The Busy Life of a Translation Project Manager

Posted on September 19th, 2014 by Alexika

The life of a Translation Project Manager can be a juggling act, with orders, source files, translations and queries arriving in a constant stream from clients and suppliers. Working with our technology partner, SDL, I managed to find a little time in between projects to write an eBook that delves into many of the daily challenges faced by PMs.

Covering a range of topics, from the importance of professional translation and knowing the responsibilities of the different people involved to specific challenges that often crop up, this eBook will hopefully provide some handy information on how to make your translation projects run more smoothly. Most of the examples and scenarios have been taken from real projects here at Alexika, ending with our top ten tips for a pain-free process.

You can download a free PDF copy of The Busy Life of a Translation Project Manager from this link. It might be particularly interesting for those of you working within LSPs (Language Service Providers), as well as for freelance translators.

We’d be interested to hear any thoughts that you have on this topic. For instance, do you have any examples where technology has saved the day? What other challenges during a translation project have you faced? Or have you any other top tips that you would add? Please do get in touch with any thoughts you may have.

eBook cover page



Thanks to the YTI

Posted on July 2nd, 2014 by Alexika

Alexika’s Mark (Director) and Gemma (Translations and Training Manager) were made to feel very welcome and thoroughly enjoyed being panelists at the recent ‘Meet the Client’ event of the Yorkshire Translators and Interpreters. The YTI is the regional group of the national body, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting. Those attending were a healthy mixture of professional translators with many years of experience and recent graduates.

As so often is the case at such events, the questions were possibly more enlightening and interesting than Mark’s presentation! Mark is pictured in action below. Topics for questions included the use of translation technology, whether working for charitable organisations counts as work experience, translation project managements workflows and tips on quoting for translation work. It is very healthy to be questioned and even challenged in this way and we are grateful to those coming up with the questions.

Special thanks though must go to organisers Paul and Charlotte, both for this excellent event but also more generally for all the great work they put into the YTI. Thank you for inviting us.


Mark's presentation




Why our door is yellow – the Tour de France passes our office…..twice!!!

Posted on June 3rd, 2014 by Alexika

We really are very excited about this one!!

Le Tour de France cycle race will pass the Alexika office door in  Addingham in West Yorkshire, Northern England, on both Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July 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) as part of  the ‘Grand Départ.’

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.

And yes, our door is now bright yellow and yellow plants will be in place in baskets – we’re helping to Turn Yorkshire Yellow!

P.S. It is a shame that we are unable to invite clients and suppliers to the office, but we are just defeated by the logistics. The road itself closes from 6am and other access roads will be closed for several hours. With the huge crowds that are expected, we just thought it is too difficult for everyone to reach us. The advice is to get where you are going the night before and stay there. The office is open as normal on Friday 4th (although we might close a bit early) and Monday 7th July.



Video: Why translation is like music..

Posted on May 23rd, 2014 by Alexika

Translation is both a science and art. Technology shapes the way that people performs the arts. Many years ago, recording artists had to record a song in one go – now they can have as many takes as they like and digitally remaster after the event. Translation memory and translation management technologies transform the way that professional linguists create their work.

Translation can be like a string quartet – with translator, review, proof-reader and project manager working in harmony. Add in many languages and different types of content and you have orchestra that needs a conductor to keep everyone in tune and in time.

Interesting ideas? Please click here to see a video made with our partners Smartling.



Alexika re-accredited to Quality Standard ISO9001

Posted on May 12th, 2014 by Alexika

Following a thorough audit, we are delighted to report that Alexika Ltd has been re accredited to the international Quality Standard ISO9001:2008. Well done team – a testament to the thorough approach and diligence of everyone involved !

We were very impressed with the thorough and comprehensive nature of the audit, and would be pleased to recommend ISOQAR for any company looking to set out the ISO9001 journey. The process is rigorous and demanding – but very worthwhile once all the quality systems are slotted into place. Alexika has been accredited since 1998.

Alexika ISO9001 logo


Alexika at the Yorkshire Business Market

Posted on April 24th, 2014 by Alexika

Alexika again had a stand at the Yorkshire Business Market on Monday 28th April. We were there to talk about language, translating web sites, translating documents…..and there was a prize champagne draw and Jo and Gemma’s home-made cakes from around Europe. Quite a day!

We’d like to say a huge thank you again to the organisers and to all those who visited our stand to make the day so pleasant.

The Yorkshire Business Market has been a runaway success since 2010 and is held at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate. The range of businesses is stunning and we’ll be again looking forward to learning about some we’ve never heard of before!






Why is Finnish translation more expensive than Turkish?

Posted on March 12th, 2014 by Alexika

This is an update to a Blog post from 2011, and is prompted by a great question from our client Philip; why is it more expensive to translate from Polish to English compared to English to Polish?  Thanks are also due to our client Alistair for the original question – we translate engineering manuals for Alistair into various languages for his exports around the world. Alistair’s question was: why is it more expensive to translate into some languages?

Our answer to both questions is that there are really 3 key factors at play here:

1. Supply – relative to demand. Some countries produce many qualified professional translators and many of these people go on to join the profession. In larger developed countries such as UK, Germany and France there are many qualified translators competing for the work, and rates are under competitive pressure.  In smaller countries such as Finland, there are fewer translators from a smaller population, and less incentive for these fewer translators to specialise in one particular area e.g. engineering.

Translators always work into their mother tongue. There are many more professional translators of English into Polish (for example) than there are of Polish into English. There are few university courses for the latter to produce the translators in the first place.

2. Demand – relative to the supply. Of course high demand for the translators leads to higher rates and vice versa, fairly straightforward for German, French, English – although it’s a more relative thing in translation e.g. the relatively few specialist professional translators in Finland can be in relatively high demand.  This is complex because it is also driven by the demand for subject specialism e.g. engineering translation, legal translation.

3. Wage demands in different economies – When translating out of English, we always need to work with native speakers of the target language, usually based on their own country. In high wage economies such as Finland, they demand high rates of pay (otherwise they would do other work), in lower wage economies such as Turkey they demand lower wages. In some cases this affect outweighs supply/demand factors altogether – e.g. in India where very professional translators can work for lower wages.

So it’s basically down to the meeting of the classic demand and supply curves so loved by students of economics – P being price, Q being quantity:


But we would welcome thoughts on this – do you see the balance differently? Which key forces should we also mention? In economics terms, a translation company is working with several related markets – but actually the forces working on the market for each language combination are different. Therefore rates for different language combinations – and subject specialism – do vary.


Spring Newsletter

Posted on February 12th, 2014 by Alexika

Please read our Spring newsletter – the web version can be accessed by clicking here.



Truffles, translation and trading abroad

Posted on January 29th, 2014 by Alexika

It was an early start for Mark Robinson and Gemma Cooper last Friday, as they set up Alexika’s stand for the Funding and Export Advice for Growth 2014 event, organised by Bradford Chamber. The aim of the breakfast event was to help businesses get the advice they need to enable them to export successfully.

When it’s done well, exporting can contribute hugely to a company’s growth, but for those that are new to it, exporting can seem incredibly daunting. The challenges can seem endless – from financial and tax implications to transportation and logistics – and that’s not to mention the language and cultural barriers. It’s not surprising that companies often don’t know where to start.

That’s where this event came in handy. With access to a variety of export experts – including UKTI, the Manufacturing Advisory Service and the China-Britain Business Council – the event was ideal for anyone looking to break into international markets or enter new ones. An expert presentation from the sponsor, NatWest, was followed by a 30-second pitch from each of the experts. We can’t be sure whether it was Mark’s succinct sales pitch or Gemma’s hand-crafted chocolate truffles that encouraged people to seek out our stand…

Check out our stand!

All of this was packed into a two-hour morning session, leaving the attendees plenty of time to start turning their export dreams into reality on their return to the office.

As one of the expert organisations, Alexika was on hand to talk to would-be exporters and those already exporting about the need for professional translation when trading abroad. As discussed on an earlier blog post, assuming that your target market can speak English is not always correct. Even if that person does speak English, wouldn’t it be better to communicate in his or her own language? Research has shown that English may be the lingua franca of the business world but buyers are more likely to buy when they are approached in their own language.

Our translation service can help exporters with this particular challenge, as we translate all manner of leaflets, brochures and websites.

If you’re an exporter and need to discuss your translation requirements, please get in touch via our Contact Us form today.




Our top 10 translation myths

Posted on January 16th, 2014 by Alexika

Whilst translation is one of the oldest professions in the world, it remains one of the least understood. In social situations, it is regularly necessary to explain what we do and how we add value our clients’ business lives.
This has led many commentators over the years to publish their lists of ‘translation myths’ – and we thought we should publish our own top 10 translation myths! Here they are:

1. Being bilingual means that you can translate. No, professional translation means taking the language to a different level, to the point where the final text reads like it is written in the target language. Bilingual people cannot do  this without learning techniques and plenty of graduate linguists fail exams in translation. This is why we say that translation is generally a post-graduate profession.

2. The words ‘translator’ and ‘interpreter’ are interchangeable. The BBC is the most common culprit for this one! A translator works with the written word whilst the interpreter works with speech. There are some very clever professionals out there who can do both to a high level but, generally speaking, the skills are different and people will choose one or the other as a career path.

3. Translation is a niche market, something of a cottage industry. We refer to the numbers on this one – according to respected industry consultants Common Sense Advisory, the market for outsourced language services in 2014 is worth US$42.2 billion. In Europe, the market is estimated as being worth US$20.8 billion.

4. Machine translation is taking over from human translation. Think of it as a scale – at the one end there are the (very useful) free translation services such as Google translate, perfect for getting an instant gist of a text. At the other end of this scale, you need to entrust a text to a professional human translator to have an accurate and reliable target translation. Demand for both types of translation is growing.

5. Translators can work in both directions. Very rarely is this the case, maybe if someone has grown up in a perfectly bilingual environment – but even then most people have a bias. Almost without exception, professional translators will work into their mother tongue only as this is the language in which they can write fluently and capture the nuances of the subject.

6. Translators speak many languages. This is another of the common questions in social situations – how many languages do you speak then? The answer for most professional translators is that they translate from one or maybe two languages into their mother tongue. The important skills are to do with having deep knowledge of a few languages and cultures rather than superficial knowledge of many.

7. Translation is instant. We are sometimes asked to translate texts in less time than it would have taken to create them in the first place! It takes time to research a text. It takes time to refine a translation and polish the words to the required level. A translation company will ensure that the translation is proofread by a second linguist. Working on the basis of 1500 words per day is a realistic level of output.

8. A translator must live in the country of his/her target language. Actually it is not always the case now that a German translator must live in Germany for example. There are constant opportunities, on the internet and elsewhere, to maintain a mother-tongue language. But professional translators are constantly updating their language skills and specialist subject knowledge, wherever they are.

9. If you are a translator, you can translate anything. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it! In fact, all professional translators specialise in particular subject areas. A translator might opt to become an English to Italian legal translator for example. That translator will then ensure that their knowledge of English and Italian legal terminology is constantly updated. But they won’t be able to translate in the field of chemical engineering!

10. Translation is a low-technology profession. Well, we are not using machine translation but there is a myriad of tools out there for professional translators. The use of CAT (computer aided translation) tools such as translation memory can be essential for providing the best service that clients deserve. Translation companies use the latest project management systems to ensure that multiple deadlines are met. Those working in the translation profession need to be extremely IT literate in addition to having high level language skills.

So fellow translators – does this list tally with the questions that you are asked by clients and in social situations? Would you substitute some of our top 10 with your own? We’d love to hear from you.

P.S. The peculiarly British (and American?) trait of assuming that everyone speaks your language if you shout loudly enough is another subject! Please see our separate Blog post: NO! They don’t all speak English….

Mark Robinson


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