The Life of a Translation Project Manager

Translation project managerMake no mistake — I love working in the translation business. This doesn’t mean, however, that it doesn’t come with some trials and tribulations.

Many graduating French students or bilingual ESL students simply think that because they know another language, they have access to a job that’s easy for them based simply on the fact that they know more than one language — but this isn’t the case. There are a lot of different skills involved in being a translation project manager, from being good with people to organization.

These are just a few of the things I have to experience every day being a translation project manager.

Working with Other People

Are you a people person? If you’re a translation project manager you have to be. A client is someone who you’ll be interacting with frequently, so fostering a good relationship is important to having an easier time managing their project.

Not all clients are alike, of course. Some will be personable, easy-going and a blast to work with — others will be difficult and hard to understand. A translation project manager must adjust themselves accordingly and communicate effectively no matter what personality their client has.

Honing Multiple Skills

Like I said before, translation project managers have to be multi-talented. It’s obviously important to be bi- or multilingual, but that’s just one part of the job. Other necessary skills include:

  • Being technologically savvy
  • Having communication abilities
  • Being literate in multiple languages
  • Proofreading and editing
  • Language fluency upkeep (if a language isn’t a mother tongue or ingrained, it can fade)

Time Management

Because translation work is global by design, not every client I work with lives in my same time zone. This is something all translation project managers will have to get used to and talk about with their clients. If they live in 6 time zones ahead of you, a work schedule has to be created that works for both of you despite the six hour difference.

It’s also important to understand time zones from a deadline perspective. If a client wants a piece done by 8 PM, it’s important to remember that’s usually 8 PM their time, not yours.

Technical Challenges

Even knowing multiple languages, my job still involves technology like Computer Assisted Translation tools. Some projects I can translate easily based on my fluency, but hobby languages can always use some sprucing up. Computer Assisted Translation tools can make the life of a translation project manager much simpler by combining the reasonable brain of a human with the logical knowledge of a computer.

There’s also project management tools. Anyone in any project field has to get used to scheduling their every day to make sure projects are completed on time. If you want to be a translation project manager, you’d better get used to scheduling, scheduling, and more scheduling.

Stress

Finally, being a translation project manager can be an extremely stressful job. Though I find my work to be extremely rewarding, the deadlines, clients, and projects can sometimes be overwhelming. The work involves deadlines, some of which are strenuous and hard to meet. Stress is something that happens, and all translation project managers will face it during their career.

But, like I said, the work is also fascinating and rewarding. I love being a translation project manager, and the pros massively outweigh the cons.

5 Tips to Promote your Multilingual Website in Social Media

Social media has really shrunk the world. What’s more, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are available in multiple languages, further connecting our global community. This also means that it’s worth it to promote your translation company website in social media.

Global businesses haven’t truly given in to globalization if they don’t have content available on their website in multiple languages. This is where a translation company comes in: they can take a business with global dreams and make them a reality. Other clients are on social media with more specific translation needs, like translating a brochure into multiple languages for non-English speaking clients.

These clients are waiting for translation companies on social media — all it takes to reach them is a little promotion.

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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.

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Social media just got more social. Just in time for the U.S. 2016 presidential election.

Photograph: The Nuisance Committee/Facebook

Whether you are a Trump supporter or not — and whether you care about the U.S. 2016 presidential elections or not –- the sign is funny, no?

“Donald Trump can’t read this, but he is scared of it.”

Not being fluent in Arabic, I would not have known what it meant. Except for the endless social media posts about it, and The Guardian’s coverage.

How many other election jokes and serious debates are we missing due to language barriers? A lot. Especially on social media, where thousands of tweets and Facebook posts in foreign languages fly right on by.

A new translation tool called Bridge is going to let us read those indecipherable posts, however. Bridge is making social media even more social.

Twitter translation

Bridge translates twitter and other social media platforms into multiple languages. This way, us digital humans can communicate – even more. Bridge uses only real humans for the translation of social media.

Bridge goes one step further.

According to mediaonline, Bridge “applies journalistic principles to curate and translate social media conversations among global and minority communities as a way to broaden the discourse.”

Roughly translated: Bridge hires journalists or people with “journalistic sensibilities who either come from the relevant community or understand the minority group well” to do and review the translations for accuracy.

Bridge has a special project for the U.S. 2016 presidential elections, as you can imagine.

U.S. 2016 presidential elections and translation law

The U.S. has a “Minority Language Provision” law which requires all federal documents to be translated into “minority languages” of the local population. The system is not without its kinks.

Recall the translation blunder for the U.S. 2012 presidential elections, when Chinese-speaking voters were directed to enter their “last 4 nuclear submarines” instead of the last 4 digits of their social security numbers. Good one, Illinois.

Another blunder occurred in Maryland. The summary of the ballot question concerning the same-sex civil marriage referendum completely misled Spanish-speaking voters.

The Minority Language Provision law requires ballots, voter registration, polling information and other logistical information for voting. Of course it does not require that the plethora of information, debate, accusations and promises made on social media be translated.

As digital beings, we know social media affects our thinking and possibly our voting choices.

For the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, some politicians are translating their own social media. Candidate Hillary Clinton has her official twitter feed translated into Spanish on a separate account.

Whether voting, supporting, arguing or trying to ignore the U.S. presidential elections, thanks to Bridge, you can now better navigate the social media around it and other topics.

AT&T used to tell us to reach and touch someone. Bridge is letting us reach out and understand someone. Or insult them. Or support them. Social media has never been more social.

The Paralympics Win the Gold Medal for Promoting the Translation of People-First Language

Katie Ledecky (left) and Jessica Long (right). Credits: Fernando Frazao & Clive Rose

Katie Ledecky (left) and Jessica Long (right). Credits: Fernando Frazao (l) & Clive Rose (r).

Olympics and Paralympics

We have all heard of Katie Ledecky, but what about Jessica Long?

Long is also an adorable athlete with an infectious smile. At 12 years of age she was the youngest competitor on the US 2004 team. She has held several world records in swimming.

The difference between Long and Ledecky is that Long is crippled, disabled, living with a handicap. However you say it, Long is missing both of her lower legs. She is a paralympian, competing in the Paralympics held several weeks after the Olympics.

Most Americans would say Long is “a person living with a disability.” This is known as people-first speech, invented by advocacy groups in the USA in the late 1980s. People-first speech rejects references such as “disabled person,” “deaf person”, etc. The idea is to focus on the person as a human being before any qualifiers or adjectives.

People-first language

I was a teenager in the USA at the time that people-first speech proliferated. I later worked under the guidelines of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) in museums and schools. So I shudder each time I hear someone in German refer to Jessica Long as “eine Behinderte” – literally, “a disabled”.

Germans often convert adjectives into nouns, a convenient shorthand for an otherwise verbose language. This mechanism is in stark contrast to people-first speech. It not only puts the qualifier before the noun, it uses the qualifier as the noun. The same is true in German for entire groups of people, so “die Behinderten” means “the disabled”.

Of course, saying “die Behinderten” is snappier than translating the people-first phrase “people living with disabilities” into German. “Menschen mit körperlicher Einschränkung.” Even snappier, Germans use diminutives such as “die Behindis” or, for people using “Rollstuhle” (wheelchairs), “die Rollis”.

Cringe.

Is it just my American political-correctedness and brainwashing by the ADA, or is there something more to using people-first speech? And how much attention should translators give to it?

Language shapes our ideologies

According to the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, language significantly shapes our ideologies. Therefore, use of the German plural noun “die Behinderten”, or worse the diminutive, “die Behindis”, may belittle the people to whom it refers. This use of a qualifier as a noun may cause German speakers to incorporate people living with disabilities differently into their world view than if they were using people-first speech.

When translating people-first language, it is of utmost importance that a translator be familiar with this concept. A translator should consult the guidelines of disability acts, advocacy groups, or an institution’s policies.

For the Paralympics athlete Jessica Long, translators should refer to her as “a person living with a disability.” This is according to the publishing guidelines of The International Paralympic Committee (IPC). The IPC online glossary commands use of people-first speech in English, French, and Spanish – no matter how long-winded for the latter two.

“This was indeed a conscious decision, as we wanted to focus on the person instead of the disability or impairment,” I was told by Eva Werthmann, the Media Operations Senior Manager at IPC. I was impressed. But with only three languages in the IPC glossary, what about German speakers and German media?

Will Germany embrace people-first language?

Times may be changing in Germany. At the 2016 Paralympics exhibit at the Ottobock Science Center in Berlin, the qualifier-as-a-noun shortcut was excluded from all text. Instead, the German text took up far more white space than the English text. This is because it used the lengthy words necessary to conform to people-first speech. Good for Ottobock!

Not only had the exhibit designers clearly not used machine translation (which in my experience never gives a people-first option), they had worked with translators aware of people-first speech and its promotion by the IPC. Whether or not those translators or exhibit designers buy into the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, we do not know.

While some advocacy groups still debate using people-first language, it is clear that the IPC has chosen to promote it. So watch for Paralympics headlines like, “Jessica Long, swimmer living with a disability, steals hearts and beats records at Rio 2016 Summer Paralympics”.

Translation Error Raises Stakes in Real Estate Legal Battle Between Katy Perry and California Nuns

katy perryA translation error plays a key role in an ongoing legal battle between pop singer Katy Perry and a group of nuns, the Los Angeles order of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At issue is the $15 million sale of the order’s villa-style convent in California.

It’s not every day that a mistranslation of a Latin document has such high stakes real estate and legal repercussions — but in this case, a protracted legal battle hinges on the translation of a Vatican decree that was used to convince a judge to clear the sale of the luxury property.

The property in question is a stunning convent villa near Los Feliz, a prime piece of real estate — but the question who controls the property is still up in the air. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles was planning to sell the complex to Perry for $15 million, but newly filed court papers on behalf of two nuns state that the Vatican was still examining the sister’s claim to the villa.

“Katy Perry and others will learn: you don’t mess with these nuns,” said Margaret Cone, an attorney for the nuns.

A hearing has been scheduled for June 20.