TRANSLATION AGENCIES DURING CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

On March 11 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Since then, many countries have gone on a lockdown, with varying measures to flatten the curve and curtail the spread of the virus.

The fact is that coronavirus outbreak has affected the way businesses and individuals work, with limited movement, travel restrictions, remote work setups, and many businesses closing down or operating only on the most basic level.

When it comes to translation agencies, what is the situation we’re encountering right now, especially when faced with a possibility of prolonged quarantine conditions?

Looking at it from a technical perspective, translation industry is inherently more remote-work friendly than many others, therefore most translation agencies will not have to take complicated and expensive organizational steps to adapt to the situation.

Our main resource – our translators – are in most cases already used to working from home, which in this situation is beneficial for them, and us.

INTERPRETERS

With most of the conferences and events canceled or postponed just at the beginning of the “peak” season, the interpreters have been affected first. A small number of events are moving into virtual spaces and using remote interpreters, so the question is: will this practice expand fast and wide enough to supplement the lost income for the interpreters?

DEMAND FOR TRANSLATIONS

At first glance, it seems that translation services are in high demand, with many companies using written communication to replace human contact, and also many of them having to issue policies, procedures and notices in all countries of operation.

Therefore, at the moment, the increased demand for online services of every kind, due to the imposed quarantines and travel bans, means that companies will be spending more money to get their content translated into various languages, but what will happen if most of the client operations stop or decrease, with several industries seriously affected (like travel, tourism, hospitality)?

 MEDICAL TRANSLATIONS

Logically, medical translation and medical interpretation will continue to be the important factor in the academic, scientific and medical battle against the coronavirus. Various scientists, medical professionals and researchers around the world, who need to share data as accurately, quickly and efficiently as possible, will continue to need professional medical translation services to achieve that.

 

EUROTRANSLATE wants to assure our clients that we are fully equipped for remote work, so a large part of our office staff and management will #StayAtHome, but still be as engaged as ever, if not more.

We also have safety protocols in place to ensure uninterrupted service for our customers with the same safety conditions as before.

 

WORKING WITH A TRANSLATION AGENCY OR HIRING IN-HOUSE TRANSLATORS

Does your company do business with foreign markets? Have a lot of clients from all over the world? Or plans to expand into a new market? One thing you’re going to need is someone to translate all the documents involved into the languages of the new markets.

This recurring need for high-quality translations brings up a new dilemma: should you hire an in-house, full-time translator or start working with a translation agency? To help you make the right decision, here we provide an overview of the differences and the situations that might help sway you one way or the other.

 LANGUAGES

A question to consider: Do you need someone to cover one language combination or several of them? Do your needs lean only towards one foreign market with one official language, or more markets/languages?

You will want to hire an in-house translator for one language combination, but what happens when translation requirements for different languages come up? Yes, sure, Maria from HR can handle Spanish – she did spend a gap year in Spain, didn’t she? But since translation is not really in her job description and she has never tackled legal expressions and the intricacies of a contract before, is she really your best choice?

Joking aside, a translation agency will have the expert resources to cover multiple languages, even for large-volume projects where the agency will delegate multiple linguists to meet the deadlines, if necessary.

 RANGE

 A question to consider: What is the main subject matter of the documents that need to be translated? Are they brochures and promotional materials? User and instruction manuals? Contracts and agreements?

When deciding to hire a translator, you may choose to find one who specialises in your company’s industry. However, sometimes your translation needs will include other fields, such as legal (for contracts and agreements), marketing (for promotions, brochures), business (for meetings and internal documents), to name just a few. Don’t expect your in-house translator to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master-of-all-fields.  In these cases, a translation agency with a wide pool of available, specialist linguists will be your best bet as they will assign a translator who is an expert in the field to the document that needs to be translated.

 QUALITY CONTROL

 A question to consider: What level of editing and proofreading is required for the documentation? Formatting? (Again, coming back to the type of documentation and usual formats.)

Having an in-house translator means that one person will be in charge of all the editing, proofreading, formatting and revision after their own translations. Of course, this is not an impossible feat, but two sets of eyes are always better.

A translation agency will have specialist revisers, editors, and proofreaders ready to tackle any project. In addition, for translations into foreign languages, an agency will have linguists who are native speakers ready to work on these translation projects.

 SPEED

 A question to consider: What is the volume that need to be translated and what are the deadlines for delivery?

However good your in-house translator may be, there is still only so much one person can do in terms of daily output. When it comes to large-volume projects or deadline-sensitive campaigns that you needed done yesterday, a translation agency will be able to coordinate several teams of specialised translators and have it completed much faster, right on time for that important meeting!

 CONSISTENCY

A question to consider: Is there a consistent brand voice and communication tone you need to uphold in all your documents?

An in-house translator will become very familiar with the brand guidelines and its voice, carrying it through all documents. It is also highly beneficial for in-house translators to use CAT tools, creating a translation memory for all your documents, thus ensuring that the terminology used in them is consistent across the board.

If your in-house translator is not comfortable with using CAT tools, a good idea would be to get a translation agency to set up a system and train the translator in using the selected CAT tool, making sure that the whole process is set up so as to promote efficiency and consistency in translation jobs.

When many different language combinations are required, taking advantage of the services of a translation agency really is the best choice, since they will use terminology lists and translation memory to ensure that your company is represented consistently and appropriately, in every language. This way you know you’re using the same style and terms across the world.

 ADDITIONAL SERVICES

 A question to consider: What documents are most frequently translated? Are there any patterns (for example, certain documents at certain points of the year)? Are most of your documents in non-editable formats, such as PDF, and include design elements? Are some translations only one-off tasks?

It would be unrealistic to expect one in-house translator to be able to deal with website localisation, campaign tagline transcreation, SEO-optimised Google ads, press release proofreading, and translation of highly technical operations manual with all the graphs and technical drawings, plus legal contracts! Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your in-house staff is a must, because it can you save time, money and headaches by outsourcing the jobs they are not comfortable with.

In such cases, using the services of a reputable translation agency ensures all types of linguistic projects are done in a professional manner, by an expert in the field.

 AFFORDABILITY

 A question to consider: Is there a regular flow of translation needs, or do these only happen occasionally? For example, after translating your own website, what other materials will follow?

Having a full-time employee involves the additional costs of their pension plan, health insurance, and other benefits. What if there is no constant flow of work keeping this person busy for all of their working hours?

When you cooperate with a translation agency, you only pay for the work that you need done, and nothing else. No benefits, no additional expenses.

 

 

KEYWORD TRANSLATION Keywords, keywords everywhere!

Targeting multilingual online worlds takes much more than just localizing the content of your website into a foreign language and directly translating the source code of your page.

International Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of adapting your multilingual content and websites for search engines in different languages and countries to achieve the best rank and visibility in the search results, also known as search engine results pages (SERPs).

And at the core of SEO, you will find KEYWORDS.

Keywords are the foundation of every search engine optimization and paid search strategy. The simple fact is, the more languages you are targeting, the more complex your keyword lists are going to be and they determine what kind of content you are going to create, how you craft the copy in your ads and the content on your landing pages.

 What are keywords?

A keyword or keyword phrase is one or more words that people use on search engines like Google.

For example, if you are looking for office space to rent, and you type “office space for rent” into Google – this is your keyword (four words long). Some people would type “office space”, some “rent an office”.

Keyword research is the process you undertake to find out which keywords people use when looking for specific products or services online. At present, the top 5 searches for this topic are:

  1. office space
  2. office rental space
  3. office space realtor
  4. office space for rent
  5. office space for lease

These are known as the keywords for this particular search term (there will be many more in the full list). SEO specialists will use the keywords to ensure that they build their websites and PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns so that they can attract people from the search engines.

 Keyword research

How does this relate to translation? Before starting the translation of your website, you need to know what your customers are searching for in the target language, or, put simply: which words they use to find you online.

Without proper keyword research, the simple translation of keywords can only go so far. That’s because people who are speaking different languages rarely have the same way of looking for products and services.

You will always need to find the right keywords to use in your web content to avoid attracting a different target audience than you planned and losing opportunities in the local markets you are trying to reach through your website or a campaign. Choosing the right keywords and researching and localizing correctly for online content in different languages is critical because keyword translation is NOT just about translating, but researching and localizing for a target locale.

 Keywords Translation VS. Keywords Localization

Many companies and SEO agencies like to use Google Translate to translate their keywords. Other companies use someone in their office for keyword translation. In either case, these are not the ways to run an effective global content marketing program.

Keywords translation is usually completed with a website translation project. It is most frequently done for human readers but without consideration for the search engines. The challenge with just translated keywords is that they may accurately convey meaning but not serve their purpose – which is to be discovered by search engines.

Companies often use employees who are native speakers to translate their keywords as a great way to ensure proper context, and while this is perhaps a step above using a machine translation tool, it still fails to provide effective localization. The person translating the keywords from the list is not doing keyword research to see how searches are being performed in the given market. The way something is searched for in Argentina may not be the same as in Mexico or Spain, even though they are all using the Spanish language. Also, the way the word is translated in a different language might be completely accurate, but not used by speakers of the language in the same way.

 Keyword translation example

For example, if you are selling jewellery and looking to translate your website from English into Spanish, your UK website visitors would find you by searching for the term “wedding ring”. In the UK, over 74,000 people use this term in searches each month. The Spanish equivalent is “anillo de boda”, but only a measly 5,400 people in Spain use that keyword every month. Given that the population of the UK is very similar to Spain — and people in both are getting married quite often — there must be some searches for it somewhere?

In fact, in the Spanish language, the term “alianza” is used to refer to a wedding ring, so when we check the results for this search term, we see that there are almost 10,000 searches each month using this term instead on Google.es.

What can clients learn from this example? If they just translate “wedding ring” literally, they’re missing out on a ton of potential clicks to their website. So, keywords can’t be translated because they’ve evolved directly to serve the everyday needs of the people of a particular country. Simple keyword translation can’t predict that.

 The solution

Find translators with specific experience in multilingual SEO and translating marketing campaigns and you should be fine. They will have the knowledge required to make sure you attract the right audience and user interests, keywords and even the search engines being used by your new target audiences all match.

Most importantly, they will also understand that the direct translation of keywords does not always give you the search terms people are actually using.

Effective keyword translation is about discovering which search terms are going to connect people with your brand in foreign languages. Sometimes, this means targeting keywords that are very different from the ones you are used to using in your own language, but this is the whole point – pinpointing the biggest opportunities in each new market.

For professional approach and keywords that hit the target in any language: contact us and tell us how we can help you!

HOW TO CLIMB MOUNT MULTILINGUAL WITHOUT RUNNING OUT OF BREATH

Or:

Why you need a translation service provider to localise your website content

 

WORLDWIDE LANGUAGES

The language of your website is a key element in driving visitors, and customers to your business. While there are nearly 1.7 billion English speakers across the globe, only a fraction of them – around 22% – consider themselves native speakers and this represents 4.73% of the total global population.

This means that more than 95% of the global population simply won’t fully understand what you are talking about on your website in the first place.

Why miss out on a large number of potential visitors, users and – most importantly – purchasing clients?

WORLDWIDE WEBSITE?

Companies entering and growing new markets need to consider having a comprehensive localisation plan for their content, and nowhere is that more pressing than with websites.

A multilingual website is becoming a mission-critical asset for any company in todays’ globalised world, with its ability to attract new customers, inform them about products or services, and conduct sales.

Whether the website’s main purpose is to sell a product, or provide a service, in order to achieve maximum effect, its message must be clear and fully understood by the person reading the content.

While looking for a product or service from other countries, have you ever thought how much easier it would be if the website you were browsing was in your own language?

Have you ever considered that your customers from other countries must learn your language to be able to buy from your business?

With global online sales growing in double-digit figures every year, are you missing out on your share?

Getting the edge on competitors

To give you an edge over your competition, invest funds, time and effort in developing a website that communicates in local languages for your customers. When you use local languages with great content and visuals, optimised for search engines, you will see higher levels of profits and help your company grow.

Meanwhile, your competitors that neglect the one key aspect of translating the site will fall behind. Even if much of their furniture, software, or party items are bought locally, they should still be thinking about international visitors who reach the website and are willing to give their business a chance.

Before we go any further, let’s be clear why we are talking about localisation, not just translation when it comes to your website.

Website localisation involves:
  • Adapting content to international or regional audiences
  • Ensuring cultural compatibility
  • Adapting images, colours, and icons, where necessary
  • Adjusting layout to accommodate content
  • Conversion of units of measure and currencies
  • Adapting local formats (phone numbers, dates, etc.)
  • Complying with local legislation
  • Localisation and linguistic testing

 

What Eurotranslate can do for your online business success

For the last two years Eurotranslate has been working with Pelatis Online and receiving in-depth training to develop the digital skills essential for the localisation and optimisation of websites. Combined with the specialist translation skills they already had, Eurotranslate now has a highly skilled team that can also translate your website content and improve search optimisation and user engagement.

Website translation projects have produced dramatic growth in visitor traffic and increased conversions to customers for our clients.

Every website localisation project is a potential mine field of administrative tasks, quality management, timelines, consistency, juggling multiple tasks and people. However, this is where the professional translation agency comes in – not simply providing  high-quality localisation services, but also a comprehensive turnkey solution which leaves your website-related headaches well out of sight and out of mind.

  • We’ll climb the mountain for you

Eurotranslate will make this huge task manageable, as we are experienced in handling all localisation, optimisation and user engagement work, even for multiple languages at the same time, as well as quality controls, workflows and many other painstaking tasks.

  • Single source of all branding standards

We will also manage your terminology effectively, as it goes without saying that your branding needs to be consistent across all the languages, as well as product or service-related terms. The creation and management of term-bases and translation memories is what any good agency would provide as a service. Eurotranslate will ensure that all the translators and reviewers are aware of your standards, and will keep them consistent throughout the whole website, across all the languages.

  • Media handling

Think about ALL the possible content: don’t stop at just the website text. Do you have explainer videos, mobile apps, manuals or e-learning content? Anything that is customer-oriented needs to be consistently and thoroughly localised!

Eurotranslate has invested in these digital skills to ensure we are able to handle all of your media, including different file formats, types of translation, and additional services, such as voiceovers, subtitling, and similar.

Letting the experts handle multimedia localisation is not just economically expedient, it also ensures that the work is done according to high standards making it stress-free for you!

Why should Eurotranslate be your translation partner?

When asked about this, our founder and Managing Director Tina Zucko said:

“Reputation, dependability and experience are just some of the things that our clients have come to rely on.  Our desire to be the best is supported by continuous improvement, developing the skills of our translation teams and specialisations in industry sectors with translators who come from those market sectors, understanding the industry and the terminology that makes them the perfect team member for our growing company.”

Don’t just take our word for it – look at the comments our clients have made about us.

Visit our website and contact us to discuss your website translation and localisation project.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Eurotranslate UK

A full-service translation agency specialising in the languages of the Balkans and South Eastern Europe, translation and localisation from the major world languages in the IT, marketing, medical, legal and technology industries. From legal certification to marketing and websites, Eurotranslate is here to help your company communicate with your customers in this expanding economic region.

 

 

 

ORDER TRANSLATIONS & SAVE TIME AND MONEY 5 GOOD REASONS TO USE CAT TOOLS

There are more and more Computer-assisted Translation (CAT) tools available on the market nowadays and most of them work in a similar way – but, on the other hand, some translators and translation agencies are still hesitant to use them.

Let’s start by making one thing clear: CAT tools are NOT machine translation tools. Assisted translation is not automated translation. As the name clearly implies, they are tools used by translators to help speed up the translation process, increase productivity, reduce costs and turnaround times and, very importantly, to ensure consistency – but NOT to translate instead of them.

One of the most important features of all CAT tools is the ability to create and manage a translation memory (TM). All translated text is stored in this memory, and it keeps accumulating during the ongoing translation process, which lets the translator check, compare and reuse stored content.

There are many practical features and benefits of using CAT tools, so let’s look at the main ones:

CONSISTENCY

Whether it’s a brochure, a manual, a website or a blog post – consistency of communication across all content is a priority for a brand. This is where CAT tools come in handy and allow us to check specific phrases across the board, as matching text that has already been translated during the translation process is presented to the translator. This is also important during the review process so that the second translator can keep maintaining this consistency.

MONEY SAVING

Use of a specific Translation Memory for a particular client or a brand means that over time, as the TM grows, and this is especially the case for clients who have vast quantities of text translated, the level of repeated content increases. The more repeated content there is the more evident the decreases in cost become.

In addition, when a specific document is updated with new text, there is no need to translate everything from scratch – as the TM will bring up the previous versions of the translation of the document.

QUALITY

Most CAT tools have built-in quality assurance features, such as auto-correct, grammar check, missing or misplaced tags, number check, terminology consistency check and formatting check. These allow the translators and editors to make sure all issues that would otherwise go unnoticed during revision are not missed (extra spaces, for example, which are not always easily visible, especially in large volumes of text).

REDUCED TURNAROUND TIME

International business translation often demands quick turnaround times without compromising on quality. In this context, CAT tools are a great aid because, as the translator works through new content, the software uses the existing TM to suggest previous translations which are similar and only require minor editing to match the new content. This allows for increased productivity on the translator’s side without having to waste valuable time manually going back and cross-referencing previously translated documents.

When it comes to teamwork, CAT tools are invaluable, as they allow linguists to work with multiple files as a team with multiple members. Another benefit is that the editor can work on the same file as the translator, just a few sentences behind, reducing the turnaround time immensely.

MULTIPLE SOURCE FILES

Every CAT tool can be used to work with a large variety of file formats. This is especially helpful when translating websites, desktop publishing files and software with difficult, non-standard file formats. Some CAT tools are capable of filtering out formatting and other tags (such as HTML, XML, or design programs like Adobe InDesign) that are critical for the final document but unnecessary for the translator.

In conclusion, one of the characteristics of a professional translation agency is use of such technology to provide high quality, consistent translations which meet their clients’ requirements, while saving them time and money in the long run.

Next time you require translation, why not ask your language service provider about the CAT tools they use?

THE INTERPRETER GETS HIS SAY: INTERVIEW WITH DRAŠKO NIKODIJEVIĆ

Draško Drak Nikodijević was the first bass player and the vocalist of the iconic ‘80s band ‘Igra Staklenih Perli’ (“The Glass Bead Game”). After leaving the band, he formed The White Rabbit Band and in the late 1980s moved to the US where he worked as an interpreter for USAID, the State Department and many others, while at the same time pursuing his first love – music, and discovering others, like meditation and reiki.

While interviews about his music career are easily found, this one is about the most memorable moments of his interpreting career.

  • How did you get started in the translation business?

D: When I was a college student in Belgrade, I gave English lessons to kids and picked up translation jobs for pocket money.  Apparently, they liked my translations, so by the time I reached my senior year in college, I was already working full time as a freelance translator.

  • Why did you become an interpreter and what path did you take to get to this point in your career?

D: I never thought about working as an interpreter.  I didn’t think I could do it.  I was scared shitless of simultaneous, too.  But being a musician, I needed a “day job”, and there was a job opening at the State Department in Washington, DC. They paid well, and I needed the money. So I went to DC, got tested, and got the job.  It was a job that involved interpreting for and traveling with individuals and groups from Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia around the United States.  Also, at the time, I was living in New York City, and they needed interpreters in the courts.

I never had a business plan or anything.  I rarely advertise, and I don’t even carry business cards.  But, apparently, clients like my work and they keep calling me back.

  • How did you land your first translating/interpreting job?

D: I don’t remember my first translating job.  I remember translating “Garfield” comics, while I was still in college.  I liked that.  And my first interpreting job ever was interpreting for a Chinese delegation (accompanied by an English/Chinese interpreter) in Novi Sad.  My uncle happened to be drinking in Novi Sad one day, and he overheard someone saying they needed an English interpreter, so he volunteered his nephew (me).  That’s how I got my first big job.  That job was so frustrating.  I was so young and inexperienced, half the time I had no idea what they were talking about, so I improvised a lot.  I felt embarrassed.  A sheer nightmare!

  • What has been your biggest professional challenge?

D: Probably being in the booth for simultaneous interpreting for the first time.  My first simultaneous job was at the State Department in Washington, DC.  It was the “Washington Agreement” made between the Bosnian Croats and the Bosnian Muslims about the formation of the “Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina” in 1995 (I think).  Stipe Mesić, Silajdžič… Lots of important political figures were present there.
I was shaking.  I had no prior training and absolutely no experience in simultaneous interpreting.  My Serbian pronunciation (ekavica) rang out among all the Croats and Bosnians.  I had no idea what was going on.  I was trembling.  Fortunately, my partner was Maja Popović, a State Department veteran, who helped me enormously.  Before we started, our supervisor came to the booth, he gave me some brief instructions, and then he said, “Ok, here we go.  Don’t fuck it up now!” and he turned my mic on for me.  I was sweating bullets that day.  I realized history was in the making, and I was so nervous about doing it right.  Fortunately, Maja was there.  Nobody complained about me. I was in!

  • What has been your biggest professional reward?

D: My biggest professional reward is that I survived.  That I made it.  When I started translating and interpreting I never thought of it as a career.  I thought it was a temporary “day job” until my music career picked up, or something else happened.  And 40 plus years later I am still surviving, I am doing well financially. I’ve never ever had a “regular” job.  And for that I do feel grateful.

D: Also, in the capacity of a “State Department representative”, I had many opportunities to meet in person Native American chiefs, medicine men, judges, and tribal activists from many different tribes.  Tourists don’t get to meet any of them.  I’ve always found American Indians fascinating in many different ways.  Indians have a deep respect for interpreters.  I remember one time, I was visiting an Indian nation in Arizona with a group of people from Kosovo, with several interpreters for Serbian and Albanian, and the Chief of the tribe offered special respects to all the interpreters first, and then he greeted everyone else.  A-howgh!

D: Another time I was with this marketing guy from Belgrade; we were in North Dakota, and we managed to get on a Dakota Sioux Spirits Lake reservation and we stayed with the Medicine Man and his family for several days.  We also participated in their tribal ceremonies in underground chambers, which we were asked not to talk about.

  • What type of ethical dilemmas have you encountered as an interpreter and how did you deal with those?

D: Well, working for the State Department, most of the work is done with high-level professionals, so there are very few surprises there.  However, working as a local court interpreter in New York and New Jersey, some of those cases were a trip.
You see, most of the ex-Yugoslav immigrants in New York City are Dalmatians, coming from very poor remote islands in the Adriatic.  Many of them work as construction workers, and they never learn to speak much English, but – for communication purposes – they develop an entire vocabulary of made-up “English” words.  It took me a while to understand that “kampan” means “compound mixture” and “šidrag” is actually “sheetrock”, etc.  Also, attorneys, in their questions, like to use “legalese” terms in order to deliberately confuse the witness…. but the witness would think the interpreter is using terms they do not understand, and they would complain about the “interpretation”.  So, I quickly learned that, in order to keep working as court interpreter, I had to sort-of “modify” the attorneys’ questions, using the terms I knew Croatian witnesses understood.

  • What did you do if you were interpreting and a person said something that you did not agree with or found upsetting?

D: Oh, in my line of work I have to deal with interpreting untruths a lot.  Politicians often lie, or deliberately misconstrue facts.  But, in those situations, I think of myself as an “interpreting machine”; I focus on the quality of the interpretation and I ignore the content.

OK, so once these Albanians from Kosovo couldn’t get an Albanian interpreter, so I volunteered to step in, as long as they didn’t mind speaking Serbian.  They were a little hesitant.  I said to them, “you can say whatever you want to the Americans.  I will interpret everything fairly and accurately, but please don’t expect me to believe what you are saying.  Are we OK on that?”  So, they spoke about the Albanians being the oldest nation on the Balkans, they spoke of the Albanian dynasty “Nemanjići”, who built monasteries, before the Serbs came and destroyed everything, etc., etc.  As I had agreed to, I interpreted everything accurately, and I didn’t offer any comments.

  • How do you prepare for an interpretation session?

D: In ideal situations, I get all the materials in advance.  In less ideal situations, I try to get the name of the client, so I can go to their website and get acquainted with their business, or trade, or whatever.  Often, I get nothing in advance. Well, that’s tough!  I do what I can.  After all, I am only human.

  • Which job are you most proud of and why?

This is a long, bitter-sweet story.  It really happened.  It happened in NYC in the early ‘90s and at the time Serbia was at war with Croatia.  The war affected the immigrant community in New York, too.
So, one day I got a call from this interpreting agency.  They told me it was an unusual job: I was to go to Brooklyn, to the office of a “Mr. White” and Mr. White would explain to me what the job was about.
The following day I was in Brooklyn in front of an office with a glass door.  It said “Reginald White, Attorney-At-Law” on it.  I knocked.
A black, well-dressed gentleman opened the door.

“I am looking for Mr. White,” I said politely.
“Errrr… That would be me,” he said with a broad smile.  “Surprised?” he asked, still keeping that smile.
“Well, frankly… yes,” I admitted. We both looked at each other and we laughed out loud.

So, Mr. White explained to me that his client, this Croatian gentleman from Slavonia, had suffered work-related injuries at the railroad yards, and Mr. White had prepared a document describing how the accident happened for the workers’ compensation board.  We were to go to his client’s house, since he is injured, and my job was to read the document to his client in Croatian, and – if he agreed with the contents of the document – I was to ask him to sign it, and we’d be done.
Piece of cake, we can do that.  Let’s go!

“Also, he told me his brother was killed by the Serbs, and he hates Serbs,” added Mr.  White.  My heart sank.
“I am Serbian,” I said.
“Shit! What are we gonna do now?  He told me he does not allow Serbs into his house!”
I didn’t want to lose the gig, so I said to him: “Let’s just go there and we’ll improvise, adapt, overcome.”
We took his car to Astoria, an area of Queens where most of the Croatian immigrants live.  It took a while, but eventually we got there.  The Croatian guy was limping, moving with difficulties.  I looked at the walls of the place.  Covered with Croatian flags and pictures of the Croatian army.  There were pictures of Jesus and Virgin Mary, too.  I thought that was a good sign.

So, I interpreted the document to the guy in Serbian, using the phrases easily understood by the Croatian-speaking folks.  But I could tell he had a nervous tick every time I said “hiljadu” instead of “tisuću”.
After a while, we were done, and Mr. White and I were ready to leave.  As we were about to say goodbye, he dropped the bomb on me, “And which part of Croatia are you from?”

“I am from Belgrade”, I said.

“Aaaaaaaaah,” he started yelling, “My brother was killed by the Serbs, and who’s gonna bring my brother back, aaaaaaaaah?!”  I listened to him, without interrupting.  He was extremely upset.
“I am very sorry to hear that, sir,” I said slowly.  “You see, I lost my cousin in Vukovar, too.  We grew up together, she got married in Croatia, in Vukovar, and she died there.  Who killed her, who knows?  She is dead now.  We’re all victims of this war.”
“So, what are we going to do about that?” he said, still angry.  It seemed like, for the first time, he became aware that Serbian civilians, too, were dying in that war.
“The only thing we can do is pray to Jesus Christ, asking for this war to end soon.  That’s the only thing us mortals can do, sir!”  He just stood there.  I continued, “So, I wish you a Merry Christmas, and let’s pray for this war to end soon.”  I allowed my pain to show.
“Oh, yes, you guys are Christians, too?  Well, have a Merry Christmas, too!” he said with a tearful smile, and we almost hugged.  He walked us down the hallway, all the way to the street, limping in pain all the time, and when Mr. White and I got in the car, he just stood there, in front of the building waving goodbye to us.
“What did you say to him?” asked Mr. White, as we set off.  “At one point he was so mad I thought he was going to hit you, and then you said something to him, and the next thing, you guys are almost hugging each other!  WHAT DID YOU SAY TO HIM?”  I thought about it, and suddenly it dawned on me.  It wasn’t what I said; it was how I said it that brought about the change of heart for the better.  The guy had a go at me as a Croat to a Serb and, had I responded in the same manner, he would probably slug me.  Instead, I spoke to him from my heart, on a human-to-human level.  Fortunately, he took it and a near tragedy ended on a good note.  Mr. White liked the explanation, and said we needed more of that sort of inter-racial communication around the world.   I think all three of us learned an important lesson that day.

  • What was the worst job you were ever asked to do?

D: It was a “do-it-yourself” manual on how to build furniture.  It was badly written, full of terms I did not understand, so I had to put my tail between my legs, and call the client and say, “Sorry, I cannot do this!”  That was the only time I did not complete a job I had accepted.

  • What is the best and the worst thing about being an interpreter?

D: The best thing is traveling, getting to meet people in many different walks of life, etc.  And the worst thing for me is having to repeat what others have to say.  Most of my colleagues do not have the same problem, but that’s the worst part for me.

  • As an interpreter you have to understand at least two cultures well. Do you have any interesting experience of where those cultures clash/see things differently and can you give us any examples?

D: Yes, understanding different cultures is a responsibility.  For instance, once I was interpreting for this Bosnian politician.  He was in a meeting with this lady in Portland, Oregon.  At one point in the conversation, he goes, “In my country, a fat old woman, such as yourself, would never get a job.”  I turned to him and I said in Serbian “I am not going to interpret this, please rephrase your thoughts.  I will explain later.”  Fortunately, he agreed, and a major cultural disaster was thereby avoided.

Or, this Montenegrin journalist telling me to ask the waiter for bread –  in a Chinese restaurant!  I refused.

  • What are your thoughts on being handed the speaker’s text just minutes before you have to start interpreting his speech? How do you approach it?

D: I feel grateful.  Most often I don’t get the text at all.

  • What’s your funniest interpreting story?

D: Life is brutally expensive in NYC, so, as a rule, you never turn down a paying job.  I sometimes even took offers for court depositions in Macedonian (hoping they would understand Serbian).  I never killed a job.  It is “improvise, adapt, overcome”, and before you know it, the deposition is over.
So, once I went to Staten Island to interpret for this lady in Macedonian.  Most Macedonians understand Serbian a little, while some speak it fluently.  This lady, on the contrary, did not speak a single word of Serbian, and I only understand a few words in Macedonian.  Houston, we have a problem!  I explained to the attorneys that we have “slight linguistic differences”, but everyone wanted to get that deposition done that day, so we went ahead.  This Macedonian lady had had a traffic accident, driving without a license, and on top of that, she was illegal in the US.  So, the prosecutor asked, “How did the accident happen?” and the lady went on to explain how this “trokot” came out of nowhere.  What the hell is a “trokot?” I was thinking.  It occurred to me that “ot” is probably an article in Macedonian, but what is “trok” then?  My mind was racing for a solution.  Suddenly, it dawned on me that “trok” is probably a derivative of “truck”, so I decided to give it a shot.  “A truck came out of nowhere”, I said.  “What kind of a truck?” the prosecutor asked.  “Kakav trokot?” I translated the question back to the Macedonian lady.  She looked at me, dead serious, and said, “eden golem trokot”.  I thought it was very funny, but I had to keep a poker face.

  • Any memorable interpreting jobs you might want to share with us?

D: Once, around the turn of the century, I had a job escorting a group of people from Serbia, who were on a cultural mission.  Since they all spoke English, my job was to drive them from one meeting to the other, and we visited museums, opera houses, performance spaces, concerts, etc., all over the United States.  And I was getting paid for it.

  • Where do music and interpretation meet? Can they co-exist together?

D: In my life, music and interpreting balance each other out.  As a musician, a stage performer, I ride on my own ego, and I allow my creative side to manifest itself.  At the same time, as an interpreter, I have to put my ego in the back seat. I swallow my pride and keep on repeating what others have to say.

But, in both roles I am also a shaman.  A shaman’s job is to interpret the “other” world to those who do not see it or understand it.  As a musician, I interpret the world of the invisible, and as an interpreter I interpret cultures (and political opinions).

  • What advice would you give to an up and coming interpreter?

D: The same advice my supervisor gave to me on my first day of work.  He said, there are two types of interpreters in this world: amateurs and professionals.  Both make mistakes.  But amateurs, when they make their first mistake, they fall apart, they are done.  Professionals, on the other hand, also make mistakes, they also fall apart sometimes…. but they pick up at the beginning of the next sentence and move on.  No big deal.  Just keep going, don’t stop, and you’ll do fine.

WHY INVESTING IN SERBIA PAYS OFF?

Recently, Siemens Austria Mobility CEE Arnulf Wolfram, who took part in the conference of Financial Times and the Western Balkans Chamber Investment Forum, pointed out that investments in the region, especially in Serbia, paid off.

He said that Siemens’ experiences in the region, especially in Serbia, were positive and that he could recommend to investors to invest in the region. He pointed out that there was a good supply of a highly educated workforce in the region and that the local political structures supported inward investment.

Since the onset of economic reforms, Serbia has grown into one of the premier investment locations in Central and Eastern Europe. A list of leading foreign investors is topped by world-class companies and banks such as Bosch, Michelin, Siemens, Panasonic, NCR, Yura, Magna, Continental, Calzedonia, Eaton, Stada, Falke, FCA, Swarovski, Ball Packaging, Sitel, Microsoft, Gorenje, Schneider Electric, Geox, Tarkett, Johnson Controls, Johnson Electric, Leoni, and many others.

Exports and imports

Serbia is the 76th largest export economy in the world. The top exports of Serbia are cars, electrical parts, insulated wire, and machinery, tyres, frozen fruits, vegetables, nuts and metals.

Its top imports are vehicle parts, crude petroleum, petroleum gas, refined petroleum and packaged medications.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs)

Serbia is a country whose economy is in full expansion and in 2015 FDI reached EUR 1.8 billion.

EU countries are the main exporters of FDI’s given that 80% FDI’s came from the EU. FDI mainly targeted the following sectors: manufacturing, trade, real estate and logistics, financial mediation.

Since the year 2000, Serbia has attracted more than EUR 27 billion of foreign direct investments and grown into one of the premier investment locations in Central and Eastern Europe. A list of leading foreign investors is topped by world-class companies and banks such as FIAT, Telenor, Stada, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Delhaize, Michelin, Gazprom, Bosch, Siemens and Intesa Sanpaolo, among others.

Chinese investments

Besides investments from the European Union, the Serbian infrastructure, electric power, food, telecom and automotive sectors are attracting attention from Chinese investors as well.

In 2014, the Serbian government announced that China National Electric Engineering Co. (CNEEC) publicised plans to invest in Serbia.

During 2016, consortium consisting of CNEEC and Scarborough group signed a contract worth EUR 230 million on building a power plant in Serbia.

In 2017, Mei Ta Group, Chinese producer of automotive parts, finished the construction of production plant as a part of their 60 million EUR investment in Serbia.

Additionally, several Chinese construction companies are currently executing infrastructure projects in Serbia as part of Chinese Government’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including a EUR 302 million section of the Corridor 11 Highway constructed by Shandong Hi-Speed Group, a EUR 208 million section of the Corridor 11 Highway constructed by China Communications Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC), and a 350 million USD section of Belgrade-Budapest Railway built by China Railway International and CCCC, on which works started in November 2017.

Chinese construction companies are also seen as probable contractors for several other infrastructure projects.

As the first country in Central and Eastern Europe to introduce visa-free regime for Chinese nationals in January 2017, and one of the most active members of 16+1 format, Serbia has taken the lead in promoting cooperation with China and attracting Chinese investments.

UAE Investments

The most significant capital investment in Belgrade that was initiated in 2014 and started in 2016 represents projects between the Serbian Government and Eagle Hills, a private investment and development company from the United Arab Emirates. Investment includes the building of office space and luxury real estates, five-star hotels and a shopping mall, estimated to be worth EUR 3.5 billion.

According to World Investment Reports at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Serbia attracted some EUR 1.8 billion of foreign direct investment inflows in 2015, becoming one of the top 5 host transition economies in 2014 and 2015, and the best performer in Southeast Europe in 2015 and 2016.

The Reports also showed that in 2015 Serbia was the only destination country in the SEE region with announced Greenfield FDI projects and the country with above average share of mixed (domestic-foreign) joint ventures.

Ease of doing business

According to the World Bank Group report, ease of doing business index, Serbia changed from 68 for year 2014 to 43 for year 2018, and shows improving business conditions, especially with respect to increase of business-friendly regulations.

The net inflow of FDI in the first nine months of 2018 amounted to EUR 1.6 billion, which represents an increase of 12.6% compared to the same period in 2017. Accounting for 10% of the Serbian export, around 14% of value of foreign investments and employing more than 40,000 workers, making the automotive industry the most important industrial sector in Serbia today.

Over the past ten years, service sectors have proven to be the most attractive to international investors. Banking and insurance recorded the largest FDI inflow of EUR 5 billion. Manufacturing industries held the 2nd spot with EUR 4.8 billion, followed by wholesale, retail and repair of motor vehicles and real estate activities.

To find out more, here’s the official document on Investing in Serbia by the Development Agency of Serbia.

About Eurotranslate UK

Investing in Serbia is, according to this report, a profitable venture.

To ensure that you are communicating effectively with your partners in Serbia, Eurotranslate UK can provide translation and interpreting services for your communications, legal and marketing documents.

Confidential, sector specialist in-country interpreters can be arranged for meetings with potential partners.

For further information in the UK please contact us on 02071935042 or in Serbia on 0113149617

Welcome, Nigel!

We are proud to welcome a new addition to our team, our new Business Development Ambassador, Nigel T Packer.

We can only be honoured that someone so proficient, experienced and young in spirit will be representing Eurotranslate UK, and helping us develop new business relationships with the clients in various fields, from legal to medical and engineering.

We are hopeful that with Nigel’s fresh ideas, knowledge and enthusiasm, we will soon reach new heights!

We are very glad to have you with us, Nigel, and look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship.

DOCTOR KNOWS BEST

DIAGNOSIS: TRANSLATION

Article published on EUATC NEWS

At #t9n conferences people are usually surprised when I say I’m a medical doctor. They always ask me how I ended up in the translation industry.

When it comes to those interesting journeys in life, they are all marked by the fact that you never end up where you started, and never as planned.

But as we all know, it’s not about the destination, it’s all about the journey.

My Journey

Starting my secondary education, I knew, as much as a 14-year-old can know, that I wanted to be an army pilot, a geneticist or a medical doctor, but working in a translation agency was never on my radar. Finishing vocational medical high school, I wanted to test out ever more different professions, but medicine was a course already mapped out for me, so I followed it, only to find myself in the freshmen years of medical studies in front of a crowd of international guests at an event organized by an NGO delivering training sessions in English.

Whilst I was interested in linguistics and foreign languages, I never saw it as a career goal at that point. One day, accidently, a proofreading task of a medical document landed on my desktop. While combing through the translation, I realised that it would have been easier if I had translated it from scratch myself. I had made so many changes in the file that, when the translation agency called me back, the only thing on my mind was: ‘What the heck did I do wrong?’ Turned out: nothing. Quite the contrary!

And the rest is history…

Course of disease

I had great fun translating and editing medical translations as a student, and freelancing was a great addition to my student budget, but still I did not consider entering the field professionally. I started working as a doctor, became an anesthesiology resident, all the while freelancing as a medical translator. I wouldn’t refuse a single translation task as I enjoyed the work immensely.

I was learning a lot along the way about linguistics, while gaining new skills and conquering various mountains of specialised software, as well as medicine – and most importantly, about myself.

The two separate interests in my life in the end merged and took me down this new path and, as it usually happens, things started snowballing and one thing led to another. So, today I find myself head of the Life Sciences Department in an international translation company.

Treatment recommendations

I often get asked what it takes to be a good medical translator and what is more important: having a medical background or a linguistic one. This industry-old chicken and egg question, as my own history suggests, has no simple and definitive answer. What I can say, however, is this: whether you are a medical doctor looking to switch to translations, or a translator looking to specialise in medical translation, you need to be ready to learn a lot, and have an active, passionate and long-standing interest in both fields.

Conclusion

In the end, there is more than one way to help and heal someone, and it is not always confined to the doctor’s office. In my case, my ‘treatments’ apply to the various documents which are all, in the end, aimed at helping numerous patients worldwide in difficult situations.

 

Author: Aleksandra Bankovic, Head of Eurotranslate Life Sciences Department

Aleksandra is a medical doctor, with extensive experience in the field of medical translations, leading the Life Sciences Department with passion, dedication and determination, well-known and loved for tackling the most difficult of situations with a great sense of humour, generosity and amazing attention to detail.

Eurotranslate

A full-service translation agency specialising in the languages of the Balkans and South Eastern Europe, translation and localisation from the major world languages in the medical, legal and technology industries. From legal certification to marketing and websites, Eurotranslate is here to help your company communicate with your customers in this expanding economic region.

When it comes to medical translation, speak to us about our medical translators, we are very proud of them, as doctors and clinicians and as translators.