Tag Archives: professional translator

Back to School! What Content to Translate for Parents Who Don’t Speak English

The back-to-school season is officially in full swing! As an educator or provider of educational materials, you already know how important it can be to understand the needs of your students both inside and outside of the classroom. You may also already be familiar with some of the difficulties that present themselves if a student’s parents speak a language other than English. It’s hard to know whether or not these parents fully understand some of the important papers, documents and materials distributed to their children. In fact, you might not even receive some of the information back that needs to be signed/returned. To best serve your students, parents, and teachers alike, we’ve compiled a list of items you may want to have translated in order to help ensure clear communication between the school and parents.

  • guides to help parents assist their children with reading/homework;
  • official school documents (i.e. handbooks, dress code guidelines, admissions packets, emergency and safety procedures);
  • your website (or the parts most pertinent to what parents may need to review);
  • parent surveys or other notices sent home, especially those that require a parent signature;
  • report cards and progress reports;
  • athletic events or forms;
  • email newsletters directed toward parents

If you send your students’ parents information in their preferred language, you will increase the likelihood of parent involvement and communications throughout the school year, which will, in turn, help set your students up for success. And we already know what you’re thinking… “If I send out information in the parents’ primary language, how can I communicate with them if they call or show up with questions?” To that, we say, “Don’t worry!” We have a set of solutions to help you communicate verbally with parents (and kids!) as well.

Knowing where to begin can be difficult, especially if you have a diverse population of students! First, it is key to know the demographics of your school district or those consuming your educational materials. This will help tremendously. We recommend choosing one or two of the languages most commonly spoken and building your translated material offerings from there. If you have any questions about the process of having these things translated by a professional team, we are always here to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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Filed under Translation Services

How Societal Values and Customs Can Make or Break Your International Deal

If your company is based in the United States, you are likely familiar with business etiquette here in North America. It would be normal, expected even, for you to arrive on time (or better… early!) and shake someone’s hand when you greet them during a business meeting, for example, or even to invite fellow associates out for dinner to both discuss a potential deal and socialize with your colleagues.

If you’ve ever given thought to expanding your business to an international market, it is essential to consider how business etiquette may differ in other countries and how adapting to these differences could vastly impact your ability to perform well in a global market.

Translating and/or localizing your product and services are great steps toward entering the global market. However, these aren’t the only things to consider in moving your business forward in a foreign culture. It’s probable that you will need to work directly with other business associates in that country for a successful launch, so learning a little about proper business etiquette there can really go a long way. Your meetings could be face-to-face, via email, video chat, or over the phone. If you are trying to launch your brand in multiple countries, it is essential to familiarize yourself with etiquette for each form of communication. Of course, it is not necessary to learn each and every custom for every location, but if you have a basic understanding of how business etiquette works in each one, the likelihood of success is greater.

Believe it or not, business etiquette stems from one area that people often overlook when preparing for a business trip abroad or a meeting with foreign counterparts. Societal values and customs. You may be thinking, “What do people’s values and customs have to do with business etiquette?” Well, you’d be surprised. Take, for example, a U.S. company that wants to do business in China. A group of American and Chinese executives gather in a meeting room in order to talk about a potential partnership or collaboration. During the discussion, one of the U.S. executives asks what it would take to go ahead and “make a deal.” As this is only their first meeting, the Chinese executives are offended by his seemingly direct and abrupt manner.  That’s because, in China, it can be inappropriate to begin your meeting by discussing the deal you want to close in such a direct manner. It can be considered rude, and you may return home without any deal. Instead, it is more appropriate to develop a relationship with your business partner and avoid interrupting him or her at all costs!

When handing your business card to someone in China, or receiving one from a potential business partner, do so with both hands. This is considered a sign of respect. If you are holding a business meeting in Mexico, for instance, it would not be uncommon for the meeting to begin a little late and for your colleagues to engage in an embrace as a greeting, instead of a handshake, once a perceived friendship is established. Conversely, if you are conducting business in Germany, arriving late is considered rude and business meetings are very formal (always shake hands and greet someone as Herr [Mister] last name even when you know them well).

We recently had a client request the translation of his business card into Japanese. This is also a sign of respect for the Japanese speaker who receives the card. The fact that our client took the time to translate the card for his foreign counterparts shows that he took the time to make their interaction more personable and smooth. We did remind the client that he should add the country code to the beginning of his direct telephone line and to avoid using the extra toll-free 800 number, as it would not be functional outside of the United States. Remember, try to make it easy for your potential clients to reach you!

Since there is no global standard of business etiquette, we recommend always researching the societal values and norms of those with whom you wish to do business. This step ensures that you you will abide by that country’s customs and not come across poorly in the interaction. It also shows respect for your business associates abroad and makes a good first impression on them. Being prepared with more than just your service  or product offerings shows that you are dedicated to doing business in that area and will greatly improve your chance of success when launching your localized product or service.

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Filed under Global Markets, Localization, Marketing, Translation Services

The Benefits of Interpreters for Senior Care

Using professional interpreters in senior care is essential to providing Limited English Proficiency (LEP) patients access to appropriate care and services. Having an interpreter available also helps ensure that a patient understands what medical professionals are recommending or requesting and that the patient is satisfied with his or her care. In fact, many doctors and nurses require the assistance of interpreters not only to overcome the obvious language barriers, but also to navigate potential cultural differences. Avoiding miscommunication during a patient’s stay in senior care is extremely important in order to avoid any errors in care attributed to language barriers (and potential lawsuits that may arise from these errors if a trained interpreter is not present).

Senior Citizen

It may seem like a patient’s friend or family member could interpret for them whenever necessary. However, it is vital that the interpreter used is a trained professional. Untrained interpreters are more likely to make errors or even violate confidentiality issues, resulting in potentially adverse outcomes. Friends and family may also be embarrassed by some of the medical topics that come up and use euphemisms or different terminology than what the medical team had used. This could cause confusion on both sides. Not to mention that this could be a clear HIPAA violation!

On the other hand, a professional interpreter will be trained in the necessary skills and terminology and is fully equipped to handle the situations that may arise with the individual in senior care. Professional interpreters are also legally bound to confidentiality agreements, protecting both health care professionals and the patient. An interpreter’s code of ethics is another key difference in utilizing a professional. Non-professionals are unfamiliar with such confidentiality and ethics requirements, and therefore, they could make egregious errors or missteps that may result in improper care.

Having an interpreter available for your senior care patient not only helps ensure that the patient can communicate with the medical team, but also statistically results in higher patient satisfaction since the patient is able to feel confident in knowing his or her needs are being met, and is able to communicate in his or her preferred language. The interpreter may also be able to clarify cultural differences for the medical team if such a situation arises, since the professional interpreter is well-versed in the cultures associated with both languages. If the patient’s stay in senior care is temporary, use of a trained interpreter is also associated with significantly shorter stays and reduced readmission rates.

While on-site interpreting is preferred, understandably there will be situations in which this is not possible if an on-site interpreter is not available. In these instances, it is also possible to use telephonic interpreting services. When in doubt about a patient’s English proficiency, it is best to use either an on-site or telephonic interpreter to assess and help with the potential language barrier for the best possible outcome for both the senior care facility and its patient.

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Filed under Interpreter Services, Medical translation/interpreting

Subtitle Translations Gone Wrong

If you’ve ever watched a film in a language other than your own, you know how important subtitles are in allowing you to understand what is happening. Subtitles can guide you through a foreign film with ease, conveying the meaning of each scene through text that helps you experience the film effortlessly. In fact, the better the subtitles, the less likely you are to even notice you’re reading them by the time you’re engrossed in the plot!


However, if you have ever come across a film with some questionable subtitles, you know that this can ruin your entire film-watching experience. If subtitles do not correctly convey the humor, drama, or emotion of a scene—how it was originally intended to be experienced—the movie experience is simply not the same.

How do you think a Chinese-speaking filmgoer would appreciate the humor of Guardians of the Galaxy if each time a character meant to insult Rocket by calling him “rodent” or “weasel”, the subtitles translated it as a term of endearment instead, such as “small raccoon”? It doesn’t quite have the same feel, right? You can find several more examples of mistakes within that particular movie here. Even the title went from Guardians of the Galaxy to Interplanetary Unusual Attacking Team!

The reasons why subtitles get mistranslated are numerous. Here are just a few:

  • The film company could be relying on someone who either isn’t a professional, or who simply isn’t fluent enough in both languages to tackle this sort of work.
  • The company may also expect the translator to adhere to a deadline that is too strict for 100% accuracy, or offer less compensation than more qualified translators would be willing to accept for this complex work.
  • The translator may not be able to fully understand the humor, slang, or jargon within the original dialogue, since they are translating into their native language, and not from In this case, having a translator who is near native in the source language is a must.
  • It’s possible the translator may have simply misheard the original line(s) if they were not provided with a written script, thus resulting in an incorrect translation.

For your amusement, here are a few other subtitle translation mistakes we’ve found:

  • Juno: The Spanish translator translated “I’ll have a Maker’s Mark” to “Just sit down next to Mark.”
  • Gone with the Wind: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” was translated as a slightly rougher “Straightforwardly, my dear, I would not give you a damn” in Russian.
  • Apollo 13: the German translator mistook the word “peg” for “pig” in the quote “You have to learn to put a square peg in a round hole”, making for a humorous translated sentence!

Subtitles can truly make or break a box office experience in a foreign market, and it is important to use qualified translators and proofreaders to handle the task! If you’ve come across some particularly poor translations within subtitles, please let us know in the comments below!

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Filed under Translation Services

Provide Value: Translating Parts of Your Newsletter For Your Customers

Providing value through a weekly or monthly business newsletter takes a lot of thought and time. First, you have to decide what content to include and how it will be perceived by your readers. And secondly, you want to make sure that the information you are providing will make your readers want to become (and remain) your customers.


If you’re not sure whether you would like to translate your entire newsletter, we encourage you to at least consider getting parts of your newsletter translated for your customers. Here are a few crucial sections of your newsletter you may want to consider for translation in order to bring the best value to your audience.

Special Offers: You can get a lot more bang for your buck if you are advertise something you are offering to both English speakers and those who follow you and speak another language. Once you know your target market, no matter the language they speak, you can create an offer that will appeal to them and make sure they know it’s meant for them. What are some examples? Special offers that are ideal for translation would include time-sensitive coupons or discounts, referral incentives, etc. GetApp has reported that special offers are the second highest rated reason that people subscribe to and remain on email lists.

Calls to Action: These items are what you hope your readers will do when they read your newsletter. Do you want them to sign up for a new service? If so, have this portion of your newsletter translated so that there’s no question about what you want them to do. Make the text catchy in English before you send it off to your translation provider.

Helpful Tips and Tricks: Think short, snappy bits of information that bring value to your customers in some way. Do you have a tip for the fastest way to handle an otherwise tedious task? Or can you share a new way of using an item or product you sell? These little bits of information, if translated professionally, will let your readers who speak another language know that you are looking out for them and that you care about communicating with them and making their lives better.

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Filed under Customer Service, Translation Services