Friday, October 22, 2010

Medical Translation Services

Medicine is an ever changing field due to scientific and technological developments. Consequently, there is always new terms being added to the medical dictionary. Due to the nature of medicine, medical professionals tend to use the original source term in the target language. This results in a lot of English terms being used in the medical lexicon, similar to all the English terms used in the information technology sector.

When these terms appear for medical translation later we are left with heterogeneous translations across publications. In some cases the medical students translation lacks sufficient knowledge of the target and source language while the professional translator’s translation lacks in-depth knowledge of the subject matter.

This goes a long way to explaining a doctor’s reluctance to adopt new translated terms into the medical lexicon. The next question is of course how can we navigate these difficulties. Firstly it is important that the amateur translator with a strong background in the specialist field have strong relations with a professional translator. Visa versa, it is important the professional translator have reliable contacts in the subject fields he/she is translating. In the perfect scenario we are hoping for a professional translator qualified and experienced in the specialist field he/she is translating.

Finding the perfect scenario is in reality a very tall order. This is mainly due to the fact that most medical fields are better paid than professional translation.
Extensive bibliographical research should always be done on previously published terms, making an effort to stick with the original choice made by the first translator (provided it makes sense). Consistent translations make the text easier to understand and facilitate the incorporation of new words into the terminology. Finally, if publishers and translation companies are committed to the services they provide, they will pay their professionals well. Poorly paid work leads to poor quality work. These measures will help improve the quality of medical translations, whether the terms are left translated or not.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Legal Translation Services

Legal translation is extremely complex and should never be done by someone who is not qualified to translate legal documents accurately to the target language. A legal translator not only translates from one language into another but also from one legal system to another. The translator must understand local culture and have detailed knowledge of the legal system in the country for which the translation is intended.

The legal translator should also be a native speaker of the target language and have a fundamental understanding of the source language. Legal Mistranslations can have devastating consequences and even result in legal action against the company or person involved. A slight paraphrase can change the legal meaning of a document
On 13 November 2007, during the long-running media pursuit of the case of the missing English girl in Portugal, reporter Fiona Govan filed a report on ‘Madeleine McCann: Possible translation errors’ in the UK Telegraph.

“Inconsistencies in the statements given by the McCanns and the group of friends who were dining with them at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance may have been caused by errors in translation, it emerged today. Portuguese detectives investigating the case of the missing four-year-old have admitted that they are reassessing the original witness statements to look for inaccuracies in their translation.”

Terminology plays a key role and the legal translator should have a full understanding in this area and be able to adapt the text from the source language to the target language without losing anything in translation. This requires expertise and experience. Legal matters are constantly changing throughout the world and the legal translator must keep abreast with these changes.

When sourcing legal translators it is important that they fulfil the following criteria:
Familiarity with the relevant legal terminology

Knowledge of the legal systems, both of the source and target languages;


Timely delivery of your translated documents.

Accuracy and attention to detail

Accurate legal translations can be delivered only by highly specialised translators who have a comprehensive working knowledge and experience in the legal industry.
A good legal translator should also be a specialist in a particular legal area, such as:
International law
Civil law
Corporate law
Property law
Tax and accounting law
Insurance law
Patent law and etc.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Translation Quotes and the Hidden Costs

Translation Quotes and the Hidden Costs

The world of translation can be quite misleading at the best of times but especially when it comes to the quoting process. The problem with translation quotes is that there is no standard for pricing the work. Some companies quote by line, others by line or character and others by word. Usually, the most reliable form to receive the quote is priced by word. Apart from being the easiest to count, it is the unit used with Translation Memory technology. The following article will help the discerning client to understand the translation quote process and awaken them to the possible hidden costs of translation.

Translation Memories

We mention Translation Memory technology as this has a significant impact on the cost of a translation. A translation memory, or TM, is a database that stores so-called "segments", which can be sentences or sentence-like units (headings, titles or elements in a list), that have been previously translated. A translation-memory system stores the words, phrases and paragraphs that have already been translated and aid human translators. The translation memory stores the source text and its corresponding translation in language pairs called “translation units”.

When translating later versions of collateral (software, documentation, multimedia etc.) the previously translated version can be re-cooped from the translation memory to significantly reduce the cost of the translation. In some cases a translation asset can be up to 80% translated already. Some companies do not offer this technology but the ones that do often charge different rates for the words that are 100% matching or already translated. While this is a normal practise, as the 100% matching strings need to be checked in any case, it is wise to be weary of this cost as the rates differ per agency.

Also, some documents like legal documents and software can be very repetitive. In normal practise these repeated words should be charged at the same rate as 100% matching words, however, in a lot of cases the client never sees these benefits.

Other Costs

Some quotes will not contain other costs and the client must ask himself:
• Is the VAT included?
• Does the quote include a project management fee and if not is there one? A lot of translation agencies will charge up to a 10% project management fee.
• Is revision included in the price per word translation rate? A lot of agencies will have a cheaper rate as there is no revision on the translation itself. The client has to ask oneself quality or price is more important.

These are just some of the pitfalls facing the client when requesting the quote. In all cases it is best to send the documents to the clients for quotation and shop around. Ask for the same quote from different translation agencies to draw your own conclusions.
Why not? It’s up to you to get the best value for your own money?

No recession for the translation services sector

In today’s climate most industries are experiencing rapid or steady declines. The unlikely scenario of steady growth is occurring in the translation sector.
Studying the translation sector allows us to see the growth of society towards Globalization. The need to cross cultural barriers is at the core of modern business and in this process translators are revolutionizing global communications.

When analyzing the translation services sector a very common term used is language service provider (LSP). Other services provided by LSP’s include interpreting, localization, internationalization and supporting technologies. Interpreting involves the translation of one spoken voice to another. Localization is the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local "look-and-feel." Internationalization is the process of planning and implementing products and services so that they can easily be adapted to specific local languages and cultures, a process called localization. Supporting technologies are those that technologically aid a user in learning or honing his or her language skills.

The reason that there hasn’t been much data collected on LSPs until recently is due to the fact that most LSPs were privately held and were reluctant to divulge such information. Recently with acquisitions some LSPs have grown so large that they are now publicly traded. The first data on LSPs was recorded quite recently, in the late 1990s, by the US Census and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Due to this lack of concrete information one can only make general predictions of the annual revenue spent on translation with a 9 to 21 billion dollars being a conservative estimate. Even without these concrete numbers to justify this figure there is no doubt that the importance of the LSP is increasing. Language options on websites, customer service calls and TV are testament to this.

According to Common Sense Advisory, the global language services market totaled $14.25 billion in 2008. Common Sense expects the industry to increase to around $25 billion by 2013, almost 11% five years. In the 2006 the US Department of Labor predicts a 24% increase in the number of US translators by 2016. To understand these statistics more we have a breakdown of the top 30 LSPs per territory.

Asia, $106.3M, 2.8%
Scandinavia, $130M, 3.4%
Rest of Europe, $637M, 16.8%
UK, $565M, 14.9%
USA, $2,334M, 62.1%

When considering these figures it is important to note that the LSP model is more developed in the UK and USA. For instance in mainland Europe there are a lot more sole translators.

While a lot of the growth can be attributed to globalization we cannot forget the importance of the internet. The internet has revolutionized the way that we exchange information and has exponentially increased the amount of information available. Translated information can reach any corner of the earth with the click of a button. The industry continues to grow as other countries, specifically those in Asia and the Middle East, follow this example in an effort to expand their audience reach to the United States and Europe.

The growth of the translation services industry and the role the internet plays in promoting this growth consolidates an upward trend. With the online marketplace getting more diverse, the demand for translation is ever increasing. The scope for the development of the non-English speaking translation market is phenomenal.
The importance of the translation services sector is growing in importance to the extent that what officially existed as an unrecorded industry up until 20 years ago is now a thriving industry with an expected value of $25 billion in the coming years. The importance of man’s need to communicate will always drive the sector upwards.