Toronto Translation Information. The premier language services blog.

Simultaneous Interpreting takes a Giant Leap Forward

Simultaneous interpreting involves converting your message into a different language in real-time. A team of interpreters, in special sound booths, hear you speak through headphones and immediately deliver your words in another language to audience members with headsets. This allows you to speak freely and at a natural pace.

Essentially, the process works like this. The speaker will get a few words into his sentence and then the interpreter will start interpreting with a small lag. As the speaker orates, the interpreter listens and speaks at the same time, converting one language into the other. After examining the rising costs of simultaneous interpreting equipment, we figured there had to be a better way to provide the service while making it affordable for even the smallest conferences. From these discussions, we realized that we could forgo all of the expensive equipment while maintaining the exact same quality as onsite simultaneous interpreting. From the ground up, we developed simultaneous remote interpreting.

We launched simultaneous remote interpreting over the last quarter with great success. The service uses a proprietary system to send and receive voice data with no delay. Additionally, unlike other internet communication software, our product is full-duplex allowing simultaneous listening and speaking without a reduction in sound fidelity or frequency response. This allows us to conduct simultaneous interpreting over great distances. Simply put, you no longer need to budget for interpreter sound booths, equipment, or pay travel costs to have interpreters at your event. The interpreting is done remotely and relayed back to the event with no loss of quality or accuracy.

The major benefit of the product pertains to accessibility matters. We believe that all stakeholders should be fully-engaged in their first-language. The cost of simultaneous interpreting was a major barrier to open communication, especially for smaller organizations. Now, smaller conference-type events can be open to people of all languages.

Language Extinction in the 21st Century

Believe it or not, we lose languages. I know, I know. It is hard to believe. How could it be possible that there might only be one person left in the entire world that speaks a specific language and they, well, ya know. That language is lost forever. If we are lucky, and we often aren’t, that language has been preserved somehow, either through text or audio recording. But usually, those languages vanish into obscurity, never to be heard again.

If you really think about it, the loss of languages seems like a fairly obvious occurrence. Before mass immigration and emigration, it would be less likely that a language could spread from one region to another. A declining village may not be able to pass on that language quickly enough to maintain it. But what if I told you, we lost a language in the year 2000. Surprised? How about if I told you we lost a language this year (2013)? That’s right. Even with globalization, languages are going extinct.
Since the year 2000, we’ve lost many languages, each with an important history. I want to share three of those histories with you today.

(In chronological order)

Sowa (2000)

Sowa was a language spoken by a village on the Pentecost Island in Vanuatu, a small nation in the South Pacific Ocean. During colonization, a mass displacement of people took place. Diverse groups homogenized and by the 1960s, the language was already beginning to disappear and by the year 2000, the language was extinct.

But, there is good news. Stories were compiled in the original Sowa language in hopes of capturing the history of the language. Additionally, researchers that studied the language had written large vocabulary lists that are now being used in an attempt to reconstruct the language.

Eyak (2008)

Eyak is an extinct Na-Dené language historically spoken by the Eyak people, indigenous to south-central Alaska, near the mouth of the Copper River.
Although the extinction itself is an interesting story involving migration and the merging of culture, it is what happened after the extinction that is the real story. You see, the language went extinct…or so we thought.

In 2010, the Anchorage Daily News, an Alaskan publication, ran a story about a French student (France French, not Canadian French) who had learned Eyak through materials he had compiled including print and audio instructional material. He had never visited Alaska nor had he had any contact with native Eyak speakers. Nevertheless, he learned the language and is now considered a fluent speaker, translator, and educator of the Eyak language.

Livonian (2013)

Livonian, a language spoken by a small population in Latvia, became extinct this year. There has been a massive push to resurrect the language but because Livonians are a small minority it Latvia, the opportunities to speak it are extremely limited. That being said, the language is still being advanced, mostly by a young group of Livonians that started the Livonian Cultural Centre. Additionally, the language is still taught to students in universities in Latvia, Estonia, and Finland giving rise to a growing population of second-language speakers.

25 Facts You Didn’t Know About the English Language

1. TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

2. “Go.” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

3. The sentence “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” uses every letter in the English language.

4. The word racecar and kayak are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left.

5. The longest word in the English language is 1909 letters long and it refers to a distinct part of DNA.

6. The longest one-syllable word in the English language is “screeched.”

7. No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.

8. “Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters “mt”.

9. “Stewardesses” is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand.

10. The “sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick” is said to be the toughest tongue twister in the English language.

11. The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets.

12. The symbol on the “pound” key (#) is called an octothorpe.

13. The word “set” has more definitions than any other word in the English language.

14. The longest place-name still in use is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwe-nuakit natahu, a New Zealand hill.

15. The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.

16. Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in the correct order, as does arsenious, meaning “containing arsenic.”

18. Skepticisms is the longest word that alternates hands when typing.

19. “The” is the most frequently used word in the English language (used three times in this sentence alone).

20. There are six words in the English language with the letter combination “uu.” Muumuu, vacuum, continuum, duumvirate, duumvir and residuum.

21. “Rhythms” is the longest English word without vowels.

22. “Queueing” is the only word with five consecutive vowels.

23. “W” is the only letter in the alphabet that does not have one syllable. It has three!

24. “Deeded” is the only word that is made using only two different letters, each used three times.

25. The only words with three consecutive double letters are “bookkeeping” and “bookkeeper”.

Happy Translation Day!

International Translation Day

Translators perform an amazing feat. Every day, talented individuals are using an immense amount of brain power to craft our messages in a way that lets the world read it. Having worked alongside translators for some time now, I get the privilege of watching this transformation of words take place. It is truly remarkable.

On September 30th, we celebrate International Translation Day. It is one day, and they deserve many, where we can say “Thank You” for helping us overcome communication barriers.

Why September 30th?

International Translation Day is celebrated on September 30th because that is the feast day of St. Jerome. St. Jerome, born in 347, was a religious scholar who provided one of the original translations of the bible. He is the patron Saint of translators so it only makes sense to celebrate translators on this day.

What Makes Translators so Special?

Translators take text written in one language (the source language) and transform it into a second language (the target language). This isn’t a simple matter of knowing two languages. Translators are experts in two or more languages. There is a rule known as the 10 000 rule which states that to master something you need to spend 10 000 hours doing that activity. But for translators, they spend a lifetime perfecting their craft. They are life-long learners.

Beyond knowing two languages, translators are often technology experts. They use sophisticated language tools daily. These “computer-aided translation” tools, known as cat tools, help translators keep terminology consistent and recognize repetitive and previously translated text. In addition, translation project management tools help guide a team of language experts through the translation process. Knowing what to do at each step is critical to the success of the project.

How to Say Thank You to Translators

Well, I suppose you can thank them in their language of choice. But, if you don’t personally know a translator, you can spend some time appreciating the work that they do. If you speak more than one language, read a translated copy of a book you love. Appreciate the amount of work that has gone into the masterpiece that is being revealed to you in a whole new light.

Examples of beautifully translated materials are everywhere, if you look. From signs to Shakespeare, the beauty of translation is all around us.

Thank you to all those who make this possible.

This Week in Translations – Volume 1

Stories From September 1 to 7, 2013

7 myths and misconceptions in language translation for business

“Translation of your business messages into foreign languages may seem easy with the internet at your fingertips and bilingual friends on call. However, casual translations often result in messages translated quite literally, instead of rephrasing them to make them more readable, and won’t check things like grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary and expressions that might be local to a particular market.”

Read More

How are startups using translation tools?

“Specifically in the Arab world, it’s critical to pay attention to linguistic diversity, as a citizen or as a business. When startups venture into content, they must pay attention to language barriers and local nuances in order to make their services accessible to as many people as possible. English may be widely used, but a majority of the population prefers their native language.”

Read More

Lost in translation: Crime and language barriers

“Sheriff Elks says oftentimes immigrant workers in the East can become easy targets, as criminals assume they won’t call 911 for fear of deportation. However, he insists his deputies are willing to help anyone, so he encourages them to report any criminal activity.”

Read More

How Do You Say …? For Some Words, There’s No Easy Translation

“Just as good writing demands brevity, so, too, does spoken language. Sentences and phrases get whittled down over time. One result: single words that are packed with meaning, words that are so succinct and detailed in what they connote in one language that they may have no corresponding word in another language.”

Read More

China International Translation Contest launched in Beijing

“CITC 2013 is aimed at encouraging the initiative and creativeness in the transmission of Chinese culture to the world, as well as at presenting Chinese culture to the world, extending the international influence of Chinese culture, and promoting cultural prosperity of the whole world. ”

Read More

New Persian translation of “Les Miserables” to hit Iranian bookstores soon

“Although the first translation is good, it is not void of mistakes and it needed to be retranslated into Persian more precisely and with a better and smoother text,” Parsayar said.”

Read More

How we saved the Yukon $10 000 (and could do the same for you)

The Problem:

The Yukon Government holds frequent meetings. In attendance is a mixture of both English and French stakeholders. In their effort to maintain an inclusive environment, they decided that language interpretation was necessary. There were, however, two barriers to implementation. These barriers are most likely barriers you have faced; time and money. They needed to use simultaneous interpreting, interpretation that takes place as the speaker is speaking, in order to keep meetings to a reasonable length of time. In order to make use of simultaneous interpreting, significant investment needed to be made to their infrastructure.

Had the Yukon Government decided to use the traditional setup for simultaneous interpreting, they would have required special sound booths for the interpreters, sound booths that are not made for boardrooms. These booths came with a hefty price tag. They were out of the questions.

Enter Able Translations:

In late 2012, Able Translations had served a major conference in the Yukon. To reduce costs for the organizers, Able made a commitment to supply simultaneous interpreting to this conference remotely which eliminated the costs for sound booths and interpreter travel costs. We offered the same solution to the Yukon Government. The price tag? Close to $15 000 for all the required equipment. We knew we could do better.

Our Solution:

The team at Able Translations worked tirelessly to produce a software solution capable of providing simultaneous interpreting remotely with no change to our client’s infrastructure. All it took was a laptop and the transmitters and headphone receivers that are often used at conferences to deliver this mode of interpretation. The price to outfit two boardrooms with our new technology was less than $5000.

The success of what we dubbed “The Yukon Project” has spurred us on to offer this service to all of our clients. We can virtually eliminate the major costs of simultaneous interpreting making this mode more readily available to all who need it.

What’s Your Google Localization Strategy?

Factor the following into your localization strategy

Over the last few years Matt Cutts, the Head of the Web Spam team at Google, has posted several hints to the fact that Google uses localization as a criterion for ranking well on their search engine. This was later confirmed when details were released about Google’s Panda update. Yet, a lot of search engine optimization companies aren’t applying this idea to their localization strategy.

Basically, Google has decided it will, or at least consider, serving you search results that match your locale. This makes sense. If you’re searching for a place to get your oil changed, do you want search results from all over the world or do you want results from your city?

The logic holds true for the association between their top-level domains and your localized website. if you search on, you’ll likely only want to view French websites. In this case, your English only website, as relevant as it may be, will not rank.

Since its release, Google Translate has become to the go to application for multi-lingual integration on the web. Google Translate is a machine translation platform that uses a statistical model to translate content from one language to another. The technology has vastly improved since its release, with new languages added and updates to the way the platform renders its translation. But, its still not perfect. Google Translate is known for oddities and abnormalities in translation, causing a disconnect between the text’s original message and the newly rendered version. But this is only one of the major issues with Google translate.

In 2011, Matt Cutts, the head of Web Spam at Google, announced that websites that are translated dynamically with Google translate do not help webmasters increase their search engine rank. These translations are not indexed or stored by Google thus have no chance of appearing in a search. Even more shocking was that Cutts said that sites that are auto-translated my appear to Google as spam, risking delisting from the search rankings. Further to the point, Cutts stated that Google would rather a webmaster translate their site using a proper localization strategy because it is more easily read by human beings and that Google Translate often produces results that that are contrary to Google’s terms of service.

How to add this to your localization strategy

Google has made it pretty clear. Your localization strategy should include a plan on how to deal with the Google algorithms.

If Google prefers local content than your localization strategy should include the following:

  • Registering all of your addresses with Google Local
  • Using Google Analytics to see the top languages that view your site and then translate them accordingly. Let the user pick the language they would like to view your site in. Do not rely on Google Translate for this
  • If you have sites that cater to different countries than add local content and use local currency and time/date formats. Even adding widgets (like a weather widget) for the major cities in that country would be a huge advantage
  • For the best results, let a professional localization company like the Word Exchange handle your localization strategy

Localization – Making Technology for Everyone

What is Localization

Many years ago, the majority of video games were produced in China and Japan and then introduced to the North American Market. The first wildly available platform, the Nintendo Entertainment System, was introduced to the North American market in 1985 and with it came a flood of Japanese produced games. I was just a kid at the time so my reading skills weren’t as strong as they are today so some things were lost on me that weren’t lost on my older siblings. I didn’t notice how poorly translated these games were from their source language (Japanese) to their target language (English). Now, at the time, top-notch localization wasn’t necessary as there was little competition in video game development. We, in North America, bought the games that were available at the time. And that was that.

As the video game and software markets expanded and products travelled across borders in all directions, localization has become far more necessary. But, as much as the market has expanded, it has also become extremely saturated with development companies struggling to fill niches or create a unique value proposition to help differentiate their company. The situation has become far more competitive since the tech start-up revolution where individuals combine tech-savvy ideas with a DIY (do-it-yourself) mentality. These businesses are light, agile, flexible, and growing at a rapid pace.

To combat the oversaturation of the software, app, and web development market, firms are turning to localization to help them conquer new, less competitive markets. The top 8 fortune 1000 software companies have seen tremendous growth since they began focusing on localization. One industry expert notes,
“Customers are more likely to purchase a localized product or software application than one that hasn’t been localized…they also experience higher satisfaction with localized products, and are more likely to make repeat purchases. For producers, support costs are lower when products are localized, and when product support and services are available in local languages. That’s the power of quality localization services.”

Localization, or L10N, is the process by which software, apps, and websites are made relevant to a specific cultural market. Localization involves four major components: Linguistics, physical, business and cultural, and technical.

Linguistics –

There is a widely held belief that localization is basically the translation of the linguistic components of software, apps, or websites. Translation is actually just one step in a multi-step process. In its simplest form, the linguistic component of localization involves the conversion of text from a source language (the language in which the original software is written) to a target language (the language of your target market). This process focuses on terminology, flow, and grammar.
In more complex localization projects, the localization professional will likely take a deeper look into the construction of the text in order to optimize it for the target market. For example, a direct translation of a phrase may still make sense to the target market but it might not use the actual, everyday language that the target market would use for that expression. This becomes especially important when working toward localized search engine optimization (SEO). In this instance, you need to use relevant – exact, phrase, and broad match word variants in order to rank well on search engines. These variants need to be the most popular terms searched in that locale for your product offering.

Localization is extremely powerful in the sense. Google Translate, a translation tool deployed on many websites as a quick and dirty localization tool, converts text dynamically by user control. Although the tool does make the site accessible to most languages, it does nothing in terms of search engine optimization. The reason being, the site isn’t indexed in the target language. It is only indexed in the source language. A website can’t rank well if the term doesn’t appear on the page.

Physical –

The physical component of localization is multifaceted. Generally, this is when your localization expert will deal with the graphical elements of your project. Different locales respond to graphics and interact with interfaces in different ways and your project needs to reflect that.

In this stage, images might be changed to suit the local audience. For example, a website might feature stock images of people from the source locale. They need to be changed to feature the target locale. Text and image colors may also be changed to suit local tastes. Different cultures associate different meanings to colors and their combinations so attention needs to be paid to this element.

Beyond swapping graphics, text arrangements on graphics need to be adjusted to fit the new text and its direction. As you may know, some cultures read from right to left or from top to bottom. This configuration would have to be considered when preparing images for your software, app, or website.

Business or Cultural –

In this step of localization, business and cultural conventions are addressed. Of course, the linguistic aspects of business and cultural conventions have been adjusted but there are issues that go beyond terminology and written conventions.
Business and cultural conventions deal with issues such as currency, date, phone numbers, and address formats as well as issues concerning formality and business decorum.

Technical –

The technical aspects of a localization project are usually the most complex, especially if the software, app, or website hasn’t been internationalized ahead of time. Internationalization is usually the precursor to localization. Normally, software is internationalized at the time of development in order to make localization easier. The software architecture is designed in a way that facilitates localization. For example, one would design software that uses resource files that are dynamically inserted at runtime. Basically, all of the translated text would be stored in the resource files and the language would be chosen by the user and dynamically inserted in place of the source text. The design of the program would be such that the translated text could be inserted without major change to the interface.

During the technical phase, especially when considering web design, navigation menus and containers would need their height and width adjusted to incorporate the changes of text length that is inherent in the translation process. Another example would be making keyboard shortcuts relevant to the local market.

To summarize, the four main considerations during localization are linguistics, physical, business and cultural, and technical. Each of these steps is extremely important to having a clear, coherent localized product. It becomes more complex but more necessary to follow this path as the number of markets you would like to engage increases.

It is important to note that each of these steps can be made far easier and less expensive if your software, app, or website is internationalized in the first places. Structurally, it will be prepared to meet the demands of localization thereby reducing the time spent on physical and technical details which are the steps that are most complex.

Pay with a Tweet! – Able Translations’ “The Definitive Guide to Buying Translations”

Hey Everyone,

We know buying translations can be pretty tricky. We’ve had so many people contact us with specific questions on how to buy translation services so we put together this handy guide (which can be bought be tweeting it). In the guide, we cover:

- What you need to ask yourself before buying
- What to look for in a translation agency
- The questions you need to ask before you commit to starting a project

It also comes with a handy cheat sheet to help you out when you’re on the phone with a company rep.
You can download here, for a tweet!

Download for free if you pay with a Tweet!

4 Language Services Myths Debunked

When I chat with friends about the language services industry, it becomes clear that there is little mainstream knowledge about the subject. Often, my friends will make broad blanket statements about what they think they know about the industry. In hopes of disseminating some quality information on the subject, I will now debunk 5 myths about the language services industry.

Myth 1 – Translators and Interpreters are just people that speak two languages

This is probably the most prevailing myth about the industry. Some folks think that just because you can speak two languages, you are automatically qualified to become a translator or an interpreter. Those in the know, however, are aware that this is just not true.

Beyond speaking two languages, interpreters and translators are highly skilled scholars. Generally, they have a degree in linguistics followed by a number of possible certifications (CILISAT, ATIO, RID, AVLIC for example). These translators and interpreters take course upon course in order to become proficient at skills such as terminology recognition and CAT tool usage, simultaneous and consecutive interpreting skills, presentation skills, as well as a host of other applicable skills that are required of language professionals.

Myth 2 – Google Translate means the end of human translation

I’ll admit it, I often copy and paste into Google Translate to get a quick and dirty translation of an email or article that I’m reading in a different language. Google Translate has come a long way. It is more sophisticated than ever. But, with globalization and the importance of global business partnerships, Google Translate just won’t cut it. It is ultimately unreliable. It uses complex algorithms to process a source language into a target language. The results can be muddled at best. Google Translate cannot compete with the quality and certainty of a professional translator. When it comes to contracts, marketing material, and technical documents, it is still VERY unwise to use Google Translate.

Beyond all of this, Google Translate has opened the public’s eyes to the importance of multilingual communication. This has forced consumers to look at ways to incorporate language services into their business models.

Myth 3- Language Service Providers are mostly Mom & Pop shops

This is a huge misconception. Generally, if you are a full-service multilingual provider, you employ a large staff of professional project associates, admin staff, marketing and sales, as well as IT professionals in order to offer your clients a range of possible solutions. You will also work with 100s if not 1000s of language professionals in order to offer every service in multiple languages.

Able Translations and others have put together proven success models that allow their companies to grow beyond basement start-ups.

Myth 4 – Aren’t bibles really the only thing that gets translated?

How many times have I had this conversation:

Friend - So, where are you working right now?

Me - I work for a large language service provider that does interpreting and translation

Friend - Oh, like…bibles and stuff?

To be honest, I don’t know that we’ve ever translated bibles here. Maybe? We specialize in more technical documents but I think the public takes for granted that most documents are just “written” in all languages at once. Generally, they come to use with a source language and are translated from the original document into other languages while retaining the original messaging.

Well, there you have it. 4 common language services myths debunked.

Are there more? Comment below with your most commonly heard misconceptions about the language services industry.

The Chinese Economy According to a Language Expert

English to Chinese translation services

“WASHINGTON – China’s economy is likely to surpass the United States in less than two decades while Asia will overtake North America and Europe combined in global power by 2030, a U.S. intelligence report said on Monday.”

“The reality is that China is unlikely to witness those astronomical growth rates, at least for some time. We may never see them again.”
(Time Business)

The above shows two conflicting forecasts of the future of the Chinese economy. Some economists suggest that the only way the Chinese market will continue to grow is by limiting foreign investment and shifting the Chinese economy from a producer to a more balanced producer/consumer model. Other economists suggest that the Chinese economy will continue to grow owed to increasing technological activity.
Of course, there are always opposing views when it comes to emerging economies. Everyone likes a good debate.

Admittedly, I’m not an economist. I’m not really going to throw my hat into the ring as to which paradigm is the correct one. I do, however, follow trending in the language industry and if these trends are in any way indicative of the way the Chinese economy is going to swing, my bet is on growth.

According to Global by Design, traditional Chinese breaks the top ten for both the most popular language category as well as the fastest growing. This is both for English to Chinese translation services as well as Chinese to other languages. Additionally, according to Google trends, English to Chinese translation variants are both “breakout” and “rising” search terms. Now, this data isn’t definitive but it still points to current growth in China’s economy (at least for now).

I can say that in my experience, I’ve seen a major leap forward in the English to Chinese translation services market. Businesses are partnering, employing, and manufacturing multilingually and owing to the continuous growth (whether short-term or long-term) of the Chinese economy, China is seeing a lot of this action.

For those that are doing business in China, it is absolutely imperative that you partner with a english to chinese translation services company that has experience in the Chinese market.

Some documents you will need to seek out an English to Chinese translation services company are:

• Internal documents
• Technical manuals
• Contracts (this is very important)
• Proprietary software
• Marketing collateral
• Websites
• Emails

Before doing business in China, gather information from us on English to Chinese translation services.

Also, be sure to check out these posts:

Translation Rates – What you need to know

7 Steps Toward Managing Diversity

Translate Tweets to Explode in the Twitterverse (and make more cash online

31 Amazing photos to remind you how beautifully diverse our world is

Translation Rates – What You Need to Know

ROI Translation Rates

Crank Your ROI to the Max.

I get asked a lot of questions but the question I answer most often is “what are general translation rates?” or “how much does a translation cost?” My answer is always “Well, it depends…”

Translation Rates Depend on…

What does it depend on, you ask? First it depends on what you mean by “cost”. Do you mean the price? I’m sure most people do. What I push people to understand is that the “cost” of purchasing translation services is far below the “cost” of not doing it or purchasing inferior quality work. I want translation services purchasers to think of translation as an investment. With any investment, you need to calculate an ROI (return on investment).

Here is the basic formula:

ROI= Gain from investment – cost of investment/cost of investment

For example:

You have an English to French translation, let’s say a brochure, and it costs you $300 to translate.
You send them to your French customers and receive $5000.00 in orders.

Your ROI is: ~1 566%

Now, for all you purists out there, the equation really is more complicated than this. You have to factor in the cost of printing your brochures, mailing, etc. But this is just an example that I’m using to get my point across.

Translation services are an investment in growth, customer service, and worker satisfaction.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way. Let’s talk about translation rates.

Translation Rates – Region to Region

Translations rates vary significantly from region to region. A 1000 word English to French translation done in Quebec, Canada might be significantly cheaper than that same document translated by a company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That’s a factor of supply. The company in Albuquerque may not have access to a huge roster of French translators.

Translation Rates – Qualifications

Aside from availability of translators, you also have different qualifications of the translators. If you have a legal document translation or a technical manual translation, the translation rate would vary compared to the translation of a birth certificate or non-technical marketing material. This is because the qualifications of someone that is translating an affidavit would have to be much higher than a typical translator owing to the fact that the legal sector has specialized terms. Beyond this, the consumer needs to guard against the potential risk of poor translation when it comes to highly technical documents.

Translation Rates – Translation Memory

Finally, the availability of translation memory factors in to your long term translation rate. Translation memory is basically a database of special terms from your previous translation projects. If you work in a highly specialized sector with niche specific terms, those terms will be stored in your translation memory. Your translation rate will decrease as time goes on because our translators can draw on your previous projects instead of having to re-invent the wheel.

So, the long and short of it is this: translation rates vary significantly. You are best off actually submitting a document for quotation versus trying to find an online list of pricing. Pricing listings do not take into account the complexity and nature of your translation projects.


I don’t care what you call it as long as you’re measuring it.

If you’re looking for a general guideline, translation rates will vary anywhere from $0.15-$0.40/word depending on type of document, rarity of the language, and time frame. For translation projects that involve graphics, the translation services provider may offer desktop publishing at a rate of $60-$80/hour.

Able Translation’s translation services fall at the bottom end of the spectrum in terms of price but that is because we have access to an extensive pool of translators and have on-staff desktop publishers and web developers.

Submit a document and we’ll get in contact with you immediately.

For more information, check out these resources:

Translate Tweets to Explode in the Twitterverse (and make more cash online)

How to Recover from a Bad Translation (and come out on top!)

How to Choose a Language Services Provider

…Wish I Had an Interpreter

For the majority of us, needing an interpreter might not come up daily. I get that. Although I’ve seen many-an interpreting sessions and have even “tested” a couple out just so I could get a handle on the process but I’ve never had to use one myself. So, today I thought “where might I, average Joe Copywriter, need an interpreter. Here’s what I came up with.

1) A Hospital Abroad -

So, I’m sitting on a beach in the Dominican Republic, drinking a fruity drink, and enjoying the sun.

“Boy am I relaxed”, I think to myself.

Turns out, I’m a little too relaxed. I fall asleep and wake up with a terrible sunburn and near sunstroke. Off to the hospital I go.

One of the first questions the doctor asks me is: “¿Es usted alérgico a algo?”

“huh” I reply.

Turns out he’s asking if I’m allergic to anything. Wish I had an interpreter…

2) A Foreign Police Station

The doctor ends up treating me, although it took longer than it should have. I’m feeling a bit woozy. I stumble out onto the street and begin to make my way back to my resort. I figure the day can’t get much worse. I realize it can as two police offers handcuff me and throw me into the back of a police car.
It turns out that the final “instructions” I was given by the doctor was not “try and take it easy until you get back to Canada”. He was actually telling me to pay at the receptionist’s desk, which I did not.
Sitting in a small room at the police station, passport confiscated, shoe laces removed, my mind wanders.

“Why on earth am I here?” I think out loud.

“¿por qué no pagar?”, an officer replies.

“Did he just respond to me?” I wonder…

I begin to speak, “Can you please tell…”

“Yo no hablan Inglés”, the officer shouts, cutting me off.

…Wish I had an interpreter.

3) Lost in a Foreign City

Alright, my fine is paid and I’m released from the police station, only to find myself lost on the streets of Santo Domingo.

“tweeeeeeeet”, I whistle for a cab.

I get in.

“¿a dónde?” the cabbie asks.

“not this again” I mutter under my breath.

…Wish I had an interpreter.

For More Information on This subject visit Able Translations atTranslations Toronto

7 Steps Toward Managing a Diverse Workforce (Part 3)

7 steps toward managing a diverse workforce: a series of workplace diversity articles

In 7 steps toward managing a diverse workforce part 2, we learned about forming a community outreach, flexible holiday schedules, and the open door policy. Part 3 of this series focuses on translation work as well as evaluating your diversity planning.

If you missed it, you should go back and check out part 1 and part 2 of the series before moving on. They can be found here:

7 Steps Toward Managing a Diverse Workforce (part 1)
7 Steps Toward Managing a Diverse Workforce (part 2)

Step 6 – Translations

In order to facilitate communication, important company documents should be translated into several languages that will meet the needs of your employees. The languages you choose to have documents translated into should close match the demographics of the company. Furthermore, they should also be reflective of local language laws. This becomes even more crucial when the same documents are used in foreign-operated company offices.

To minimize risk, translations should be accurate and complete. Be sure to use a qualified translator from a reputable company like Able Translations. The company you choose should have experience in the translation of technical manuals. Additionally, look for a company that offers cultural consulting to ensure that your company documents are reflective of the cultural nuances associated with the target language.

Some documents that could be translated to meet your diversity needs can include:

Employee manuals
• Worker safety information
• Request for time off forms
• Application forms
• Employee application forms
• Policy books
• Employee welcome packages

Beyond the translation of company documents, if your company uses proprietary software (software built specifically for your company), you may want to get it localized. Localized software would allow the user to change the language used on the user interface. This could result in improved usability for multilingual staff.

If you’d like to get company documents translated, Able Translations offers free quotes. You can call us at 1-800-840-5370 or email us at

Step 7 –Assessment

Assessment is a critical step in managing a diverse workforce, one that is often overlooked. It is imperative that you take accurate measurements of every diversity and inclusionary initiative you take. These measurements are used during the assessment phase. During this step, you review all of the initiatives you have put in place to ensure that they are operating as expected.

There are three basic ways to assess the effectiveness of the programs and policies you have put in place.


Surveys are a great way to find out the opinions of others. They could provide valuable insights into whether your diversity/inclusion initiatives are effective. In order to set up a proper survey, you must first think about what you would like to find out. In general, surveys that use a rating system (on a scale of 1-10) provide the most useful data for statistical analysis. However, when evaluating initiatives that involve an affective component, it is best to use a combination of open-ended questions and rating systems.

Tip: find a neutral person to hand out the surveys. Having a supervisor give them out could bias the surveys. I.e. the participants may feel obligated to be positive about your diversity strategy if they feel it may affect their supervisor.


The pre-test/post-test is the simplest method for evaluating the effectiveness of your initiatives. It requires that you have some data from before you begin your initiative and some data collected at a milestone. You compare your past information with your current information.


Number of employees that applied for promotions in 2011 = 10
—————————–Mentorship program started Jan. 1/2012————–
Number of employees that applied for promotions in 2012 = 17

Of course, you would have to control for other factors such as turnover and recruitment. If you’d like to look deeper into the relationship, you could survey employees and find out if mentoring was a factor in their decision to apply for a promotion.

Time-series Analysis:

In a time series analysis, is a little bit more difficult to do but well worth it. I highly recommend that your time-series be set up by someone familiar with statistical analysis. The idea behind it is that you have data points arranged according to time. You should have several data points for before the initiative was implemented and after. This allows you to see how things are changing over time and gives you insight into any trends that may be occurring.

For the best possible data output, use a Box-Jenkins time-series. It is the standard in program evaluation.

Final Thoughts

Planning and implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy takes a great deal of time and forethought but most of all, it needs to be genuine. To implement these initiatives because it is “standard practice” or a passing interest will lead to lack luster results.

My advice is to:

• Get excited about celebrating the things that make us unique;
• Get other passionate people on board;
• Listen to the needs of others instead of making assumptions;
• Plan, implement, measure, and re-plan
• Start today

For More Information on This subject visit Able Translations atTranslations Toronto

First Call Revolution: The one surefire way to increase your first call resolution metric

First Call Revolution:The one surefire way to increase your first call resolution metric

Knowledgeable customer service reps have always been the cornerstone of the first call resolution call center metric. If your reps can answer questions quickly and accurately without leaving a customer dangling or having to call back, you’re golden. A lot of call centers excel at this but the world is changing, you’ve got to go a step further.

Your Customers Don’t Always Speak English

The two major types of call centers are sales centers and customer service centers (usually with a soft sell component). First call resolution is critical in both centers. Because of immigration and adherence to language laws, call centers are typically serving customers that speak a variety of languages. In order to achieve an amazing first call resolution rate, you’ll need an interpreting service backing your call center. I’ll explain how this would work in two styles of call centers.

Sales Centers and First Call Resolutions

The objective in a sales call center is, quite obviously, to make sales. In this context, a first call resolution is making a sale on first contact with the consumer.
You have customers (I assume) that want to speak in their own language. They must, if they think that is more important than price. In order to resolve the call on the first instance, you’re going to have to speak their language, explain things in terms they understand, and reply to all of their objections…and you have to do this before they can rationalize not using your service.

In “sales” call centers that deal primarily with Anglophone populations (if there are any left), you would only need to employ English speaking customer service representatives. Since we know that it is unlikely you serve only English speaking consumers and I also know you want a stellar first call resolution rate (why else would you be reading this article?), you would need to deploy a telephone interpreting backend to your call center.

Here is how this would go:

John, a customer service representative at your call center, places his call to the phone number that has been pulled out of the customer database for him. He dials the phone cautiously while trying several different pronunciations of his potential customer’s last name. A man picks up the phone. John stumbles through the customer’s last name only to find out his pronunciation was way off. After a few exchanges, John realizes that unless he gets an interpreter on the phone, this sale will be lost.

John asks the customer to hold for a moment so he can dial in an interpreter. After dialing the 1-800 number, he is connected to an operator who helps him diagnosis which language he needs. He is then transferred to an interpreter.

The exchange goes much smoother from herein out. John makes the sale on first contact, becomes top sales person in the company and is sent on a Hawaiian vacation (note: I added this last part for effect. Vacation destinations may vary from company to company).

Service Centers and First Call Resolutions

Service call centers are a bit different than sales call centers (think over-the-phone banking, CAA or AAA). They are usually inbound, people that call are usually already customers, and a first call resolution isn’t a sale but a solved issue.

I’ll tell yeah, easy issues become major problems when the lines of communication are blurred by an inability to overcome a language barrier. Your customer service rep’s responses may not be exactly what the customer was asking for which will likely result in that customer calling back again to have the same issue resolved (hopefully once and for all).

Of course, this could be avoided if your call center has an interpreting company on the backend. For a first call resolution, as soon as the customer service rep finds that communication is hampered by a language barrier, an interpreter can be brought on to clarify the customer issue and respond with the best possible advice (as dictated by the customer service rep). That’s how you get a first call resolution.

Telephone Interpreting Company

To summarize:

-Both sales and service call centers should deploy an interpreting company on their backend
-This will help raise your first call resolution rate as well as sky-rocket customer satisfaction scores
-Using the interpreting backend is as simple as conference calling your language service provider at a dedicated 1-800 number, requesting the language you need, and then speak to your customer through the interpreter.

Able Translations’ telephone interpretation service can be your call center’s multilingual backend. We will set up your account, hook you with the 1-800 and aid you in training your staff to use the system. We do this for free. No set up fees, no monthly minimums, and low rates. Sign up by calling us at 1-800-840-2253.

For more information Check out:

Interpreting Services in Hospitals

The Difference Between Simultaneous Interpreting and Consecutive Interpreting

How To Choose a Language Services Provider

For More Information on This subject visit Able Translations atTranslations Toronto

7 steps toward managing a diverse workforce: a series of workplace diversity articles (part 2)

7 steps toward managing a diverse workforce: a series of workplace diversity articles

In 7 steps toward managing a diverse workforce part 1, we learned about forming a diversity committee and starting a mentorship program. Part 2 of this series focuses on community outreach programs as a teambuilding exercise as well as way to shift your corporate culture toward engaging with community groups that foster an ideology of inclusion. We will also take a quick look at flexible holiday schedules which in recent years has become a popular way to manage your diverse workforce. Finally, we will discuss the “open door” policy. This policy is really the cornerstone of managing a diverse workforce.

Step 3 – Community Outreach

Community outreach or partnerships is a great way for your company to show commitment to managing a diverse workforce. It is also a teambuilding exercise that can unite colleagues in an effort to make the community a better place.

In order to integrate a community outreach strategy into your diversity planning, there are four questions that you should be asking:

Does the organization foster the same inclusive values as your company?

It is important to find a community partner that has mandated and implemented a strategy for inclusiveness and diversity. In their strategy, are their end goals similar to yours? For example, if an organizations goal was to provide skills training to community members to help them access hiring paying jobs and one of your diversity goals is to provide extra training to those that would like to take on a larger role in your organization, I would say that the match is quite good.
Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule but it gives your organization and your community partner a common thread and a deeper understanding of each other’s mission.

Is your community partner a religious affiliate?

When choosing a community partner, choose a secular organization. This way, all of your colleagues can get involved without feeling like they have to subscribe to a particular religion.
Is the community partner representative of the diversity of your company?
When choosing a community partner, you should make sure that its structure and the community it serves closely resembles the demographics of your company. Lean towards community partners that employ and serve men and women as well as people from all cultures.

Has Anyone Objected to the Partnership?

After you have chosen a community partner, be sure to reinforce that you have an “open door” policy. That is, any employee should feel welcome to speak freely about any concern they may have with the community organization partnership. Should a diversity-related issue arise out of this partnership, it should be reevaluated to ensure that your team members feel included and represented.
Answering these questions will allow you to commit to a community partner that allows everyone to participate equally. Doing this will help increase company unity and a deeper understanding of each other.

Step 4 –Flexible Holidays

Holiday observances can vary from culture to culture. To ensure that every employee can observe the holidays that they wish, flexible holidays could be offered. For example, employees could swap December holidays with the holidays that are more in line with their culture. If this is not possible, due to business cycles, your holiday policies could be reviewed and revised to allow some flexibility during times of religious celebration.

The take home message here is that employees should be allowed some choice in their availability during religious holiday observances. This shows the company is in-tune with cultural diversity and the needs of their employees. Additionally, it can serve as a way to celebrate the diversity of your company through recognition that not everyone celebrates the same holidays.
Here is an example of a policy addition that can be used when implementing accommodations for religious


Religious Accommodation (flexible schedule)
[Your Company Name] offers floating holidays to accommodate various religious observances. Should you require time off during a specific time period due to religious observances, you may do so in lieu of the standard holidays as listed in this document.

Some companies offer additional personal days for those that celebrate various religious holidays. The difficulty with this is that it is not an “inclusive” solution. Those that choose not to take time off or who are not affiliated with any religion may feel that they are being excluded from additional time off. Flexible holiday schedules give every employee the opportunity to organize their holidays according to their preferences.

Step 5 – Open Door Policy

The open door policy has been used successfully by many of the biggest companies in the world. Originally stemming from the idea that managers keep their doors open to encourage other staff members to come in, it is now a wide-spread communication strategy that can be used to enhance your diversity strategy.
The implementation of the open door policy is fairly simple in new companies but can be difficult in established ones. It takes a shift in company culture to successfully implement this policy. In companies where “doors” have been shut for a long time, encouraging senior and non-senior staff to open up lines of communication will take a great deal of time and trust.

In order for the open door policy to be successful, all employees should feel like they can approach senior staff with new ideas, solutions to old problems, and questions and concerns they may have. They need to feel like they can communicate openly without reproach. The most successful open door policies have some general guidelines. For example, communicating a problem should be accompanied with a suggested solution. The solution can be as simple as “I think [employee name] might have some good insight into this problem, we should ask him what he thinks”.

Here is an example policy directive that could be added to your policy manual:

[Your Company Name] recognizes that in any company, issues and improvement opportunities will arise. [Your Company Name] is always open to suggestions and encourages employees to communicate these opportunities with management.

[Your Company Name] will make every effort to make sure that:

1. Every employee has the opportunity to speak openly with their supervisor or to anyone else in authority, when an issue arises, with the assurance that it will not be held against them by their supervisor or anyone else in authority.

2. To provide an open door at all times for all employees to discuss with upper management any decision they feel affects them.

One of the main goals of the open door policy is to let every employee know their input is important and to make sure they have a way to be included in the “conversation”.

In Managing a Diverse Workforce part 3, we’ll wrap up by talking about translations and the assessment of your programs.

For More Information on This subject visit Able Translations atTranslations Toronto

7 Steps Toward Managing a Diverse Workforce: A series of diversity in the workplace articles

Thank you for reading

Toronto Translators’ 7 Steps toward managing a diverse workforce.

In this series of workplace diversity articles, you will find 7 steps that can be taken in any organization in order to foster an environment of inclusiveness and diversity. We all want to feel safe, secure, and welcome at work. So, we should all learn how to manage diversity in the workplace.

Generally, diversity planning falls on the shoulders of upper-management but in actual fact the responsibility of being inclusive is everyone’s. Inclusion starts with our own attitudes. We show our attitude toward inclusion in the things we say (and don’t say) and our actions in the office or break room. We need to be mindful and sensitive to the feelings of others at all times.

This series of diversity in the workplace articles is not only for the management team of your organization. It is for anyone that would like to take steps toward improving the workplace environment for the betterment of all employees, as well as themselves. Ultimately, some of the steps in this book should be implemented by management level employees but this series will give anyone that background information as well as some insights in order to make sure that everyone can be part of the conversation so you can take steps toward better managing a diverse workforce.

In this article: Our first article in our series of workplace diversity articles focuses on starting a diversity committee and implementing a mentorship program. Let’s get started, shall we?

Step 1 – Start a Diversity Committee


A diversity committee is a great way to gain insight into the diversity issues faced by you and your co-workers and is the first step toward better managing a diverse workforce. Everyone should feel welcome to attend the first diversity committee meeting. After the initial meeting, short interviews should take place to determine interest and dedication to the goals of the committee. The committee members will be chosen according to these factors, along with company demographics to make sure every group is represented.

Electing a chair should be the first job of the committee. For the first committee meeting, usually referred to as the “ad hoc” meeting, a neutral chair should be used. It should be someone everyone will feel comfortable with. After the ad hoc meeting, when the committee is fully formed, members can volunteer to be the chair and from those volunteers, the committee can democratically select one to chair all future meetings. Additionally, a member should be designated to take meeting minutes, that is, notes about what has been discussed and decided on by the committee.
Setting Goals

During the committee’s early stages, short-term and long-term goals should be decided on. These goals should be specific, realistic, and measurable. It is the only way you’ll be able to really measure your improvements in managing a diverse workforce. Here are two examples:

Example 1:

We should make sure that all employees feel represented in all management decisions

Example 2:

By this time next year, we will have all employee manuals translated into French, Spanish, and Tamil.
Which example best represents a “specific, realistic, and measurable” goal? You’re correct, example 2 does. Let’s talk about why.

In example 1, vague statements are made about employees feeling represented, no timeline is given, and it is unrealistic to expect the management team to consult all employees every time a decision needs to be made. Beyond all of that, how do we know when we have successfully completed this goal?

Example 2 takes a far different approach. First, there is a timeline; one year. Second, it specifically mentions that employee manuals need to be translated. Finally, it states three languages, presumably the ones voted as most needed, into which these manuals should be translated. You know you have reached your goal if by next year you have every employee manual translated into French, Spanish, and Tamil.

Creating Action Plans

After establishing the main goals of the diversity committee, you can create subcommittees to focus on different goals and their completion. Using the example above, you could create a subcommittee in-charge of the translation of company materials. That subcommittee would than create an action plan.
The action plan would consist of smaller milestones which eventually lead to the completion of the subcommittee’s task. For instance, the subcommittee in-charge of translations might first review all company manuals to make sure they are up-to-date and consistent with the changes that have been made in the company since they were first published. That would be the first step in their action plan. From there, they would have to make the necessary updates, find a language service provider, have the manuals translated, review the translations, and put the new manuals into production. These steps would all be part of the action plan. Of course, action plans need to be revised along the way to make sure they are compatible with new information that arises.

Along the way

As the committee forges ahead with its goals, you will undoubtedly face setbacks, including the loss and replacement of members, disruptions and postponements due to work fluctuations, and the like. These are all to be expected. What is important is that you keep your long-term goals in mind and find ways to achieve them.

Step 2: Mentoring

Mentoring is about helping empower all employees. It builds self-confidence, a solid support system, and encourages all employees to make use of their abilities. Although it can be time consuming, it is an amazing investment in you and your coworkers. From an employee standpoint, it can help traditionally underrepresented groups move up in the company by giving them an opportunity to learn from more senior members, build the confidence to go after promotions, and help them become part of the conversation about diversity issues. From an organizational standpoint, it helps make sure every employee is able to use their talents to help fulfill the missions of the organization.

Integrating a mentoring program takes planning, especially in established organizations. The most difficult aspect is the “buy-in” from senior staff. The senior staff members have to see this as a worthwhile initiative and must be willing to give their time to help mentor and develop employees. These mentors should apply to the program, be screened, and then trained using a professional mentor training program. The remaining staff members also have to “buy-in”. The easiest way to maneuver with current employees is to offer mentorship as an “opt-in” initiative. Never force anyone to join the mentorship program. The value of this type of program only reveals itself when both the mentor and the mentee are fully committed.

Measuring the success of your mentorship program is critical. One of the simplest ways to do this is to track internal movement within the company. If you find that those enrolled in the mentorship program are more likely to apply for promotions or take on extra responsibilities, I’d say your program is successful. You can also track dropout rates from the program as well as survey for participant’s attitudes toward the initiative. Any of the above methods will work, just make sure that you do take the time to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and make changes where necessary.

In 7 Steps Toward Managing a Diverse Workforce (Part 2), We will discuss community outreach and Flexible Holidays. Follow our blog to make sure you don’t miss it.

Have any tips for managing a diverse workforce? Share them with us.

If you require cultural consulting, you can return to Toronto Translators to grab our contact details or visit for more information

31 Amazing photos to remind you how beautifully diverse our world is

drop dead gorgeous?


Hausa and Fulani Cultures Collide

The Festival of World Cultures

chinese culture at icegov



San Diego Comic-Con International 2012

Woman on street, Xiaoyi County, Guangxi

Different culture

uganda - tribes and culture

Lion Dance Culture Festival 2008 舞獅爭霸賽

tribes of kenia
Lion Dance 舞獅

Girls from an african group during the carnival of cultures

Houston Texas Traders Village 20th Annual Championship Pow Wow tribal dance contests November 14 2009 Native American Indian teepee culture heritage arts ceremonies full regalia singing dancing

New Zealand: Maori Culture 002



Carnival of Cultures 2011

My Culture, My Sound

Portrait of villager, Jongkhar

Australia: Aboriginal Culture 010

Tribe woman, India

Nishi Tribal man Arunachal Pradesh - India

padong tribe woman

Big Ear Tribe



2011 Day of the Dead in San Francisco 72


For More Information on This subject visit Able Translations atTranslations Toronto

Translate Tweets to Explode in the Twitterverse (and make more cash online)

Translate Tweets to reach other markets

First, if you aren’t on Twitter, get on it! The beauty of Twitter is your ability to have open conversations. You don’t need to wait for friend requests or “likes”. You just tweet and the world can hear you. Ok, I’ll wait while you finish your twitter registration.

Now that you’re all done registering for Twitter, we can talk what you need to do to translate tweets and auto-tweet them. Auto-tweeting is a way for you to automate tweets. You can upload a batch of 140 character messages and they will be released on a schedule. I recommend using TweetDeck. To reach target markets that speak a different language, you should write 6 -12 months worth of Twitter messages and have them translated. You would than slowly release them to the public during hours that you know your target market is online.

I’ll explain why you should do this. Firstly, 72.1 percent of the consumers spend most or all of their time on sites in their own language. When you translate tweets, you’ll start to engage the population that prefers to browse in their own language. Secondly, 56.2 percent of consumers say that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price. What does this tell you about consumers? What I hear is that people feel more engaged and willing to do business in their first language.

Basically, here’s the deal. The old marketing adage is this: people buy emotionally and justify with facts. You could totally machine translate facts but the emotional component will get lost without someone personally translating your tweets. Beyond that, twitter is built on human interaction. Using machine translation to translate tweets defeats the purpose.

I’ll break this process down into steps.

  1. Write several months worth of tweets.
  2. Send them to Able Translations to professionally translate tweets for you.
  3. Upload the translated tweets into TweetDeck.
  4. Schedule the release of your translated tweets.
  5. Get a bigger wallet to hold all the cash you’ll make.

Pro-Tip: Open a Facebook business page for several different languages and link your twitter and facebook accounts. Your translated tweets will populate on your Facebook page as they are released.

For more information on multilingual internet marketing, check out these posts:

Search Engine Optimization for International Companies

Brand Internationalization Strategy for Small and Mid-sized Companies

Man Vs Machine…Translation

or head back to Toronto Translators

Jobs Available!

Hey everyone!

we are recruiting for vicki – video remote interpreting. If you or anyone you know is an interpreter and would like to join our online platform (make a little extra cash on the side), email me at

Language Services: a growing industry [INFOGRAPHIC]

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

25 Christmas Traditions from Around the Globe

Christmas Day falls on the 25th of December. In celebration, here are 25 Christmas traditions from around the world.

The List:

25. In South Africa, Christmas is a summer holiday! All the schools are closed and camping is a popular Christmas tradition

24. A popular offering to carolers in Alaska is Maple dipped donuts!

23. Brazilian Folklore states that Father Christmas comes from Greenland.

22. In Labrador, Canada, Turnips from the summer harvest are saved and given to children with a candle

21. In China, the children await the arrival of Dun Che Lao Ren which translates to “Christmas Old Man”.

20. In the Czech Republic, if a young girl puts a cherry twig in water on December 4th and it blossoms by Christmas, it is a sign that she will marry that year.

19. In England, folks enjoy mummering, a tradition which became popular in the middle ages. People called “mummers” put on masks and acted out festive plays.

18. Ethiopian Christmas is celebrated on January 7th.

17. In Southern France, a log is burned in people’s homes from Christmas Eve until New Years Day.

16. In Germany, the children believe in Christkind – a winged angel who flies to windowsills to drop off presents.

15. Some British Children throw their letters to Santa into the fireplace so they will float up and fly to the North Pole (if the letter burns, they must re-write it).

14. Christmas trees are unpopular in Greece.

13. In Greenland, Christmas is organized and implemented by the man of the house. The women spend their time relaxing and being taken care of by their husband.

12. Children in Holland believe in Sinterklaas, whom lives in Spain.

11. Naughty Children in Hungary beware, if you are bad, St Nicholas’ companion will hit you with a twig!

10. In Ireland, Santa enjoys not milk and cookies but mince pies and Guinness.

9. In Italy the children wait until Epiphany, January 6, for their presents.

8. In Pakistan, 25 December is a public holiday it is however in memory of Jinnah the founder of Pakistan.

7. In the Philippines, fireworks are extremely popular at Christmas

6. In Russia, Christmas is slowly being replaced by the Festival of Winter.

5. In Slovakia, a traditional Christmas dinner is sauerkraut soup, and fish and potatoes salad.

4. In Syria, Children receive presents on New Years Day.

3. The Roman festival of Saturnalia, which culminated on December 25th, was celebrated around the winter solstice and included feasting and gift-giving.

2. In Sweden, the Christmas festivities begin on December 13 with St. Lucia’s Day, which celebrates the patron saint of light.

1. Every year in Italy during the festival of Epiphany an old witch known as “La Befana” walks through the village streets giving gifts to children.

Comment below with YOUR traditions. Any corrections? Comment below.

Happy Holidays from Able Translations.

Search Engine Optimization for International Companies

Note: Today is the last day to enter our sweepstakes. Just “like” for a chance to win one of the $20 Gift Cards!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is hard enough as is. Throw in multiple languages and different locales and you’re in for a REAL treat. I’m going to talk to you about SEO for international companies but I’m working on the assumption that you know what SEO is and you have an SEO strategy. If you don’t know what SEO is, check this out: It’ll give you the basics.

What on Earth is Localization?

Alright, I feel comfortable making the assumption that you know what SEO is but localization is a completely different story. Unless you work in a specific industry like the language services industry, it’s unlikely that you’ve come across this term before. So, let’s dive right in!

Localization involves taking content written for one locale and tailoring it to meet the needs of another.

For Example:

You have an online store that sells, oh I don’t know, custom floor mats for cars. So far, you’re dominating the Canadian floor mat market and you see an opportunity to break into the Japanese market. To carve your niche, you start adding your website to online Japanese floor mat retailer directories.

Six months pass and not a single order has come in from Japan. Time to pack it up, right? Wrong! You need to localize. So, you hire a company to translate all of your text to Japanese and you’re off to the races.

Make Sure You:

• Adjust your website layout to account for an increase/decrease in text. Some languages add up to 40% more characters per body of text

• Update measurements, currency, and date format to fit with local customs

• Update photos to feature places and people that represent your new market’s culture

This is Just the Start…

Translating your text to the language of your market is only the first step in SEO localization. You need to do the exact same things you did for your English website SEO. Let’s review those steps and I’ll explain the localization strategy.

Link Building

You’re going to have to build links that are relevant in your new market. Where does your new market look for your product (directories, blogs, twitter, facebook)? Make sure you’re there and speaking their language. Connect with social media influencers in your target locale.


This is where you’re definitely going to need a professional. You can’t just ask someone to translate keywords that are popular in your current location and expect them to be popular in a different country. In Canada, we may search for “social media marketing agencies” but in a different country that string might be useless. The prevailing term for social media marketing in a different country might be “internet advertising companies” in which case you haven’t used any of those words.

I guess this is the perfect time to explain long-tail and short-tail keywords because this will be the most difficult part. In some languages, depending on the context, the form of a word might change (context-sensitive spelling). So a singular keyword planted throughout your content might be useless because people often search using long-tailed strings.

Website Design and Usability

Your website has to reflect the way users navigate your website. Look at other websites in your target locale and find best practices. Where do they prefer the menu? Do they use “bread crumb links” or navigation side bars? Do they mostly share using Facebook or do they use Twitter? Ultimately, sharing your content will help you leaps and bounds so you need to set sharing features up in a way that your target market is most comfortable with.

This is just a taste of what you’re in for when you decide to do SEO localization. If you have any questions visit

For more on international marketing check out:

Translate Tweets to Explode in the Twitterverse (and make more cash online)

or head back to Toronto Translators

The World’s WORST Interpreting Advice

Note: I just wanted to let you know that our sweepstakes is ending on Friday! You still have a couple more days to “like” us at and be entered into the draw. I promise, our Facebook content is as awesome (if not more awesome) than our blog posts! We have a ton of fun over there.

Now, onto the show…

It’s hump day and to make it more palatable, I decided some humor was in order. I read a lot of advice blogs because, quite frankly, I’m not good at a lot of things. I need all the advice I can get. I am, however, an expert in doing this WRONG. So heed this warning:

The Following Interpreting Advice Should Not Be Used Under Any Circumstance.

You have been warned…

Tip #1 – Give the “gist”

Doctors, lawyers, and insurance brokers are often in a hurry. Time is money or so the saying goes. Do them a favor. When interpreting for one of their clients only relay the gist of the conversation. Details are not as important as you may think.
Example – If a patient tells you “I think I’m having a heart attack and I can’t breathe” save the doctor, the patient, and yourself sometime by giving the gist –“I am not feeling well”.

Tip #2 – Always Be Late

As an interpreter, you don’t want to look overeager! Arrive fashionably late. Not only will you look cool but it’ll also give your clients some extra time to sit in awkward silence. If you can, arrive with latte in hand. It’s a signal to everyone that coffee was more important than being on time. You’re an interpreter rock star.

The only thing cooler than being late is…

Tip#3 – Don’t Show Up at All

Supply and demand! This is basic economics people! If demand is high and there is little supply, you can charge a premium. But don’t wait until the scale tips naturally, give it a nudge by giving the impression that you’re too busy to take on new clients. If they really want you, they will cough up the extra dough.

Tip #4 – ABT

Everyone has heard of the acronym ABC (Always Be Closing). It’s a classic sales tip that reminds you that everything you do in sales is to put you in a position to close (strike a deal). ABT is similar. It stands for Always Be Texting. People LOVE gadgets and with the iPhone 5 recently debuting, your clients will surely be impressed when they see your fingers a-flyin’ across that remarkable device.

Tip #5 – Fake It ‘til You Make It

This is my last piece of advice to interpreters. If you don’t know the equivalent of the word in the target language, make something up. Don’t forget, you’re a professional. If you skip a beat or have to pause to think of the word, you’ll look amateur. Besides, neither of your clients will know that you switched a word. After all, you’re the only one in the room that knows both languages!

There you go folks, straight from the horse’s mouth. As a connoisseur of doing things poorly, these must be the WORST pieces of advice that I could give to interpreters.
Now get out there and interpret!

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How to Recover from a Bad Translation (and come out on top!)

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Before he knew it, phone calls were coming in droves. He stopped checking his email because his inbox was becoming unmanageable. How on earth was he going to explain this one to his boss?

John, a copywriter at a well known advertising agency, had just released (or rather unleashed) his latest ad for a major Japanese electronics manufacturer and to his dismay (and the dismay of many), the ad featured some rather awkward (read: inappropriate) copy. It turns out the translation company he hired used machine translation and neglected to proof read, as did John.

Now John, a relatively unknown copywriter, is out of a job (big deal!). The real damage done was to his client, the Japanese electronics manufacturer. As the executives of the manufacturing facility sat in the boardroom trying to figure out how to bounce back after this PR nightmare, they read this very article:

How to Recover from a Bad Translation:

Step 1:

Take a deep breath (everything will be o.k.)

Step 2: Assess the Damage

Assessing the damage is easily done thanks to social media. If you’re a high profile company and you’ve made a “booboo”, you can bet it’s already on Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere. Do a keyword search for your blunder and see what comes up.

Step 3: Respond

Again, thanks for social media, you can respond quickly to those who have expressed concern over your, for lack of a better phrase, poor judgment. Apologize for the mistake! As viral as your blunder went, your apology will spread just as quickly.

Step 3: Turn a PR Nightmare into a PR Dream

I know it may feel like it but this isn’t the first time a company has released poorly translated adverts or, more generally, an embarrassing, under-thought out, advertisement. The most successful companies turn this bad press into a chance to do something fantastic.

Think of a way to get the community involved. Could you have a contest that has people Re-caption the advertisement? Probably! Could you poke a little fun at yourself on Youtube? I’ll bet you can!

Be creative.

Final Thoughts

In the age of social media, everything you do is a chance for you to engage with your customers. In years past, you didn’t have that option. You made a terrible marketing decision? YOU LIVED WITH IT UNTIL SOMEONE ELSE MADE A BIGGER MISTAKE. Now, you can get right in there! Apologize, mend fences, and have a little fun.

For more information on how to choose a language service provider that won’t EVER put you in this position, visit

Also, check out this articles:

How to Choose a Language Services Provider

Three Reasons to Stay with Your Language Services Provider

Do This, Not That: Public Speaking Tips for Interpreters

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To be a great interpreter, you need to be a great public speaker. Having done a little bit of research on the topic of public speaking, I’ve found that most of the basic rules don’t apply. Most of the foundational skills for public speaking involve skills that are based on being a bit candid. Storytelling and using humor, for example, can make you a great public speaker but they will make you a poor interpreter. As an interpreter, it isn’t your job to be funny or a storyteller (you know that!). It’s your job to relay the messages of someone else who is a great public speaker.

As I researched, I asked myself “what makes a great interpreter in a public setting”. Here are three general tips that I’ve come up with:

1. Have you ever encountered a speaker that was fidgety? I mean constantly moving, shuffling papers, or adjusting their clothes. Did it bother you? If you said yes, you are part of the majority. Generally, audience feels less engaged and more distracted when the speaker nervously fidgets.

Do This, Not That
Before starting to interpret, make sure you are comfortable and organized. Adjust your clothing and arrange your materials prior to beginning your interpretation. Relax, put your hands at your sides (unless you’re an ASL interpreter), and start interpreting.

2. Omit your “umms” and “ahhs”. Make a concerted effort not to make “thinking noises”. This is often distracting to the listener. You’ll come across very professional and prepared if you omit your “umms” and “ahhs”.

Do This, Not That
If you need a moment to think, pause silently. I know interpreting must be on pace but an “umm” takes just as much time as a pause but it is far less distracting. Cutting out thinking sounds will be difficult especially if it is habitual. You’ll need to work to cut it out of your daily communications and work toward cutting it out of your interpretations.

3. Dress professionally and you’ll feel professional. This is classic advice. This is the advice my father gave to me and his father to him. The reason it’s classic is because it is one of those things in life that just happens to be proved time and time again. Trust me; this piece of advice is the real deal. When you feel professional, you’ll be confident and that will show through your voice, posture, and mannerisms.

Do This, Not That
Everyone has a different opinion of how professionals dress but there is some consensus. For men, you can’t go wrong with a dress shirt, black trousers, and black shoes. It is pretty standard and inexpensive to purchase if you require a professional look. Women can often dress in more versatile clothing (and to be honest, I’m not about to give advice on women’s fashion. I’m pretty clueless in that department). If you need some advice, check this out:

So there you have it folks, three public speaking tips for interpreters. Have any more to add? Comment below! If we get enough, I’ll put them in another tips blog.

You Can Teach a Man to Fish…

You can market, advertise, and sell until you’re blue in the face and maybe you’ll gain some buyers. Maybe they’ll be loyal clients for years or maybe they will be fair-weather friends that will switch companies at the drop of a hat. That’s the chance you take in the business world. This might sound a little crazy but what you need less of are “clients”. What you need is a bigger audience. A group of loyal people, who may or may not buy from you, but will defend your company and spread your message. Build an audience and your client list will follow.

This is nothing new. However, the approach to gaining an audience has changed with the development of social media. We’ve gone from word-of-mouth to word-of-mouse but gaining an audience is still done in the same way. The best way to get people listening to you and your business is to teach them something. Not many people can do what your business does so sharing a couple tips here and there won’t put you in a precarious situation.

You might be asking yourself, “What can my business teach someone?” The answer is quite simple. Teach them how to use your product or service more effectively. For example, in the language services industry, we teach companies how to use translations and interpreting to reach global markets, maintain an international brand, and foster a corporate culture of diversity. Even if a company isn’t using our services at the moment, they still use us as a source of knowledge.

The other great thing about your company taking on a teaching role is that others will do your marketing for you. If you teach someone something really amazing, they are likely to share it with their connections. Now, instead of reaching your network only, you are reaching a much larger audience: your network’s network.

Three Reasons to Stay with your Language Services Provider

By nature, I’m a positive guy. I see the glass as half full, except on Monday mornings. When I see blogs that outline the potential “mistakes” that will lead you to pursue a relationship with a different language service provider, I cringe a bit. It’s easy to point out the mistakes of others in hopes to draw new business, let’s just hope you don’t succumb to the pitfalls that you outlined in your blog.

I want to take a different approach, a glass half full orientation. I want to talk to you about the three reasons you should STAY with your language service provider. You’ll be much happier in the long run if you cultivate a strong relationship with your provider and here is why.

Three reasons to stay with your language service provider:

1) They know you and you know them

Providing language services can be tricky business and your needs are unique. Hopping from one service provider to another is really doing you a disservice for two reasons. First, you never give a company the chance to get REALLY good at working for you. At first, service can be a little bumpy especially when trying to exceed someone’s expectations but when you give a company the opportunity to work closely with you and on a frequent basis, things become like clockwork. Second, and this is especially important for technical translations, if you work with a language service provider consistently, they begin to learn more about your products and market segment. This allows them to offer additional services or more efficient ways to approach language and cultural-related issues.

2) They won’t let you release subpar work

Ok, so a lot of blogs will tell you to switch language service providers if they miss deadlines. Well, ok. But, I think this should to be qualified. I agree, if you can’t rely on your language service provider to serve you in a prompt manner, switch. Consider this though, what is the reason the deadline was missed? If your language service provider has you push back a deadline because there are foundational issues with the project, I consider that a reason to stay with them. It shows they care about your reputation. Anyone can throw together a project for the sake of meeting a deadline. A quality language service provider will be honest with you, let you know there is a problem, and work with you to fix it. We don’t want you to be embarrassed. We won’t let you release material that isn’t the best it could be. If you don’t believe me, look at all the mistranslation memes on the internet. Some phrases cannot be reproduced in another language; doing so instead of reworking the text with the client is irresponsible.

3) They Follow-up with you

Please stay with your language service provider if they take the time to follow-up with you. I don’t mean to market to you, I mean to make sure your project went off without a hitch. This is time consuming on the part of your provider but it’s a valuable opportunity for you to provide input so they can serve you better. It’s about building that solid relationship.

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5 Random Thoughts about Language

1) What if EVERYONE spoke a different language?

Would we have evolved if there was no shared language? If everyone spoke a different language, I don’t see how society could have formed together under a veil of shared meaning, norms, and morals. Just thinking about the organization of work and the necessary efficiencies, I don’t know that we could have coordinated ourselves in a way that made farming possible let alone the complex tasks of today’s workforce.
…imagine what Facebook would look like?

2) What if EVERYONE spoke the SAME language?

I know, I know, pretty similar to the first question. But, think of the ramifications. Imagine how quickly the world could have evolved if everyone spoke the same language and was able to share ideas right from the start. On the other hand, because language is so closely tied to culture (and vice-versa) would we lose out on all the wonderful things that stem from language diversity?

We would lose awesome phrases such as “Bon Appétit” or “Al Dente”. Basically, nobody would wish us a good meal as we eat our mushy pasta.

3) Why is it fairly easy for humans to define most words but we struggle and debate over the meaning of the word “I”?

Studying sociology, I spent a lot of time in heated debates over the social significance and social definition of “I”. Symbolic interactionists contend that “I” is our internal self that we piece together through our understanding of how other people see us.

Looking Glass Self


“I” isn’t like toaster or car seat. For some reason, we have a hard time grasping something that is so central to our existence. It is a word we just can’t define properly.

4) Why does a word start to sound funny and lose meaning when you say it over and over again?

Not much to say on this one but say the word “tree” 20 times and tell me it doesn’t make you laugh.

5) The mystery of organic palindromes

Do you know what a palindrome is? A palindrome is a word that is spelled the same forward as it is backwards.

-Race Car

When I refer to an “organic” palindrome, I’m speaking about a word that has evolved in a natural way not for the purpose of creating a palindrome.

What I wonder is HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE! What are the odds that this could even happen?

I’m astonished.

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Topics to be discussed include:

• Language services as a keystone of patient care

• Vicki as part of your facilities diversity planning

• Vicki as experienced by frontline healthcare providers

• The interpreter’s perspective

• Questions and answers from viewers

Those who submit a question during our question and answer session will be entered into a draw to win a $100 gift card to

Please join me on Tuesday, October 16th 2012 from 12:00pm – 1:30pm (Eastern time) to view our webinar, No Barriers: Communicating with Patients via Video Remote Interpreting.

To register, visit:

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Video Remote Interpreting Services in Hospitals: Patient Outcomes, Budget Concerns, and Technological Developments

Video Remote Interpreting Services in Hospitals: Patient Outcomes, Budget Concerns, and Technological Developments

Video Remote Interpreting - Doctor Photo

Video Remote Interpreting in Hospitals

The need for high quality interpreters in hospitals is now more pressing than ever. Our society is diversifying at an incremental rate and these citizens have an equal right to proper care. Too often, patients that do not speak the local language are forced to rely on “interpreters of convenience” like relatives and hospital staff or worse, they are left without being able to fully communicate with their physician. Language discordance can increase hospital stay and cause poorer patient care. This can have significant financial ramifications. In order to minimize the effect of language discordance, hospitals need to provide specialized interpreters to their patients. The increased budgetary restraints imposed on public health providers coupled with a paradigm of risk management has made this need even greater. Costs can be cut by providing high quality care to all patients and mitigate the risk associated with miscommunication. The development of cost-effective technologies in the language industry has simplified the once complex and expensive interpreting service delivery.

The Studies

Numerous studies have suggested that language discordance leads to increased costs for the patient and the hospital as well as poorer health outcomes. Specifically, they note that those who do not speak the local language are more likely to: see their physician more often, are less likely to be given follow-up appointments, less likely to return for follow-up appointments, and are less likely to follow aftercare instructions (Bischoff, Loutan:2004; John-Baptiste et al:2004). In the long run this can lead to worse health outcomes and consequently increased strain on an already stressed healthcare system.

Show Me the Money

In monetary terms, one study found that length of stay was increased by an average of 0.5 days for non-English speaking patients in an American hospital. It is important to note that this increase is incremental dependant on the diagnosed condition. With an estimated cost of stay of $680USD per day, the impact of language discordance on hospital and patient budgets can be significant (John-Baptiste et al: 2004).

What We Do Now

From these results, the importance of interpreting in hospitals can be seen but there is a major logistical concern that has to be addressed. In healthcare facilities, immediate service is often required. This need is most often met through on-staff interpreters or non-professionals. On-staff interpreters are a significant budgetary consideration while non-professional interpreters can often compromise proper medical care and expose healthcare providers to liability. The standard for interpreting services currently is over-the-phone. This solution offers scheduling flexibility and on-demand service but it lacks the visual cues that could have a positive impact on diagnoses and, consequently, mortality and length of stay.

What We Should Be Doing

The solution to these concerns is video remote interpreting. Video remote interpreting offers around the clock access to interpreters via a web-based video interface. It works by connecting healthcare professionals and patients with a qualified interpreter through a two-way video interface. This allows visual cues and context to be added to the interpretation thereby increasing the richness of the message conveyed. Additionally, video remote interpreting also offers an efficient way to connect with an American Sign Language interpreter, which of course, requires visual information. Deploying video remote interpreting in hospitals can increase accessibility, quality of care, and patient satisfaction while decreasing the budgetary strain of on-staff interpreters and exposure to risk from non-professional interpretation.

Language interpreting is an integral component of quality care for patients with limited English proficiency. To reduce poor health outcomes, increased length of stay, and consequently, increased budget strain, hospitals should consider using video remote interpreting as a way to compliment their current interpreting service delivery model.

Bischoff, A., Loutan, L. 2004. Interpreting in Swiss Hospitals. Interpreting (6). 181-204

John-Baptiste, A, Naglie, G, Tomlinson, G, Alibhai, S, Etchells, E, Cheung, A, Kapral, M, Gold, W, Abrams, H, Bacchus, M, Krahn, M. 2004. The Effect of English Language Proficiency on Length of Stay and In-hospital Mortality. Journal of General Internal Medicine (19). 221-228

Brand Internationalization Strategy for Small and Mid-sized Companies

Taken from:

I know I shouldn’t, but I’m going to. After all, I’m a rebel. If you follow the literature on social media, you’ll see that most experts recommend starting online articles with a personal story. But I’m not going to. To be honest, I wracked my brain for a personal story on brand internationalization and finished the day with a blank page. Surprising, right? So, I thought to myself, “Why don’t you just fabricate a story?” And I did. Boy, did it sound disingenuous. Instead, I’m going to approach the subject of brand internationalization from the orientations that I feel most comfortable with, fairy tales and sociology.

A Long, Long Time Ago in a Kingdom, Far, Far Away…

There lived a sociologist, Emile Durkheim, who coined the term “collective consciousness”. Without bombarding you with technical mumbo-jumbo (mumbo-jumbo, being the technical term for boring filler), I’ll skip to the point.

Emile Durkheim suggested that societies are bound together by shared beliefs, values, and attitudes. This was characteristic of groups of people living within a limited proximity. When he coined the term at the end of the 19th century, Durkheim was mainly looking at the beginnings of industrial society, a far cry from the social arrangements that characterize the 2000s.

The Goose That Laid the Global Egg

The internet has blurred borders, both physical and cultural. We live in a global society but because of the spread of information, Durkheim’s perspective still rings true. There are some basic ideas and attitudes that are universal. These universals have become central in brand internationalization.

Enter, the Big Brand Wolf

big brand wolf
He’ll Huff and He’ll Puff and He’ll GROOOOOW Your Brand

Small and mid-sized organizations that haven’t taken steps to internationalize their brand are actually in a position to do so in a more effective way than organizations that have already built up a concrete brand image. You have the luxury of forethought.

Let me explain. There are two major schools of thought when it comes to internationalizing your brand. You can:

a) Re-brand in every market you enter

b) You can choose a universal appeal (remember the global collective conscious?) and make small tweaks in each locale.

Option (B) is cost-effective and efficient at creating a recognizable brand but it involves thinking ahead. You have to decide on a universal value or attitude on which to base your brand before you make your debut on the international stage.

The Seven Dwarves of International Branding

After reviewing your marketing demographics and finding your target market, you’ve got to think a little bit about what makes them tick on a personal level but think big picture. Do they value family? Friendship? Saving money? These are your universals. Your long-term branding strategy should be based on this. The seven dwarves will help you make the brand locally appealing.

Meet the seven dwarves of brand internationalization:

Disney got here first
…Disney got here before you did

Language – this is a given, all marketing material must be distributed in the language of the target market. ’nuff said.

Culture – Get a consultant! Some cultures consider some topics taboo, favor a particular selling environment, or aren’t buying what you’re selling (think winter hats in Morocco)

Graphics – feature local talent, use colors that represent your message (these change by region), and ensure translated text will fit in your logo.

Idioms - For an international message, stay away from English idioms. They don’t translate well.

Content flow - The often forgotten Dwarf. Your text layout should follow local customs.

Software/website - You need to localize your software and website. This means changing the date/time/currency formats/measurements, text field lengths for phone numbers and addresses, as well as everything else that has been mentioned.

Regulations – consult an expert on local regulations. Do they require a specific format on your product labels? Do they have different language and accessibility laws in place? All your work will be for not if you don’t meet local laws.

These points are critical in reaching your target market. You can use a generic marketing message but then you won’t be leveraging your communications.

Live Happily Ever After

Here are the takeaway points:

• Think globally and pick a universally appealing brand value or attitude

• Tweak your message according to cultural nuances and standards

• Avoid generic marketing messages when going international

Article Source:

For more on international marketing check out:

Translate Tweets to Explode in the Twitterverse (and make more cash online)

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The Difference between Simultaneous Interpreting and Consecutive Interpreting Services

Interpreting comes in two basic forms, simultaneous and consecutive. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. The one you choose is based on the situation in which it will be used but it is also largely personal preference.

Let’s take a look at the difference between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting.

Simultaneous Interpreting

Simultaneous is like the Lamborghini of interpreting. If interpreting was a spaceship, it would be the Millennium Falcon. If it were a couch, it’d be that sweet black leather sectional you saw at the Brick on the weekend. It’s the Big League Chew, Michael Jackson, Coca-Cola, Peanut butter and jelly sandwich of interpreting.
That's right, I referenced Big League Chew
But…I digress.

Simultaneous interpreting involves converting your message into a different language in real-time. A team of interpreters, in special sound booths, hear you speak through headphones and immediately deliver your words in another language to audience members with headsets. This allows you to speak freely and at a natural pace.

Essentially, the process works like this. The speaker will get a few words into his sentence and then the interpreter will start interpreting with a small lag. As the speaker orates, the interpreter listens and speaks at the same time, converting one language into the other.
The amount of mental energy and concentration these interpreters have is, to completely understate it, magnificent. To give you an idea of how mentally taxing simultaneous interpreting is for the interpreters, they generally switch on-and-off every 20 minutes or so.

Consecutive Interpreting

Consecutive interpreting is like the all-terrain-vehicle of interpreting. The setup isn’t nearly as extensive as simultaneous interpreting but it allows for a conversational approach to interpreting.

Consecutive interpreting is as awesome as a Batmobile ATV
Simultaneous interpreting is generally done at conferences when the exchange of information is one-way whereas consecutive interpreting can easily allow two or more people to converse.

Consecutive interpreting has you speaking first, pausing, and then the interpreter interprets. Essentially, your speech or conversation would be divided into chunks, usually by idea, and then delivered by the interpreter.

Which One Should You Choose?

Simultaneous is great for large events and conferences. It allows the speaker to orate naturally, giving a more candid feel to the presentation. With the addition of multiple sound booths, a speech could be interpreted into many different languages to accommodate a highly diverse audience.
Consecutive interpreting is great for business meetings, court hearings, grass roots meetings, and other conversational situations.

visit Able Translations to learn more about Interpreting.

Video Game Localization: All Your Base Are Belong To Able

All your...what?

All my base are belong to…wait…what?

This meme is as old as the internet itself. Well, maybe not that old. According to, this poor video game translation started to circulate the net in 1998/99. Know Your Meme says this:

“All Your Base Are Belong to Us” is a popular catchphrase that swept across the internet at the dawn of 21st century as early as in 1998. An awkward English translation of “all of your bases are under our control,” the quote originally appeared in the opening dialogue of Zero Wing, a nostalgic 16-bit shoot’em up game released in 1989.”

Being part of the internet generation and growing up during the video game revolution, “All your Base Are Belong to Us” is part of my lexicon. But until I started working at Able Translations, I never really considered the issue that lies far beneath this translation blunder.

Video Game Localization

“All Your Base Are Belong to Us” isn’t the only poorly translated video game that came from my generation. Here is my favorite:

A Winner Is You?

Is this supposed to be Hulk Hogan?

There are a million more, some of which are more than embarrassing; they venture into the obscene.

Video game localization involves more than translation, however. There is a lot of behind the scene tech work that needs to get done for a video game to succeed in local markets. For example, text encoding needs to be changed for the locale. The standard now is Unicode which allows text to be written from left to right and vice-versa. It also supports a variety of characters for proper written text.

Bored Yet? Me Too.

So let’s stop talking about the technical aspects of video game localization (translation, text format, field length, etc) and talk about the culture of video games and localization.

In the video game world, setting and character development is king. Localization would change characters and locations to suit local taste while preserving the underlying themes, game play, and game atmosphere. Seeing as video games sell amazingly well across most cultures, would localization improve sales or diminish them?

I’ll use a concrete example. Call of Duty, one of the most popular video game franchises, has been banned in a variety of countries due to the graphic nature of the game, specific missions that target national leaders, and perspectives that some countries feel are disrespectful to their nation.

I’m not here to talk about censoring video games, I’m just a lowly blogger in the language services industry. What I am speaking about is the business perspective. Could this franchise, for instance, localize its content to suit their target market’s taste and increase profits with a globalized version of the game?

I actually think they could and it has, in fact, been done successfully.

Mario Bros. 2 was originally a game called Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki PanicA Japanese adventure game. The sprites were redesigned for the North American market and it became a commercial success!

So what do you think? Obviously video game localization is necessary as far as technical aspects but should cultural aspects also be localized?

Comment and let me know what’s on your mind or visit Able Translations to find out more about Localization

Man Vs Machine…Translation

Welcome to the Ring

In the red corner, standing 5’8” and weighing in at 165lbs. He types 80 words per minute and speaks three languages. He has remained undefeated for HUNDREDS and hundreds of years. I give you…THE HUMAN TRANSLATOR.

And in the blue corner, standing…well…it doesn’t really stand and weighing…um does computer code weigh anything? It can translate a document of any size into any language in seconds. He’s the newest challenger in the industry but seems to be unstoppable. Here is…MACHINE TRANSLATION.

The Blow by Blow

Human translation and machine translation both have their strengths and weaknesses and their usefulness depends on context. Let’s take a look at what makes both translation strategies unique and explore some of their benefits and drawbacks.

The Human Translator

The human translator is exactly what it sounds like, a human doing the translating. Now, keep in mind, we aren’t talking a pen and paper process here. Technology does play a huge role in human translating. Aside from word processing, projects tend to use project management workflow software to keep everything on track. Human translators can also use what is known as “translation memory management” systems. Essentially, this is a database that stores translatable “units” (sentences, headings, even paragraphs of text). It helps a project with more than one translator become one cohesive output. This software is especially popular with very technical translations (think machine operating manuals). You need to have processes, instructions, or machine parts defined in the same way. Translation memory helps you do that.


  • Human translators strike a balance between the words you use and the ideas you are trying to get across. This leaves you with a cohesive, error free project
  • Human translators are bound by significant quality standards thus your project is handled very carefully
  • Human translators can verify information and give recommendations to improve your project



  • Human translators are not available for free download
  • Their output isn’t instantaneous
  • They consume all of the coffee in the office


Human translators should be consulted when handling large, complex projects that require high quality translations (ecommerce websites, marketing material, software localization, books and ebooks, movie subtitles, etc).


Machine Translation

Google has done a superb job in their creation of machine translation software. They provide near instant translations, regardless of word count. Their algorithms have improved significantly since their beta-launch. Machine translation approaches a document from a word-for-word point of view. It looks at individual units of language, not the totality of meaning, sometimes with hilarious results.


  • Extremely fast
  • Extremely inexpensive (often free)
  • Near endless options for language availability
  • Conveniently available from any computer



  • Will not contextualize the translation, which often leads to some pretty funny translation errors
  • Will not proofread. If you’ve made a mistake, it will translate it anyways
  • Some English phrases and idioms cannot be translated with the same meaning, machine translation doesn’t notice.


As you can see, machine translation software is pretty awesome if you need to quickly translate something. Say, if you’re emailing your Korean pen pal or your Romanian grandmother sent you your favorite recipe (at least that’s what you think it is…). But because it can’t contextualize your words and it won’t alert you to an error if your thoughts won’t be expressed as intended, you should avoid using machine translation on projects associated with your business or organization. It’s risky. Some companies have had PR nightmares from poor translations.



The human translator retains its title. Well, maybe I fixed the match but I truly believe there is no replacement for human translation.


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Translate Tweets to Explode in the Twitterverse (and make more cash online)

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If I Could Speak a Million Languages – Poem

If I Could Speak a Million Languages

- Michael Thorpe (Able Translations)

If I could speak a million languages, my message would still be true

With all the words available

I’d tell you I love you

I’d say it in French, in Polish, and Swahili

With all the words available

You wouldn’t need to translate me

If I could speak a million languages, my message would be the same

I’d tell you that I need you and that will never change

I’d say it in Arabic and German

or chirp it like the birds

But I’d really rather show you

Because actions speak louder than words.

Able Translations

7 Ways to Annoy Interpreters

Dogs, Widgets, and Internationalizing Your Brand

Advertising boils down to basic sociology. Of course there are external factors that can change the behavior of consumers, but at the core, society functions on the idea of shared meaning. Shared meaning, or consensus, is at the root of communication. For example, if I type the word dog, in most instances, everyone will picture the same thing.

Well, wait a second, if I said “dog” to a non-English speaker, would they picture the same thing? Perhaps not…but I’ll come back to this later because it’s important.

Okay, where was I? Oh yes, shared meaning. I’ll give you another example. Carl Jung’s work centered on the idea of archetypes. Essentially, he spoke about universal symbols and experiences. These symbols and ideas are recognizable to most people.

They aren’t part of the Jungian archetypes, but I’ll give you an idea of some universal symbols and ideas. Ready? Here are a few to get you thinking: Family, friendship, love, sadness, good and evil, and life and death.

(You might be asking how this fits into brand internationalization. I’m getting there, I promise.)

Let’s revisit my point about the dog. The word “dog” might be meaningless to a non-English speaker but most people would recognize a dog if they saw one. The qualities attributed to the dog might also be different. I think of loyalty, friendship, and family but you might think smelly, dirty, and unruly (my dog storm is a combination of all of those). So depending on your perspective, a dog might mean different things.

The Point

You have two options when internationalizing your brand. You can either create a new brand image in every market OR you can create an international brand identity and make small changes to your graphics, idioms, and language. The second option is not only more efficient at creating a strong brand but it’s also more cost-effective. You won’t have to re-brand in every market.

Basically, you need your brand to be based on a universal but make tweaks to the dog. Confused? Let me clear things up with an example:

Widgets and Doohickeys Canada wants to internationalize their brand. Looking at their sales demographics, they see that their widgets and doohickeys are bought by married couples with two or more children. Naturally, they decide to base their international brand image on the universal idea of family. So, they create their Canadian advertising. It shows a family skating together during a snowy Canadian winter.

The caption reads: “Keeping Families Warm When It’s Cold Outside”.

A great Canadian piece of adverting that absolutely won’t be effective in Puerto Rico.

Widgets and Doohickeys want to keep that “family” message; it symbolizes what their brand is all about. So, they make tweaks. They change the language, the graphic, and the idiomatic expression to suit the tastes of those in Puerto Rico and how they view family togetherness.

With this method, they are cultivating an international brand image using the universal notion of family but are making adjustments for cultural perceptions of what family means.

The Role of the Language Services Provider

Language Services Providers offer what is known as localization. We work with your universal appeal but target it to the tastes of different cultures. This might mean adjusting graphics to give it local appeal, changing colors to those that a culture associates with your main message, arranging typesetting and content flow to appeal to cultural standards, and translating your message to engage your target audience.

The goal is to maintain your global brand image while also carving a niche in a local market. Taking this approach ensures that you avoid a generic marketing message. This helps you leverage your communication efforts and differentiates your product from local offerings.

Join Me on Facebook Tomorrow
I will be doing a Q&A on interpreting, translating, localization, internationalization, and anything else you can think of. Just like us at:

Cost More Important Than Quality, Says the Translation Bureau

I was reading the Benchmarking and Comparative Analysis report which was released by the Translation Bureau and a quote caught my attention:

“With some exceptions such as certified or legal documents, quality is not considered as important to clients as cost”.
The Translation Bureau – Benchmarking and Comparative Analysis (2012)

Before delving into what this quote means to translation businesses, I want to explain the “fast, cheap, good” pricing strategy and how it fits into an overall consumer strategy for buying and a company strategy for pricing. This pricing method has been a mainstay in business for decades. Here is a quick rundown:
Essentially, a customer can pick two of three of these qualities when purchasing a product or service: fast, cheap, good”.

• If you want it fast and cheap, it won’t be good
• If you want it cheap and good, it won’t be fast
• If you want it fast and good, it won’t be cheap

In the market in general, we’re seeing a shift in consumer behavior. In my opinion, quality has become assumed and companies are left to compete on price and speed. This isn’t a problem in highly regulated industries but I think it spells disaster for consumers when purchasing services from industries that aren’t required to adhere to national and international standards.

For the translation industry, this purchasing strategy (cheap>quality) is dangerous. With the high availability of machine translation software, consumers may run the risk of improper translations from companies that choose to neglect quality in favor of price and speed.

In our industry, consumers should focus not on cost, but on return-on-investment. If you follow the news, we’re seeing countries spending exorbitant amounts of money correcting poor translations on public signage. What was cheap is no longer. In other areas, just as an example, a poorly translated website may be less costly initially but errors in translation can lead to fewer conversions in international markets. You may even end up offending someone because of differences in cultural context. Before deciding on a company purely from a cost-perspective, at least ensure they adhere to third-party standards. Price is important but quality translations are critical to your organization in the long run.

To my readers, are you finding this in your industries? What effect do you think this has had on your pricing strategy? I’m interested to know.

For More Information on This subject visit Able Translations atTranslations Toronto

Sign Here, Please?

Accessibility is at the heart of the Canadian medical system. We often think of accessibility as our ability to receive medical care regardless of geography, income, or if you’re a persons with a disability. For a moment, I’d like you to think about accessibility in terms of wait time. After all, doesn’t increased wait time impede our access to health care?

Now, I’m not writing about how long it takes Canadian’s to see a doctor; space here is limited. I’m writing about the wait time faced by the hearing impaired. Imagine this: you arrive at the hospital needing urgent care. You sign to the triage nurse that this is an emergency. The nurse responds in pseudo-sign language the “one moment please” finger while she furiously tries to find an American Sign Language trained staff member. After 30 minutes, you are finally able to get the care that you need. You breathe a sigh of relief.

This is a problem faced by over 310 000 Canadians. Language services providers (LSP) have found a solution. It’s what those in the industry have dubbed VRI or Video Remote Interpreting. For the first time, doctors and nurses will be able to access an American Sign Language interpreter almost instantly; an invaluable tool in those crucial moments. But VRI isn’t limited to sign language only.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say an emergency room physician gets a patient that speaks only Tamil. The doctor would sign into a web-based application, where they would request a Tamil to English interpreter. They would then be linked through a two-way video interface to the interpreter. This is significant because visual cues are sometimes critical in aiding the doctor’s diagnoses of the issue.

Basically, what we are seeing here is the on-demand aspects of over-the-phone interpretation coupled with the amount of information that can be processed by an onsite interpreter. No longer will clients have to choose between quickness and descriptiveness. They can have both.

For More Information on This subject visit Able Translations atTranslations Toronto

How to Choose a Language Services Provider

There has been a large influx of language services providers in the market place. This has made it difficult to differentiate between “mom and pop” language services providers and those that offer high quality, comprehensive services.

Here are the top five criteria you should use when trying to find a language services provider.


  1. Is the language services provider accredited by third-party “standards” organizations?


When choosing a language services provider, always make sure they are recognized by a local association that monitors quality and standards. If the company has offices internationally, make sure they are also accredited by international organizations.

Certifications to look for include: ISO 9001, CAN/CGSB – 131.10-2008, and EN 15038. But never accept the bare minimum.

  1. Have they made significant investments in the field of language services?


This is an important one. Is there evidence that the company is making significant investments in improving the provision of language services? Do they offer innovative services like “video remote interpreting” (this service will be explored in my next post)? Did they develop the interface or did they license it from another company?

A company that invests in “added value” types of language services is generally better equipped to serve you, both technologically and in terms of personalized service.

  1. Do they use human translations instead of machine translations?


With the advent of Google Translations and other translation software, organizations may opt to do their own translations. This is a huge mistake because this type of software does not take into consideration context or cultural nuances. An even bigger mistake is spending your hard earned cash on a language services provider that relies on this type of software to do their translation work.

Choose a company like Able Translations. They only use human translators.

  1. Do they offer more than just interpreting and translating?


The long-term strategic plan of major organizations often involve a plan for global market penetration. Make sure that the language services provider you choose offers more than just the core services. Even if you don’t need them right away, services like multicultural design, application and product localization, and cultural consulting will eventually come in handy. You don’t want to have to switch horses mid-race.

  1. Do they offer free quotes?


Would you buy a car without test driving it? Even more to the point, would you sign the lease before knowing the price? The same situation applies to language services providers. You need to be able to anticipate costs. Getting dinged with a large, unexpected bill for services can disrupt your cash flow. If they offer free quotes, take advantage of it. It will allow you to update your budget and it also shows you that the language services provider is committed to customer services.

There you have it, the top five things to look for before hiring a language services provider.

For more information on Translations in Toronto visit Able Translations.

Proud to be Canadian

Before celebrating the accomplishments of our Canadian competitors, Able Translations just wants to take a moment to congratulate every Olympic athlete on their performance. Top three finish or not, you’re all champions. You represented your country beautifully and you should be proud.

                As in every Olympics, our Canadian athletes showed the world the true spirit of our nation. They exhibited dedication, poise, and sportsmanship. We’d like to take this opportunity to highlight some of our athletes’ accomplishments at this, the Games of the XXX Olympiad.


Our first gold medal was aptly awarded to Rosie Maclennan of King City, Ontario in the Trampoline event. No, no, this isn’t the “backyard tumbling” we’ve come to recognize as trampolining. Olympic trampoline is a highly skilled form of gymnastics involving bounces up to 10 meters high and forces up to 10gs upon impact. Ms. Maclennan, a fierce competitor, edged out Chinese athlete Shanshan Huang by a miniscule 0.575 points. Way to bounce ahead of the competition, Rosie. Sorry about the pun.


Both our woman’s eight and heavy weight men’s eight pulled out all the stops to secure silver medals in Olympic rowing. One of the most physically grueling events in the Olympics, rowing is as much a mental battle as it is a physical one. Our athletes dug deep and came away sporting some Olympic hardware. You guys sure can row, row, row your boat…


Ryan Cochrane (the swimmer, not the Olympic kayaker) and Brent Hayden claimed Olympic silver and bronze, respectively. Cochrane left nothing in the pool as he sprinted the last 50m in the men’s 1 500m freestyle but fell short to China’s power-house swimmer, Sun Yang. Hayden, who was suffering from back pain before stepping onto his block, fought hard in the men’s 100-metre freestyle and finished with a respectable time of 47.80 seconds winning Canada our first medal in swimming.

ImageCanada hit a stride in Olympic synchronized diving, with two of our women’s teams being awarded bronze. Both our 3-meter team (Heymans and Abel) and 10-meter team (Benfeito and Filion) performed flawlessly. Their grace and skill was only outshined by their connection and dedication to each other. Absolutely amazing

ImageOne of our toughest athletes (I mean that in the truest sense of the word), Antoine (Tony) Valois-Fortier, took the bronze after two difficult repechage bouts. Demonstrating that his iron will is just as strong as his iron jaw; he beat out American Travis Stevens to steal the Bronze. This is nothing short of amazing considering Valois-Fortier had fought four bouts in about five hours. 


In a Canadian Olympic first, Christine Girard from British Columbia finished third in Olympic weightlifting. Competing at a mere 63 kilos (138.6 pounds), Christine lifted a staggering 103 kilos (226.6lbs) in the snatch and 135 kilos (297lbs) in the clean and press. Just to give you some idea, that’s like lifting the equivalent of a full-grown male lion over your head!   

We’ll get the rest of these amazing graphics posted as soon as we can. Good luck in the closing days of the games, Canada.

-Able Translations

Translations Toronto


Dear Internet-users from across the globe,

Able Translations is now on WordPress and boy are we excited to be here.

On our blog you’ll find company updates, articles about the language services industry, how-to’s, and other content that will interest YOU.

Drop by our Facebook and Linkedin profiles to share suggestions on some topics that you would like to see explored here at the Able Translations Blog.

Just so you have an idea of what’s in store over the next week, we’ve got some amazing graphics, which were designed by Rui from our creative team, that celebrate our Canadian Olympic medal winners. Exciting, right? we think so.

Until next time!

Thanks for visiting,

Able Translations

Translations Toronto