Dodgy translation

How Can You Be Sure That Your Translation Isn’t Terrible?

It’s one thing getting a sales brochure translated into Spanish or translating an important contract into Mandarin, and it’s another thing making sure the finished article is word perfect.

Finding a translator is simple enough, but feeling confident that the foreign language finished article is spot on is a far trickier task. Unfortunately, it may not be not until your Spanish brochure provokes sniggers in Madrid or your Mandarin contract leaves you in a legal jumble that you’ll discover your translation is less than perfect.

A multilingual pickle

Multilingual pickle

So how can you solve this multilingual pickle? The whole reason you need to work with a translator is because you don’t speak the language. But if you can’t speak the language, you can’t vouch for the quality of the translation. Sales copy could be dry and fail to convey your brand identity in the hands of your Arabic translator. Your live Greek telephone interpreter could garble your message and lose you a valuable lead…

It’s a catch 22 which can really play on your mind if you’re not confident about the translation service you’re using, particularly if your working relationship is new. Fortunately, there are a few checks you can perform and tests you can do to make sure that the translation you’re receiving is top notch…

1. Hire a proofreader or editor

If you have any concerns about the accuracy, fluency or style of a piece of translation work you have had done, the services of a native speaking proofreader or editor will put your mind at rest.

If you simply want to ensure the translation is accurate, ask a proofread to look over the text and provide a report on accuracy of spelling and grammar. If you have more in-depth concerns about the tone, sense and style, look for a native speaking editor to report back on the overall feel and tone of voice of the piece in the translated language.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that your proofreader or editor will be of a high quality, but the more eyes you run your translation under, the more confident you can be that your original translator has hit the nail on the head.

2. Look for accreditations

Accreditations from professional associations are a good sign that your translator knows what they are doing. There are lots of these associations all over the world, some common acronyms to look out for include:

The BDÜ (Germany)
The GTI (Global Translation Institute)
The CiOL or the ITI (UK)
The ATA (US)
The JAT (Japan)

3. Phone a friend

Who wants to be a millionaire german

If you have a contact fluent in the language of translation , take a few moments of their precious time to run the translation past them. It doesn’t matter if they do not speak your language fluently or aren’t trained as an editor – if there’s something seriously squiffy or not on brand, they’ll be able to identify a problem which you can then discuss with your translator or an alternative provider.

4. Run a “back translation”

If you’re just starting out with a new translator and want to build trust, consider asking another provider to back translate the copy. This means that you ask another service to translate your translation back into your native language to check for accuracy and style. If you get back something similar to your original piece, your original translator’s probably doing a pretty good job!

There are, however, a few things to watch out for with this kind of approach:

    • If the back translation guys are aware that they are checking another translator’s work, they may accentuate the negative in order to snaffle your business
    • A poor translation could be the fault of inaccurate work on the part of the back translator – not the original translator – and it will be hard for you to tell

5. Pay another company to check your translation

Red Pen - MistakeInstead of running a blind “back translation” (where the other company are unaware they are “checking” another translator’s work), many translators offer a proofing or error checking service which you can use to review your original translator’s output. Unfortunately, these services are effectively paid to find errors, which can mean that a perfectly accurate and stylistically spot on piece of translation work is unfairly subject to the big red pen.

Ultimately, feeling confident in a translation service is all about building trust. The tests and checks outlined above can highlight potential issues , but they’re not as effective when it comes to identifying outstanding translation. Confidence in your translator can be gained through relationship building and confirmation from unbiased native speakers. Bad translation can be ruled out with our suggested tests.

Looking for an outstanding translator who really understands your needs, whether you’re marketing a product or negotiating a highly technical contract? Perhaps you’re interested in fair, impartial back translation to ensure your translator’s quality? Explore Linguistica International’s services online or tell us all about your experiences in the comments section below.

People celebrating International Translation Day

Happy International Translation Day!

Imagine it’s the 30th September. That shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s a Tuesday, so you’re probably at work, the weather’s reasonable, dry and quite balmy for the time of year, and it’s only flippin’ International Translation Day!

That’s right. As firm believers in fashionably late, Linguistica International is here just a week on from the main event to spread a little Translation Day cheer. So party hats on please and goodie bags at the ready as we celebrate International Translation Day in style.

First, a little history

Before things get out of hand, let’s step back in time to the inaugural International Translation Day. It’s 1953 and International Translation Day has just been established by the International Federation of Translators (FIT), making it one of the more recent entries into the calendar of world events. In 1991, the FIT launched the idea of an officially recognised day to show the solidarity of the translation community and promote the translation profession.

The date of International Translation Day, the 30th September, was chosen to coincide with the feast of St. Jerome. This Christian scholar and priest was the first person to translate the Bible into Latin from the original Hebrew, making it accessible to a much wider audience. For these services rendered, St Jerome is universally acknowledged as the patron saint of translators.

Some other international celebration days

We thought we’d take a quick look at a few other international days of celebration to add a little context.

• Today (8th October) is simultaneously Pet Obesity Awareness Day, World Octopus Day and Bring your Teddy Bear to Work Day
• Yesterday was International Bathtub Day
• Tomorrow will be Mouldy Cheese Day

So that should give you some idea of the gravitas of International Translation Day, which is why we’re making such a fuss!

Translation Day party games

For all you aspiring translators, here are a few translation party games that can help to improve your foreign language skills.

Sporcle offer a range of free translation games, from foreign language basics to deciphering a range of badly translated movie quotes. There’s something for every level of language ability, from beginners to language experts.

Of course, there is a huge difference between being bilingual and working as a professional translator. At Linguistica International, the quality of all our translations is assured by the use of professional mother tongue translators with at least five years’ language experience and relevant translation qualifications.

Fascinating translation facts

Did you know that:

• A typical professional translator will translate between 300,000 and 1,000,000 words per year!
• The Bible is not the most translated book – at least in full. A 2011 Jehovah’s Witnesses publication “Listen to God and Live Forever” has been translated into more languages.
• Pinocchio, written by Carlo Collodi, has been translated from the original Italian into over 240 languages.
• Bilinguals are often found to be more creative, better problem solvers and better planners than monolinguals.
• 99 percent of Latvians can speak two or more languages, compared with just 18 percent of Americans.
• Papua New Guinea is the most linguistically diverse country, with 830 indigenous languages.
• A total of 3.457 billion people speak the world’s ten most popular languages. That’s almost half the population of the planet, despite the fact that there are over 6,000 different languages and cultures across the world.

Stay tuned to the Linguistica International blog as we pack our party frocks away and get back to business in the coming weeks with more translation hints, tips and critiques. For more information about how we can help your business, please get in touch with our friendly translation team today.




Multilingual SEO

5 Common Multilingual SEO Mistakes You Should Avoid

Going global can be daunting. Of course it can. You’re opening up your business to a diverse range of challenges, regulations and cultural differences that can make your business vulnerable. However, with burgeoning markets in South America, South East Asia and India, it’s clear to see why going global is a risk so many businesses are willing to take.

In the US, one in every two people purchases goods and services online. In the UK, this figure drops to one in three. In Latin America, it’s one in six; while in South East Asia, just one in eight people buy goods and services online.

In the saturated US and UK markets, the cost of search engine optimisation (SEO) is escalating beyond the reach of many smaller operators. The top rankings for the most competitive search terms are the preserve of large corporations with bumper budgets. But there are plenty of opportunities for smaller operators overseas, as long as you avoid these 5 common multilingual SEO mistakes.

1. Choosing the wrong keywords

This is a big mistake that can spell disaster for your efforts overseas. Too many businesses rush the keyword research stage of the process, failing to recognise its role in underpinning their entire SEO strategy.

The mishap so many businesses make is to perform a literal translation of keywords from their domestic market. Instead, an entirely new set of keyword research should be completed in the native language of the new market. This will reveal the search volume and competition for the terms the native population are searching for.

2. Pinning all your hopes on Google

Google might call the shots on our fair isle, dominating internet search with an 89 percent share of the market, but this is not replicated across the rest of the world. Yahoo and Bing share a number of bolt holes, while native search engines such as Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China and Naver in South Korea rule the roost.

To succeed overseas, you need to dance to the beat of the dominant search engine’s drum. Each will have its own algorithms and indexing policy to attribute rankings to your website. And if you’re unsure how to appease the native search engines, consult a local expert.

3. Failing to make Multilingual mark-ups

Excuse us for a second while we get technical, but this is a really important point. You need to tell Google that certain parts of your website content have been created specifically for other locations. It can be a pretty complicated process, but here’s everything you need to know.

4. A lack of local domains

Your website domain can play an important part in the success of your website overseas. Many larger companies choose to use a .com as their top level domain, with subdirectories for websites designed for international markets. If you have ‘’ website, you should certainly consider a country specific domain such as .fr (France) or .es (Spain) etc. This creates reassurance and familiarity amongst local customers.

5. Ignoring local market trends

Despite the reduced level of competition, you’ll still need to build links to your local domain to rank in the organic search listings for your most competitive key terms. Understanding local market trends and the variations in internet usage between markets should form the basis of your SEO strategy. In Korea, a good blog is essential. If you want to rank in China, having servers located in China will certainly help you along.

Have you learnt any of these lessons the hard way? Are there any other mistakes you’ve made that have halted your progress? Please leave your two cents’ worth in the comments section below.