"A Man's a Man for all that!" - Rabbie Burns

"Religion? No thanks. I prefer not to outsource my brainwashing." - Bunc
Trying to get your average Joe creationist to understand the phrase scientific theory is as hard as getting a fish to enjoy mountaineering. Its an unimagined world for them - it requires a complete reversal of their normal modes of thinking and being. The fact that humans could explain the complexities of this world without a creating God is a world view they cannot grasp. It's like asking a tuna if it appreciates the view from the top of Mount Everest. Bunc

Dec 9, 2009

Have you ever done paid translation?

As more and more people conduct their business over the Internet the opportunity to do business with people in other countries has opened up significantly. Even small businesses these days have the potential not only to sell their goods and services to people in their locality but to sell across national boundaries to people all around the world.

While the technology of the Internet has made operating business in this way very easy for businesses such as software companies there are still some barriers which the Internet does not completely overcome. One of these is the language barrier.

In English speaking countries we are relatively lucky because English has become the de facto Lingua Franca (!) of the business world and so in business to business interactions often there will be an ability to at least communicate at a reasonable level in a common language.

For a business that is really trying to expand its reach though it isn't enough these days just to rely on website visitors speaking English. Increasingly the Internet is moving away from being a largely English only medium. In China , India and other rapidly developing nations there is a growing appetite for the Internet to be delivered in the local languages and in ways that reflect local customs and culture.

Anyone who has used Google translator will understand that we are far from perfecting the art of automated translation yet. Sadly we don't yet have those Star Trek machines that will give us perfect translations. Google translator can often give you a broad sense for a translation but the translations it produces are often clumsy, poorly phrased and sometimes downright wrong.

So anyone needing a translation which really does work properly really has to rely on a translation service that uses real people. Obviously translators need to be good at their languages but it is also important, particularly for things such as business and legal translations that they also have some expertise in the subject matter they are translating. Translia is an interesting beta website that offers a wide range of translating services from "One word" translation through to very large translation projects. It claims to have built a very large translator network or community and to be able to cover all languages and all subjects.

One of the ways it is doing this is by actively recruiting translators and in particular people to translate who may have specific areas of expertise.

I couldn't readily locate any information on the site about what the costs of translation are or what fees are paid to translators. I suspect this information is probably made available after sign up but I also see that they refer to themselves as a "community" of translators and clients so I wonder if Translia acts more like the host and there is some direct negotiation of fees within the community. The material they initially sent me did refer to free translation but it can't be totally free or the translators won't get paid.

Given that my partner speaks good Italian I am tempted to get her to sign up to see what sort of rates they are offering. Although I speak fairly good Italian i am not sure it would be good enough to do translation work. I know there are other readers of this blog who have a good level of skill in more than one language so I'm interested to know if anyone has been paid as a translator and what sort of rates they think would be typical.

7 comments:

Delirious said...

I tried using the Google translator to read Mrs. Looney's blog that is written in Chinese. I speak Chinese, but I don't read it very well. The translation left a lot to be desired, especially with regard to idioms. Luckily, I know enough Chinese to get the gyst.

I've never been a translator, but I really doubt my abilities to do it well. I think to be good, I would have needed to have been raised speaking both languages.

Looney said...

My sister studied French in France so that she was able to do some bilingual work. I have just done proofing periodically while working in Japan and France. My favorite was explaining to a Japanese manager that "resent" does not mean to send a second time, as in "I resent the letter".

Bunc said...

D - yes it's understanding the quirks and the idioms of a language that is the real test and of course the subtleties fo how a language is used for different settings eg business versus domestic settings.

Looney - that's a great example- It makes me wonder if English is particularly full of these pitfalls or if all languages have their fair share of them.

Rummuser said...

I was General Manager for a firm in
South India where all internal communications were in Tamil, the local language. We went in for ISO certification and the consultants could not, for the love of money or whatever, do the documentation in Tamil. I burnt the midnight oil to get it all translated in Tamil and in the process, relearnt Tamil which was my first language in school. I thoroughly enjoyed the process but alas, did not get paid for it.

Bunc said...

How many languages do you actually speak Rum? Us brits are generally useless with languages - probably because a) lots of folk speak english b) being an island there was historically less to and fro of other languages through here.

Marf said...

I only speak English, and I have a hard enough time with that. lol

Rummuser said...

In the order of fluency, English, Hindustani, Tamil, Marathi, Malayalam, Gujarathi and Bengali. In India, if you want to succeed as a salesman, which is what I was till I retired, you better learn languages!

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