Thursday, 28 June 2012

New website!

It was high time to make some changes into the old website which (let’s be honest) wasn’t anything to be proud of:  simple Wordpress  template, plain background, nothing much going on there. It just needed that oomph to look more professional and elegant.

The .com ending in the domain had to be substituted by to indicate that I am based in the United Kingdom.

I knew that I am not much of a web designer, and that I can be creative when it comes to language rather than graphics. Moreover, when translation projects keep coming in there is never enough time to do anything else. This is why I decided to find a professional for the job. After receiving a few quotes I chose a freelance web designer,  who did a brilliant job. I simply loved his approach: he did not slavishly follow my suggestions just to get it done, but he was coming up with his own ideas, which more often than not turned out to be better solutions.

 And here it is! My new website! Revamped, restructured and rewritten. Another great milestone in my business. The step up has been made, time to prepare for another...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

It's More Than Words: “I understand what they’re saying, but I don’t know what they mean”

Heard the one about the Bangkok dry cleaners who invited their foreign clients to “drop your trousers here and have a good time”? Or the Japanese hotel who invited guests to take advantage of the chambermaid? A Swiss restaurant was proud that their wines “leave you nothing to hope for”.  A Black Sea resort guided visitors to the beach and assured them that they were welcome to it.
These are translation gaffes apparently gathered from around the world by airline staff, and whether they’re true or not, do show that translation is a minefield.
To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with any of the grammar or the choice of the words. And the sentiments are very well-meaning. But these examples make a serious point. However painstakingly put together, they do not mean what the writer wanted them to mean, and the result, at least to English speakers, can be hilarious. Of course, in these cases, there’s no harm done. But General Motors executives were not laughing when they had to re-brand their “Nova” car in Mexico. In Spanish, “no va” means “ doesn’t work”.  At Heathrow, an operative threw the panic lever when he discovered a crate marked “bombas”, which in Portuguese can mean two things – bombs or pumps. The fact that airline terrorists aren’t usually so helpful in labelling their merchandise didn’t occur to anyone.
Communication Competence
Such mistakes can cost fortunes and illustrate the requisite for any company operating internationally, which these days can be almost any company, to have what can be termed communication competence. That is, the ability to recognize the underlay of meaning in any exchange – written or spoken. Within our own language, to extract precisely the meaning of any stretch of language can be difficult enough. How many times have you struggled with a device whose instruction leaflet, although in English, is unintelligible?
But taken to an international dimension in commerce, you have to be even more diligent, more aware of the linguistic setting. It doesn't matter what the transaction, an error can be a costly one. From the simplest transaction of obtaining money on holiday, through to marketing a new product, or to negotiating the intricacies of a cross-border contract, you can’t take anything for granted.
The Role of the Translator
So what about the role of the translator? In literature the translator can bring a creative touch to the material, which is almost as vital as the author’s.  But in the corporate world, the translator can often be seen as an academic inconvenience, unskilled, even, in the ways of trade. And now automatic translation programs such as Google Translate and Yahoo! Babel Fish, which, to be fair, can be invaluable tools, often provide the cost-cutters with an excuse to dispense with the human translator altogether.
But an able native speaking translator can help a company to avoid commercial disasters, especially when it comes to slang, colloquialisms, abbreviations and other linguistic subtleties. The translator’s brief must be to preserve meaning and nuance to translated content, for this can ensure commercial success.
The Power of Language
Take the law.  Legal power, it is said, resides solely in language. What about the growing numbers of foreign nationals, legally resident or not, who need recourse to the law? In many cases, there simply aren’t enough translators to go round for minority languages, so dialogue within the tribunal or the courtroom can be blocked. Even where translation services are readily available, a person’s life consequences can depend on a fair, accurate rendition of the facts.  The translator wields significant power within the law.
Of course, English speakers have it easy. The world has never seen a language so widespread, so strategically located around the globe, with American English at the core of the explosion.  Travelling around the world you’ll witness Russians speaking to Koreans, Chinese negotiating in Brazil, Spaniards writing to Finns, all in English.
It can be argued that this makes English native speakers lazy. And it’s a fact that the demand for foreign language learning by native English speakers is shamefully low.  In some cultures, a family will have, as well as their GP or dentist, their English teacher. But language is fixed by need – and right now English native speakers don’t feel the need to learn a foreign language.
The fact is that if we were more interested in foreign languages, we’d become more interested, and more proficient, in foreign cultures.

by Imogen Reed

Friday, 1 June 2012

Transliteria is on Facebook!

Transliteria is on Facebook! This simply had to happen, after a successful year on Twitter, and about two years of blogging it's time to conquer Facebook and then carry on elsewhere.
Social media are an inevitable part of our lives and businesses for that matter. They indirectly dictate our on-line behaviour and have revolutionised the way we consider the Internet. Social media have also imprinted their mark on business promotion. Now thanks to sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+  and recently Pinterest, marketing has gained a new dimension. Can you imagine a large company not promoting their products or services via social media? Me neither.

Therefore, I decided to extend my marketing to Facebook, where I will be updating you on interesting facts and recent events related to translation, language and Poland. I will be also sharing with you my blog posts as well as some secrets and details of my work.

Feel free to ‘like’ my fanpage and share it with your friends. In exchange, I will do my best to keep it as much interesting and interactive as possible. See you on Facebook!