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Thursday, 1 October 2009

Words That Matter

Image source: http://www.worldaccent.com/blog/2008/09/mark-international-translation-day-with.html

Yesterday was International Translation Day. It may have been over-shadowed sadly by the tragic events in the Pacific as a result of the tsunami. Or if you were in Auckland by the Go Global Forum.

For the exporter going into a new market there are Words That Matter: publicity brochures, draft contracts, contracts of sale, legal agreements and letters of credit. Where English is not the language of business, translation is vital.

This is an area where exporters and others can fall into traps and ruin their chances of building a relationship and making a successful deal. Dennis Brown the Managing Director of Pacific International Translations (NZ) Ltd. has compiled a list of the six mistakes that can be made in getting business documents translated:

1. Using someone who is not a translator
2. Using someone translating into his/her second language
3. Using a translator who is out of his/her depth
4. Inadequate checking and editing
5. Imposing a time frame that is too tight
6. Not using a professional translation service

For the full article in pdf format: The six biggest mistakes in getting business documents translated (and how to avoid them) go to: http://www.pactrans.co.nz/translation/6%20Worst%20Mistakes.pdf (With permission from the Author)

Machine translation such as is used by Google, does not take into account the context of the document as it was written or the context in which it will be read so that issues of vocabulary and appropriate style are ignored. It may of course give some indication of the meaning of a document so that an exporter would know what he/she is dealing with, before a professional translation is requested.

Incidentally the translation day was established in 1991 by the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs (International Federation of Translators). The date of 30 September was chosen as it is the feast day of St. Jerome (347-420 AD), patron saint of translators, interpreters and librarians. The day celebrates and promotes translation as an essential activity in contemporary society – but one which too often remains invisible and ignored.

Each year a particular theme, highlighting a different area of translation, is adopted – with this year's being "Terminology: Words Matter". As the Federation put it, "the specific need is for words that matter, words that describe a previously identified concept and that contribute to the clarity and effectiveness of communication in a given field of expertise, environment or community."

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