Instead of sending Christmas cards, Alexika has again made a donation to our adopted charity of Translators Without Borders (TWB.) This is a not-for-profit association set up to provide pro bono translation services for humanitarian not-for-profit organisations. TWB has provided translations for organisations such as Action Against Hunger, Oxfam and Handicap International.
We received the following message from the TWB Program Director:
Dear Friends of Translators without Borders,
As an American, I cherish Thanksgiving. As an American living abroad, I am working today and only dreaming of turkey and sweet potatoes (with marshmallows!), but I also am driven to mark the day by giving thanks. As such, my short note to you today.
Translators without Borders is making a difference in the world. We are getting critical healthcare information to mothers in India and health workers in Kenya. We are making sure repair manuals are in the local languages in Zimbabwe. And we are helping first responders and medevac teams in the Philippines find those who need help and speak Cebuano, Waray-Waray or Tagalog.
The head of the UN OCHA communications team responding in the Philippines wrote six simple words to me this week: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Our work is making a difference, and translation is being recognized as a critical piece of humanitarian aid.
I now pass those words on to you. We could not do it without your support. Whether you donate funds, time or energy to our efforts, you are helping us make a difference. We are in this together - we are a community that collectively recognizes the importance of language in the overall improvement of people’s lives.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
From my home to yours,
Translators without Borders
It has been confirmed – Le Tour de France will pass the Alexika office door in Addingham in West YorkshireJuly 2014! We are very excited to hear that Wiggins, Froome and Co. will race past at around 30km/hour (we are on a slightly uphill road) on Sunday 6th July, day 2 of the ‘Grand Départ.’ We even more excited to learn that they might pass the door in Addingham on Saturday 5th July (day 1 of Le Tour) too, with the final precise route to be confirmed.
Some staggering facts about the Tour de France from the Le Tour Yorkshire web site:
- It is the world’s largest annual sporting event
- A worldwide television audience of 3.5 billion watch the race annually
- Over 188 countries around the world televise the event
- 1200 hotel rooms are reserved every night of the Tour for teams, staff, press and tour personnel
- 2 million people are expected to watch the tour as it pass through Yorkshire (and the population of Yorkshire is only 5 million!)
- It has been estimated that 30,000 people each day might line the streets in our town of Addingham alone
It will only take a few seconds for the peloton to pass but the there will be so much more to see – for several hours, the caravan will pass through. The caravan is a terrific spectacle and a great family attraction. A procession of elaborate floats and vehicles precedes the racing action, 180 in all distributing 15 million items to fans at the roadside across the 3 weeks of the Tour. It is a great way to catch yourself a souvenir of Le Tour.
Question for Alexika clients and suppliers
We are thinking of opening up our Addingham office on one of the Tour de France days to clients, suppliers and their families. We would offer some locally sourced food and drink and a respite from the frenzied crowds around the route. The idea would be to open office for a couple of hours before or after the caravan and race pass. If you are interested in coming to see us, please could you email firstname.lastname@example.org with an idea of numbers and perhaps any preference for whether it might suit you to call in during the morning or afternoon. Thank you! Once we have a feel for numbers, we hope to be in a position to issue invitations in the New Year.
Our office on a quiet morning – looking forward to 30,000 visitors…
We know for sure that doing business in the language of your client is one of the keys to international business success – and we are always on the lookout for empirical evidence to support this. So we are indebted to language industry consultants Common Sense Advisory (CSA) for issuing a new report on the top world business languages.
On a (soon to be updated!) page on our web site, we quote a 2008 IMF report based on a calculation of Gross World Product (i.e. GDP – Gross Domestic Product – but for the whole world.) According to this IMF study, the top 15 languages can grant access to countries that make up more than 90% of GWP. The study shows that the top 5 business languages of the world are as follows:
Table: Top Business Languages by Percentage of GWP – Source IMF 2008
||GDP(in $US Billions)
||% of GWP
||Cumulative% of GWP
Now in 2013 Common Sense Advisory have provided a new empirical study based on a World Online Wallet (WOW) – defined as ‘the total economic opportunity, both online and offline, calculated by associating a share of a country’s GDP to all major blocks of that society.’ So the calculation is not quite the same the 2008 IMF study but it is fascinating to put the two studies together. The Common Sense Advisory work has the following as the top 5 business languages of the world:
Table: Top Business Languages by Percentage of WOW – Source Common Sense Advisory 2013
||% of WOW
||Cumulative% of WOW
So despite the passage of time and (imprecision of and) difference in calculation methods, English holds remarkably steady at around 35% i.e. 35% of business in the world is done in English. Around 65% of business is conducted in one of the top 5 languages.
Look out for an updated version of our web page for deeper analysis. CSA’s report can be purchased in full from their web site. Comments would be very welcome – do you think that we are making a valid comparison between these 2 studies?
Congratulations to UKTI Yorkshire (UKTI being a government department – UK Trade and Investment) on the ExploreExport event held in Leeds in the North of England and other UK venues last week. Leeds is our local city and the event there was particularly successful, attracting more participants than the equivalent event in London.
A remarkable 70 markets were represented from Algeria and Angola through to the USA and Venezuela, and exporters could come along and discuss their business strategies with market experts. From the conversations that we had, the event attracted a broad mix of new and existing exporters across the manufacturing and service sectors.
UKTI say that UK products, services and expertise continue to be in demand across the world. Their own services include help with participation at selected trade fairs, outwards missions and providing bespoke market intelligence.
Incidentally the venue, The Queen’s Hotel, in Leeds is always an interesting one. It is easy to imagine yourself in a word of 1930’s glamour, and the ballroom – in which the event was held – is quite spectacular. But it worked very well for a business event.
So congratulations to UKTI and UKTI Yorkshire on a excellent event, and we hope that it will will lead to increased international trade from the region. Below is a picture of Alexika’s Mark Robinson, Gemma Cooper and Becky Taylor at our stand, and we are already looking forward to the next event.
Bild, a mass-circulation tabloid newspaper in Germany, can be a great source of snippets of news and a great reflection of a body of opinion in the country. It is always worth a quick read!
A front page story last week related to language. Only short, an English translation of the article in full is:
Adults Speak Poor English
Düsseldorf: The knowledge of English amongst adults in Germany is only average. In a comparison of 60 countries, Germany was only ranked 14th. The leading nations are Sweden, Norway and Estonia followed by Austria, Poland and Belgium. In last place is Iraq. (EF Education First)
This short article raises several fascinating questions:
- why is the article on the front page at all? The concept that Germans speak poor English (and 14th out of 60 is not so poor) must be a major concern. The implication is that speaking English is key to success in the world and in business. But……Germany punches vastly beyond it’s weight as an exporter to the point where the surplus is verging on embarrassing. Surely there is not a problem here?
- The countries quoted as leading in the field are generally smaller and fewer people in the world speak their language. So…..they would speak more foreign languages wouldn’t they! The 5 million Norwegians have more of a need to communicate outside their own country than 80 million Germans. Germans should therefore not expect to be as good linguists as Swedes and Norwegians as the incentive is not so great?
So, as someone who always enjoys spending time in Germany, it was interesting and surprising to see this story given such prominence. This implied linguistic insecurity seems entirely unwarranted. Incidentally the next story, given an equal amount of column inches, was that Germans are expecting to spend a record amount on Christmas presents this year – the average budget is expected to be €273 , an increase of €43 over the previous year.
Why do we charge by the word for translation? Because our clients want to know what they will pay before we start work and we can give a firm quotation this way. The number of words is a proxy for time spent really – from long experience, we know – more or less – how much time and what skills and resources will be required to translate a certain number of words on a certain subject from one particular language to another to a high standard. It is not perfect as translation is an art and time is spent researching terms and polishing phrases – but it enables the market for translation services to function reasonably efficiently.
What is interesting about this in the translation profession is that a lot of people disagree. The line of argument is that lawyers charge by the hour because their work is very complex, often high risk and often high value – and translators can argue that their work is the same in that particular regard. The argument continues that translators are professionals, and should therefore be rewarded in the same manner as other professionals such as lawyers and accountants. I have always disagreed with this for the reasons given in the first paragraph. So it was interesting to read a Blog post from Andrew Chamberlain of law firm Addleshaw Goddard, in which Andrew presents a very strong case for lawyers being able to charge a fixed fee rather than an unknown number of hours. Andrew attended a dinner where he heard from an executive at an oil firm. The oil firm makes highly complex and precision engineered valves for oil wells, has intricate and complex design processes, undergoes a meticulous manufacturing process, then installs deep sea oil wells hundreds of metres under the sea. That is certainly high risk and high value. Andrew argues that if a firm such as this can produce accurate quotations, then law firms (and, I would add, translation companies) can do the same.
Technology is central to providing a timely, accurate and cost-effective translation service these days – this is not type of technology that is used by Google Translate to produce a rough machine translation, but rather technology that enhances the roles of professional translator and translation project manager. We need to be constantly aware of changes and progress in translation technology, so Alexika will be present at the Tekom / tcworld exhibition in Wiesbaden running from 6th-8th November.
The 2 keys areas of technology in which we are constantly investing are:
- bespoke translation management tools to ensure that we never miss a deadline. We can quickly see the optimum work flow for each project, offer client and supplier portals where helpful, manage multiple deadlines across languages and project milestones and easily monitor the progress of work involving different types of linguist. Whether the project is the translation of a single Word file or a complex multi-lingual project involving a range of file types and large teams of translators and proof-readers…the process is handled through the same system, so our project managers have all the information they need to look after our clients.
- SDL Trados Studio is the world’s leading translation software solution featuring translation memory, terminology management and project management. Alexika is an SDL Partner and also an SDL Approved Training Centre, and we offer high quality training in the use of SDL Trados Studio and SDL MultiTerm for translators and for project managers. On the day prior to Tekom/tcworld, we are looking forward to the SDL LSP Partner Conference in Wiesbaden.
Interestingly, despite the march of technology, the ‘3 Golden Rules’ of professional translation still hold good. They have not changed since Alexika was founded in 1998. The rules for Alexika are:
- Professional translators work into their mother tongue.
- Professional translators are qualified, generally to post-graduate level, and experienced specifically in the field of translation.
- Professional translators must stay up to date in their chosen subject field to ensure the use of current terminology.
For more information on Tekom/tcworld, or to arrange to meet in Wiesbaden, please contact Managing Director Mark Robinson on +44 1943 839227.
SDL Trados Studio is the world’s leading translation software featuring translation memory, terminology management and project management. Alexika is a SDL Approved Training Centre, and we offer high quality training courses in the use of SDL Trados Studio and SDL MultiTerm for translators and project managers.
Following on from the release of SDL Trados Studio 2014, we are pleased to announce the publication of dates for new SDL Trados Studio 2014 training courses for translators and project managers. The new improved courses feature 2-part Getting Started level courses – a 10% discount is offered if parts 1 and 2 are booked together.
The hands-on training courses are delivered in partnership with SDL using SDL approved course materials.
Tuesday 19th November 2013: SDL Trados Studio 2014 for Translators – Getting Started Part 1
Friday 29th November 2013: SDL Trados Studio 2014 for Translators – Getting Started Part 2
Tuesday 10th December 2013: SDL Trados Studio 2014 for Translators – Intermediate
Tuesday 17th December 2013: SDL MultiTerm 2014 for Translators and Project Managers
Tuesday 14th January 2014: SDL Trados Studio 2014 for Translators – Getting Started Part 1
Wednesday 15th January 2014: SDL Trados Studio 2014 for Translators – Getting Started Part 2
Friday 31st January 2014: SDL Trados Studio 2014 for Translators – Advanced
Tuesday 4th February 2014: SDL Trados Studio 2014 for Translators – Getting Started Part 1
Wednesday 5h February 2014: SDL Trados Studio 2014 for Translators – Getting Started Part 2
Tuesday 11th February 2014: SDL Trados Studio 2014 for Project Managers – Getting Started Part 1
Wednesday 12th February 2014: SDL Trados Studio 2014 for Project Managers – Getting Started Part 2
Tuesday 11th March 2014: SDL Trados Studio 2014 for Translators – Getting Started Part 1
Friday 21st March 2014: SDL Trados Studio 2014 for Translators – Getting Started Part 2
Please contact us for detailed course outlines and for bookings. The cost of a one day course is £225.00 + VAT including tea/coffee and lunch and including the relevant SDL Trados Studio certification exams. All courses takes place in our very pleasant training facility in Addingham, West Yorkshire, and a maximum of 4 delegates on each course means that individual attention is assured.
Sitting here surrounded by the latest in computer hardware and translation management software, it is good to work with an understanding of historical context. The old joke runs that translation is one of the oldest professions..well, I have a couple of examples from recent conversations of just how old it is.
First, a visit to see the magnificent Lindisfarne Gospels (www.lindisfarnegospels.com) demonstrated the importance of translation in spreading the word of God. Having travelled there to admire the wonderful work that was created at the end of the 7th century, professional interest kicked in. The text of the Lindisfarne Gospels is in Latin with a word-by-word translation (or ‘gloss’) into Old English added between the lines in the 10th century. It is the oldest surviving translation of the Gospels into the English language. The gloss is written in a spidery hand direct above the quite magnificent Latin script – so it is a very functional additional to the book….but a beautiful thing to see for a linguist! We are grateful to Aldred the Scribe of the Community of Saint Cuthbert, for his hard work.
Secondly, 30th September was the International Day of Translation. On wondering why this date was picked, I learnt that this is the anniversary of the death of the patron Saint of Translation, Saint Jerome in ca. 420 A.D. Jerome was best known for his translation of the bible into Latin. Wikipedia describes his most important work as follows:
“Jerome was a scholar at a time when that statement implied a fluency in Greek. He knew some Hebrew when he started his translation project, but moved to Jerusalem to strengthen his grip on Jewish scripture commentary. A wealthy Roman aristocrat, Paula, funded his stay in a monastery in Bethlehem and he completed his translation there. He began in 382 by correcting the existing Latin language version of the New Testament, commonly referred to as the Vetus Latina. By 390 he turned to translating the Hebrew Bible from the original Hebrew, having previously translated portions from the Septuagint which came from Alexandria.”
A recent visit to the conference of the Association of Translation Companies in London was important partly to keep up to date with new translation technologies such as computerised terminology management. But we never forget that the core skills of a translator are what is important, and we are working in a long tradition of communication across countries and cultures.
I have heard it said that Western Europe owes its civilization to translators. Do you agree?
St. Jerome in his study (1480) by Domenico Ghirlandaio
Posted by Mark.
Our technology partner SDL recently launched a new version of their SDL Trados Studio software to great acclaim. SDL launched a number of celebratory competitions for their LSP partners, and this included a completion for a photo of a translation project management team using SDL Trados Studio. Well done to Gemma and Becky in the Alexika project management team on an excellent winning entry- they took a humorous approach, and you can see the winning entry by clicking on the link below:
Photo comp entry_SDL_Alexika_27.09.13
We use SDL Trados Studio 2014 to manage consistency of terminology in our translations, and to store translations efficiently for future use. So what do we think of the latest version or SDL Trados Studio? We like it! Some of the features that we like best are:
- it opens all common file types without fuss – anything from Microsoft Word to sophisticated formats like Adobe Framemaker and InDesign. We can use this powerful technology to make like easier for our clients by working in their original formats.
- there is easy access to apps via SDL OpenExchange that extends the core features of the software. This allows us to work easily with some specialist requirements from our clients.
- there is a simple workflow for the proofreading process. This can either be for our own linguists, or involving subject specialists within client organisations. It is very easy for us and for our clients either way!
- the user interface has been improved considerably, with many key features being much easier to find.
So we were quite happy when SDL featured Gemma and Becky in their video series ‘A day in the life of a Translation Project Manager‘ and also Mark featured in the same series under the heading ‘A day in the Life of a Translation Company Owner.’ We are also an SDL Approved Training Centre for SDL Trados Studio, and are looking forward to training translators and project managers in the use of the new features.
Again well done to Gemma and Becky on their prize-winning composition – enjoy your prize of Amazon vouchers ladies, very well deserved!