How the Translation Business Works

You may manage translation projects, but chances are you have never actually spoken to a translator.

We’d like to introduce you to some of ours. But first, there are some things you should know about translators.

FACT: most professional translators work by themselves, for themselves. 95% (this is a good guess) of the membership of the American Translators Association are independent contractors. Buy a copy of the ATA’s Annual Translation Services Directory, and you can study the professional resume of every translator in the country who has passed ATA accreditation. If you want to manage your own project, it’s not hard to find a translator. And it costs about half of what you would pay us.

FACT: the ATA lists 52 languages into which translators work from English, and 65 languages from which translators work into English. Remember that a translator only works one way – into his or her own, native language. So you can get Thai into English, but not English into Thai (at least from the ATA).

FACT: translators specialize. They’d better. The ATA lists 11 categories and 120 subjects, from Accounting to Zoology, in which translators say they are qualified to work. Now multiply that by a minimum of the target languages you might need – the Europeans, Russian, three oriental – ten, let’s say? That’s more than a thousand translators into those target languages. True, most translators have more than one specialty, but still, no language service can keep that many translators under one roof.
Inescapable conclusion: independent specialists – freelancers – do most of the translation in this country-and overseas, too. What it means: if the translation of your manual requires a high degree of specific subject expertise, and you use any outside resource, it’s almost certain it will be entrusted to an independent translator.

FACT: some translators are better than others. Some of them have enough training and experience to author the manuals they translate. Many of them deliver their work precisely on schedule. A good number of them produce consistently literate, intelligent, accurate translation-and still respond amenably to good editing. There are those who are happy to work on weekends. Some-not many-offer desktop publishing skills. And some work smoothly as team members on large projects.

The few that have all of those qualities can select their own projects. We know who they are. And we have made it our business to merit their respectful attention.

In the beginning we advertised in newspapers in the U.S. and overseas for professionals trained in specific technical subject areas. Today, dozens of applications a week come in by fax, e-mail and through our web site. We classify them, qualify them, test them. And we choose the best of them. The best that the world has to offer-wherever they live.

Telecommunication works for business. Use it, we say.

So when you send your project to us, it doesn’t land in a pool. It is targeted specifically to a translator who has made your business terminology a professional life’s work – and whose name and qualifications will be on your desk, along with those of the equally talented editor. Working together, we manage the final review process with your customer – your overseas office, distributor or buyer. We e-mail over half of our work today for review overseas by the person who will actually be using it, before final typesetting.

We’ll do your work in FrameMaker, QuarkXPress, InDesign or PageMaker; Mac or PC; and in various other presentation and graphics formats.

We are accurate. We are fast. We are on time. You can depend on us, and we trust you to recognize the value in that. Our clients do. Just ask for a reference.