Questions Most Professional Translation Companies Will Ask Before Starting On Your Project

Questions Most Professional Translation Companies Will Ask Before Starting On Your ProjectMany translation companies have a problem on their hands when it comes to finding new clients, and these potential clients are also affected by it as well. What’s the issue? These translation teams can all seem very...samey. Their marketing strategies tend to line up in a way that’s stereotypical: they’re sticklers for deadlines, always want to provide the highest quality translation, have great customer satisfaction rates and the largest language variety. The list could go on.

This makes it hard for clients to choose the right translation company for them, and it’s also hard on translation companies that haven’t yet figured out a way to stand out from the crowd. Potential clients take note: the best way to determine the quality of a business industry is the quality of the questions they ask before taking on your current project.

Outside of the languages involved and the deadline of the project, any good translation company will ask you about these standard questions. We do.

  1. Are the materials you want to translate internal documents of a company that will be used only internally, in which case the deadline has higher priority than 100% linguistic correctness?
  2. Does the client want to have native speakers involved in the proofreading or writing process, or will anyone proficient in the language(s) suffice?
  3. Does the project at hand need to be consistent with a past project or other work that’s already been translated or that may need to be translated later?
  4. Are there any terms that should remain in the original language because they are product brand names and have to be avoided due to legal reasons, copyrights, etc.?
  5. Does the client have their own glossary, containing a list of preferred terms? It’s quite frequent for customers to prefer the use of certain words. Does the client use any computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools internally? Does the client have a translation memory (TM), used in previous translation jobs performed by some other translation companies?
  6. How do you manage your translations? This allows us to determine the best workflow and possibly provide you with translations directly into your CMS or on a cloud-based solution.
  7. Would they like to receive a translation memory file after the project in addition to their translated materials? This can be used for other translations in the future for consistency purposes.
  8. Is the client okay with multiple translators working on one project to help with deadline achievement?
  9. What style should the content be in? Spawning questions should focus on how the reader is addressed, the formality of the project and how direct the text should be.
  10. Who does the project speak to? This can pertain to sex, gender, age or education level.
  11. Does the client require a desktop publishing (DTP) job in addition to the translation job you’re providing?
  12. If there are illustrations in the project, and they include text, should this text also be translated? If so, should they be edited using photo editing software or a translated script in a separate file?
  13. Is there a specific file format the client would like the project to be submitted using, such as .DOCX or .PDF?
  14. What issues did they have with any previous translation companies (if applicable), and how can you best meet their needs to avoid these conflicts?
  15. Is a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) necessary because the documents are going to be sealed or confidential?
  16. If translating something technical, does the client have a demo version of the software or manual so instruction accuracy can be demonstrated? In general, do they have any reference materials they’d like to provide?

The Most Famous Multilingual People in History

Being interested in language isn't a new phenomenon. In fact, history is full of instances of figures who knew more than one or two languages. Let’s take a look at some famous historical figures that you may not know were polyglots.

The Most Famous Multilingual People in HistoryElizabeth I (September 7, 1533 – March 24, 1603)

Being royalty or a politician means getting a lot of benefit from knowing multiple languages. Someone in a position of power needs to be able to communicate fluently with many different officials and citizens. Now people in power have translation tools that can allow them to get by, but in the olden days? You had to fully rely on language proficiency to communicate. Maybe that’s why Elizabeth I (pictured above) knew seven different languages: English, Flemish, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Greek and French.

Sir Richard Burton (March 19, 1821 – October 20, 1890)

Perhaps the most gifted linguist in the world, some totals of the number of languages Sir Richard Burton knew are as high as 29. Language fluency wasn’t just a hobby, but instead was a necessity based on his various lines of work. As an explorer, soldier, writer, cartographer, spy, ethnologist and diplomat, it’s plain to see why he could benefit from having a large language repertoire. Among the list of the known languages he spoke are English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindustani, Gujarati, Marathi, Persian and Sindhi.

Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820 – August 5, 1895)

You likely know of Karl Marx, but do you know who Friedrich Engels is? Co-author of The Communist Manifesto, Engels helped to found Marxist theory without getting any of the naming credit. Engels worked as a businessman, journalist, philosopher and social scientist while also being an established polyglot. Known languages he was fluent in include English, French, Polish, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Irish Gaelic and Milanese dialect (a form of Italian).

J.R.R. Tolkien (January 3, 1892 – September 2, 1973)

Most readers are familiar with J. R. R. Tolkien's writing credits, including the iconic novels “The Hobbit” “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Silmarillion.” Unlike others on this list, Tolkien’s status as a linguist doesn’t stop at known spoken languages, but instead extends to making his own language systems. Tolkien could speak 35 different languages, but also developed Quenya and Sindarin, both seen in the aforementioned books.

José Mourinho (January 26, 1963 – Current Day)

A modern example of a polyglot is José Mourinho, manager of Premier League football club Manchester United. Originally from Portugal, Mourinho is considered to be an incredible soccer coach, named among the 10 greatest coaches since the founding of UEFA by the administration itself. In an interview with Jeffrey Marcus, Mourinho announced that he could speak English, Spanish, Italian and French.

One More Polyglot...

Want to know another polyglot? Me! As the author of this blog and fellow language enthusiast, I can currently speak English, Spanish, French, Dutch and German. It may not be as impressive as Tolkien or Sir Burton, but anyone who is willing to learn more than one language should be applauded.

I have an extreme passion for the translation industry, and that requires being familiar with multiple languages. The world contains many languages, and content should be written to cater to the needs of the global language system. Is your content global-friendly?

Globalizing Your Business? Here’s Why You Should Translate Your Content Into French

More businesses than ever before are looking to move away from a strictly English-speaking audience. When companies attempt to move into markets in other countries and continents, it’s essential that they translate their documents into the target languages. Today, we're taking a closer look at why companies should translate their web content into French.

More than just the language of one specific target market a business wants to reach, French is a what we consider a base language — and a French translation is crucial to your success if you want to reach the widest audience possible.

Even though it is a popular language around the globe, many people don’t quite understand how vital French is to their consumer audience.  Let's take a closer look.

French Speakers are Proud Consumers

If you visit a website that isn’t in your mother tongue, your ability to purchase obviously depends on whether of not the site content is translated into another language that you do speak. Otherwise, there's simply no way for you to understand and conduct the transaction. But basic comprehension isn't the only factor that influences your purchasing decision. Even if you can understand the site, you may prefer to give your business to a company that had the courtesy to offer the site in your native language.

This is generally true of French speakers, who are proud of their language. Many French consumers do speak English, but they are much more likely to support a site that does offer services and products in their native language.

French is Spoken Globally

Many people associate French with the country itself and perhaps French-Canada. But in reality, French is a hugely popular language all around the world. In fact, French is the sixth most widely spoken language on the planet. Here are some facts from the French government site Diplomatie:

  • There are 220 million French speakers worldwide.
  • 39.87% of the French-speaking population is in Europe, 36.03% reside in Sub-Sarahan Africa and the Indian Ocean, 15.28% are found in the Middle East and North Africa, 7.66% are found in America and the Caribbean and 1.16% are found in Asia and Oceania.
  • French is the second most widely learned foreign language in the world.

High Income Markets Speak French

Many different countries in Europe are considered high-income markets. With French as the second most commonly spoken language in Europe, it stands to reason that these high-income market countries contain a lot of French-speaking citizens. Countries with large French-speaking populations like Belgium and Switzerland contribute massively to the growing economy of Europe, and 45% and 20% of their populations speak French, respectively. When you translate your content into French, you cater to European markets with a lot of purchasing power. The country of France and other French-speaking countries around the world account for about 20% of world goods trading — a surprisingly high number.

French is a Language of International Institutions

Not every world language is a working language of the United Nations — but French is. It’s also one of three procedural languages of the European Union, and European broadcasting systems will often translate important broadcasts into French. French is also the sole official language of the Universal Postal Union.

French is also the working language for other important institutions, like UNESCO, NATO, FAO, UNICEF, FIFA and ECOWAS to name a few.

The Time is Now

It should be apparent by now that courting a French-speaking demographic is important for business globalization and creating profitable global sales leads. However, many site owners don’t have the power to translate their sites on their own — a complex task with a number of pitfalls that calls for an experienced, professional translation agency.

If you’re interested in translating your site into French, visit BeTranslated for a quote. We can help, and we’d love to introduce your website to a French-speaking audience.

How to Solve the “English to English” Dilemma?

woman puzzledOne of the surprises we all encounter as we travel is the realization of how widespread English has becomeSometimes I have entertained myself walking through the markets and browsing the stalls that attempt to lure me in to shop. They are using what they consider to be convincing English:

  • the “Pet Chop” that was just down the street from my hotel in the Dominican Republic
  • the children’s t-shirt that said “Crap Your Hands” in a southeast Asian market
  • the newsletter from my local Spanish wine shop that offers “special prices to natural persons.”

It may make me laugh, but it also causes me to recognize something very important about doing business in English. English is evolving and spreading around the globe. The English I know and consider to be commonplace is no longer the only kind of English out there.

As a native English speaker, I know the subtleties of idioms, proverbs and slang. References to cultural English icons and events make sense in my world. Everything from my sense of humor to my values is somehow connected to my English language roots.

But that is only because English is my first language.

As a business owner and communicator, I recognize that when I am seeking to connect with someone in English, there are many other aspects to take into consideration.

Times are changing and without recognizing it, we will be unable to keep up with what is going on within the world of “English”.  

Putting a stake in the ground and resolutely declaring, “English is as English does” will not help the situation. Nor will assuming that the other person should simply be able to infer your meaning because they speak English.

Wisdom would tell us that there are some key elements to take into consideration in the new English world.

If you truly seek to connect in English with what has now become the English-speaking world, here are three points to consider:

1. There are now more non-native English speakers in the world than native speakers

As a native English speaker, I am the minority in my perspective on speaking and transacting in English.

My grammar may have become lazy and my ability to recognize it may have slipped. Professional non-native speakers and writers are trained with the expectation that the rules they learned are the ones that will be followed.

2. Yes, it’s true: you may need help with translating your written English to English

Hire writing professionals for help in communicating in clear, universal English. There is no shame in this. In fact, it may prove to be a wise move that will help win trust and build affinity.

3. Reach out and connect with non-native English speakers

Seek to understand how they perceive English, its usage and its increasing influence around the world. Yes, we may both speak English. 

However, it doesn’t mean we still don’t need translation to make sure we are both on the same page.


Christal is an inspirational speaker and writer who helps the world tell themselves better stories. She is a sociall entrepreneur and a ceaseless optimist

Translation News Round-Up: February 2017

Our Translation News Scoop.It! page collects the most interesting translation and localization-related stories from around the globe, curated by translation specialist Michael Bastin.

Recent updates include employee data theft at multinational translation company TransPerfect, machine translation news from Amazon and Microsoft, some very funny examples of misbegotten translations,  notes on reviewing translations by Words without Borders’ Daniel Hahn, and a big list of tips for freelance translators.

Our Scoop.It! feed is updated on a daily basis by BeTranslated co-founder Michael Bastin.

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