Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why Outsource Translation Services?

With the global marketplace expanding daily, many companies are now faced with the task of localizing their websites, videos, marketing materials, manuals, etc. In order to meet the demands of their foreign markets, these companies have the option to create an internal translation team to localize their content or to hire an outside language service provider. Just as in any other situation, there are pros and cons to each side. This month we will explain the benefits of using a combination of these two options for your localization needs.

Because translation is a highly complex process with many rules and nuances specific to the trade, it is crucial to use a professional translator. Professional translators have the necessary skills and experience and have studied the craft of translation in order to follow the rules and adapt the translations to the target audience. This is also why an agency is a better option when searching for a language service provider, as opposed to searching for an individual translator. Good agencies have a wide array of translators at their disposal so they will be able to match a specific translator to your individual project. While you may be able to find a native-speaker of the target language to translate your documents, they will rarely have the proper combination of skills, training, experience, cultural knowledge, and regional language knowledge that is needed to provide you with a high-quality translation.

With that being said, if your company has the resources available, it is very beneficial to assemble a translation team. This team will not actually perform the translation but instead will work with the language service provider to refine the translations. This process combines the technical and company-specific knowledge from your internal staff with the skill, background, training, and experience of a professional translator, ensuring high-quality translations. As discussed in our March-April translation newsletter, this is especially important for technical document translations.

There are a few additional benefits to outsourcing translations, aside from the improved quality. The process of building an internal department for translation is extremely long and rather expensive. Developing efficient processes and skilled translators is a continual process. An agency already has these tools at their disposal and is constantly working to enhance their translators’ skills and improve their services and final products. By using a professional language service provider, you can avoid the time and costs for departmental development and the costs associated with maintenance. This allows your company to effectively use less monetary resources for the translation itself and focus the staff’s time and energy on other tasks.

Translation Troubles in Albert Camus’ “L’Étranger”

A very well-known and important piece of French literature comes from Albert Camus. Thanks to translations, L’Étranger has been read by people in many different languages, including multiple English versions. Unfortunately, these professional English translators cannot seem to agree on the translation of the first sentence or the title itself, and the different translations may cause the reader to subconsciously assume a certain attitude toward the main character for the remainder of the story.

Albert Camus opens his story with the line “Aujourd’hui, maman est morte.” This sentence appears to be a fairly simple and straightforward sentence to translate. Provided they have a basic understanding of the French language and passé composé conjugation, anyone should be able to translate this sentence, right? Wrong, according to the author of the source article below.

Stuart Gilbert translated the story in 1946. The translation chosen for the title and first line were The Outsider and “Mother died today,” respectively. L’Étranger is a first-person narrative. When reading this line, most readers will develop their first impression of the main character/narrator, Meursault. An American reader of Gilbert’s translation may feel that the main character and his mother are not close or overly loving. The use of the word “mother,” instead of a more endearing term, could turn the reader off from Meursault and influence their views on the murder described in the book.

The first line remained as Gilbert translated, but Joseph Laredo and Kate Griffith both chose to change the translation of the title to The Stranger. However in 1988, an American poet decided to make his own attempt at translating the novel. Matthew Ward opted to change a single word of the opening line. His translation begins with the sentence, “Maman died today.” It appears that his intentions of using the French word “Maman” were not simply poetic in manner, but also intended to shape the reader’s view of the relationship between Meursault and his mother. In the story, Meursault is on trial for murder and this relationship is a key factor in the way his character is viewed and judged by the reader. Instead of seeming distant and unkind toward his mother, by referring to her as “Maman,” Meursault is conveying a deeper, more caring relationship with her.

The author of this article poses the question, “What if the opening line had read, ‘Mommy died today’?” The most plausible response would be that the English-speaking reader would assume the narrator to be a child and feel sorry for him. Even though subconsciously, the reader would then be shaped into feeling a certain way toward Meursault for the remainder of the book.

Not only does this one word pose a hassle to translators, but the choice of word order is slightly strange as many people would generally say “Maman est morte aujourd’hui.” As a writer, Camus did not haphazardly use this odd syntax; the word order was specifically chosen. For that reason, it seems that the translators should have kept the word order in English as “Today, mother/maman/mommy/etc. died.”

But what’s the big deal with such a simple sentence? If I were to say “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times […]” you would likely recognize it right away, even if you did not remember that it is the opening of A Tale of Two Cities. Classic novels that are highly remembered and praised, are so because of the feelings they invoke within the reader. In the opening line, we develop a sense of the story and begin to develop our first impressions of the narrator. The first line of a novel is crucial to the reader’s impression of the novel as a whole as well and can have a sort of control over the reader’s feelings about events that transpire throughout. And as they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

PLG Website OVERHAUL- 2012

This message is to all of our valued clients and potential prospects: in less than one month, a completely redesigned Precision Language & Graphics, Inc. website will be launched!

Here at PLG, we strive to continuously improve our processes, in order to provide the best client experience possible. Early in the year we decided to redesign our website in an effort to create a more user-friendly website. We have decided to include a few sneak-peek screenshots to give you a taste of what is to come and elaborate on some of the improvements.

Among the numerous improvements, the new PLG website will feature a live stream of client testimonials. In February of this year, we launched our Client Satisfaction survey, and the results have been fantastic. We have been showered with a number of flattering responses to our services, as well as received a few improvement suggestions. We will make the feedback public, because we want to show that your messages do not go unread and your suggestions will be used to improve our services. 

As you can see from the screenshots, the new website will feature lateral tabs that will be much easier to navigate through vs. having to scroll to the bottom of every page. Our main menu will also feature a more organized list of services vs. the limited selections in the past. 

We will also be bringing back the free translation tool! A few of you have mentioned that you would like to see it back, so we listened.

Finally, the redesigned website will simply be more aesthetically pleasing. With a new color palette and rotating background images of the world’s most beautiful cities, this will be a website that will combine functionality with artistic design.

We are very excited about this update and looking forward to the launch, and we hope that you are too!

The PLG Reader is powered by