Skrivanek will be at tcworld 2016 – Tekom Annual Conference, Stuttgart November 8th-10th 2016

18 10 2016


Skrivanek’s Project Management Team Leader Jan Hirš will be representing the company at the tcworld conference in Stuttgart at the beginning of November. Jan has been working for various LSPs for almost 10 years and  has extensive experience in all aspects of the translation business. Most recently he has been appointed head of Skrivanek’s  International Project Management Center and Localization department providing language services to major companies and organizations worldwide.


If you would like to contact Jan prior to the event:

Phone: +420 739 391 791



See you in  Stuttgart!


Thinking Global from the Beginning

11 10 2016


European “Eunicorns” have a globalization advantage: out of necessity, they globalize much earlier than successful North American startup companies. Markets in France, Spain, Sweden and other European countries are so much smaller than the English-speaking block, that entrepreneurs think beyond their own borders from day one. Then, when expansion to new markets is the best next step, their mindsets are flexible, translation resources in place, and geographical scalability already prepared for.

But why should a start-up in North America, the UK or Australia think beyond the enormous English-speaking market until much further down the road? For one thing, two-thirds of their customers lie outside that market, by some estimates. And since investors like to see long-term thinking, the question of where a company will be selling in five or ten years is immediately relevant.

An additional advantage is that some potential markets are also less competitive than those an English-speaking company may be most accustomed to selling to, because of fewer similar products. As an example, Arabic markets are often neglected by English-speaking companies, and yet they account for nearly 5% of the world’s internet users*. An early move to localize for such a market could be strategically brilliant.

Thinking globally before you “have to” could save not only money, but protect you from failed efforts and wasted time when you do start to move in that direction. If from the start you are planning with a global market in mind, you will use concepts, logos, and branding, that are simple and direct, and therefore easy to localize. Knowing and working from the essence of what your product offers your customers, you can choose keywords and phrases that don’t have to be abandoned later because they are only relevant to, for instance, an American audience.

Another important localization piece that can be provided for early on: any software you use should be able to support international character sets (Unicode), with user-visible text and images separate from executable code, and a capacity for text expansion.

For an American or UK start-up with limited localization resources, one safe, lower budget way to initiate global readiness could be to localize from American to UK English (or vice versa). Of course the languages are so close as to be interchangeable, to a large extent. It is easy to find UK variations that are accepted and understood by Americans, or Australian phrasing that does not deter purchases by UK buyers.

But the differences that do exist – spelling, phrasing, humor, cultural references — can be addressed and resolved. An internal structure for doing so can be developed within your company, including the development of a working relationship with a strong LSP such as Skrivanek. Then the interface for more complex localization will be in place, the process practiced and the glitches worked out.

J. McShulskis


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Advancing Skrivanek’s Proofreading Expertise

3 10 2016

Committed to continuous professional development of its language service team members, Skrivanek offered specialized training for its proofreaders this year. Led by Dr. Tomas Svoboda, PhD, these sessions were held at the Institute of Translation Sciences at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague.

Proofreading is a mandatory componentspeakers-414560_1920
of translation, according to EN 15038 European standard and the ISO 17100 standard, which specifically delineate allthe required steps of the translation process. These include translation, check (revision by the translator), revision (proofreader), review (if required), proofreading (another proofreader, if included in the order), and final verification (by the project manager).

At Skrivanek, close attention is paid to these standards, but nuanced understanding of content is equally important at every stage, including proofreading, and this was a major topic dealt with in the training. Dr. Svoboda is a translator, interpreter, proofreader, editor, and an instructor of foreign languages and translation seminar teacher at Charles University, and he brought a rich perspective to his participants.

Issues unique to proofreading provided material for the bulk of the training, with Dr. Svoboda suggesting special strategy ideas, from the use of automated translation tools, to methods of focus on the material. High-level refinements that are critical to precision were analyzed, including controversial linguistic phenomena and differences in typographic requirements in different languages (such as apostrophes, accents, numbers, dates, quotation marks, etc.).

One of the most interesting discussions concerned the importance of deeply understanding the purpose of a document before undertaking its translation. Is the text for internal use, legislation, marketing? The style and level of quality are dictated by the purpose, and therefore thorough understanding is necessary in order to offer the correct final product at the appropriate price.

Fundamental project processes were thoroughly discussed as well; for instance, the essential preliminary step of gathering from the client as much background information as possible. This includes related reference materials, specific internal conventions and terminology that are used in the document(s), translation memory for use with CAT tools, and other supporting materials. Skrivanek’s policies emphasize client involvement at every stage of the translation process, in order to ensure the highest possible level of clarity and quality, and this training of our proofreaders strengthens our ability to accomplish this goal at that key step in QA.

Only 3% of all proofreading candidates that apply to Skrivanek are able to pass through our demanding selection process. It was these top-notch proofreaders who attained even higher levels of skill through our 2016 Prague training.

 J. McShulskis

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What’s the Rush? – what you’re paying for when you pay rush fees

1 07 2016

rush fees

Trust fosters good relationships between LSPs and their clients, and that trust is built through the successful execution of projects. Project managers at LSPs work with their clients to set up timelines that everyone follows, and in turn the translation team gets translated text completed on time and delivered where it needs to be with the highest possible quality. Clients pay for this service in a timely manner, and trust grows.

But what if an unforeseen need arises and there is more or different text required by the client within the same time frame, or a quicker turnaround becomes essential? It certainly happens, and while sometimes an LSP can fit the extra work into its schedule without taking extraordinary measures, often enough there are urgent alterations required, so “rush fees” are common and necessary.

The rush fees that are usually charged in such cases might more accurately be called “inconvenience fees,” because what they compensate for is the rearrangement of schedules and plans. Rush fees aren’t surcharges tacked on to take advantage of heightened need; in fact they don’t result in extra profits for translators, but rather they’re an attempt by language service providers to recoup extra costs incurred.

This is because there are many elements involved with any translation job. When you ask for, say, overnight turnaround of 15,000 words from English into Chinese, you are not asking for something along the lines of an increased number of people to pack more boxes. The whole “LSP machine” has to be adjusted, and that machine is quite complex.

For instance, LSPs might have to ask their individual translators to process a stressful number of words per day (1,500 – 2,000 is considered an average per day output, sometimes lower, sometimes higher), and the likely scenario is that to do so, those individuals will have to work over weekends or late into the night. Specialists and translators may have to be kept on-call and paid retainer fees if it’s uncertain how many people will be needed to properly process the work on time. And translation jobs always consist of steps that must be completed in order.

Additionally, the “rush job” often interrupts other jobs in the queue and borrows resources that were supposed to be available for other clients (such as computer systems and automations). In other words, the organization required for the smooth and orderly processing of translation is shoved off to the side, and an “emergency room” type structure is put in place – for you.

Rush jobs probably shouldn’t be a regular occurrence, and if a company finds that they frequently have something Due Right Now that they haven’t arranged to have done, it would be wise to take a look at internal organization. It could be that strict, early deadlines for those departments creating content will save a lot of hassle and cash at the translation/localization phase. Other times problems arise because of last minute additions or changes by the client’s client, and that conflict might best be dealt with by educating those clients about the processes involved and the kind of obstacles and costs that untimely changes create.

Whatever the situation, potential delays that can cause rush requests should be watched for and communicated to your LSP. Sometimes a heads-up, warning them that part of the job might need to be rushed, will allow them to prepare in a way that doesn’t require emergency measures.

Workers in any other industry get overtime to compensate for such excess demands, so if a client is interested in building a trust-based relationship with their LSP, rush fees should be expected for quick turnaround requests. Translation is an intellectually demanding process that simply takes the time that it takes, and for high quality professionals, sacrificing quality through shortcuts isn’t an option.

Skrivanek’s project managers are the cream of the crop worldwide, and they’re acutely aware that rush jobs must be handled with the same attention and accuracy that any scheduled translation job receives. Procedures and alternate workflow structures have been developed to meet every scenario the global marketplace can generate.


For more details, please refer to our website:

J. McShulskis

Start With a Style Guide

9 09 2015


Creating a language use guide for proper company branding across all materials and media is like supplying a map for a complicated journey: hours of copywriting missteps and wrong turns can be eliminated. With specific language requirements in hand, anyone writing marketing copy for your product literature or website can more easily retain the voice and attitude of your original material, in addition to precisely reproducing other less subjective details, such as layout and font options.

A style guide defines how to handle just about every language issue, thus answering hundreds of questions and providing a vision for everyone to follow. Ideally, all authors in the company should review it thoroughly before they begin, and refer to it all along the way. The guide outlines how to best verbalize ideas so that they come out “sounding like” your company, minimizing the need for individuals to base choices on personal preferences.

Begin by clarifying the desired audience, including the basics of age, gender, education level and technological ability. Delineate preferred tone, goals, syntax, and phraseology, using examples of “do’s” and “don’ts” whenever possible. Determine the details your company’s voice is best supported by in terms of formatting, fonts, punctuation, acronyms, etc., and itemize these for your translators. A focused effort to bring together these guiding principles is estimated to take 8-10 hours, with the likelihood of saving hundreds later on, while preventing embarrassing or costly errors.

Style guides are a powerful tool for improving the communication of your English-speaking staff, but they are also invaluable aids to branding across international markets. Augment your core style guide with tips from in-country language specialists and on-site staff members in the countries where you do business. The guide can be translated with special issues addressed for every language you work with (Facebook has 72 style guides for different markets), or it can be an English document with sections dedicated to guidance for other languages. With such a framework made clear to translators before they even begin their work, the more difficult tasks of interpreting ideas and recreating them in other languages will go that much more smoothly.

The benefits of style guides:

  • Providing a consistent product experience for customers, which increases confidence and encourages brand loyalty
  • Creation of stronger brand personality and global recognition
  • Consistent brand messaging among all languages used
  • Reduction of potentially damaging translation imprecision and errors that have to be cleaned up later
  • Easier focus for all concerned on the creation of powerful branding

Starting with product concepts that are mutually understood, and providing as much specific guidance as possible, you can also let your style guide evolve as you receive feedback from translators, in-country staff, and users. Translation is an art and the development of a style guide to maximize its effectiveness is a nuanced process, a dialogue between you, your translators and your customers, and it should continue to evolve over time.

Skrivanek is available to assist your company in creating style guides for multiple languages and countries.

Jacquelyn McShulskis

Face-to-Face with the World – Skype’s Translator

3 06 2015

Skype has invited its users to try a “Preview” version of their Translator product and provide feedback. The program is available for face-to-face, real-time audio/video conversations in four languages so far: English, Spanish, Mandarin and Italian, with more on the way. Instant Messaging (IM) is available in over 45 languages, from Dutch to Hindi to Klingon.

Developed by Microsoft, Skype Translator requires Windows 8 and up, and its translation quality has been compared to that of Babel Fish and Google Translate. Skype’s blog states that they have been “investing in speech recognition, automatic translation and machine learning technologies for more than a decade.”

Nearly as important as the Bing Translator algorithm Skype Translator relies on, is the voice recognition component that initiates and completes the transformation of a speaker’s words into something in the target language that is understandable on the other end. The Translator first turns spoken words to text, then uses machine learning to interpret the grammar, and statistical matching within a text database to pin down meanings. That “written” translation is then funneled back through voice recognition software and “Jane” or “Bob” – the female and male Skype AI (Artificial Intelligence) voices – deliver what Skype hopes to be a pleasant, human-like audio expression of the speaker’s meaning.

Microsoft’s research into deep “artificial neural networks” (ANNs) in the early 2000’s led to the AI that makes all of this possible. ANNs are sets of statistical learning algorithms that create a responsiveness to input that resembles the experienced-based development of the human mind, thus enabling “understanding” of complex systems such as language. It was this work that led to what Wired Magazine calls “Skype’s most startling breakthrough: the ability to reliably recognize almost anybody’s speech,” including the interpretation of rhythm and intonation.

There is also a more controversial issue that Skype and Microsoft have made some preliminary choices about: certain elements are “scrubbed” from translations, that is, they are not acknowledged or translated at all. Repetitive speech tics and profanity, for example. Therefore, in essence Skype Translator currently does a bit of conversation editing, which could feel like censoring. This will undoubtedly become one of the areas that Skype Translator users will give feedback about over time as they utilize the program to personalize their global communication.

J. McShulskis

QA Tools Enable Unparalleled Accuracy

25 02 2015

Before translation agencies present final drafts to their clients, Quality Assurance (QA) tasks are performed – some by human beings alone, some by humans with the assistance of QA software.

Quality Assurance ToolsActivities such as proofreading and double-checking terminology with clients are QA methods that contribute to the linguistic excellence of the final draft and cannot be replaced by automation. But there are numerous problems that QA software is adept at highlighting for translators, eliminating hours and hours of human scanning and comparison, and improving accuracy where tedium can lead to errors.

The most commonly used QA tools have varying capabilities, but features often include the detection of:

  • inconsistently translated phrases
  • word/phrase translations that don’t match up with glossary definitions
  • untranslatable words or phrases
  • missing segments
  • punctuation and spacing differences
  • numbers and symbols that don’t match-up

The following QA tools are some of the more common: ApSIC Xbench (which is free), Wordfast Quality Check feature, D.O.G. ErrorSpy, Verifika, Yamagata QA Distiller, and SDL Trados Terminology Verifier and QA Checker. These vary in user-friendliness, effectiveness, and complexity.

To give you an idea of the parameters of QA software capabilities, every mistake is detected by comparison with software databases built into the program or those glossaries and translation memories that you create within it. Limitations exist in these programs’ ability to ‘understand’ different grammatical rules between the source and target texts; nor are they able to compensate for a misunderstanding the translator incorporated into the text, nor spot a poorly written phrase. But they have become indispensible to professional translation agencies, especially for large projects.

  J. McShulskis