Tere: Hey you, tell me, how do I capture your attention?

Yes, you – the reader, the buyer, the user, the prospect, the audience, the observer, the stalker (may be not you), the spectator, the player, the onlooker. Tell me what’s going to take to stop you from clicking that button and moving away from me. You, heartless run-away. How do I get you to listen to my sob story once and for all? What is it going to take for you to watch my dog running around my home annoying my cat with its adorable friendship? How will I share with you my latest piece of newfound wisdom if you refuse to stop by? How do I get you to read a story that forty years ago would have made it into a best sellers’ list but today is lost in this virtual universe among millions of competing stories?

What do I have to do to get you to notice me?

make me care_FBK

You: Look me in the eyes and Make me care.

Tere: Make you care? That simple? You: Yes, that’s all I want. I’m sick and tired of not caring. I want you to grab me by the shoulders, look me in the eye and tell me to care. I demand you make me care with a good crafted story. Can’t take any more spelling mistakes. I hate  my language being tortured, shortened, abbreviated, played with. I want no more jargon, no gimmicks, no tactics, no ploys. I despise plagiarism and I can’t stand keywords “strategically” overloaded throughout the text (do you think I can’t really tell?) just to please an omnipotent virtual entity.
All I want is to care about what you have to say.
I want you to enthrall me with your words, with anticipation, with well-written intrigue so that I can stay in your page longer than ten seconds. I hate those ten seconds. I’m sick of swishing through the headlines without paying attention at what I’m being said. I despise myself for just looking at those

s and

s that supposedly hold the keys to all my answers.   All I want is to care about you, about your story, about the reason that brought you here; about the forest you see from your window while you write words that make sense to me. I want to see you wrap yourself up in a blanket while you write, make yourself a cup of tea and fill up a water bottle to put your icy feet on. So human. I want to see you through your words. Not through heartless keywords. Because I know there’s no one I wouldn’t learn to love once I heard their story. Their true story, not one enmascarated by keywords and strategies. You just have to give me the chance to care about yours. I’ll give you more than ten minutes in return. That’s all.

Zen, Manga and the Art of public bathing – Outside-the-box accommodation in Tokyo

Japan has done it again. Despite putting up with a considerable deflation and a weaker yen, Tokyo has overtaken the Swiss city of Zurich to resume its position as the world’s most expensive city in the world.  The latest Worldwide Cost of Living Survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit shows the balance is clearly tilting with Australasian cities now being the biggest movers in the top 20 positions. No U.S. city made it to  the top 20.

If you are planning on visiting Japan, these are not the kind of news you want to hear. Of course, if money is not an objection, this does not really concern you. In that case, you´d probably best browsing any of the many accommodation booking sites you´ll find on the net. But if you are a budget conscious traveller who desperately want to visit this incredible country (just like me), the following suggestions might help you make that dream a reality, even if it isn´t the most comfortable reality 🙂

Manga kissa

Ok, maybe not the place where you want to spend more than one or two nights, but certainly an option that can help you save some cash if you are coffers are suffering while in the big city.

The “manga kissa” or “manga kissaten” are popular versions of the classic internet cafe with ´long stay´options. A five-hour stay in a ¨private¨ cubicle will set you back around 1500 yen 8 or US$20.  This price will give you unlimited access to  comic books, a shower, and all the soda you can drink. But if you prefer to bypass all the manga paraphernalia and try to catch some sleep, the chairs in the cubicles are fairly comfortable. You can even get an all-night pack (most places are open 24 hours) for around 1,000 yen if you check in at around midnight. The average place has about 20-30 booths I think, but there are huge ones which spans multiple floors and have over 100 individual booths.

24 Hour Baths

Oedo Onsen Monogatari
In addition to offering gender segregated baths, some of these centres provide lounging areas, large comfortable chairs, or private rooms where visitors can rest for the night. For around 3000 Yen (US$30), places like the Oedo Onsen and LaQua   will get you a decent sleep area with personal tv, blankets and pillows.

One word of caution when it comes to public baths in Japan. Although different genders bathe in different areas, if you are fairly modest and prefer not to be seen naked in public, public baths might not be your best choice. You will also be required to ¨shower¨yourself before you enter the actual bath in a somewhat peculiar  position (generally sitting down on cute little wooden stools) and it may feel like a very awkward way to present your nude self. For further etiquette rules, visit this article in the trip advisor.

Capsule Hotels

There is no denying you´ll surely feel trapped in a stacked-up sarcophagus but for an average of 3500 yen (US$37) will get you the rest you need and a few little gadgets to play with ( TV, radio, alarm clock and reading light). I don´t have to tell you there are a number of downsides to sleeping in these little pods – patrons could very well be quite rowdy as most often capsule hotels are found clustered around stations ready for  drunk businessmen who have lost their trains to crush on. Also, because of safety and privacy issues, women typically aren’t allowed at these hotels, so it is a good idea to check, as there are a few exceptions.

Capsule Hotel Asakusa River Side
Shinjuku Kuyakusho mae Capsule Hotel
Green Plaza Shinjuku

Low budget (standard) Ryokan and Minshuku

Ryokan (s) are traditional Japanese inns originated in the old Edo days (seventeenth century) which, generally feature tatami-matted rooms and communal baths. You can go totally up market and be paying 40,000 yen for a room in these traditional lodges or find a no-frills option for as little as 4,000 yen per person.

Ryokan and Minshuku are similarly styled although the latter  aims to project a more personalised and homey atmosphere where guests are treated to home-style Japanese cooking.

The following are some affordable Ryokan and Minshuku options in the Tokyo region:Both of these options will generally not provide a private bathroom and you´ll have to share the communal area with other guests (and sometimes the general public).

Location: Near Tokyo University and Tokyo Dome
Cost: between 7,000 to 10,000 yen per person.
Hotel Kaminarimon
Location:  Asakusa district of Tokyo, 200 meters away from the Sensoji temple.
Cost: between 7,000 to 10,000 yen per person.
Ryokan Asakusa Shigetsu
Location: Near Nakamise-dori, which is the main street in Asakusa.
On the 6th floor there are shared Japanese “hinoki” (cypress) baths for both women and men (same gender only) with views of the Asakusa district.
Cost: between 7,000 to 15,000 yen per person
Sumisho Hotel
Location: Near Tokyo Station,
There is a large shared bath for the guests  (same gender only).
Cost: between 7,000 to 15,000 yen per person
Yamanaka Ryokan
Location: Ueno district in northern Tokyo.
Each room has its own private bath and toilet.
Cost: between 7,000 to 15,000 yen per person


You can easily get a list of the best backpackers in town from any of the accommodation sites or from Trip Advisor, but you may want to start with these two popular spots:
Khaosan Tokyo Guest House Ninja
Not ideal for couples as they don´t have any doubles, the communal space in this centrally located hotel features free Wi-Fi and a large TV with cable that encourages a community spirit among guests.
Twin rooms start at US$60 and dormitory cabin beds from US$32, but you get free tea and coffee and Internet access.
YMCA Asia Youth Centre
You will find the rooms here rather small, but most of them feature an en suite bathroom and wireless internet.  Doubles start at US$150.

Buddhist monasteries (Shukubo)

Buddhist temples and monasteries are ideal accommodation options to retreat to a world of zen calm after a busy day in the megacity. Most of them are quite a distance away from the tourist areas so you have to factor the transport when making your decision. Expect very minimalist (almost spartan) but clean rooms, vegetarian meals and the option to be part of the Buddhist rituals.  You will be expected to lay out your own futon mattress and quilt at  night and fold them up again next morning. The toilets will be  Japanese style, and the bath, if it exists, a communal one, perhaps  even shared with the priest’s family. Do not expect a  television nor  locks on the door and no front  desk at which to deposit your valuables.

Mount Mitake
Mount Mitake has been worshipped as a sacred mountain for a very long time in the Kanto region and shukubo lodges have spread around the Musashi Mitake shrine, most of them providing the option to perform Takigyo or  meditative practice under a local waterfall.

The trip from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station to Mitake Station on the Ōme Line takes about 95 minutes.

A shuttle bus, located 50 meters to the left of Mitake Station, travels to Takimoto village every half hour between 07:30 to 18:00. From Takimoto village, the Mitake-Tozan Railway cable car operates every half hour between 07:30 to 18:30 and leads to Mitakesan village at its top. Mitake summit and the Musashi-Mitake Shrine  (武蔵御嶽神社 Musashi Mitake Jinja?) can then be reached by trail—approximately 1000 meters.
Komadori Sanso (Mount Mitake)
Cost: without meals 5,250 yen ( approximately US$55), with two meals 8,400 yen (US$90), with Takigyo 10,500 yen or US$113.
How to get there: JR Yamanote line Shinjyuku Station” > “JR Mitake station” > (bus) > “Cable-Shita bus stop” > (Cable car) > “Mitakesan” > 15 minutes walk.
Seizanso (Mount Mitake)
Cost:  including 2 meals 7,350 yen (US$80), including 2 meals and takigyo 10,000 yen (US$108)
How to get there: JR Yamanote line Shinjyuku Station > JR Mitake station > (bus) > Cable-Shita bus stop > (Cable car) > Mitakesan > 8 minutes walk
Kanagawa (Greater Tokyo area)
Cost: including 2 meals 5,000 yen (US$53)
How to get there: ”JR Daiyusan station” > (bus) > “Doryoson bus stop”
Cost: including breakfast 6,000 yen (US$65) including 2 meals
How to get there: ”Odakyu Railway Isehara station” > (bus) > “Robentakimae bus stop”
Seityo-ji temple (Chiba – South Tokyo) 
Cost:  accommodation and two vegetarian meals 8,000 yen (approximately US$85)
How to get there: JR Awaamatsu station and jump on the bus towards Chiba to stop in the Seityo-ji bus stop.
Syogaku-ji (Hanno, 50 km Northeast of  Tokyo)
Cost: accommodation and two vegetarian meals 6,500 yen (approximately US$70).
How to get there: JR Yamanote line Ikebukuro Station” > Seibu Ikebukuro Railway “Hanno station” > (55 minutes bus) > “Nago bus stop” > 1 minutes walk
For further information, the Tourist Information Centres in Tokyo  city can provide you with up up-to-date lists of temples where foreigners  are welcome to stay.


Japanese Home
This may sound like an option best suited for the young but that is not the case. There are quite a number of websites that help you experience the real Japan and match people of any ages to households looking to host for up to 50,000 yen (US$550)per month.

Homestay Web – Tokyo
Homestay in Japan
Homestay Booking

Overnight transport

If you are on your way from Tokyo elsewhere in Japan, highway buses in Japan (kosoku for ‘highway’) will take you to any major city within six to nine hours, and even as far as the southern island of Kyushu in a 15-hour stretch. While day time buses cost anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 yen (US$100-150) one way,you can get a discount for the night ride that’s usually around half the daytime price.

One thing to be careful thought is to double check departure and arrival times and arrive at the pick-up area early, since sometimes it is difficult to find where the bus is parked.

For more information on overnight buses visit Japan-guide.com. If you prefer to travel by train, there are also some night options available to you, you can check them out here.

I hope this helps you get to Tokyo without having to break your bank. Of course, there is always the option of doing like quite a few of the locals and falling asleep in the train ( many travellers, like myself, have witnessed a few exhausted Japanese men stay behind after a train docked in its last stop :)).  When it´s time, it´s time.
Early One Morning

Translation industry forecast for 2013 – The AAA (Africa, Arab, Asia) and AT (Automated translation) moment

The translation and localisation industry has been defying economic trends for quite some time now. While the world´s economy insists on slowing down, the language industry continues its steep ascent with a 12% growth expected in 2013.

If you are a freelance translator, though, trying to make a decent living, these figures might contradict the struggle you face to get a job booked, late payments from demanding clients or the ever decreasing rates you get awarded for a job well done.

So, what are the trends we need to watch out for to ensure we get a fair share of the approximately US$35 billion the language industry turns around per year?

A triple A moment

Menit tribe man - Tum Omo Ethiopia

Hans Fenstermacher, CEO of the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), indicates that the rapid spread of the Internet in what he calls the Triple A markets ( African, Asian and Arabic) compounded to the economic growth expected in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East is accelerating the demand for more translation and localisation services for languages in these regions.


While markets everywhere are suffering the effects of a severe economic crisis, Africa is  experiencing its longest income boom for over 30 years, with gross domestic product growth rates averaging about 5 per cent annually over the past decade. The IMF forecasts the continent’s income to increase by around 4.5 per cent and seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies to be African. Nations like Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria are expected to expand by more than 6 per cent a year until 2015.

The mobile phone industry is reaping the rewards of the economic progress now felt in these countries. Africa is the fastest growing region for mobiles in the world, and the biggest after Asia, according to the GSM Association. There are now an estimated 700m sim cards in Africa.”What happened in the UK and US at the turn of the century is now happening in Africa on the mobile platform¨, explains Gareth Knight, a 35-year-old South African based in London, founder of the series of Tech4africa conferences. ¨The market is much bigger than the original one in the UK and US. More and more people are going to get online in the next couple of years and they’ll want all the same things.”

This unparalleled economic growth has created an enormous demand for translation into African languages. Companies wanting to establish their presence in some of the wealthier nations like Angola and Mozambique are in need of Portuguese translations, for instance. In Nigeria, whilst the official language is English, telecommunication or pharmaceutical companies will consider having their marketing material translated into at least one additional local language or possibly even two or three of the most widely spoken tongues dependin on the nature of the product and the demographics of the target market and the speakers´disposable income.

Finance and insurance, mining, tourism, legal, government departments and life sciences are also fields that will require translations into African languages and vice versa.

The Arab world

Arab is widely used in countries that present sound business opportunities for foreign investors like the UAE, Dubai and Qatar. Trade and import/export liberalisation have made some of the countries in the Middle East very attractive investment havens and this has resulted in an ever increasing demand of Arabic translators capable of translating mainly into English but also into other languages like French and German.

Interestingly, a report compiled by translation supplier The Word Point also noted a dramatic increase in English to Arabic and Arabic to English translations during and after the outbreak of popular uprisings in Egypt and Libya. Demand for Arabic – English translations (in both directions) increased in 2011 by 31%. , with media and communications and financial and business related translations seeing the areas where the increase was most felt. Demand for French-Arabic services increased 20%.


Members of the Translation Association of China participating in its annual conference in May 2011 agreed that the current Chinese translation industry is short of professional training and emphasised that only a small portion of the one million people who are providing translation service in China hold professional qualifications.

Lost in translation #2

Before the extensive demand for qualified Chinese translators and localisation experts the government of China approved in 2009 forty training programs for professional translators and interpreters in leading universities throughout the country. However, no matter how many native Chinese translators are produced in China, the fact is that globally speaking, there are fewer than 10 qualified interpreters whose mother tongue is English (or any other language for that matter) and who can translate between English (or any other language) and Chinese.

William White, an experienced freelance interpreter who used to work for the Delegation of the European Union to China, attests to this. White is now based in Beijing, and his daily fee has been increasing at an annual rate of about 10 percent in recent years thanks to the tight market. “In peak seasons like April and September, it’s really hard to find professional interpreters, as there are many international conferences and qualified interpreters are all occupied.”

So, if you have the time and patience to get involved in the apprenticeship of the Chinese language, the demand for professionals capable of translating into English and other European languages is definitely out there. The same can be said for other Asian languages, Japanese to some extent, but also languages from countries that are slowly taking the manufacturing relay from China, like Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

Automated translation

To quote the words from GALA CEO Hans Fenstermacher, “despite the advent of the most advanced automated translations in a generation, businesses increasingly need professional translation services to maintain their brands. To sell worldwide, businesses must look and sound as if they’re right next door”. The economic downturn experienced by the developed economies means that it is that much more important to communicate to customers regardless of their geographical location. Transcreation and localisation become crucial, as I have already discussed elsewhere.

Automated translation might have replaced some of the very basic communication needs that result from a number of intercultural and interlinguistic exchanges (the likes of the very handy Google translate or Bing translations). And yet, it is the same automation, technology itself and the ever increasing content that keeps on being uploaded onto the net that create new opportunities for translators and for the language translation industry.

Robot Joe

The rapid increase of language combinations and the faster delivery deadlines, professional project and quality management have already become and will continue to be more significant in future. Technology will allow translations to be performed directly in the client’s CMS system. Translation agencies will adopt further project management tasks, which currently are performed by the companies themselves. I have also discussed in earlier articles how this change is affecting the nature of the tasks performed by translators.

Effective Data Management System (DMS) and Content Management System (CMS) will be basic prerequisites to enable cost-saving and terminologically consistent translations in a translation industry where the quantity of documents to be translated becomes a concern. The application of CAT tools is imperative to create terminology databases, glossaries, etc.

To ensure terminological consistency and to simplify terminology work companies are now making their translation databases accessible to other companies. Skrivanek, together with 42 other leading companies, recently founded the
so-called TAUS Data Association (TDA), which enables its members to share translation files. All members load their language combinations onto a server in the form of Translation Memories or multilingual glossaries and can in return download the language pairs of other members. This creates an immense volume of linguistic data. (Source: http://www.tekom.de/upload/alg/tcworld_608.pdf)

Educational institutions churning the translators of the future have to make a concerted effort in order to adequately prepare them for this continuously changing industry. Poetry translation classes are indeed vary valuable but technology and localisation needs to become core subjects in the curriculi of tertiary institutions. So are business and project management subjects that prepare the younger generations for a profession that every time more will require them to deal with clients and agencies all over the world.

As Einstein once said: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”  Technology is making the translation industry change at a very fast pace. So, we either change the way we understand the profession or we´d better look for a new one!

Professionalism: Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, Commitment to Privacy and Confidentiality

 Reblogged from 21st Century Global Village:

Click to visit the original post

  • Click to visit the original post
  • Click to visit the original post
  • Click to visit the original post
  • Click to visit the original post
  • Click to visit the original post

On December 21, 2012, at 9am EST, I will be presenting a session to the members of the Certified PRO Network in ProZ.com, on yet another topic for professional translators and interpreters working in the Global Village of the 21st Century: professionalism, from the standpoint of codes of ethics and standards of practice.  This time I will place the stress on behavior, rather than technical knowledge or abilities.

Read more… 2,242 more words

Is there a word in English to describe the frustration I feel before my wandering train of thought? – Defining culture-specific emotions

As always, I sit myself down in front of this old computer with the intention of start talking about A and somehow my train of thought just can’t stay in A – in a matter of seconds, it takes a life of its own and starts travelling from D to N, making a stopover in H and even going as far as Z. If I’m lucky, it brings me back to A but not without carrying a heavy load of scrambled thoughts and ideas that I then need to work very hard to make any sense of.

I get excited about many of them, I trash many others but ultimately, I get exasperated by this very testing, independent, self-absorbed entity in my brain that I try want to subdue by any means. And I wonder, is there a term for this emotion in the English language? Or in any other language for that matter? Is there a term that captures the frustration of a writer struggling to restrain a wandering, straying train of thought that refuses to stay in one and only one topic? There should be because I reckon this is an innate, genetically determined predisposition. At least in my case. I have always suffered from it, many of my teachers and supervisors had diagnosed it (and I thank them for their patience and support :))

Runaway Train of Thought

How do I call the emotion I experience when I can’t control my very irritating wandering train of thought?

Anyway… (that’s one of the words I use to try to bring my extremely tangential mind to A and remember where I wanted to start), the question here is whether the aggravation I feel in the case I explained above can be described in a single word in a particular language. Just like whether, as questioned by American essayist Pamela Haag in her article  Relationship words that are not translatable into English , is it possible to find words in the English language that describe emotions such as the Bantu word Ilunga – the willingness to forgive abuse the first time, tolerate it the second but never the third? Or, is it possible to find an English equivalent to the feeling expressed by the Polish words tgsknota (noun) and tgsknic‘ (verb)?.

Anna Wierzbicka’s work on defining emotions in different languages

Australian linguist Anna Wierzbicka has spent many years putting some thought into this and has come to the conclusion that although the above Polish terms have no simple, monolexemic English equivalents, it is possible to explain in English what the relevant feeling is, if one uses semantic primitives to decompose the complex Polish concept(s) into parts whose names do have simple English equivalents:

X tgskni do Y (“X feels ‘tgsknota’  to Y”)  =

X is far away from Y

X thinks of Y

X feels something good toward Y

X wants to be together with Y

X knows he or she cannot be together with Y

X feels something bad because of that.

In her 1986 essay “Human emotions – Universal or culture specific?,” Wierzbicka sees some potential similarities between the Polish tgskni and several English words such as homesickmisspine,  nostalgia, but maintains that they all differ from one another and from the Polish term as well (and I quote her directly just to illustrate the magnitude of her understanding of the different nuances of the terms):

“For example, if a teenage daughter leaves the family home and goes to study in a distant city, her Polish parents would usually tgsknic’, but one could not say that they were homesick for the daughter, that they felt nostalgia for her, and one would hardly say that they were pining  after her. One could say that they missed her, but miss implies much less than tgsknik. One could say to a friend, “We missed you at the meeting,” without wishing to imply that anything remotely similar to pain or suffering was involved; and yet tgsknit does imply something like pain or suffering (in fact, the best gloss I have come across is “the pain of distance”).  The word miss implies neither pain nor distance. For example, one can miss someone who has died (“My  grandmother died recently. You have no idea how much I miss her”).  But one would not use tgsknic’ in a case like this, because tgsknic’ implies a real separation in space. In this respect, tgsknic‘ is related to homesick. But of course homesick implies that the experiencer him or herself has gone far away from the target of the emotion.

The exact similarities and differences between tgsknic’ and homesick can be seen if one compares the explication of the former concept, given earlier with the explication  of the latter, given here:

X is homesick  =

X is far away from his or her home

X thinks of his or her home

X feels something good toward his or her home

X wants to be there

X knows he or she cannot be there at that time

X feels something bad because of that.

Pining differs from tgsknic‘ in its single-mindedness and its, so to speak, debilitating effect:

X is pining after Y  =

X is away from Y

X thinks of Y

X feels something good toward Y

X wants to be with Y

X knows that he or she cannot be with Y

X feels something bad because of that

X can’t think of anything else because of that.

Miss, as a form of emotion, can perhaps be explicated as follows:

X (Jane)  misses Y (Sally) =

Y is not with X

X thinks of Y

X would want to be with Y

X thinks that being with Y would cause him or her to feel something good.

Universal emotion terms?

It seems natural to assume, then, that each language will have it own set of emotion-words that are used to define those emotions that the members of the culture recognise as important to them. We can assume that these language-specific sets overlap and, perhaps, that the closer two cultures are, the greater the overlap between their respective sets of emotion words. But we can also assume that the more distant apart a culture is from another in space and conceptualisation, the harder it would be to share specific emotions. And that is certainly a challenged faced by translators and interpreters and professionals of intercultural communication.

But is it equally natural to assume that there may be a set of fundamental, universal, presumably innate human emotions shared by all regardless of culture-specific idiosyncracies?

According to Izard and Buechler (1980: 168), the fundamental emotions are

( 1)  interest,

(2) joy,

(3) surprise,

(4) sadness,

(5) anger,

(6) disgust,

(7) contempt,

(8) fear,

(9) shame/shyness,

(10) guilt.

I, like Anna Wierzbicka, am not happy when I see English-centred claims of this kind. The fact that the English language seems to be perfectly capable of encapsulating supposedly human universal emotions makes me feel quite uneasy. I look at the list and I have a pretty certain (although I’m in no way able to prove it) that quite a number of ethnic groups will not share the feeling behind the English terms contempt or disgust. Wierzbicka, in fact, explains that the Polish language does not have a word corresponding exactly to the English word disgust or that the Australian Aboriginal language Gidjingali does not seem to distinguish lexically fear from shame.

If Izard and Buechler were Polish or Gidjingali speakers, we might have a different list of “universal emotions”. Ethnocentric research is a risk we are accustomed to, we just need to be able to question it and challenge it when necessary. Producing a list of ten shared human emotions is a pretty big claim and certainly one that needs to be carefully considered.

This ridiculous train of thought of mine, though, is still frustrating the bejesus out of me and I have no word to call it. If you experience the same, in whatever language, and have a name for it, share it, please. 🙂

Multi-hatted professionals – Translation project managers

In my earlier post on Transcreation, I discussed the fact that as professional translators today we are asked to wear many hats in order to ensure our survival in the field. One day we localise, the day after we proofread, we transcreate, we train others, we handle a wide range of CAT tools, and most importantly, we are often asked to step up and manage translation projects.

And yet, not everyone is cut out to or has had the adequate training to manage a group of clients, translators, tasks, tools, datelines, rates, human errors, technical problems, levels of expertise and jargon, glossaries, style guides, workflows, software, validation tools, quality analysis, and many other common factors in the life of a translator/project manager.

In this article I will try to briefly clarify the duties of the translation project manager and introduce some of the translation management software available out there to facilitate your task. So, if your career path is taking you in this direction, or if you are thinking about giving your translating career a new twist, this could interest you:


1. Initial project planning. Set up a briefing session with your client/department (in person or over the phone/net) to discuss the requirements of the project.

2. Resource mapping.  Your main task is to optimise allocation and implementation of staff resources to make sure the agreed budget and delivery dates are attained in the most cost-effective manner. So, taking scope, time and budget into account, you need to determine what type of human resources the project will need. Consider:

  • the number of team members that are required based on the size and time frame of the project,
  •  the number and type of languages involved -are they minority languages or are they commonly translated language?
  • the type of resources that will be required for the project -linguistic, engineering and/or production (desktop publishing) and the requirements expected from each of these type of resources: expertise in a specific field, industry, level of translation skill, specific knowledge.  Are the resources easily available or do they need to be contracted from outside the company/country?

All of these will need to be factored into the project schedule.

3. Task sequencing. Decide priorities; what needs to be done and in what order. A simple mistake here          can cost you, the company or the client quite a lot of money.

4.  Project proposal development.At this point, most project managers will make use of their project management software in order to track the project budget according to calculated requirements and resources. They will also need to set up a project schedule and define the client’s expectations within the project specifications.

5. Set-up a project management file. You and your team of experts will need to establish how are text and graphics formatted and what type of software and resource will be needed for production and multilingual desktop publishing. For instance, are files formatted in unstructured FrameMaker, or XML? Are there any typographic specifications for different languages, i.e. Japanese, Chinese, Arabic (or other languages which are not scripted in a Latin-based alphabet).

6. Create a set of project instructions for the resources involved and instruct your team. Your plan needs to have clear, well-written instructions and milestones for your team to refer to.  Provide examples, glossaries and other useful documentation.  In the briefing, ensure that subject matter experts and specialists on the team may identify and flag technical issues that need to be brought to the client’s attention. Pay particular attention to common and more specific localisation issues and bring up any ideas that the client might have missed and you, as the expert, need to make him/her aware of.

7. Project issue escalation. As translation project manager you are the person responsible for escalating any problems that may hinder the scheduled delivery of the project and propose which resources will be able to achieve the resolution swiftly.

8. Client/team communications. Project managers also need to keep clients/senior management up-to-date on project progress either through automated status updates or personalised project reports, etc and are often expected to interpret and discuss highly technical issues based on feedback from team members and remote linguistic vendors.

9. Project delivery and quality assurance. Project managers will ensure files are ready to be delivered to clients through the initially specified channels.

10. In-country review.  Many translation projects require a client’s internal review or even in-country review (ICR). The client might come back with various edits and it is your job to collate any requested changes and circulate the comments and corrections back to the translators. After revisions have been implemented, you will be tasked with returning the final updated files to the client.

Client feedback, as always,  is essential. If something went wrong along this fairly complex process, you need to ensure that clients’ opinions are appropriately documented and redressed in future projects.

But don’t worry, you are not necessarily alone and at the mercy of the elements in this competitive environment driven by shorter product lifecycles and faster product launches. Technology, as much as it can certainly make our life very complex, and it does, in this case, it comes to the rescue of the translation project manager  and becomes our ally.  So, I have put together a list of translation management software that could be useful in helping achieve the hard metrics you and your team are supposed to deliver.

1. ClockingitA simple,  free project management tool, which allows you to set up translation vendors and assign them tasks, track file status, set deadlines, track tasks time, see graphics, etc.

2. Projetex, an efficient low cost solution, best suited for small to middle-size agencies. It presents server-client architecture and  Firebird database.

3. QuaHill: Sold in sets with different modules, this web-based project management solution is best suited for middle-size to large translation agencies.

4. Project Translation: Suitable for all translation agency sizes, this web-based project management system features  free and open-source (PHP) system core and a range of extensions such as the Freelance or the Financial Reports extension which have to be purchased separately.

If you are experienced in other Translation PM software and would like to recommend it, please feel free to comment below.

Thank you.


Transcreating – Thinking global, acting local

Those of us involved in the translation industry have had to embrace technological advancements in our field, and generally in the world around us, for quite some time now. Not only in relation to the way we work and the technologies we need to use to research and deliver our final products, but also in relation to the way we seek employment, the way we deal with our potential clients as well as the type of work we do and the fields of expertise we are made to engage with. It’s a case of adapt or perish.

In our case, we are generally forced to adapt once others have reacted to specific changes. Multinationals, publishing houses, localisation agencies and other players in the game, take a step to ensure their survival and we have no choice but to adapt to their changes. Consequently, translators today no longer translate the old fashion way, we also localise, we proofread for others, we have become experts in a wide range of CAT tools, and, interestingly as well, we transcreate. We translate and we recreate.

Triptychs of Strangers #20, The Analog Lover - London

Translation and recreation = Transcreation

I’m going to be extremely simplistic about this process but I want to quickly highlight how was it that transcreation became a necessity for most of us.

When it comes to companies making a decision to expand overseas, generally, at least in the earlier days, they had to opt for a standardisation all of their products and services and embrace a single marketing strategy for all countries, or on the other hand, they have to consider each local market independently and create a marketing mix and a series of strategies and campaigns designed to fit each and every one of their unique characteristics. It generally comes down to either a standardisation of products and documentation to save costs or a market adaptation to tailor to the cultural needs of each market. As I argued in an earlier post, most companies, in the end, tend to opt for an adaptation to cultural and other differences to avoid alienating customers.

Although it is often argued that with globalisation the international market has become too homogenised and that multinational companies can market their products and services the same all over the world by using identical strategies, the truth is that people in different countries speak different languages and abide by different rules and regulations. There are different economic conditions, political stability, customs, aesthetics, legal systems. There are far too many aspects to throw everyone in a single basket and hope that the message that is delivered and the way it’s delivered will make sense for everyone on this planet.

Having recognised diversity as a key element in their marketing programs and budgets, companies needed to find an effective way to persuade people in multiple cultures to buy their product or service. And after repeated cross-cultural marketing blunders, they finally realised that is not enough to be aware of the diversity of their markets, it is also essential to get the message they intended to convey delivered professionally. Copy is key in translating marketing messaging and a review of the marketing material by a native speaker just want fit the bill any more. Markets have become far too sophisticated and companies and advertisers need to look towards bilingual professionals who have a complete mastery of the intricacies of at least two languages to deliver the nuances they planned on delivering originally in English: “Think global; act local”.
So, enter the former translator (with a flavour for creative writing), now transcreator, trying to balance the demands imposed by having to promote a brand that is recognised around the world, while tailoring an advertising message for a specific local market. Not an easy task. He or she will be charged with creating a promotional text based on the English (in most cases) original, in a way that brings the intended emotions to life, intriguing audiences, luring them and, ultimately, prompting them to buy into the concept. Copywriting, you ask? Yes, that’s right.

Transcreation = Copywriting?
So, wouldn’t it be easier for a company to merely hire a copywriter/s in the target country who can produce the text from scratch? Well, most clients will want the ‘feel’ of the original text to be maintained, which requires someone who has an intimate knowledge of the source language – they will have to understand why the message works and produce something that is localised for the target language.

The difference here is that the transcreator does not really have to transfer the meaning from a source text to a target text. No, the transcreator is scavenging for identical reactions and emotions as in the source language. And yes, lots of you would have already rolled your eyes and argued that a good translation should always try to reflect these aspects of the source text. And I agree (to an extent, of course, because some types of texts, like technical texts will usually not contain many emotions and cultural references). Transcreators dig for identical reactions derived not only from the message, but from the style, the cultural nuances, games of words, sense of humour, images, metaphors.

Marketing and advertising copy often contain puns or references to imagery used specifically by the particular company the transcreator is working for. Generally companies will have a unique Tone of Voice to adhere to, a specific way to communicate with customers, which can go from casual, to mentoring, to instructional, to masculine, etc. And they will also want you to convey your message taking into consideration demographic differences and target groups, not just consumers, but also other external stakeholders and resellers and stakeholders.

So, if you still want to go ahead and add the title of transcreator to your CV, you need to be creative and possess a superior knowledge of both the source and target languages and their respective cultural backgrounds. Learn to love the product you write about and write about it enthusiastically. Transcreators are also expected to provide cultural advice: they should tell the end client when a specific translation or image does not work for the target audience.

And also, importantly, don’t forget that the advertising world needs your brochure transcreated by yesterday, in two or three different versions and with a back translation to help the end client understand the options you have provided. If that fast-paced working environment is your thing, then, welcome to the world of transcreation.