A Special Challenge for Political Interpreters: America’s 45th President

6 03 2017

Professional language interpreters of political leaders face numerous obstacles to accuracy. Among those: the speaker’s voice or accent, his or her attitude, missed words, misheard words, misconstrued logic of the speaker’s thoughts. When every sentence must be quickly or even simultaneously translated, the interpreter must – like lightning – 1) understand what is being said, 2) convert it, and 3) deliver it.

A prestigious job, certainly, but an extreme challenge under any circumstances.

trump

Add to this picture a leader like the new American President, whose speech contains multiple idiosyncrasies, and the problems are not merely technical, but can become ethical. As French translator Berengere Viennot wrote in the French edition of Slate, if she translates what he is actually saying, French listeners may not understand him; however, if she edits and smoothes his language then she misrepresents him as “an ordinary politician who speaks properly.”

An interpreter’s job requires acting; the interpreter must “become” that person whose words they are translating. Vile ideas, ugly words, offensive arguments … these are not the interpreter’s to soften or exclude. It is incumbent upon interpreters to expressively communicate all of the ideas their subject speaks, as well as every emotion, nuance, and tonal element that can possibly be conveyed.

So translating low-minded comments and vulgar words is all part of the job, although slang, sarcasm, and innuendo are notoriously difficult to find equivalents for. What’s troubling in the 45th American President’s talk is more fundamental. Good interpreters attempt to get into the minds of the politicians they are translating, because if they can understand their subjects’ ways of thinking, the interpreters can more fluently anticipate and comprehend the speakers’ ideas. But finding integrated ideas at the core of the 45th President’s mind has proven difficult so far.

From the point of view of many professionals, Donald Trump’s ramblings often just don’t contain clear meanings. Agness Kaku, based in Tokyo, told the Washington Post that within Trump’s remarks the subject is very easy to keep track of: “it’s about him, it’s about the enemy.” But the actual point of his sentences is hard to track. “It just drifts,” she said. “You end up having to guess as a translator, which isn’t very good.”

And who takes the blame for incoherent translations that might have relied on some guessing?

“Trump gives me outbreaks of sweat,” his German translator said, according to a Tweet by journalist Laura Schneider. “He is so contradictory that people think the translator talks rubbish.”

There have been many tense moments and high stakes in the history of political interpreting, and it seems there may be an increased number in the near future. But on the other hand, in your world, for your interpreting needs, Skrivanek offers some of the best professionals in the industry, and we are ready for any challenge.

J. McShulskis





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

 

 





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: www.skrivanek.com.

J. McShulskis





Unicorns, Bubbles and the Placement of Dots – Financial Translation

29 01 2016

There are financial terms with origins a few hundred years old that still ring through our conversations about money. And although their roots were idiomatic, some – like “stock”, “invest” and “bubble” – are so old and familiar now that English speakers in capitalist economies know their financial implications instantly.

Financial translation

Take “capital” itself, for instance: its Latin origin is “caput,” the word for “head,” which may have become established as a term for wealth because of the common use of livestock to assess a family’s prosperity.* That word was born several eras ago — today new words flow into the financial lexicon constantly from different industries, cultures, and business and technological trends.

“Unicorn,” for instance, refers to tech start-ups valued at over $1 billion but manifesting negative cash flow, two conflicting qualities that suggest such start-ups are illusions. In Chinese will the English word “unicorn” be borrowed and used as is, or will “kirin” (a similar creature) be employed? Does a “kirin” imply fanciful unreality? On the other end of the poetic spectrum, “intraday momentum index” is the relatively new term for “a technical indicator used by day traders to signal when a stock is trending up or down….”** an awkward phrase to pin down in another language.

The greatest challenges inherent in financial translation, however, come with the high stakes around errors. A single misunderstood and wrongly assigned number or decimal point can destroy the meaning of a report. Presentation and formatting of numbers and the symbols associated with them must also be flawlessly consistent or content can become incomprehensible.

For many countries, the terminology used must comply with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) issued by the IASB, the International Accounting Standards Board, and endorsed by the EU. Translation memory and glossaries help translators stay current with IFRS changes, which they must legally do.

The nature of communication about money means that deadlines will often be super tight, and yet there cannot be any shortcuts taken when it comes to the confidentiality of financial translations. Data must be protected by signed Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) with top-notch security systems in place for all transfer of information. You must implicitly trust your LSP when it comes time to translate financial content, and be sure that, like Skrivanek, their expertise extends deeply into financial concepts and the trending jargon.

J. McShulskis

*The Devil’s Financial Dictionary, by Jason Zweig

**Investment News, Top 10 Financial Terms of 2015





New ISO Standard for Translation Services in Place

26 05 2015

ISO 17100:2015 was published on May 1, 2015, and the content looks a lot like its predecessor, EN 15038:2006.

ISO 17100The core of the standard is established via definitions of various translation processes: translation, revision, review, proofreading, and final verification are delineated, as they were in EN 15038. Advancing slightly beyond EN 15038, ISO 17100 also requires routine practices for handling client feedback. Unfortunately there is no attempt to set quality metrics: a missed chance, according to some, as quality standards would strongly support translation industry excellence.

Another criticism of the new standard is that it does not address such influential new industry elements as crowdsourcing, Agile/on-demand and cloud functions, linguistic QA methodologies, Machine Translation (MT) and post-editing for MT. A GALA blog references data* predicting that the global machine translation market will grow nearly 25% by 2019; and yet the ISO 17100:2015 abstract specifies that “the use of raw output from machine translation plus post-editing” is outside of its scope. Happily, the upcoming ISO 18587 is intended to deal with MT and related issues; it is currently “under development” with no release date projected yet.

ISO standards are intended to provide transparency within a recognized set of controls from start to finish for all parties to any translation job, thus guaranteeing high quality and creating trust. Language Service Providers (LSPs) will have the option to: declare conformity with the standards without any external review, register without any external review, or meet specifications and be certified by accredited certifiers.

Skrivanek Group is among those LSPs who are already in compliance with 17100 specifications, and will achieve certification promptly.

  J. McShulskis

*from researchandmarkets.com