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02/23/07

The beginning of the end...

... or a change of direction.

I confess that I have my wife read all my posts before publishing them. And her opinion counts a lot. She finds that my blog is gradually taking on a gloomy, depressing tone, and that anybody who reads it will get the impression that I am utterly unhappy, which I am not. As regards Spanish translation, I am indeed disappointed with the current state of things, but if I keep on chewing mediocrity all the time, I'll just end up giving up translation altogether and not trying to do what I can to support it anymore. This is the end of such posts, and this is also the end of the Funny translation of the week section, which is just not that funny to me anymore. From now on, this blog posts will focus on supporting quality translations and high standards and practices, and more or less forgetting about all the rest. That should be more productive and healthy. And there are indeed good Spanish translators and translation companies out there, only not that many — sorry, it's going to take me some time to get the knack of my new direction. ;)

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Is this a top-notch translation provider?

I am considerably shocked. Every once in a while I have a look at what other translation companies are doing, with some degree of interest. I just had a look at a prominent competitor's website — specializing in Spanish translations — with an impressive marketing presentation.

One of their testimonials — provided by a client who is obviously not a native Spanish speaker — points to a website they translated into Spanish. I went and browsed this website and unfortunately couldn't stand it for more than five minutes. The process went like this:

1) I get to the home page of the Spanish version. I see a list of article titles with news about the people that the website is about. I read some of the titles, I like some of the vocabulary choices. Warm feeling... Oh wait! What happened with the fourth one? This one comes with a summary below. I see many different misspellings — lack of accents, of opening question and exclamation marks — plus a text that doesn't flow at all in Spanish, because it has been translated literally from English. Some disappointment, but I manage to excuse at least the lack of Spanish-specific characters: "this is probably the end client entering the translation by hand. No way this is what the translation company provided them with."

(But if this was the case, and if this translation company took pride in their work, they should have pointed this out to their client for correction.)

2) I click on an article title and a full article is displayed. Here I will certainly see what the translation company work was really like. No client would retype a full article. If anything, they would just copy and paste it. I see the Spanish characters there, so my assumption is confirmed. So I start reading. The text does not strike me as being brilliantly written, and I can't go on anymore when I see a very serious misspelling. And this is a misspelling that a simple spell check in Word would have detected. Allowing this to creep into such a prominent website is an utter lack of professionalism. And this is the company that states that all of their translations go through two revisions, totaling 3 people who work on every job: the translator and two reviewers. Well, if this is true, one should wonder about their qualifications...

Excuse the bitter tone, but I don't like the current state of things as far as Spanish translation is concerned. It's seeing things like these that prompted me to write an article about how to determine the quality of a translation provider. I will be sharing it with you very shortly.

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02/12/07

Funny translation of the week #23

Sorry for skipping last week's funny translation. Tough week.

So, today we have an excerpt of a piece of news I found on Translating is an Art weblog, by the Wall Street Journal:

BEIJING — For years, foreigners in China have delighted in the loopy English translations that appear on the nation’s signs. They range from the offensive — “Deformed Man,” outside toilets for the handicapped — to the sublime — “Show Mercy to the Slender Grass,” on park lawns.

Last week, Beijing city officials unveiled a plan to stop the laughter. With hordes of foreign visitors expected in town for the the 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing wants to cleanse its signs of translation nonsense. For the next eight months, 10 teams of linguistic monitors will patrol the city’s parks, museums, subway stations and other public places searching for gaffes to fix.

If only my humble "Funny translation of the week" section could generate a similar initiative for correct Spanish translations on the Internet! But, in more realistic terms, what I do intend to accomplish is increasing awareness among this blog's readers about the consequences of not choosing your translation provider carefully. We all want to portray the right image, even more so in front of potential customers!

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