Translating Aotearoa


Our work

Pardon my French!

The Translation Service works closely with the New Zealand Police and the courts whenever they need translations and other language related services to support their investigations and court cases involving non-English speakers. These jobs may require translating online chat or text message conversations, transcribing and translating audio files, listening to recordings, translating the minutes of an interview into a foreign language etc. And more often than not these jobs contain material that may be controversial, offensive and/or disturbing.

How should you deal with such material? Continue reading “Pardon my French!”

The Translation Service supports emergency preparedness

While language services are often called upon after an emergency occurs, to help dealing with specific situations in particular, making information available in multiple languages beforehand is key to maximising the impact of awareness campaigns and minimising the need for emergency services. Continue reading “The Translation Service supports emergency preparedness”

Did you say ‘Inuktitut’?

The Translation Service has a reputation for being a specialist of languages of low diffusion. Currently, we have linguists for over 140 different languages, and most of them are not large commercial ones. That, and our commitment to high quality, are the reasons why we’re often called upon to provide translation and other language services for your less common languages, which are rarely covered by private agencies for lack of profitability. Continue reading “Did you say ‘Inuktitut’?”

The future is here (or TTS chooses XTM)

We recently posted about our quest for a new translation system that would make our lives – and yours – easier. After several trials and early conference calls with various sales representatives based in the US and in Europe, we’ve decided to give XTM Cloud a go.

‘Why this system over another?’ you might ask. Well, the main reasons for our decision were the user-friendliness of the translators’ and project managers’ interfaces, the ability to work offline, the amount of training material freely available online, and last but not least, the impressive level of customer support we received.

Picture of XTM's translator's workbench
XTM’s translator’s workbench is sleek and user-friendly

We’re not going to use XTM Cloud for everything we do though. For now, we will primarily use it for non-sensitive translation projects where computer-assisted translation technologies may prove useful. Think multilingual brochures, websites, large Word-based documents etc. This means that we won’t set up an account for all of you straight away – we’ll do this as we go based on our needs.

That being said, if you are curious and would like to try it out, you can create a trial account (valid for 30 days). As you’ll notice, it allows you to translate directly within your web browser in an environment that is very similar to SDL Studio and other translation software. While it is a very sleek and user-friendly interface, there are lots of webinars and tutorials available. It may be useful to watch this tutorial or this webinar (the webinar is a lot more detailed). There’s also a user manual that you can download here.

When we do create an account for you, and assign you a job, we’ll happily take you through the process step-by-step to make sure that everything goes well. There will be a few things to learn and get used to, but we think it’s worth it. Just give us a shout if you need help!

Translating in the cloud

Like many language service providers, The Translation Service uses various computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools like SDL Studio and Wordfast. While their usefulness is rather limited for a large portion of the work we do (think uneditable scanned copies of handwritten documents), they do prove very useful for large translation projects that involve Word documents, PDFs generated from Word files or publications created in InDesign.

As a matter of fact, they allow us to leverage on existing translations using translation memories, improve terminology and phraseology consistency, enhance quality control, and speed up the layout and design of translated publications. The downside is that they tend to be expensive to buy, which means that most of you don’t have your own copy of SDL Studio. Up until now, we’ve been working around the issue by sending out translations in table format, and importing the translations or revisions into SDL Studio ourselves. This time-consuming process has its own risks as we can easily miss out something and create havoc.

Thankfully nothing of the sort has happened so far, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try and find a better solution. It would be unreasonable for us to request all of you to buy SDL Studio or subscribe to its one-year, feature limited Starter edition, especially for those of you who are not full-time professional translators. Rather, we’re considering moving the whole process into the cloud – welcome into the 21st century – and give you access to a free web-based translation tool. The platforms we’ve been investigating include Memsource, Wordbee, XTM, Lingotek and Smartling. While Proz has a dedicated page to CAT tools with a number of useful reviews, we’d like to hear from you. Do any of you have experience in using any of those tools?

How language savvy is your organisation?

Question marksWe recently did a presentation at Maritime New Zealand along with Language Line on the relevance of interpreting and translation services to their organisation. Find out more here.

Welcome to Translating Aotearoa

Today we launch our new blog, Translating Aotearoa, which will help us communicate better with our freelance translators, and anyone who has an interest in translation and/or New Zealand. We hope that you’ll find it useful, and that you’ll enjoy it too.

Happy reading, and happy translating!

The blog team

Translation and publication design

Communicating with our ethnic communities and overseas audiences is a huge part of what we do at The Translation Service through the translation of brochures, leaflets and other publications. Of course, a lot of work and thought goes into the content and design of these publications before they reach us BUT that is only the start of it. It’s you – our translators – who have the challenging task of recreating the content to convey the information and marketing message in your languages, for your communities. It doesn’t end there either, we put the content you provide into the design files – another task with its own challenges and issues, and the client is provided with a final print or web ready version of the foreign language brochure.

Very often the publication is designed in English for English speakers and no thought is given as to how the content or design features translate in another language. Before starting the translation, it’s good to have a read of it and consider if the language, content, design features and photographs etc. are appropriate. If not, give us a call to let us know what you think. This gives us the opportunity to discuss it with the client and determine if it’s something that needs to be changed in the original English version, or if more flexibility simply needs to be given to the translator to adapt and make it more clear and meaningful in the target text.

A recent example of some helpful feedback we received was in a brochure about the use of child restraints. The brochure explained that you should not put a rear-facing infant restraint in a front seat if there is an active airbag, however it did not go on to explain the reason for that. In the target language the word “airbag” translated as “air pillow”. The translator worried that some people may not understand that although an airbag is a protecting device for adults, it can cause serious harm to your baby. In raising this issue the translator allowed us to go back to the client to discuss the possibility of adding an explanation into the text –which they were happy for us to do.

The project manager will do a final quality check before starting the design work to pick up on any inconsistencies or errors, but will not be able pick on these issues, nor will the client. This puts the translator and reviewer in the unique position of being the only people in the know, who can turn the end result from being a mechanical translation into a well-thought-out translation of a brochure and a publication in the target language in its own right!

Have you ever saved a publication from a translation or design blunder? If you have any examples that you would like to share, please let us know. We would love to hear from you.


Measuring quality in translation

As you know, our aim is to provide our clients with quality translations. To that end we have put in place a number of processes in line with the European standard EN 15038 for translation services. While processes are useful and may serve as safeguards, our translations will only be as good as our translators, which is why measuring the quality of your translations is highly important.

Measuring quality in translation objectively is a difficult task. Research soon revealed that there is no consensus in that area and that many different quality assessment systems are used throughout the world. Some were created to grade exams and are highly elaborate – the quality metric developed by the American Translators Association identifies 23 categories of errors and offers 5 levels ofseverity; others were developed to be used in specific industries, such as the SAE quality metric for the automotive industry. Translation project management systems now come with their own quality assessment features which allow language service providers to keep track of the quality provided by translators.

Green tick with the text Quality control Approved.Since we didn’t have a ready-to-use solution, we decided to create a simple assessment metric based on the Canadian quality assessment model Sical, and we now use it in our recruitment process when we ask existing members of our panel of translators to assess test translations. Our metric identifies 3 different types of errors (translation, language and compliance errors) and 2 levels of severity. It also allows the assessor to grade the overall ‘naturalness’ of the translation. For test assessments, we ask that the assessor mark up and explain all errors.

We have now decided to unroll our quality assessment metric to all translations. Revisers will be asked to fill out a simple form at the end of each job and indicate the number of each type of errors as well as the overall ‘naturalness’ grade. Comments are welcome too. The assessment form along with the revised translation will be sent to the original translator for feedback purposes, and we will enter the information into a purpose-built application which will keep track of the quality of translations, and help us make informed decisions and identify training needs.

This is an exciting development for us, as we will have better control over the quality of our translations. It will also allow us to help you strengthen your skills and support you in your professional development.

Feel free to write us an email if you have any questions regarding our on-going quality assessment system.


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