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Archive for June, 2011


Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

After 4 years of working as an account manager in the translation industry, I would place the TEST TRANSLATION step as the most important phase of the translation process for both the 1st time customer and experienced provider.

All too often, the project scope and turnaround time is under estimated when a TEST TRANSLATION is not completed from the start.


Test Project Confirmation For:


  • Level of Translation Quality
  • Provider Document Formatting Capabilities
  • Provider IT Capabilities
  • Target Market Dialect
  • Turnaround Deadlines
  • Overall Project Management Responsiveness
  • Unforeseen Problems


  • Project Management Team
  • Translation Team
  • Pre/Post Processing Requirements
  • Content Complexity
  • File Format Requirements
  • Unforeseen Problems

Keep in mind there are risks involved with test translations as well.   Just like any industry in today’s global market economy, new business is difficult to generate.   Providers often place test projects high on their list of priorities and produce top quality results.  This approach can no doubt be used as a selling point at the beginning but may not be constant with the actual project files.

In conclusion, by applying a simple 300 word free test translation within the span of 24 hours prior to starting any given project will save both customer and provider the time and money it takes to maintain a prosperous business relationship.


Awkward: Showing up on time to a Puerto Rican party

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Following my last entry, I’m going to start off with some shocking and/or interesting statistics of the ever changing fabric of our American quilt.  While there are many demographics of immigrants and non-native English speakers in the US, this entry will focus primarily on the rapidly growing Hispanic population in the US.

  • Young people 24 and under represent 35% of all Hispanic online users.  (Emarketer)
  • The US Hispanic market that is online has grown from 15.7 million to 20.9 million in the last 5 years alone.  (Emarketer)
  • “The 47 million-plus Hispanic population in the U.S. accounts for 15% of the total U.S. population and have spending power of $850 billion. (University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth)
  • From 2000 to 2006, Hispanic purchasing power in the US climbed more than 63%, to $798 billion. (University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth)
  • Latinos and other minorities were responsible for 85% of US population in the last 10 years (Adage)

It’s clear to see that the Hispanic market in the US is nothing to ignore.  There is an ever growing percentage of Americans that are looking for your messages, your products, and your services: in Spanish.  Making this connection isn’t easy, but it’s not as hard as you might think; it’s a learning process.

However, if we’re learning anything at all, it’s that Google translate isn’t going to get us there.  A translation is not just a translation; reaching out to the Hispanic market takes more.  It means understanding cultural nuances, sensitivities, humor and colloquialisms. In addition, Spanish phrases and idiomatic expressions are not consistent among all Spanish speaking countries.

Esther Novak, CEO, VanguardComm hits the nail on the head here when she says “Those who are anxious to tap the market but inexperienced at reaching it must not make the easy mistake of “selling to the Hispanic bloc” — the assumption that a Cuban thinks like a Mexican thinks like a Puerto Rican. Each of the 22 Latino nationalities has its own cultural nuances, idioms and assimilation. Businesses need to understand these factors, which include a connection to home country; multi-generational households; mistrust of institutions; a belief in fate; respect for the elderly; the influence of community leaders; the role of faith; and the upholding of tradition, celebrations, humor and cultural icons.”

Here I have a couple examples of a good and bad way to approach the situation:

Here’s a failed attempt by AT&T.

The telecommunications giant AT&T created a series of marketing ads in Puerto Rico where a wife tells her husband to go downstairs and call Mary because they are running late.   Seems innocent enough, right? Oh no!  In Puerto Rico this behavior was seen as offensive, as many wives would never order their husbands in this way nor would they think it’s necessary to call regarding their late arrival.

This campaign proved to be ineffective and failed to resonate with the consumer on a personal and cultural level.   It did not draw on cultural experiences nor connect with the consumer.  Instead the poor translation became distracting and was merely an advertisement gone awry.

Here’s a successful approach by The Home Depot.

When I say successful, I mean excellent.  The Home Depot has successfully integrated a variety of ways to approach the Hispanic population.  They have shown a strong commitment by providing bilingual signage on all of their products, offering bilingual workshops and how-to-clinics, as well as tips and tools on Spanish directed Youtube site.  What’s more, they sponsor Major League Soccer as well as the Mexican National soccer club.  They clearly understand the cultural importance of soccer to their Hispanic clients and show their loyalty by supporting their teams.  By taking this multi-faceted approach The Home Depot is able to connect with their customers not only in Spanish but also to their cultural needs and wants.

Bottom line is this: It is important to address this rapidly growing and changing market in the correct way; not only in their own language but also within the context of their local culture.  Working with a translation agency is an excellent way to bring your message full circle by providing cultural understanding.  They can work with you directly to understand what you are trying to do and figuring out the best ways to approach your translation. Concisely expressing your message in the tone and voice of a native speaker is priceless.


Lost in Translation….. Subtitlation?

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

A couple of years ago, while I was studying in Argentina, I decided to go see a movie that my friends could not stop talking about: “The Hangover”. It was hilarious. I laughed out loud a million times….but I noticed that some times I was the only one laughing. Am I weird? Do I have a different sense of humor than the wonderful open minded people of Buenos Aires, Argentina? Well…I might be a little weird, but funny is funny and good humor is good humor.

After the first thirty minutes or so I started to read the subtitles and then it all hit me. The subtitles just did not relay the jokes the way they were expressed in English. Let’s start with the title. The translation of the word Hangover in Spanish is “resaca”, but the title of the movie in Spanish is “¿Qué pasó ayer?” which translates into “What happened yesterday?”. Anyone who has ever seen this movie knows that the title “What happened yesterday” definitely applies to this movie…but this is only the beginning. As all native English speakers know, we have a very extensive curse word vocabulary. We have sort of created the art for “toilet humor”. Now with this said, anyone who has ever lived in a Spanish speaking country knows that native Spanish speakers give us a run for the money when it comes to talking dirty. Every time there was a curse word in the movie (and believe me, there were lots of them) the subtitled translation would be “maldito”, which simply means “damn”. Sometimes the word damn just does not cut it when it comes to a “R” rated movie.

In today’s thriving translation industry, you have hundreds of companies that are competing for translation, voice-over, and subtitling projects. You would think that in this competitive market someone could actually come up with more clever ways to express these jokes in Spanish the same way they were intended to be expressed in English. Movies are expensive these days. Tickets, popcorn, a soda and your looking at a $50 night. All I am saying is that I think you should get what you pay for, no matter how bad the language is, or what language you speak.


Why should websites be translated into Spanish?

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Did you know that the U.S. Hispanic population is the fastest-growing group in America? The U.S. Hispanic population has been reported to have surpassed the 50 million mark and has increased by more than 40% in the last 10 years. They are now the largest minority group in the U.S. In addition, the U.S. Hispanic buying power exceeded the US$ 1 trillion dollar mark in 2010, which means that the Hispanic Market has never been more appealing than now.

On average, Corporate and Government organizations spend more than US$ 3 billion dollars each year marketing to the U.S. Hispanics. Nevertheless, studies show that most organizations and businesses do not target the U.S. Hispanic consumers sufficiently with Spanish online contents. Another figure, which should not be ignored, is the fact that there are over 140 million Spanish-speaking Internet users worldwide. These are all strong reasons to have your website translated into Spanish.

In order to sell to the U.S. Hispanic population, it is very important to communicate in Spanish, as statistics have shown that U.S. Hispanic web users are 4 – 6 times more likely to purchase from a website that is in Spanish. A website in Spanish not only improves communication but also creates a very important comfort zone to the U.S. Hispanic web users. Data has shown that currently there are more than 8 million U.S. Hispanic web buyers in the U.S.A. who spend an average of US$ 1,200.00 dollars online a year. Therefore, it is very important to have your website in Spanish to market to this growing market segment. This is so, because the internet is the most cost-effective way to reach to millions of consumers from a local to global scale and can help a company or an organization, grow to its full potential.


V for Vendetta or… Version?

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

REVOLUTION. RIVOLUZIONE. RÉVOLUTION. REVOLIUTZIA. Whether in English, Italian, French or Russian, the word sounds pretty much the same. That is so because the term finds its roots in the Latin REVOLUTIO, which means “a turn around”. Odd enough, that’s not where the concept, as we know and use it nowadays, comes from. Apparently, it was Copernicus who first used the term “revolution”, in a scientific and not in the political way we refer to the term today, to refer to the planets’ movement around the sun. It’s supposed to mean “transformation”. But for those of us with a bit of a cynic vision, it might just well refer to a certain version of the same order. I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s idealistic feelings, but hey… “Revolution” as a word conveying social meaning was first coined in 1688, during the early days of the United Kingdom, to express a change, a transformation in the political field: James II was replaced by William III. In other words –no pun intended- the power just went from one fancy prince to another fancier one. Nevertheless, social changes haven’t stopped to be defined by the term “revolution”, worldwide, ever since. Was it ever about true changes, real transformations? Or just about different scenarios in the same world ruled by the same humankind, that is, about versions of reality?

As we speak, there’s an ongoing revolution that captured the hearts and minds of those crazy enough to think they can change the world by pacifically expressing their dissatisfaction with the current Western political and socio-economic order and requesting “real democracy now”.  I am talking about the “Spanish Revolution”. Not about the 1936 one, but about this 2011 brand new version of the Spanish Revolution.

No need to go deep into details about the ideological gaps between mainstream mass media and the bunch of kids sitting down at Puerta del Sol, Gandhi style, calling themselves “Indignant” and demanding a future. What does deserve a paragraph though is the huge echo that this protest and its police repression have had in the new versions of mass media –the social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube-. We’re talking about this revolution within the most recent revolutionary communication technologies. From Spain to Egypt, from Syria to Great Britain, from Argentina to France, from Germany to Russia, the streets have been filled with indignant protesters and the same claims. Well, a couple of claims and their respective local versions…  Because every social claim has infinite local tints, just as every word has almost 7,000 ways of being said in different existing languages. Translating a word must always consider the concept conveyed. Facebook shows it: the Spanish Revolution receives lots of support from all over the world, in many different languages. However, the interpretations of what’s going on differ from one language to another, as political traditions may vary from one place to another. That’s why translation and transcreation go together, just like revolution and transformation go hand in hand. And yet, both revolutions and translations lead to the same result. They’re meant to give us many different versions of the same sort of reality.


The value of up-selling & cross selling.

Monday, June 13th, 2011

The value of up-selling & cross selling.

To increase revenue and margins of an order by selling products / services at higher prices i.e. up-selling or by selling add-on products and accessories, a tactic also known as cross selling, share the idea of needing to prove our consumers that there is something in it for them. We must show them increased added value.

Value is the term that expresses the concept of worth in general. For example, value would be a high pay back for a small expense, also discussed in terms of ROI (Return on Investment). Payback is the tangible return delivered by the benefits of your products and services. The greater the value to your customers, the greater the payback.

Moving on, the formula for calculating value is the benefit minus the cost of achieving or acquiring the benefit, i.e. VALUE = BENEFIT – COST. Hence, it is important that we use meticulous questioning techniques to uncover as many needs as possible, for which we can offer, benefit oriented solutions. We need to be able to explain & sell benefits. The more needs we can uncover, the more benefits we can deliver, the more benefits the greater the payback, the greater the payback the higher the value, the higher the value, the better the chance to up sell & cross sell.

Proving value, we can use the funnel or focus questioning technique which will uncover needs. However, it is one thing to uncover the need it is another to prove that there is adequate pay back & value in fulfilling the needs.

Having uncovered the needs we must probe & find out as much as we can about those needs & the implications to the consumer if they are not met or fulfilled.

To be continued…





Demand for Multilingual Products and Services On The Rise

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

While the US dollar is down many larger US firms are seeing an increasingly large demand of exports for their goods and services.   Consumers are seeing smaller dollar signs for US exports and multinationals trying to see their way in to untapped or smaller markets.   In fact, many international firms are seeing the weakened dollar as a major opportunity to become more internationally focused.  Providing the international consumer with accessibility to what you have and what you’re about as a business is more important than ever.   Now let’s get to the point.

The Common Sense Advisory’s ‘Cant’ Read, Won’t Buy’ report found that 85% of all consumers require information in their native language before making a purchase.   Would I buy a guitar from Russian website?  Absolutely not.  Why? Because I don’t speak Russian.   As the English language only counts for 31% of online usage, imagine this same Russian guitar situation happening with 69% of your customers.  Translation services can facilitate just what market demands.

Companies are slowly learning that the biggest markets don’t carry US passports anymore.  Who, then is the international consumer? Where do they live? And what language do they speak?  There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer for these questions, but here are a few ideas according to Econsultancy.com

  • Between 2000 and 2008, available online content increased in:
    • Chinese by 755%
    • Portuguese by 668%
    • Arabic by 2064%
    • English 204%.
  • E-commerce in Western Europe is expected to reach €114 billion by 2014.
  • Over half of all Google searches are in languages other than English.

The weakened Dollar and the sluggish recovery of the US economy points out that showing your face to the world not only will be necessary, but is necessary.  The precedent has been set, we are a global world and we’re going to have to get to know each other be that by way of websites, products on a shelf or a contract.


“Assuming” Translation Services

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

My entire life I grew up hearing from both my parents and school teachers “to assume, makes an A** out of U and ME”.  I always felt a jolt of annoyance flash through my body whenever this phrase leaped out of someone’s mouth.  I always thought to make an assumption was simply to not state the obvious which in return, saves time for everybody involved.

Well, the day has finally arrived for me to relinquish my pride and admit I have never been so wrong.

After 4 years of experience working as an Account Manager in the translation industry, I conclude the most common cause of project breakdown lies within the assumptions made by both client and provider before translation ever begins.


Client Assumptions about Provider

  • Works within same time zone
  • Translations are exclusively  done INHOUSE
  • Desktop Publishing services are included without additional turnaround time or costs
  • Translations are processed by human translators
  • Proofreading service is included

Provider Assumptions about Client

  • Client has internal reviewer
  • Translated files are NOT to be printed
  • No project deadlines
  • Partial deliveries NOT required
  • Unlimited project budget
  • Target language dialect is always “Neutral”

The result of both parties not simply taking the extra time to clarify ALL project guidelines prior to starting EACH separate project often ends with loss of time, revenue and future business.  Even worse, if both parties are at fault and/or cannot come to an agreement to resolve any particular issue, the conflict could end in the court-of-law.

In conclusion, no matter how big or small the project scope or how great the previous business relationship is, both parties MUST be on the same page without a single assumption in order for any project to succeed.


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