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InforMATIon Blog

The MATI blog features articles pertaining to translation and interpretation. Subject matter includes issues pertaining to the field in the form of explorations into language, methodology and technology, book reviews, biographies, notes on presenters and meeting summaries. The views, opinions and statements expressed within each posting do not necessarily reflect the position of MATI as a whole.
  • 11/18/2015 7:07 PM | Anonymous
    On “Lying Through Their Teeth: Identifying Translation Scams”


    By Joseph Wojowski, MATI Vice President
    with adaptions by Alaina Brantner, MATI Director


    At MATI’s 12th Annual Conference, I spoke about translator scammers during my presentation, “Lying Through Their Teeth: Identifying Translation Scams.” An awareness of translation scams is essential in the technological age of our industry, in which a translator’s professional credentials and contact information can be hijacked, resulting in monetary losses, the loss of (potential) clients, a damaged reputation, and losses in valuable time and efforts to restore the state of one’s business. In this article, adapted from a previous blog post I wrote on the topic (posted on my Translation Technology Blog here, and on the MATI Blog here), I provide step-by-step instructions for the some of the tips I spoke about at MATI12 for preventing and combating scams.


    Let me start with an introduction of the kinds of scams that are prevalent: the theft of CVs and résumés, and fake translation job offers.


    In terms of the first category of scams listed above, translators and interpreters well understand the importance of the CV or the résumé, since for most T&I professionals, we do not create/update these documents every couple of years to gain new long-term positions. Rather, CVs and résumés are the ambassadors for our brand and draw people in to contract us out for work on a daily basis. We have spent years going to school and building our professional reputations, work and experience, efforts which are represented in documents of this kind, and which can be damaged if that information is not carefully protected. Professionals need to protect themselves from translator scammers, who actively seek out CVs and résumés that are editable and then change the contact information—nothing else—and submit the fraudulent CV as their own to get work. The unsuspicious agency receives the fraudulent CV, checks out the legitimate translator’s credentials and uses the contact information found on the CV to hire the thief. The thief will then delay delivery of the translation, and if s/he delivers at all, the translation will almost always be poor in quality due to the use of free, public machine translation, such as Google Translate, without post-editing. What’s worse, the scammed project or quality manager may then contact the actual provider regarding issues with their supposed work! The legitimate translator is then stuck with the headache of trying to repair both the botched job, which they didn’t accept or agree to, and their damaged reputation.


    Similarly, scammers may pose as translation companies or independent project managers and prey on unsuspecting freelance translators. They will set up jobs and contract freelancers out for projects, overpay by check and then ask the freelancer to send a check with the difference. Meanwhile, the original check to the freelancer bounces, the freelancer gets charged a bounce fee, and the check to the thief with the difference gets cashed. What ends up happening is that the freelancer gets taken for a ride and penalized twice for performing a legitimate service.


    Combating these con-men


    First and foremost, I believe in being pro-active in all matters dealing with fraud. The harder you make it for someone to steal your credentials, the less-likely someone will be to do so. In my honest opinion, it is worth the time to make stealing your credentials harder when preparing your CV than the damage caused by a ruined reputation.


    1. Translators: stop sending out your CV in editable document format.


    Editable documents such as text files and word documents are called that for a reason, they are editable; and as described above, conmen can make fast work of your editable content! Even in documents that are password-protected, text can still be copied and pasted to another document. PDF files are not even an adequate solution, since scammers can still copy and paste content from that file format. For a medium level of security, I therefore recommend that you save your CV as a PDF, export the PDF files to jpeg format (you’ll get one image per page). Next, reassemble the images into a single PDF (this will also make the file size smaller).




    Then, go into password encryption and modify the Document Restriction Settings, not allowing text access or content extraction from the document and only allowing low-res printing. This level of security prevents the reader from using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to lift text from the flat image, prevents them from copying the image via snapshot, and prevents others from exporting the images to other file formats.


    For a higher level of security, use the document open settings to restrict the opening of the PDF, in addition to the medium level document restrictions using a different password than the medium level password. This will enable you to control who can and cannot open your CV and still control what they can do once they have opened the document. If you chose this higher security route, I will leave it up to you as to how you would like people to get the password to be able to open the document. A simple suggestion might be to have someone who would like to see your CV submit a request on your personal website asking for the password. Get creative, but always be aware of who you are giving viewing access to.


        

     
    2. Translators: cross-reference contact information with information found on the company’s actual website. There are also a number of references on LinkedIn and translator fora you can visit to see if anyone else has written about a company that has contacted you for services. And head over to http://www.translator-scammers.com/ and do a quick search to see if someone who contacted you is on the scammer list.


    3. Translators and LSPs: check the sender’s IP address and verify that the message was sent from the translator or company’s documented location. There are a number of methods to check the IP address of the sender, depending on the email carrier you use. In general, you will right-click in the body of the email and click a phrase like “Show source.” In gmail specifically, you click the down arrow next to the “reply” button and then select “Show original.” This will bring up a webpage containing the html coding. You can next click Ctrl+F and search for “Received: from”. Not too far after that highlighted phrase, you should be able to find the IP address of the sender, four sets of two to three numbers separated by periods (i.e. 123.45.67.891; redacted in the image below). Copy the IP address into one of many IP address locators, like ipfingerprints.com, which will give you the location of the server from which the sender’s email has originated. Check that this location matches the location of the vendor/LSP that you are working with, but also be aware that for accounts like gmail and outlook, the IP address will be the location of the server hosting those accounts.



     
    4. LSPs: when looking over résumés, check out the person’s contact information on her or his résumé, and cross-reference this information against any profiles on TranslatorsCafé, Proz, and/or professional association directories, etc. (trusting the professional association directory over any other source). If something does not quite add up, send the translator a message letting them know about the contact information discrepancy.


    5. LSPs: check for consistency in other provider details. Red flags include language pairs that don’t match the geographic location of the provider and a lack of contact information. When checking CVs and résumés, you can also verify that the document properties correspond with the vendor’s details. Simply right click on the un-opened file, and navigate to properties. From there you can check the “details” of the file, including the document author.


     

     
    Fighting back against translation scams


    Once you’ve identified a translation scammer using the tips provided above, fight back! Help your colleagues avoid scammers by sharing the scammer’s contact details on social media, and forward the fraudulent email and CV to translator.scammers@gmail.com or mail@translator-scammers.com. You can even flood the scammers’ inboxes with emails, by visiting http://translator-scammers.com/translator-scammers-fightback.htm.


    Overall, protecting yourself from translation scams just boils down to how pro-active you are. You do not want to be in a situation where you have a translation company on your back accusing you of providing poor translations, asking you to fix the errors when you did not have any prior contact with them to begin with. Or wasting time and energy hounding a translation company for payment when the company never really existed in the first place. Being aware of translation scammers and taking simple steps to protect yourself and your colleagues can help ensure that our work environment is a safer place for all professionals.


    Websites/resources of interest:
    Carola Berger’s article on Translator Scammers in the October 2014 ATA Chronicle
    http://www.translator-scammers.com/
    http://translationethics.blogspot.se/p/blog-page.html

    Joseph Wojowski is the Vice President of MATI. He is Director of Operations at Foreign Credits, Inc. in Des Plaines, IL, Chief Technology Officer at Morningstar Global Translations, and a Certified memoQ Trainer. Joseph’s slides from his presentation at MATI 12 can be found at: http://www.slideshare.net/JosephWojowski/lying-through-their-teeth-identifying-translator-scammers

  • 11/10/2015 9:18 PM | Meghan Konkol

    MATI Member Spotlight: Catherine Breckenridge



    Name: Catherine Breckenridge

     

    Language Pair(s): French to English

     

    Degree(s)/Certification(s): M.A. in Language, Literature, and Translation, concentration in French to English translation (in progress)

     

    How long have you been a MATI member? Two months


    Where do you live and/or work?


    I live and work (and go to school) in Milwaukee. I am a student in the M.A. in Language, Literature, and Translation at UWM, concentration in French to English translation. I also work full-time for an international medical society downtown.


    What inspired you to get into your field?


    When I was younger I had some misconceptions about what makes a good translator. I was always interested in language and cultures, and I had studied French all through school, but felt a translation career was unrealistic. I thought that my school-learned skills would never compete with the skills of those who had lived in a francophone country for a long time or learned French from a parent. I didn’t understand that being a good translator isn’t just being bilingual. Then, as an undergrad I saw a lecture by a patent translator working in my language pair. She had acquired her B language through study, like me, and she was not an engineer, but she was still very successful in her work because she was an excellent researcher and writer. It made me see translation as a real option for the first time.


    I’ve taken a little bit of a winding path, but one constant has been the enjoyment and fulfilment of helping people communicate across language and cultural barriers. In Fall 2014, I officially entered the MALLT program and I’m really happy to be starting this new career.


    Where do you see your field going in the future?  What are the most urgent issues to be addressed?


    So, I’m going to answer this question as a student who has not yet worked professionally in the field – take it with a grain of salt. This semester, we’ve been studying the professional aspects translation, including challenges faced in educating the public about the field. Clients with misconceptions about the translation process have unreasonable expectations for work volume and speed, not to mention the idea that Google Translate is a viable replacement for a professional translator. From my perspective this seems like the major issue of the day. If we’re not all working to correct these misconceptions, then we could find ourselves trying to meet them, lowering work quality and subsequently the client’s perception of our skills and talent. Aside from always having those good conversations with clients, blogs seem a good vehicle for to discuss these issues with the general public, and having them improves SEO.

     

    Do you have any tips for those starting out in the field? For those who’ve been in the field?


    I’m going to turn this around and ask my future colleagues, for a student just starting out in the field, what is the one thing you wish someone had told you at the beginning? You can reach me at cebreckenridge@gmail.com.

     

    Why do you think it’s important to belong to professional organizations like MATI?


    Three reasons:

    1)    Professional networking – it really seems paramount in our profession

    2)    Continuing education – constant learning is key, keeping sharp in the future after graduation

    3)    Improving my professional profile – I believe that belonging to professional organizations like MATI helps me distinguish myself to clients

  • 11/10/2015 9:15 PM | Meghan Konkol

    IUPUI Offers Graduate Certificate in Translation Studies


    By Enrica J. Ardemagni, Ph.D.


    In the fall of 2016 Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) will begin a Graduate Certificate in Translation Studies in French, German and Spanish. The Graduate Certificate in Translation Studies builds on a set of successfully implemented undergraduate translation courses by a cadre of faculty experts in the field in a context of increased demand for higher credentialed professionals and academic specialists. 


    Globalization of business, law and trade relations and the changing US demographics have increased demand for translation skills in many fields, especially: educational, medical, legal and technical. The current demand for skilled translators far outweighs the supply available.   

                        

    Consistent with the recommendations of the national academic and professional organizations, the graduate certificate program will ensure that all graduates have gained the knowledge, competence, critical thinking and linguistic skills to:


    • Integrate the theory into the practice of translation

    • Command the lexical precision, the detailed understanding of contexts or terminologies, and a nuanced sense of the purpose of language and its multiple audiences

    • Understand the complexity of ethical decisions that they will have to make in their professional practice

    • Discuss professionally their choices before future clients or employers


    The certificate is a total of 18 credit-hours, or a total of six courses, distributed among two core courses in the history and theory of translation, and the application of computer-assisted translation technologies, followed by two language-specific translation courses in Spanish, French or German, a linguistics course and a final internship or individual project. Additional offerings include four courses on Medical and Legal Interpreting. Courses are offered on a strategic rotation schedule.


    For more information, please contact wlac@iupui.edu.

  • 11/01/2015 10:33 AM | Anonymous

    Marina Waters – “Accompaniment and the Language Provider” 


    By Tyann Zehms


    Among the range of topics and speakers at MATI’s 12th Annual Conference in Merrillville, Indiana, Marina Waters brought to light a topic which escapes the regular scope of linguistic conferences, offering a new perspective on our growing industry. Waters—who holds a Master’s in Public Health and a Juris Doctor of Law, and whose professional experience includes work on civil and indigenous rights—presented on a notion which is intrinsically understood by many interpreters, yet rarely spoken about. In her presentation “Accompaniment and the Language Provider,” Waters touched upon several qualities which are prevalent not only in language providers, but also in the human spirit: qualities such as compassion and empathy. She continued by outlining how these qualities can be applied both professionally and emotionally in interpreting work, using the methodology of “Accompaniment.”


    In the beginning of the presentation, I was one of many attendees to be wrapped up in Waters' accounts of the humanitarian missions she embarked on as a college student with the International Public Health Response Team. It was October 1998, and Hurricane Mitch had just devastated areas of Central America. In a small village on the banks of the Rio Coco (which makes up the southern border of Honduras), Waters and her colleagues worked tirelessly to ensure clean drinking water and safe abodes for the villagers after this catastrophe. Charged with interviewing each family to create a census of the damages done, Waters had to ask the impossible: “What did your family lose to the hurricane?” Aside from material items and homes, these families had lost countless loved ones. Her initial interview-style approach to collecting this census data proved unsuccessful. Unsure of how to proceed, Waters heeded the advice of her interpreter and cast aside a direct line of questioning. Instead, she learned to collect the information she needed more organically. At this point, Waters fully embraced the subject matter of her presentation: the theory and methodology of Accompaniment.


    “To accompany is to place oneself with another,” Waters explained. This theory is all at once broad and specific. During her time in Central America, Waters learned the fine art of connecting to her interviewees with her compassion and empathy. She understood that being present with someone in their time of need was enough to encourage a relationship that would open lines of communication and build a sense of trust. By the end of her time with hurricane victims, Waters had the census data she needed, but not because villagers had answered her questions directly. Instead, the relationships she had developed meant she knew the answers to her questions in the same way that a friend knows about the life of another; through natural communication and by existing alongside another’s loss without turning away from it.


    I was beginning to understand Marina’s point. Accompaniment is a concept that can be found at the heart of the interpreter’s role. As interpreters well know, they have a very special role which is both regulated and yet sometimes unclear. They are the means by which two people, speaking different languages, can connect. And while their professional roles are regulated, their mere presence with the client can change the outcome of the situation; be it a doctor’s appointment, missionary work, legal settings, or any other such meeting. Waters referred to this as the phenomenon of serving as a witness, and her research shows that outcomes of meetings such as these change when another person is in the room. People’s actions and reactions are different, perhaps kinder and more thoughtful, when a third party is present witnessing the communication event. In brief, “the treatment/care of others may change with an interpreter in the room.”


    Throughout the presentation, Waters emphasized that even she herself wasn’t sure how to apply the Accompaniment Theory to the role of the language provider. Waters asked: was this something that was already happening on the ground? Was she stating the obvious? Do language providers already naturally and intrinsically incorporate accompaniment in their role? Waters pointed out that ample opportunities for this kind of empathy and awareness to improve the language industry exist – starting with language providers simply talking about their experiences and opening the lines of communication to discuss these grey areas of their work. Conversations such as these can improve industry standards as a whole, and served as the basis for Waters’ activities at the conference. By providing both the professional and humanitarian sides of the Accompaniment Theory, Marina Waters created a presentation which brought a higher sense of awareness to the role of the interpreter; an awareness that interpreters among the conference attendees may or may not have already understood. In either case, this sense of awareness was a welcomed perspective on the interpreting industry.


    Tyann Zehms holds a Bachelor’s in French from UW-Milwaukee, which she applies to her roles as a Quality Reviewer at Iverson Languages and as bilingual software support for StrategyBytes, LLC. Coming from a maritime background, Tyann has an eclectic range of interests which are nurtured by her love to travel and to speak the French language. Most recently, Tyann has continued her travels to the Québec province in Canada, where she is involved with French Canadian software installations. Tyann can be reached through LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tyannzehms

     

  • 10/28/2015 10:03 PM | Anonymous

    Cris Silva on “Educating the Next Generation of

    Translators and Interpreters”


    By Katalin Young


    At MATI’s 12th Annual Conference, held in Merrillville, Indiana on September 26, Cris Silva discussed different methods for teaching translation and interpreting in the presentation, “Online Education for the Next Generation of Translators and Interpreters.” During her presentation, Silva explored concerns and issues associated with the teaching of such fields online, a format with its own challenges and advantages.


    Silva first briefly presented the worldwide history of T&I (translation & interpreting) education, which has its roots in the Université de Genève, Switzerland, one of the oldest T&I schools in the world. Through the technological developments of the ages, we have now progressed to our current ability to carry out education in an online format. Moreover, thanks to the advantages posed by globalization and virtual connectivity, we have access to countless resources that can be used in the teaching of T&I, including Skype, FB and online forums, just to name a few. This is the context in which distance learning now takes place, an educational “environment” in which teachers and students are in different physical locations while participating in the same educational events. The concept of distance education is actually not new though, according to Silva, beginning as early as the 1700’s. E-learning, on the other hand, began around the 1960’s in Stanford, where they used computers in elementary schools for teaching both math and reading.


    Silva next highlighted the two possible modes of e-learning: synchronous and asynchronous learning. Synchronous learning, she noted, is most often associated with the traditional classroom setting: students learning together in the same place at the same time from a lecture or lesson being presented by an instructor. However, Silva pointed out that e learning can also take place within a synchronous format. For example, webinars bring trainers and students together and have the added bonus of being recordable to be consumed later. Alternatively, asynchronous learning does not require all parties to be in the same location at the same time; for example, for online classes, the instructor can post something on the web for students to view later at a time convenient for them.


    As you might imagine, there are advantages and disadvantages for both modes and settings, and for online classes versus face-to-face instruction as well. However, Silva emphasized the biggest concern for the online environment, saying, “Bandwidth is everything.” Although online instruction involves several technical requirements for both students and instructors, Silva noted that this was the most important requirement to keep in mind. Beyond the challenges associated with technology, Silva noted that teaching students’ with multiple individual language pairs is much more challenging for instructors than teaching to a single language pair. In addition, the format of classes needs to be considered. According to Silva, the most typical format consists of core classes, electives or specialty classes, and a capstone project at the end of the program. Courses may include activities that Silva carries out in her own classes, like screen sharing, the use and discussion of translators’ logs, and peer-editing.


    Overall, Silva framed the above discussion around the teachability of the fields of translation and interpreting (T&I) as a whole. She posed questions to the audience, like are these tasks skills? If so, then, can they be taught to others? Audience members seemed to agree that T&I are skills, and the next question considered was how one then teaches the art of translation and interpreting, and if that art can even be taught? Further questions considered included what the minimum curriculum for teaching the skill and/or art of T&I should look like? And for those with a natural talent, is training even necessary? Audience members seemed to reach the consensus that although T&I requires at least a bit of natural talent, training is also necessary. On the flip side, for teachers of the art and skill of T&I, Silva aligned herself with Max Troyer, who once said, “We’re not teachers of translation and interpretation, just translators and interpreters who like to teach.”

    Cris Silva graduated from Kent State University, where she obtained an MA in translation. She currently lives in Colorado, where she has continued her work as a project and terminology manager, freelance translator, conference interpreter, and voice-over talent. She also teaches translation at institutions such as the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey’s Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Education, New York University, and the University of Denver. Before becoming a full-time linguist and project manager, she worked in radio broadcasting. She is also an ATA-certified English>Portuguese translator.

    Katalin Young is an MA student at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and is focusing on Conference and Community Interpreting in the Translation Studies program. Although she is dedicated to the practice of Spanish<>English interpreting, she has also studied many other languages, including Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, Catalan, and currently, Korean.

  • 10/23/2015 2:00 PM | Anonymous

    12th Annual MATI Conference:

    Olga Shostachuk, “Immigration in the Eye of the Beholder”


    By Abigail Wright


    At the 12th Annual MATI Conference in Merrillville, Indiana on September 26, 2015, Olga Shostachuk treated her audience to “Immigration in the Eye of the Beholder,” lending insight into immigration law and specifically the asylum system and the role interpreters play within it. Shostachuk, a PhD candidate in Translation Studies at Kent State University, is an active translator and interpreter working in Ukrainian, Russian, and English, specializing in legal and medical translation and interpreting. She also teaches translation and Russian.

    Shostachuk began her presentation with an overview of the complexities surrounding immigration law. She also discussed the immigration court system. With 260 judges, 58 courts, and a plethora of acronyms to remember, it creates a challenge for translators and interpreters. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) of the Department of Justice (DOJ), for example, includes the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge (OCIJ), the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), and the Office of the Chief Immigration Hearing Officer (OCAHO). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) includes Customs and Border Protection (CBP), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The CBP and ICE function as law enforcement agencies, while USCIS handles queries from immigrants and immigration benefits. These terms and many more are included in an immigration law glossary Shostachuk provided as a handout, a resource of great value, especially to those seeking to enter the field.

    Shostachuk went on to give an overview of the asylum system and the ways in which it can be abused. She stressed the fact that fabricated asylum stories are often tighter than true ones, which can be muddled by trauma and its aftereffects. Further, working as an interpreter for asylum seekers requires a strong stomach, as it involves retelling horrific stories and abuse. Applicants’ physiological and emotional states may be compromised, and so might the independence and invisibility of the interpreter. Additionally, interpreters must be prepared for all measure of seeming non-sequiturs, as what initially sounds like a rambling tangent may turn out to be critical to the applicant’s claim. Recognizing that showing can be more effective than telling, Shostachuk enlisted three volunteers from the audience to demonstrate the pitfalls of interpreting for an asylum seeker.

    Shostachuk’s demonstration took the form of role-play, with volunteers playing the parts of an asylum applicant, a consecutive interpreter, and an immigration officer. The volunteers read from a script, in which the applicant described how a man she had thought was a friend had turned around and done something horrible, before suddenly saying, in answer to the officer’s question about what happened that night, that she had always liked bananas, that the man used to bring her a banana to class every day. In the first version of the script, the interpreter interrupts and interprets this right away, rather than waiting to see if the connection between bananas and that horrible night would be revealed. This, Shostachuk explained, could be dangerous for both the applicant and the interpreter: to the officer’s ears, the applicant may seem to be talking nonsense, or she may believe the interpreter to be interpreting incorrectly. In another version, the interpreter waits for the applicant to return to the topic at hand before beginning her interpretation, making the connection between bananas and the applicant’s claim clear to the officer, and the importance of the interpreter allowing asylum seekers to tell their stories in their own way clear to the audience.

    Overall, Shostachuk gave a thorough demonstration of the challenges immigration court interpreters face, from the broad knowledge base required to navigate the system to the sensitivity and human awareness needed to interpret effectively for asylum seekers.  Her fascinating presentation brought the conference to a thoughtful close, leaving attendees with much to consider in future court and legal translation and interpreting endeavors.
       
    Abigail Wright is a second-year student in the Master of Arts in Translation and Interpreting program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, specializing in Spanish into English translation. She holds a BA from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and joined MATI in 2015.

  • 10/01/2015 5:10 PM | Joseph Wojowski

    The Kentucky Institute for Court Interpreting is offering a 5-day training for Court Interpreters from November 14th to the 18th in Frankfort. For more information, contact ncitrp@email.arizona.edu or call (520)621-3615. Register at nci.arizona.edu/kici

    Register by October 24th and get a 10% Early Bird discount!


  • 09/29/2015 12:08 PM | Joseph Wojowski


    In case you missed the big announcement at the 12th Annual MATI Conference on Saturday, MATI is starting a video podcast!

    The podcast will feature the latest news and events from around the industry, board member interviews, industry leader interviews, and more.

    Why are we doing a podcast? Mainly because the VP thinks there are many other translators out there who, like him, do not feel like reading when they are done with work for the day. Moreover, it is something no other chapter is doing and it will set us apart from the others.


    But the new podcast needs a name. Submit name suggestions to matiemail@gmail.com


  • 09/01/2015 3:55 PM | Anonymous

    MATI President Christina Green Running in ATA Election




    MATI President Christina Green is a candidate running for a position as ATA Director in the 2015 ATA election, to be held at ATA’s 56th Annual Conference in Miami, Florida November 4-7. We wish Christina the best of luck in the election and hope that MATI members will join us in supporting her!

    To vote in the ATA election, you must be a Voting Member of the ATA. If you are not attending the conference but are a Voting Member, you may vote via proxy. Becoming a Voting Member is a free, fully online process. Become an ATA Voting Member here.

  • 08/17/2015 5:18 PM | Anonymous

    How to Build Healthy, Long-Lasting Relationships with Project Managers – Part 2: Quality


    By Alaina Brantner, MATI Board Member


    As stated in the first installment of our series focusing on the translator/agency relationship, translators’ main goal is to deliver high quality texts that are accurate, error free, and stylistically consistent. But if your Project Managers are not able to read the target language of your translation, how do they check your work for quality? Read on for some tips on features of language deliverables that agencies look to as indicators of the overall quality of a text.


    Focus on Packaging. If consumerism has taught us anything, it’s that packaging can be just as important as the product it contains. As freelancers, we must therefore be aware of the message we send through our product’s appearance.

    • File names. As translation technology shifts toward more streamlined file passing, file names are often generated to tell technology what to do with that file. For this reason, make a habit of not changing file names. If you must alter file names, use a simple and consistent system. For example, you may simply add the ISO language code for your language to the end of the file name (e.g., “My File.doc” becomes “My File_ES.doc”).

    Stylistics. Any guidelines provided by the agency/client should be considered a set of instructions that must be followed for the project. When reviewing your deliverables, PMs and internal review teams will ask themselves questions like: Were instructions followed for the treatment of proper nouns? Were acronyms treated correctly in the target? Make sure the answer to those questions is YES!

    • If you are not provided with any guidelines on stylistics with your project package, make a list of questions about how certain textual features should be treated in the target during your initial review of the file. You may be able to answer many of these questions yourself, thereby creating your own guidelines on style that you can follow consistently throughout the translation. For any questions that you cannot answer yourself, ask the PM early on in the project life cycle. Early is the operative word here; don’t wait until moments before a deadline to ask if all measurements should be converted, which will cause concern about your ability to deliver on time. For any questions the PM cannot answer, she will ask the client, ensuring said client gets exactly what they want in their product, which will likely equal more future work for everyone!
    • Want to really wow the PM/agency? Be even more proactive, and develop your own checklist of textual features that you often need further instruction on for your translation projects, and for each new client, go through this checklist and provide them with a style guide.

    Glossaries. Even if PMs and in-house reviewers cannot read your target language, they have likely been trained to spot terminology inconsistencies within files. Do the section titles listed in the Table of Contents match the section titles used in the file? Is a particular tagline translated consistently throughout a translation? Using consistent language throughout a file demonstrates your attention to detail to an agency.

    • If you are provided a client-approved glossary, follow the terminology within even if you think there’s a better translation. Client glossaries have likely gone through several stages of approvals to ensure that the terminology corresponds to their stylistic needs. However, if you strongly feel that the glossary contains an error, such as a typo, communicate this to your PM to improve the glossary moving forward.
    • If you are not provided a glossary, take some time during your initial viewing of the file to jot down repetitious content from which to create your own glossary. Many CAT tools have easy-to-use glossary creation features. With memoQ and Wordfast, for example, you can import Excel glossaries. Even if you are not using a CAT tool, creating and following a glossary is still a good practice. And you can still manually check that glossary terms are followed in your final deliverable using the “Find” or “Find and Replace” features of Microsoft Office products such as Word.

    Quality Technology. Most CAT programs have built-in quality check tools, including spell check. These tools can be used to generate alerts about potential issues within a file, such as mismatched numbers between source and target, glossary terms not being followed, and even extra spaces within a segment.

    • Use QA programs and tools to check your translation before delivery. Really impress your PM by delivering a “clean” quality report along with your deliverable.
    • Run a spell check before delivery. When you’re in a hurry to meet that rush deadline, it may be tempting to forego this step to save yourself some time. But the extra five minutes is worth the extra assurance that there are no spelling errors in your final deliverables.
    • Proofread your files for objective errors like incorrect numbers or the misspelling of company and product names. These are the areas of a foreign language document that your PMs and clients can check, so if they find errors here, they’ll wonder how many errors there are that they can’t see.

    Formatting. When translating in MS Word because you are working with a source PDF or because you don’t have CAT tools, basic formatting skills can go a long way toward demonstrating your commitment to the overall quality of a file.

    • Beware of OCR! Do not OCR PDF files in lieu of manually creating the formatting structure. There are many programs out there to perform OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and recreate an MS Word copy of a file, a process by which text and formatting within a PDF file is made editable and then converted into MS Word format. While this may seem like a good solution for avoiding the time necessary to build the format structure of a file, translating in an OCRed file can cause problems with textual features like font types, kerning (the space between characters), incorrect character recognition, and line breaks that cannot be fixed/altered. OCR programs should ideally only be used to obtain estimates for word counts in PDF files.
    • When recreating a file, use tables and other formatting features like adjustments to margins, rather than spaces and/or tabs/hard returns to replicate tables and textual flow. Using tabs and hard returns when replicating a table is problematic because if a PM or internal reviewer needs to change the font size of a document, for example, line breaks may shift, and she will need to manually adjust all tabs in order to re-match the line items to the formatting of the source. Use tables instead! And if you really want to produce a file that exceeds the agency’s expectations, take the time to adjust items like the borders and fill of the table cells to better match the source.
    • When completing a translation in MS Word, turn on the “Show/Hide Paragraph Marks” button (the ¶ button on the “Home” tab). This will show you all of the normally hidden formatting features of a text, and allow you to clean up spacing before delivery to the client.

    The take-away: consistency, following instructions and providing good-looking deliverables are key when striving to convey the overall quality of your translation product to those looking at your translated files—whether they are able to read your target language or not!


    Alaina Brantner has worked as a Project Manager for two language services providers and is a Spanish to English translator. She holds an MA in translation from UWM and has served on MATI’s board since 2012.

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