they desire with a click of a button. This change has led many marketing firms and agencies to evolve their marketing strategies from radio and TV to aggressive online awareness and promotional activities. This change is due in part to the immense potential for growth the internet facilitates in both the local and global markets for service(s) or product(s).

All this is clear but why translate my website to any particular foreign languages?
The above is a very common question that brings the author back to a personal marketing philosophy and direction as the manager and owner of a business. Business owners seek to implement marketing strategies that will build awareness among the maximum amount of customer segments that would be interested in my product/service. Operating under this philosophy, once any owner defines the goals he/she wants to achieve, the realization that new markets he/she wants to open are not limited to those of his/her native country becomes quite apparent. The motivations for translation become self-explanatory.

Translating and localizing ones product/service offering allows exponentially faster growth by removing any language or cultural barriers that would prevent potential clients from understanding product/service offering and in turn purchasing product/service.

Even when a website has been translated into a particular language, unless the content is localized, culture can remain as one last barrier to the consumer understanding a company’s product offering. English, for example, is spoken in many different cultures; however, English idioms and connotations of words can mean completely different things to people from different cultures. In England, the term bang can have sexual connotations; while in the U.S., getting started with a bang means getting off to a great start. This is exactly why the localization process has to be done by professionals who will not only translate the message to the target language but also write the content with the targeted culture in mind. Using key phrases and words that attract and appeal to the target market allows the right message to be delivered from inside the culture and not from the outside which results in success through building awareness among target customers and in turn bringing revenues.

With the importance of the translation/localization part of the process stated, the focus can now be placed on the importance of an effective SEO strategy.

Multilingual SEO and Localization
The definition of SEO is “Search Engine Optimization” which basically means to optimize ones website in such a way that search engines would deem its content more relevant to specific keywords entered by the user in the search bar than any of the competitors’ websites.

Before consumers can understand this translated content and see that a product meets their needs, they must be aware of the site that provides these solutions. An effective SEO strategy takes a business owner beyond localization of the content of his/her site and builds awareness for his/her business brand and allows potential customers to find the accompanying service(s)/product(s) with relative ease through localization and optimization of the site for local major search engines for a particular language.

According to the Forrester Research, an independent technology and research company, if a website is not among the first twenty in the search engines it may as well not exist. Ninety percent of all internet users do not bother looking any further than the first two pages of the search results. Users now more than ever are aware of what they need and would rather find products and services themselves through the internet than have information thrown at them. Potential consumers rely heavily on major search engines to find the products and services they desire to meet their needs and thus greater optimization of a website for these engines creates better awareness. Using a professional SEO who understands the specific language requirements and culture for any particular language can best equip a site to appear in the first two pages of results.

Return on an SEO & Translation Investment
Those who feel they are candidates for SEO strategies must be aware that successful long lasting results are achieved by working with the search engine and giving Google, e.g., all the elements it needs for its algorithm. These individuals must also be aware that such programs take time and cannot be done overnight or within just a few days because it is a very precise mathematical process demanding research and time to any given field or area.

Optimizing ones multilingual website for all major and local search engines helps boost the amount of visits on a particular website up to one hundred percent or more; usually meaning more business and more awareness for their service(s) and message one wants to convey to any foreign market which normally would have been out of ones reach.

In conclusion, taking a translation project for website content and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be very complex and time consuming. Trying to do it without knowing exactly how to do so can cause more damage than good to ones business in both aspects of translation and SEO. Both processes demand professional knowledge and experience which allow one to represent ones business in the most professional way to the most people possible. Revenues come from brand and product awareness, and this awareness comes from effective marketing strategies. Translating website content and optimizing search position on search engines are both examples of effective marketing at work.

Three Myths About The Translation Business

(Edited by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation services)

The native speaker principle is overrated, and the academic concept of 'quality' means little in a business context. Statements such as these may sound offensive to translators and clients alike. Yet those who plan to start up a translation business should be aware that the received views of the translation establishment may have little to do with reality.

There are countless languages in the world, most of which have many thousands and some even billions of monolingual or bilingual speakers. The laws of statistics would seem to dictate, therefore, that any attempt to set up a translation business is futile, if only because the number of potential competitors is overwhelming. However, once you have begun your translation business you will realise that serious competition - i.e., from rivals with business acumen and the nerve to question translation myths - is in fact comparatively scarce.

Native speakers are generally held to be indisputable authorities on translation issues. This leads us to the first myth about the translation business: the native speaker is infallible. When you start up your own translation business you will soon discover that most customers, especially the more knowledgeable ones, will demand that the translation be done by a native speaker, on the assumption that a native speaker is automatically a good writer. Not so. While there may be over a billion native speakers of English worldwide, only a fraction of them can be relied upon to possess the judgement it takes to decide whether a translation is linguistically sound in a given business context. We should not automatically assume that a native speaker is a good writer in his own language, and even less that he is a good translator. For one thing, translation requires thorough insight into the source language as well as the target language. When you hire translators for your business, you should never forget that while a good translator is usually a native speaker of the target language, not all native speakers are good translators.

The second myth about the translation business has to do with client priorities, and the assumption that more than anything else, clients want quality. People can be excused for taking this myth seriously. Anyone in his right mind would expect that the client's main concern when engaging a professional translation agency is to get a high-quality translation. Not so. Studies have shown that most clients are in fact more interested in speed than in quality. This is not to say that your client will be pleased to accept any trash as long as he gets it fast; the point is that quality standards in a business context are different from those in an academic context, and may be overshadowed by practical concerns. University students are trained to achieve linguistic perfection, to produce translations formulated in impeccable grammar and a superbly neutral style. Yet the fruits of such training may not be quite to the business client's taste. In fact, there are probably as many tastes as there are clients. A lawyer will expect you first and foremost to build unambiguous clauses and use appropriate legalese; a machine builder requires technical insight and authentic technical jargon; and the publisher of a general interest magazine needs articles that are simply a good read. What all clients tend to have in common, however, is a reverence for deadlines. After all, when a foreign client has arrived to sign a contract, there should be something to sign; when a magazine has been advertised to appear, it should be available when the market expects it. In a business environment, many different parties may be involved in the production of a single document, which means that delays will accumulate fast and may have grave financial consequences. So, starters should be aware that 'quality' equals adaptability to the client's register and jargon, and that short deadlines are as likely to attract business as quality assurance procedures.

And if you manage to attract business, you will find that the translation industry can be quite profitable, even for business starters. The third myth we would like to negate is that translation is essentially an ad hoc business with very low margins. Not so. Various successful ventures in recent years, for example in the Netherlands and in Eastern Europe, have belied the traditional image of the translator slaving away from dawn till dusk in an underheated attic and still barely managing to make ends meet. It is true that the translation process is extremely labour intensive, and despite all the computerisation efforts, the signs are that it will essentially remain a manual affair for many years to come. Nevertheless, if you are capable of providing high-quality translations, geared to your client's requirements and within the set deadlines, you will find that you will be taken seriously as a partner and rewarded by very decent bottom line profits.