Author: Abigail Dahlberg


Question of the month: How can I optimise my translation budget?

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As we’ve learned in the past few posts, professional translation is an investment in your business’s sales and reputation. This month we’ll look at some ways to spend less on translation without compromising your brand. One simple option is to reduce the amount of text that you have translated. Instead of translating the full document, consider thinking about what information is actually required for a foreign reader. Trim any excess or maybe translate a summary. Your translator can be a big help here; paying for an hour or two of time to identify which information might be surplus to requirements can save you a lot of money in the long run.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words so you might consider using images in place of words, where possible. The furniture company Ikea, for instance, publishes assembly instructions that contain word-free diagrams, thus eliminating the cost of translating text into the dozens of languages spoken in countries where it sells its products. Roughly 80% of Ikea’s instructions are pictures are only, with the remaining text needed to communicate safety information.

While a translator always appreciates early notice of a project, make sure that your text is ready before sending it for translation. Working from a draft version that is updated multiple times will almost always cost more and take more time than waiting for the last version to be ready. Sending the final version also reduces the likelihood of any errors creeping into your text.

These are just three ways to maximise your translation budget. There are many more, so work with your translator to come up with options to save on your cost without scrimping on quality.

Next month we’ll continue in the series by looking at the question of whether to opt to work with a freelance translator or an agency as your service provider.


Question of the month: Google Translate – Friend or Foe?

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A perennial hot topic in the world of translation is the use of Google Translate and other machine translation tools.  There is no denying that Google Translate is a fast and powerful tool that makes content in over a hundred languages accessible to anybody with an Internet connection. Google Translate and its ilk are good for some tasks like grasping a basic understanding of what a text says or writing a letter to a pen pal.

For business purposes, however, they are still nowhere close to replacing professional translators. Machine translation tools might be getting better, but they still struggle to accurately convey the nuances of texts and provide error-free translations. After testing two free online automatic translation services, the Wall Street Journal concluded that, “these services are passable for travellers or for those wanting to translate a letter from a distance cousin. I definitely wouldn’t use them for business or anything that remotely requires accuracy.”

Another big issue needs to be considered before using Google Translate, namely confidentiality. By uploading any file to Google Translate, you give Google (and those it works with) “a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works, communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.” I think that it is worth thinking twice before losing control over the secrecy of your sensitive information, for instance details of a proprietary technology, embargoed financials or a potential merger. In this case, “free” translation can have a big cost.

And one last point: Even Google doesn’t use Google Translate for its own business communication, instead choosing to work with human translators to market its services. So, to sum up, it is advisable to limit your use of Google Translate to understanding the gist of non-business texts, but turn to a professional translator when it counts.

Next month we’ll continue in the series by looking at the question of how to optimise your translation budget.



Question of the month: Who is the target audience for your translation?

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One of the first questions that any translator worth their salt will ask you is this: who and what is your translation for? This seemingly simple question has a sizeable impact on the way that a translator approaches a text. For instance, a speech to a group of factory workers will entail a different style, word choice and sentence length to a highly technical report to be read by industry leaders. Likewise, an internal document that will be seen by two people demands a different approach to a glossy annual report that will be read by hundreds of investors and be picked up by international media outlets.

The purpose of your translation is also important. Translations can be broadly divided into two categories: “for information” and “for publication”. Texts for informational purposes can be translated in a way that is accurate, but the final version will likely be unpolished. These translations generally take less time and cost less. By contrast, “for publication” work is the best choice when your document will be read by a lot of people and when your image is at stake. These translations are usually reviewed by a second set of eyes and involve more time and a bigger budget. But it’s worth remembering that this cost is small when compared with the potential harm that a bad translation can cause to your sales, bottom line and reputation.

Next month we’ll continue in the series with a hot topic in the world of translation: Google Translate – Friend or Foe?


Question of the month: Why translate your documents?

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Let’s start out 2017 by answering a really simple question: Why should you translate in the first place? A couple of reasons stand out when thinking about why it makes sense to invest in translation.

Firstly, offering information about your products and services in other languages opens up your business to new potential markets and increases your earnings potential. A Common Sense Advisory study found that 72.4% of customers would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. Another 56. 2% of those surveyed said that the ability to obtain information in their own language was more important than price. Translation helps you to increase your bottom line by winning over potential clients outside your national borders.

Secondly, having information available to clients, employees and shareholders to read in their own language also enhances the visibility and reputation of your company, organisation or event. A professional translator can also work with you on your global marketing strategy, pointing out any cultural pitfalls and ensuring consistent branding. Translation can give your company, organisation or event the recognition it deserves.

Next month we’ll continue in the series with one of the first questions that a translator should ask you: Who is the target audience for your translation?


Print Translations marks International Translation Day

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30th September is a special day for the translation community; it is when we celebrate our profession with International Translation Day. Our patron saint, the bible translator St. Jerome, has his feast day on 30th September and thus we mark our contribution to the world on the final day of September. International Translation Day also brings a great opportunity to spread the word that a well-crafted translation is a worthwhile investment in expanding a company’s business. Translation matters, and will continue to matter in the future.

Print Translations is spending today working on a number of interesting projects to further understanding of waste management policy and infrastructure among people in different corners of the world. It is our great privilege to help businesses bring their message to an international audience, and something that we enjoy today and every day.


Dahlberg elected VP of regional association

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Abigail was recently elected vice-president of MICATA, a regional association representing translators and interpreters working in the heart of America. She has previously served the association as director, secretary and president. Her term will officially begin later this month at the association’s installation luncheon.


Print Translations operating from UK office from 24 July to 13 August 2015

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Abigail Dahlberg, the owner and operator of Print Translations, will be spending three weeks brushing up on her British English skills and meeting with customers and colleagues from 24 July to 13 August. During this period, she will be working on British Standard Time, which is one hour behind mainland Europe. Abigail will be taking on a limited number of assignments while in the UK. Please note that the office will be closed for assignments from 3-7 August. Abigail will return to Kansas City, which is seven hours behind Central Europe Time, with effect from 14 August.


Translation tip: Translate a bin’s contents not its colour

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This quick post was prompted by a translation that I stumbled across online today. The English version of a German company’s website described how much waste had been collected in the previous year. Everything read well, right up to the point where the translator chose to refer to the bins that the company used simply by their colour (one slightly altered example: Company XYZ put 10,000 tonnes in the blue bin). The problem is that no universal standards exist governing the colour of collection containers so telling the reader that a bin is blue does not help them understand what materials the company actually collected.

Let me illustrate this with an example: today is bin day (US: trash pick-up day) here in Kansas City and my blue recycling bin is awaiting collection. Kansas City operates what is known as single-stream recycling (British English: commingled collections) so I am allowed to place the following items in my blue bin according to city rules:

  • Office paper, junk mail, newspapers (without plastic rain bag), phone books, catalogs and magazines
  • Manila folders
  • Advertising inserts
  • Brochures
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Carrier stock (i.e. cardboard soft drink and beer cartons)
  • Chipboard (i.e. cereal and shoe boxes)
  • Paper/hardback books
  • Plastic bottles with a neck #1 and #2 (look for the number inside the chasing arrow symbol), such as water and soda bottles, milk jugs and detergent bottles. Lids may now be recycled, too.
  • Plastic containers #3 thru #7 (look for the number inside the chasing arrow symbol), such as yogurt and margarine/butter tub containers
  • Cardboard egg cartons
  • Pizza boxes (No food)
  • Shredded paper (in paper bags)
  • Drink cartons
  • Aluminum cans and other metal cans
  • Clamshells (Deli or salad bar containers)
  • Aseptic containers (milk, juice and vegetable cartons)

That list is a pretty extensive.

The south-western German town of Karlsruhe – the last place where I lived before moving across the Atlantic – also has a blue bin. However, its contents are strictly limited to different types of paper and board, specifically loose paper, envelopes, newspapers, books, magazines, catalogues, leaflets, advertising, booklets, office and writing paper, folders, cardboard, cardboard packaging and paper packaging. No plastic. No metals. No cartons.

Just this one example makes it clear that a blue bin in one country is not the same as a blue bin in another country. In fact, bin colour can even differ from one town or region to another. That makes it really important for the translator to find out what materials are actually going in each bin and refer to the bin by its contents rather than its colour.

New Print Translations website now online

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Welcome to our new website! Please take some time to look around and learn more about our company. 2015 promises to be an exciting year for Print Translations: this March we will celebrate ten years in business with some fun surprises for those who have helped us along the way. For now, a heartfelt thank you to all of our customers for choosing Print Translations as your trusted translation services provider.