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Website Translation - Part 3 - Licensing

Nathalie Schon - Professional Website Translation

If you have professional photography on your website you will be familiar with the concept of licensing creative product.  Although on reflection it makes perfect sense, I was initially surprised to hear that it works the same way for a creative translation.

Here Nath Schon of  Office Magenta  takes us through the basic differences and what you should watch  out for:

What is the difference between buying a translation and licensing a translation?

Translations not involving creation (mostly technical translation) are sold to the client. After payment, he/she can use it freely as often as he/she wants.

In the case of creative translation (subtitling, literary, artistic, advertising translation...), the translation is not sold but the client gets a licence to use the translation.

So does this mean you can get royalties?

Laws are different from country to country. In France, a translator is paid for the actual translation plus he or she gets royalties as an author for each use of the translation: for example; if I subtitle a film and it is broadcast on TV on 2 occasions and published on DVD, I'll get royalties for the TV broadcasting and the DVD.

What if I want to change the translation - or make edits?

Subtitles can't be changed without the translator's authorization, which makes sense because their name is attached to it. Usually the client submits the changes to the original translator for approval.

How does it work in the US?

In the USA, the translator has less control and recognition. A lot more is left to individual negotiation. I ask my name to appear at the end of the subtitles and for final approval if the subtitles have been modified.  I had a few proofreaders ruin my translation by changing a joke so that it missed the target age group - the joke was intended for a 15 year old target group, the proofreader's change lowered the age to 10. Ouch!

Another proofreader changed a slang word, meant to reflect the language used by the Miami mob in the eighties, into a slang word used in France by local gangsters in the fifties or by today's steel factory workers to address the boss. These changes can in the worst case scenario ridicule a text/video (and a translator's reputation).

So, now you know - if you have any questions on how to go about getting your website translated into another language - give us a shout

Website Translation - Part 1

Website Translation - Part 2

Image Credit: Translator by Jeremy Brooks - Flickr

Website Translation - Part 2

As a follow up to last week's piece on website translation, we're delighted to publish a recent interview with Nathalie Schon, a professional translator from Metz, France.  Nath runs her own translation business Office Magenta and works primarily with French, German and English Tranlsations.

Having recently delivered  a website translation for a client it was fascinating to see quite how much emphasis is put on getting the cultural nuance correct for each language.  If you're serious about doing business in different languages, this is one area you can't afford to skimp on

We'll publish the final piece of the interview later on this week where we ask Nath about the differences between buying and licensing a translation and yes, there's a big difference!

How long have you been working as a professional translator?

I've been translating for about 15 years for national and international administrations, and as an in-house subtitler in Paris.

What languages do you work with?

French, German and English. I have a colleague who handles Spanish translations.

Can anyone become a translator if they are bilingual?

No, it's certainly a requirement but not enough. Translation is a very specific job. You have to write well too (advertisement, literary or artistic texts, subtitles...) and for subtitling, you need to know how to condense your translation into a set number of characters.

What schooling did you complete to become a translator?

I studied translation for my PhD in Comparative Literature.

Where is a good place to study to become a translator?

A translator school or a university offering language degrees involving the languages you are translating from and into.

What tools do you use to translate?

I use a CAT tool for technical texts. Otherwise the Office software, pdf editor, html editor, and the client's software for online translation. I can use any software the client wants me to. In that case I charge my hourly rate for the training period.

How long should a translation typically take?

Most translators can work on 1500 words per day, sometimes more, sometimes less. It really depends on the content and the file format.

What are typical pricing for translations?

Ballpark between someone just starting out and learning on the job, to someone who is professional and delivers excellent copy first time.  A normal rate would be between 0.10$ and 0.20$ a word, anything below is problematic because you can't get a good job for that rate, just like you can't get a good pair of shoes for 5$.

A good translator, whose work doesn't require proofreading, can easily ask for 0.14$ (or more, depending on the level of difficulty).  If you take a bad translator for 0.07$, a proofreader for 0.03$ and after the proofreader tells you the translation is really bad, an editor or new translator to fix the mess, you realize it would have been cheaper and more stress-free to chose the good translator right from the start.

What is your process like when working with a new client?

A client sends me an email, preferably with an excerpt of the text to translate, a word count, and a deadline. I answer within 24 hours on days I work outside of the office (I'm also an interpreter), but usually within one-two hours, with a rate and the confirmation of the deadline or propose another deadline. The client sends me a purchase order and I deliver the translation per email on the agreed deadline. My payment terms are within 30 days after delivery of the translation.

Deadlines are crucial. I hear many stories of translators working for dumping rates, who suddenly vanish when they realize they can't actually do the job; the first time the client knows about it is when the first deadline is missed.  A real translator will keep the client updated, particularly when it comes to large jobs, and will always deliver ON TIME. I only accept jobs I know I can do and I publish my fields of specialization on my website

What is the one thing you wish clients understood better about translating?

Some clients think that translation is easy and not an act of creation. I have heard very condescending things from people who don't understand the work and skills involved.

When you see how little some companies budget for translation, you see that they don't understand the devastating impact of a bad translation on their company's reputation and how an excellent translation can often increase their popularity and speak to another culture.  A good translator is also a writer and knows how to appeal to a new audience/readership, for instance, you don't speak to a German client like you would to a French one.

What is the strangest thing you have had to translate?

It was a video on schizophrenic patients and a film with very bad song rhymes!

What is the best thing about being an online translator?

The freedom to work from anywhere and the variety of the texts to translate.

What is the best way for people to get in touch with you?

Through my website: or just drop me an email:

Website Translation - Part 1

A   good content strategy is built around understanding who your customers are. This enables you to present your message in  the best way possible.  When it comes to website  text, you’d better be speaking in the primary language of your customer.

Going global?

If your customers and clients tend to be in the same region  as you are, the idea of translating your website into different languages might  seem over the top.  A quick check of your  weekly stats will show a few visits from Poland and Saudi Arabia, but they’re  unlikely to be writing checks.  However, when you consider that America has the world’s  second largest Spanish speaking population, & in places like New Mexico, Spanish  is spoken by over 40% of the people (with California not far behind,) you  start to wonder if you’re missing an opportunity.

No ghost in the machine

Technology has come a long way and there are now several  sites and plugins that will translate your site automatically for you –  fantastic – install the plugin, hit translate and voila! – Global business here  you come.


The thing about machine translation, actually, all  translation come to think of it – is that you have no idea what your site now  reads like in the foreign language.  This  is a big problem.  The reality of machine  translation nowadays is that it tends to make you sound like a three year old  on acid. 

Fish tank handbag shandy – Buy Me!

Your website is not like you on vacation where your charm  and winning ways can get you past incorrect grammar and inappropriate noun  selection.  Your website has one  opportunity to present your case and you’d better be relying on something  better than a machine – an example from Scotland:

A fire brigade leaflet produced for Strathclyde Fire and  Rescue Service offering advice on how to escape from your home.

Written in English the text read,

“Never jump straight out of a window, lower yourself onto cushions”

This was translated into Urdu, the result was very  interesting. It read…

“Never jump out of a window straight. Put yourself on a  donkey and come down.”

(Courtesy of Le Blog)

You get what you pay for

It is better to have no translation than one that presents you  as an idiot.  If you’re thinking of  offering your site in a different language because it is cheap to do, stop.  Translation is a very human skill and as a result,  you get what you pay for.  Cultural  nuances aside, grammar and spelling are just as important regardless of what  language you present in;  are you sure  your assistant's second cousin who has been to Mexico is going to nail all that?

We recently launched a French version of a site we did for  an international US corporation who wanted to consolidate their UK, French and  Czech businesses.  Although the French site  used exactly the same architecture and code, it took several additional weeks to  deliver due to linguistically derived modifications to the page text.   Sometimes things that look good and read well  in one language just don’t, literally, translate.

Work with Professionals

We recently had the pleasure of spending some time with Nathalie  Schon, a professional translator with expertise in English, French, German and  Italian.  Originally from Metz, France,  Nath manages to move round the world, working remotely for companies like Sony  as she translates their movies from the beach in Hawaii.  Our next two posts on translation will cover  a recent interview we did with Nath on the challenges of website translation.

Make us laugh

Got any insane translation cock-ups you want to share –  leave them in the comments below.

Adding Your Business To Yelp Is Easy

What kind of a business turns down ½ a billion dollars?

For local business owners who think that social networking is a fad and that sites like Facebook and Yelp are childish nonsense that have nothing to do with their business, this is your wake up call. Last week Facebook beat Google as the number 1 most visited website and back in December Yelp turned down a Google buyout of $500 million (and apparently later rejected another offer of $750M from a different party.)

The success of these sites is the clearest indicator yet that if you are not actively working the online space – you losing out. Yes we know there are only so many hours in the day and yes we know some of you can barely type, but to be in business in 2010 means you need these skills.

A while back we did a simple walk through on how to add your business to Google Local Business and we thought it might be fun to do the same for Yelp. Of course you can have us do this for you, we’ll work with you to get the right language, imagery, etc, etc – but if you’ve got the time – it’s pretty easy – here you go:

So first off - get yourself to the Yelp Business Home Page - you'll find it right here - - and it looks like this. Watch the video if you have time or go ahead and click "Get A Business owner Account"

Yelp Business Owners - Find Your Business on yelp

Here's where you type in the name of your business and the city - if you're well established it is likely that someone has already entered your business into Yelp - at that point you can "Claim" your business - but that's a tutorial for another time (it's pretty much the same as this though!) Anyway - go ahead and see if you're already in there

Yelp Business Owners - Find Your Business on yelp

If Yelp can't find you they'll suggest a few options - I kinda like the idea of tilted chaos - still - if nothing recognizeable appears - then click on the "Having trouble finding your business?" link

Yelp Business Owners - Find Your Business on yelp

..and you'll arrive on this nice entry form - enter your details using your business email address

Yelp Business Owners - Add Your Business on Yelp

And voila - you arrive here and your Business page is almost ready to be published, but Yelp needs to confirm your email addresss but this part of the process is pretty quick so by the time you go to your inbox you ashould already have...

Yelp Business Owners - Business ready To be published

This email - click the link and you arrive back at Yelp and your page has been created. But what next?

Yelp Business Owners - Verify Your  Email

If you read the above email again you'll see that the Yelp customer support team has to review your submission before you can claim your page and start editing it. So - you have to wait.

If you're lucky the following email will arrive within 30 minutes - but it can take longer - the last two we set up took 5 minutes.

Yelp Business Owners - Claim Business Page Email

So - having clicked on the link - you arrive here. In order to edit your Yelp Business page - you need a Yelp Business Account (it's free) and takes less than a minute to set up.

Yelp Business Owners - Set up Your Yelp Business owners Account Page

It's quite simple - you fill in the following form using your business email address and once again Yelp will send you a confirmation email which will take you to..

Yelp Business Owners - Set up Your Yelp Business owners Account Page

Ta Da! - You've created the page and now you have access to it. So it's time to get busy adding your information

Yelp Business Owners - Congratulations Page

Next comes a series of 6 screens where you get to enter information about your business, your logo, descriptions of what you do and how you do it as well as some info about you - the person behind the business. Seeing as business is all about time it seems fitting that the first screen is about your opening hours....

Right - we'd love it so that business hours are only 9 to 5 - hell - if you can get away with it - good luck to you. The strange thing about this page is that even though you will enter them here - for some reason the system doesn't take it and you will need to enter them again at the end of the process - so - don't worry too much about getting them in here - move on...

Yelp Business Owners - Business Hours Page

This is our favorite part of the whole Yelp business page - you can put an offer right in front of your reviewers - how cool is that. If you can - make it special to just your Yelp customers - i.e. - if you're reading this on Yelp and you come in and say the magic codeword (which today is Bananas) you'll get 20% of your check - try it out - you'd be amazed at the loyalty this kind of tool creates.

Yelp Business Owners - Offer Page

This is your elevator speech - you know - the one where you have a couple of sentences to say really succintly what it is you do and how you do it. Don't be over the top - you are writing for one person only - the person reading this page - you may be the best but really - there's so much over exaggerated crap that nobody is believable anymore - write the basics and let your customers and reviewers say that you're the best - capiche?

Yelp Business Owners - Business Specialties Page

You need a Square image - any size will do - but it has to be square. Load up as many as you like - maybe a few shots of happy smiley customers or you handing a big check to charity - that kind of thing.

Yelp Business Owners - Business Photos Page

Does the President use your services? This is where you choose to share that (or not!) make it relevant and avoid the hyperbole - write as if you were speaking to someone face to face - and for god's sake be honest!

Yelp Business Owners - Business History Page

Here's where you get to upload your smiling face - and yes - we strongly recommend that you have a picture of yourself. Icons and branding are great for business identity but this bit is about you and you have to appear human (even if you're really an evil cyborg.) Whatever your personality is - make sure it comes across in the text - if you're not a big talker - leave it very business focused - what skills have you learned along the way that will influence a reader to use your services - if you're a crazy gregarious person - let it rip - share as much of yourself as you are comfortable with.

Yelp Business Owners - Business owner's Bio Page

You will finally arrive on the following page. Annoyingly enough it isn't quite 100% complete - for some reason you have to go back and add your hours again. Not quite sure why it doesn't take it earlier - but there you go!

Yelp Business Owners - Summary Page

So - having added your hours - you can finally go and check out your new Yelp Business owner's Page:

Yelp Business Owners - Complete Business Page


Not exactly rocket science but it helps if you have all your information ready and in one place. And of course, if you're thinking strategically - you will be using the same information and visual branding across all of your social media sites.

having set up your Yelp page you now need to make an active effort to check it regularly and to respond to customers - again - more on that another time.

Kilted Chaos - Colorado

Kilted Chaos - Los Angeles

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