Saturday, May 21, 2011

Apostilă şi supralegalizare

Începând cu data de 1 noiembrie 2004 au devenit aplicabile dispoziţiile Legii nr. 142/2004 privind modificarea articolului 2 din Ordonanţa Guvernului nr. 66/1999 pentru aderarea României la Convenţia cu privire la suprimarea cerinţei supralegalizării actelor oficiale străine, adoptată la Haga la 5 octombrie 1961.
Apostilarea actelor care intrau în competenta Ministerului Afacerilor Externe – Direcţia Relaţii Consulare (certificat de căsătorie, certificat de naştere, certificat de deces, certificat de cazier judiciar, adeverinţe prin care se atestă domiciliul şi cetăţenia persoanei, actele de studii, adeverinţe medicale, certificate de botez, cununie, adeverinţe prin care se atestă vechimea în muncă, adeverinţe de calificare în diverse meserii), se va efectua de către prefecturi. Copiile şi traducerile actelor, legalizate la notar, se vor apostila de către Curţile de Apel.
Prin înţelegeri bilaterale sunt scutite de legalizarea actelor cetăţenii din: Albania, China, R.P.D. Coreeană, Republica Moldova şi Polonia. Menţionăm că aceste ţări nu sunt părţi la Convenţia de la Haga.
Actele se apostilează pentru ţările membre ale Convenţiei de la Haga: Albania, Africa de Sud, Andorra, Antigua şi Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaidjan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgia, Belize, Belarus, Bosnia – Herţegovina, Botswana, Brunei, Bulgaria, Columbia, Croaţia, Cipru, Cehia, Estonia, Elveţia, El Salvador, Fidji, Finlanda, Franţa, Germania, Grecia, Irlanda, Israel, Italia, Iugoslavia, Japonia, Kazahstan, Lituania, Letonia, Lesoto, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, F.R.I.Macedonia, Malawi, Malta, M. Britanie şi Irlanda de Nord, Insula Marshal, Mexic, Namibia, Norvegia, Niue, Noua Zeelandă, Olanda, Panama, Portugalia, România, Rusia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Slovacia, Slovenia, Spania, Surinam, Swaziland, Suedia, Tonga, Trinidad, Tobago, Turcia, SUA, Ucraina, Ungaria, Venezuela.
Actele se pot prezenta pentru apostilare sau legalizare personal sau prin mandatar (pe bază de procură notarială).
Actele se pot prezenta pentru aplicarea apostilei personal sau prin mandatar (pe baza de procură notarială sau procură întocmită la o Ambasadă ori misiune diplomatică romanească).
Apostila se aplică pe actul original. Dacă pe actul pe care urmează să fie aplicată apostila nu este suficient loc, se va ataşa o alonjă pe care se aplică şi se completează apostila, iar pentru documentele înfoliate apostila se aplică pe un autocolant alb.
După verificarea documentelor depuse, se va proceda la aplicarea apostilei şi completarea acesteia. Activitatea de aplicare a apostilei se efectuează de către Secretarul general al Instituţiei Prefectului.
Actele pe care se poate aplica apostila sunt:
  • certificate de naştere, în original, emise după 1996;
  • certificate de căsătorie, în original, emise după 1996;
  • certificate de deces, în original, emise după 1996. (Notă: actele de stare civilă emise înainte de 1996 trebuie schimbate cu altele noi. Schimbarea se face la oficiile care le-au eliberat pe cele vechi.)
  • certificate de cazier judiciar, în original, eliberate cu cel mult 30 zile în urmă, de la secţia de poliţie în care domiciliază solicitantul sau de la Inspectoratul General al Poliţiei Române, Şos. Ştefan cel Mare nr. 13-15, sector 2, Bucureşti;
  • adeverinţe prin care se atestă domiciliul şi cetăţenia persoanei sau statutul juridic faţă de statul roman, în original, eliberate de formaţiunile judeţene de evidentă informatizată a persoanei, respectiv Inspectoratul Naţional pentru Evidenţa Persoanelor, str. Obcina Mare nr. 2, sector 6, Bucureşti, telefon: 413.54.42;
  • actele de studii, în original, vizate în prealabil de ministerul emitent;
  • adeverinţe medicale, în original, vizate în prealabil la Ministerul Sănătăţii, str. Cristian Popişteanu nr. 1-3, sector 1, Bucureşti, telefon: 313.75.01;
  • certificate de botez / cununie, în original, vizate în prealabil de direcţia Judeţeană pentru cultură, culte şi patrimoniul cultural naţional, respectiv a municipiului Bucureşti, str. Nicolae Filipescu nr. 40, sector 2, telefon: 211.81.16;
  • adeverinţe prin care se atestă vechimea în muncă, vizate în prealabil de Casa Naţională de Pensii şi alte Drepturi de Asigurări Sociale, serviciul de specialitate din str. George Vanca nr. 9, sector 1, Bucureşti;
  • adeverinţe de calificare în diferite meserii, în original, vizate în prealabil de Ministerului Muncii, Solidarităţii Sociale şi Familiei – Direcţia Generală Forţă de Muncă, str. Dem. I. Dobrescu nr. 2-4, sector 1, Bucureşti, telefon: 311.02.02;
  • certificate de origine a mărfurilor, vizate în prealabil de Camera de Comerţ şi Industrie a României şi a Municipiului Bucureşti sau camerele de comerţ şi industrie judeţene, după caz;
  • facturi comerciale, vizate în prealabil de Camera de Comerţ şi Industrie a României şi a Municipiului Bucureşti sau camerele de comerţ şi industrie judeţene, după caz;
SUPRALEGALIZAREA
Actele oficiale, îndeosebi traducerile legalizate notarial pentru a putea fi folosite în străinătate sunt supuse procedurii supralegalizării spre a li se garanta autenticitatea semnăturilor şi a sigiliului. Prin supralegalizare se previne astfel falsificarea actelor oficiale întocmite de autorităţile unui stat şi care produc efecte juridice pe teritoriul altui stat. Deci, actele notariale care vor fi folosite în străinătate, în ţările nemembre Convenţiei de la Haga, trebuie sa fie supralegalizate de Ministerul Justiţiei şi Ministerul Afacerilor Externe, în această ordine. După îndeplinirea acestor operaţiuni între instituţiile statului, actul notarial este supus supralegalizării la misiunea diplomatică sau oficiul consular străin din România.
Aceeaşi procedură se aplica şi pentru actele notariale îndeplinite de un notar străin pentru a fi folosite în România.
În dreptul intern, această procedură este prevăzută de art. 162 din Legea nr. 105/1992 cu privire la reglementarea raporturilor de drept internaţional privat, care stabileşte că documentele oficiale întocmite sau legalizate de către o autoritate străină pot fi folosite în fata instanţelor române numai dacă sunt supralegalizate, pe cale administrativ-ierarhică şi în continuare de misiunile diplomatice sau oficiile consulare ale Românie, spre a li se garanta astfel autenticitatea semnăturilor şi sigiliului.

Reasons Why Clients Want a Translation Discount…

You must give us a discount…
  1. …because we are a new client.
  2. …because we are an old client.
  3. …because this job is for a new client.
  4. …because this job is for an old client.
  5. …because last time you gave us a discount.
  6. …because last time you didn't give us a discount.
  7. …because you always give us a discount.
  8. …because you never give us a discount.
  9. …because the other guy who translated for us always gave us a discount.
  10. …because everybody else gives us a discount.
  11. …because if you want to work for us you must give us a discount.
  12. …because if you don't give us a discount we will have to look for another translator.
  13. …because you will make up for the discount in future jobs.
  14. …because it is a big job, months of guaranteed work.
  15. …because it is a small job and you will make a quick buck.
  16. …because you can squeeze it into whatever you are doing now and do it in a moment-and it will be extra money you were not even counting on.
  17. …because it is a simple job of a type you have done dozens of times.
  18. …because it is something short you can do over the weekend.
  19. …because it is an easy text.
  20. …because it is a subject you are very familiar with.
  21. …because it is a subject you are not very familiar with and your "expert rate" will not apply.
  22. …because it is a subject you are not familiar with and thus a great opportunity for you to enter a new field that will bring you a lot of work in the future.
  23. …because it is just like something you did two years ago.
  24. …because we are going to send you several hundred pages' worth of reference files where you can find all the terminology you will ever need.
  25. …because we are going to send you glossary you can search for words you don't know.
  26. …because we are going to send you a TM you can search for words you don't know.
  27. …because you will use our proprietary CAT tool which you will simply love.
  28. …because it is a very interesting text.
  29. …because you've never done something like this.
  30. …because it is a non-technical text. Just plain yadayada.
  31. …because it is a technical text. No need to worry about style or yadayada.
  32. …because it is just for information. No need to worry about style or yadayada.
  33. …because we just want a summary, the gist of it. You do not even have to translate it all: just summarize what is important.
  34. …because it is already in PowerPoint format, you just have to overwrite the source text.
  35. …because it is already in Excel format, you just have to overwrite the source text.
  36. …because it is already in .pdf format, you just have to overwrite the source text.
  37. …because it has already been translated by our people here and you just have to give it a look to see whether something escaped them.
  38. …because a good part of it has already been translated and you only have to fill in the gaps and have a look at what the other people have done, to see whether something escaped them.
  39. …because my secretary could do it herself, but she is too busy to handle it now.
  40. …because my sister could do it herself, but she is too busy to handle it now.
  41. …because I could do it myself, but am just too busy too busy to handle it now.
  42. …because we have already had this translated, the translation was horrible and we had to junk it, but we had to pay the translator all the same and now we are out of funds for this project.
  43. …because we will send you a copy of the translation we had to junk, so that you can see what can be saved.
  44. …because this is a job for a client and they already know someone who charges less than you but we want you to do the job because we trust your work.
  45. …because this is a job for a client and one of our guys has already given the client an estimate and now we cannot tell the client it is more than we had said.
  46. …because this job will not be charged to a client, it is for our firm.
  47. …because this is not for the Company. It is my CV, and I am leaving.
  48. …because this is not for profit: it is just something I need for my doctoral thesis.
  49. …because we want you to do the job, but there is a new policy here and we now have to assign jobs to the lowest bidder and our purchasing department has found a firm in Country X…
  50. …because the exchange rate has moved against us.
  51. …because the exchange rate has moved in your favor.
  52. …because this is a low-priority, low-budget project.
  53. …because we are on a tight budget for this job.
  54. …because we already have two estimates for this job: a guy who wants ten and another who will do it for eight; we cannot even think of doing it for twelve.
  55. …because we have already overrun our budget.
  56. …because we are building a new wing for our corporate headquarters and that is costing us more than we expected and we have to preserve cash.
  57. …because we already have an internal cost estimate for this job and it is a lot lower than that.
  58. …because my boss thinks translation is very simple work and will never agree to pay that much.
  59. …because if I tell my boss this is the price of a translation he will kill me.
  60. …because the total price exceeds my approval authority and I will have to submit the quote to my boss-who will never approve it.
  61. …because there is someone who will do it for less. Much less.
  62. …because we are looking to a translator who will do this for a maximum of $100. Of course, for our next assignment in your pair…
  63. …because we are located in Country X, where rates are much lower than in your country.
  64. …because this was outsourced by an agency located in Country X, where rates are much lower than here and there is nothing we can do.
  65. …because we know what rates are in your country.
  66. …because it is a huge project, including 25 languages in all and we had to bid low.
  67. …because it was a cutthroat bid, against people who debase the market and underpay their translators and we had no alternative.
  68. …because it is for a new client and we had to bid low to win the guys from the guys who worked for them.
  69. …because this is for an old client and we had to bid low or lose them to the competition.
  70. …because this is for one of our oldest clients and we have not had the courage to increase our prices.
  71. …because this job is for an old friend who always gets a special deal from us.
  72. …because we are in a crisis.
  73. …because this particular client is in a crisis.
  74. …because we are still feeling the negative effects of the latest crisis.
  75. …because this particular client is still feeling the negative effects of the latest crisis.
  76. …because there is a crisis looming in the horizon.
  77. …because there is a crisis looming in the horizon for this particular client.
  78. …because, please, see what you can do for us.
  79. …because… because… just because, man!

How do you Deal with Requests for Discounts?

Most translators—including us—don't like to be asked for discounts.
We argue that people who don't bargain at the supermarket checkout counter or at a restaurant will readily and happily try to extract a discount from a translator, using a number of silly excuses, including the 79 listed in our previous article for the Translation Journal. Many translators feel that those requests for discounts reflect the low image our clients have of our profession.
On the other hand, the same people who will not bargain at the supermarket or with a waiter will readily engage in heated bargaining matches with auditors and lawyers. And it is a well-known fact that corporate sales agreements are also hotly bargained, a truth which will gainsay the "lowly image" theory.
Be firm in your denial of discount. “Sorry, no, I cannot give you a discount on that” is about as far as it needs to go.
So it is not a question of image. Or, at least in many cases, it is not. Then why do people who will not bargain with a waiter will bargain with a translator? One of the reasons is because they know—or feel—bargaining with waiters is useless, while bargaining with translators can be profitable. The waiter is almost never the owner and, therefore, there's not much he, or the cashier, can do about prices. The translator, on the other hand, is almost always self-employed and, as such, completely free to adjust the price. Funny, though, how people feel so free to ask a translator for a discount, but not a doctor. There must be some point we are missing here.
Every Time you Grant a Discount...
Lesson #1: Every time you grant a discount you are encouraging your client to ask you for discount the next time. Clients will even say "but last time you did give us a discount, how come you won't grant one now?" Discounts beget discounts. A client who gets a discount and is happy with your work will recommend your services to another possible client and remark that you gave them a discount. Then Mr. Utha Klyentt will say "but you gave my friend a discount!" and there you go, again—an excuse that we should definitely have listed in our previous article.
Some colleagues say this is a non-problem, for which they have an easy solution. Their "list prices" are some 10 percent above their "actual prices", meaning that they can squeeze out a discount if the situation so requires. The client whines a bit, they counterwhine a bit more, and after a few moments they grant the discount, get the job, and everybody is happy.
Well, we believe this is a non-solution to an actual problem. First, because, as we said above, it will contribute to perpetuate the terrible habit of asking for discounts. Second, because the client will tend to consider the discounted price as your normal price and ask for a discount on it based in one of the 79 reasons. Third, because this is playing make-believe and we are a bit too old for that. Fourth, and, in our opinion, most important, because it penalizes the nice good clients who pay without complaining by charging them more than the pests who are always trying to elicit a discount from us.

An Opportunity for Client Education?
There are some overoptimistic translators who believe a request for a discount is an opportunity for client education, meaning an opportunity to lecture the client on the importance of the trade we ply and all. It may be, but in most cases it is just a means of boring your client to death.
We educate someone who is ready and willing to be educated and needs the education. For instance, we can educate a client by saying that we work better from an MSWord file than from a scanned pdf and that the difference will be reflected in the fee and delivery time. We can educate a naive client by explaining that we cannot overwrite a pdf file with a translation. We can educate them in those ways because they do not know and, presumably, will be interested in knowing, since this knowledge will reduce their expenses.
But except for individual clients not used to buying translation services, most of our contacts can be divided into two groups: people who know everything about translation and people who could not care less. The first is composed of agency PMs or professional buyers in large corporations, used to dealing with translators. The second is made up of people like the secretary of the assistant junior manager who may be cute and polite, but has no authority except to ask for a discount and make a note of our answer.
Trying to educate those people by lecturing them is usually a waste of time, no matter how strong your arguments may be. They are not interested and probably not even paying attention. They are not interested in knowing the effort it takes to translate, how many years' experience you may have or the cost of living where you live: they want a discount and that is that.

Argument and Counterargument
You see, it is not like an ordinary discussion. You are trying to tell them translation is hard work and you cannot charge less than X and that the Y they offer is a starvation rate. They are not interested in that. They are interested in getting a discount; is that so difficult to understand?
They may even engage in a discussion with you, but it is what we call a walled-in discussion. Let us clarify that: no matter what you say, they will build a wall around your argument by saying that they cannot go above the budget, or that sales has found another guy who charges less and he tried to convince them you are good but they won't listen. The wall is too high to be jumped over and there is no opening. That it is a non-discussion, a take-it-or-leave-it situation.

So, What Can We Do?
There is no royal road to success here. There is no approach that will guarantee success. But there are a few things that you can do to improve your chances.
First of all, never show any form of weakness. Don't tell the client you have nothing to do or that there has been very little to do in the last weeks, because that smells like fresh blood and clients as a rule are a blood-thirsty breed who won't miss the chance to extract a discount from you when they feel you are too weak to resist. If desperate clients are likely to pay more, desperate translators are almost always  willing to accept less, so don't panic—or, at least,don't let the client notice you are panicking. Don't give your client unnecessary information: information is power and, trust us, you don't want your client to be more powerful than you are. If your client doesn't have to know, don't tell and save some bucks in aspirin.
On the other hand, bear in mind that clients who claim they are going through a bad spot, may be just preparing the way to ask for a discount as a form of cooperation. So, better not comment on those statements. Remember that anything you say may and will be used against you when time comes. And, by the way, remember that when things were going great for the client they never offered you a bonus. So, when the request for a discount comes, you will feel more comfortable denying it.
Second, be firm in your denial of discount. "Sorry, no, I cannot give you a discount on that" is about as far as it needs to go. If the client asks why, our favorite answer is "this is the price we charge all clients, and it wouldn't make any sense to charge you less. We have plenty of work as it is and our day has only 24 hours, meaning that if we accept jobs at cut rates we are actually losing money." Remember that "walling in" is a technique that can be used by both parties in a discussion.
Third, we have the question of politeness. Some clients may get very rude and disrespectful, to the point of making our blood boil. This is unprofessional. However, it is even more unprofessional to get down to their level. If a client starts to call you "dearie," "honey." and "sweatheart," for instance, do not complain, just resort to your coldest and most formal manner. Be professional at all times. Behave professionally, and you stand a better chance of being treated as a professional—and being paid professional-level rates.
Finally, remember that a request for a discount, if made in a polite way, is no sin. You do not have to start WWIII with a client just because they asked for a discount. Refuse it as politely and nicely as you can and remember that no matter how good you may be as a translator, nobody likes to work with someone who is always angry and feel insulted. Treat clients as well as you can and there is a good chance they will treat you well, too.

Danilo's personal note:
Kelli can imitate my style so well, both in English and Portuguese that I call her edits "Ms. Semolini's invisible stitching". This is something I like very much because the final texts read smoothly. However, I believe we must make an exception today and mark the two following portions of the text as personal notes from each of us.
I have built a reputation as the guy who never grants a discount. I broke this rule some time ago. I was offered a job under very special circumstances and I had personal and professional reasons to want it. I quoted my price, the agency made a slightly lower counteroffer, which I accepted. I did a couple of jobs for them and asked them to update their database with my current rates, which they presumably did. In doing this, I ran the risk of losing the client. On the other hand, if they refused to pay what I asked, they would have to look for another translator. They have not contacted me again and they seem to be doing well enough without my services. On the other hand, I have had sufficient work to keep me happy and busy.
The preceding paragraph has fewer than 150 words, but says more than the rest of the text.

Kelli's personal note:
Working as a freelance translator taught me how awful it is when someone asks for a discount, whether or not they are good at their job. If it makes me feel bad, it must do the same to the guys who keep my car and computer running or to the plumber, electrician and other service providers. If I want to work, my house and car have to be functioning properly. Without those guys, I would not be able to do my job.
Therefore, I understand their jobs are as important as mine, that they also have a family to provide for, rent to pay and all that. That is why I don't bargain with them. Not that I suddenly got so rich with translation. Sometimes I can't afford their services. In these situations, I ask for credit. If they cannot give me credit, well, I ask them to do what is absolutely indispensable for me at that moment and finish the job later. I think it is less offensive than keep asking for discounts and diminishing other people's work.

Specialization in Translation - Myths and Realities


Abstract:
Despite widespread agreement within the translation industry that specialization is increasingly necessary, there is apparently much confusion about the meaning of this term and its derivatives 'specialized' and 'specialist.' Although the forces of technology and commerce are clearly making it necessary for language service providers to focus on specific subject areas, the extent to which they can become 'specialists,' as this term is normally understood, is questionable, given the inherent nature of translation and of the translation market. Such factors as the rapid expansion of information and knowledge in all areas, the growing importance of translation technology and the increasing availability of reliable terminology resources are also shaping the nature and meaning of specialization.

Translators must specialize!
Everyone in the translation industry seems to agree that translators these days must specialize. There are mainly two reasons why this need has become increasingly apparent in recent years. The first is the exponential expansion of knowledge: there is simply much more to know about any given subject and many new subjects to know. No translator can be expected to have the knowledge required to translate all types of documents well and within a reasonable amount of time.

Despite what many people seem to think, translators almost never need to be experts in the fields in which they translate.
The Internet is the second and main reason why specialization is increasingly necessary. Firstly, by enabling translators to deliver translations rapidly to customers anywhere in the world and promote their special skills and services far beyond their local markets, the worldwide web has made it much easier for translators to specialize. Secondly, by putting a wealth of information at their disposal and thus allowing them to venture into new and more specialized areas. But the Internet has also intensified competition, by enabling people with documents to translate to search the world over for someone capable of meeting their specific needs, or price. More and more translators and translation agencies are therefore feeling compelled to specialize in one or more specific areas.

But what exactly do we mean by specialization?
That translators need to specialize is hard to dispute, if what we mean by this is that they should focus on one or more particular fields and not try to translate every document that comes along. Even a half-century ago, few professional translators would have probably disagreed with this. But if what we mean is that translators should become 'specialists,' then things get very fuzzy. How can translators and translation companies truly claim to be specialists if the translation industry has no clearly defined areas of specialization? After all, doesn't a specialist have to be specialized in some specific field that is recognized as such by his or her peers? Furthermore, to what extent does the nature of translation and the translation market even allow a translator to specialize in a specific area?
Even an apparently simple concept like 'to specialize' can be confusing. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, it can mean "to train or employ oneself in a special study or activity; to concentrate on a particular activity or product". According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary it can mean "to become a specialist". The distinction between these two definitions is not trivial, as the term specialist connotes a certain level of knowledge and skill. By some definitions, 'to specialize' can also mean devoting oneself exclusively to one thing, whereas others allow for more than one area of specialization.
As a result, such terms as 'specialization,' 'specialism,' 'specialized' and above all 'specialist' are used so broadly and indiscriminately in the translation industry as to have virtually no meaning. People assume that being a specialist translator is similar to being a specialist in other professions, such as medicine or law, yet the concepts of 'specialization' and 'specialist' cannot be applied analogously to such a vast and unorganized activity as translation.
A specialist doctor, for example, has gone through the same common core of education and training as a general practitioner, has gained additional knowledge and skills, has therefore reached what is considered to be a higher level of achievement and has a clearly delimited area of expertise, such as radiology, cardiology, etc. There are thus clear distinctions between general and specialist medical practitioners. In translation, however, there is no common core of education or common standard of knowledge or achievement and the so-called specialist translator might not even have the basic language skills and knowledge of the 'generalist.' Furthermore, in the absence of an agreed taxonomy of translation specialisms there are no clearly delimited areas in which translators can be specialists. The concept of specialization therefore cannot have an absolute meaning in translation, only a relative one. For example, translator A, who is 'specialized' in accounting may consider translator B, who claims to be specialized in business translation, to be a 'generalist' or at best a 'semi-specialist' as far as accounting is concerned. Yet Translator C, who is specialized in international financial reporting standards, may very well think the same of Translator A. Where does it end? What constitutes a legitimate and relevant area of subject-matter specialization in translation?

Use and abuse of 'specialist'
Being a specialist will no doubt never have the same meaning and status for a translator as it does for a doctor or lawyer. But since there are obvious commercial advantages to being perceived as a specialist, given the greater knowledge and skill this implies, this term will no doubt continue to be used by translators and translation companies. They should be aware however that haphazard use of 'specialized' and 'specialist' can appear suspicious and even ridiculous.
The Internet offers many examples of how the term 'specialist' is used abusively. Many translation companies claim to be specialized, simultaneously, in business translation, financial translation, legal translation, technical translation, etc., not to mention general translation! In other words, they are specialized in everything. Disregarding the fact that such categories are extremely broad in themselves, such a translation company would have to be very large and rigorously organized into separate departments, each managed by specialized staff for this claim to be at all plausible. When you further consider that such companies also often propose a broad range of languages, the number of 'specialist' staff that would be required to oversee the various specialisms for each language combination starts to boggle the mind. Yet innocent customers may be misled by the translation company's claim to have a 10,000-strong battalion of lawyer, doctor and engineer translators at its beck and call.
Although such broad claims of specialization are far-fetched for even a large translation company, some freelance translators are almost as bold. On her website, one translator claims to be specialized in business translation, financial translation, legal translation, marketing translation, the arts and literature, and in several language combinations! How can this be possible? Isn't a field such as business translation or legal translation vast enough in itself, with just one pair of languages to deal with? How can someone be specialized in just even business translation, considering that business consists of various disciplines, such as accounting, marketing, human resources and IT, each of which is a separate field in itself with a large and ever-increasing body of concepts and terms? Companies also do business in a wide variety of industries, of which the 'business translator' should have at least some knowledge. Although financial translation is a narrower category, a translator might know quite a bit about financial accounting but next to nothing about financial markets and products or asset management and may not have the writing skills to translate financial communication appropriately. The term 'legal translation' is also extremely vague. It would naturally include documents that are used by lawyers and judges in criminal and civil proceedings and which require a good knowledge of legal principles, systems and institutions, documents that require familiarity with a given field of law, such as commercial or intellectual property law, and also contracts and other legal instruments that may require very little or even no real knowledge of the law.
Although such claims might impress laymen and prospective customers they have little or no real meaning.

Pity the poor generalist
Just as translation websites the world over sing the praises of specialists, 'generalist' translators tend to be the object of much contempt. Unfortunately, in the translation industry the term generalist has come to mean someone who will accept any type of work in any subject area, even if highly specialized. Although I think there are relatively few translators bold and silly enough to do this, there are apparently quite a few companies that will take on anything. They are the main reason why 'generalist' has acquired this special meaning in translation and become almost an insult for some. This doesn't seem fair. In medicine, general practitioners don't attempt to practice all types of medicine, but refer their patients to the proper specialist if necessary. Furthermore, their broader, more general type of knowledge is recognized as useful and their practice of general medicine enables them to acquire and maintain knowledge and skills that the specialist does not have or has forgotten.
Wouldn't the same thing also be true of many 'generalist' translators who know their limits, don't take on work in areas they know little about and often offer a more varied background than the specialist, and above all a broader and deeper understanding of the source language, not to mention fine writing skills? Can't some types of documents that require no specialized knowledge in a given field be legitimately classified as 'general'? Moreover, does this necessarily make such documents any easier to translate or any less important than those that require more specialized knowledge? Conscientious 'generalist' translators are definitely not getting a fair deal these days, as the emphasis on acquiring specialized knowledge and being a 'specialist' has tended to overshadow and diminish the importance of fundamental language and translation skills.
It is interesting to note that since the concept of 'generalist translator' is the complement of 'specialist translator' it can be every bit as vague. For example, one translator on the Internet claims to translate "all types of legal documents and general documents (administrative, financial, advertising, etc.)". Apparently she considers everything that doesn't fall within her own extremely vast and poorly defined area of specialization (legal documents) to be 'general,' including administrative, financial and advertising translation, each of which could just as logically be considered a specialism.

Myths and realities
Although it is no doubt impossible to prevent terms like 'specialist' and 'generalist' from being abused for commercial purposes, specialization and its derivatives can be useful concepts for translators if properly understood and used in a disciplined manner within the context of translation and the translation industry's requirements. But until this happens there are two myths about specialization that will have to be cleared up.

Myth #1: Translators must be subject-matter experts
Despite what many people seem to think, translators almost never need to be experts in the fields in which they translate. They do not need to have degrees in medicine, law or engineering to translate medical, legal or technical documents. There are very, very few documents that require a practitioner's knowledge and experience. Translators do not need to know, for example, whether a recommended medical procedure is appropriate or whether a clause in a contract is valid. This is for the author of the text to know. Translators need a more basic level of knowledge that enables them to understand underlying principles, do the research necessary to figure out what they don't understand, and find the right term in the target language. For example, someone who translates accounting documents does not need to be an accountant but does need to have an accounting 'culture,' which can be gained from a university course or two in accountancy or from self-study. Similarly, a good background in advanced high-school math and physics can be sufficient to translate even very technical documents.
This has various implications. Since translators do not need to be experts in any given field (except in their languages and in translation of course!), they can 'specialize' in a variety of areas in which they have the necessary knowledge and experience. Furthermore, these 'specialisms' can have little in common. There is no reason why a translator cannot be 'specialized' in the oil industry, cooking and the stock market, if he or she has a good understanding of these subjects and appropriate terminology resources.
This last sentence brings us to another important point: not only is expert knowledge in a given subject not as important as generally imagined; it is becoming increasingly less relevant as knowledge expands in all areas and translation technology and terminology resources come to play an increasingly important role. Translators can simply no longer be expected to master the large body of concepts found in most subjects and the associated terminology in two or more languages. However they can, and no doubt must, increasingly rely on computer-aided translation tools and the growing body of reliable and highly specialized knowledge and terminology resources at their disposal. As is the case in all knowledge-based professions, but no doubt to a greater extent, translators are increasingly dependent on other people's knowledge. Having access to appropriate resources will increasingly determine whether or not translators can do highly specialized work.


Myth #2: Most documents require specialization in a specific area
The proportion of documents that require a high degree of subject-matter specialization is also greatly exaggerated. The vast majority do not require specialist knowledge in any one specific area, but rather a relatively broad background in several. Many business documents, for example, require a good understanding of the basic principles of various business-related disciplines, such as economics, accountancy, company or contract law, finance and marketing, as well as a good understanding of a particular industry. The translator needs 'only' a good general business culture, in addition, of course, to high-level language expertise and appropriate tools, none of which a self-proclaimed specialist may have. Having a broad background in several related areas is often more useful in translation than being specialized in any single one.

Conclusion—Putting specialization in perspective
Although specialization and its derivative terms will no doubt continue to be abused for commercial purposes, conscientious professionals should give more thought to what specialization can and should mean within the translation industry. Not only does specialization need to be understood within this specific context; what it means to be specialized or to be a specialist also needs to be reconsidered in light of the widespread expansion of knowledge and advances in information technology. Being able to translate highly specialized documents is becoming less a question of knowledge and more one of having the right tools.
For the concept of specialization to be of any real use within the translation industry subject areas of specialization will have to be more specific than such broad categories as 'legal,' 'business' or 'technical,' which do not describe the types of documents a given translator is capable of translating in sufficient detail. Such categories will have to be broken down into relevant sub-categories that reflect specific types of knowledge and skills, while also constituting relevant and viable areas of specialization. Until there is a recognized taxonomy of translation categories, there will be no meaningful disciplines or areas for translators to be 'specialists' in. Source: http://translationjournal.net

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Canonicals Launchpad streamlines translation

If you’re a native English speaker like me, you may not think very often about what it takes to make software available in a language you understand. For the rest of the world, however, translation is a big deal — especially in the open source ecosystem, where few projects have the resources to pay professional translators. Luckily, recent changes in Launchpad have made it easier for developers to integrate translations into Ubuntu. Here’s the scoop, and why it matters more than you might think.
In the open source world, where programmers dot the planet, English tends to serve as a lingua franca among the people writing the code. This practice may work well enough for developers who need to communicate with one another, but it’s not a solution for users who cannot or prefer not to use their software in a language that is not their native tongue.
As I’ve written in the past, Ubuntu has an impressive track record when it comes to addressing the linguistic diversity of users. Since anyone can easily contribute translations to Ubuntu and most other open source projects, the operating system is able to attain a range of linguistic availability that far outshines that of proprietary platforms, which are rarely available in niche languages whose speakers are not numerous enough to make a translation investment financial feasible.

Streamlining Translations

Nonetheless, until Ubuntu is completely translated into the native language of everyone in the world — which is more or less impossible, not only for want of resources but also because the relative arbitrariness of linguistic distinctions means there are theoretically as many languages on the planet as there are individuals — there is always room for improvement.
To this end, Launchpad developers recently announced new tools aimed at streamlining the sharing of translations between upstream projects and their mirrors on Launchpad. As the Launchpad blog explains:
What’s changed today is that strings from upstream projects who make their translations outside Launchpad are now just as easily imported and ready for use by Ubuntu.
Now, so long as the upstream project is set up in Launchpad to do this, a change made in an upstream project’s source code — whether hosted directly in Launchpad or elsewhere in Bazaar, Git, Subversion of CVS — will be available to Ubuntu translators just a few hours later.
Previously, Ubuntu took translation templates and files from the source packages as they were uploaded. There was no automated route for those new upstream translations to get into Ubuntu after that initial import. In effect, this allowed Ubuntu translations to diverge from upstream during the six month Ubuntu cycle.
The blog adds that the new initiative bears the additional benefit of helping to keep Ubuntu’s translations of strings within software applications consistent with those used upstream. This change will both reduce redundancy in translation work and make it easier to maintain software by ensuring users are presented with the same translations regardless of whether they’re using Ubuntu’s build of a particular application or one they got from somewhere else.

Why It Matters

To return to a point made above: If you’re a native speaker of English, or at least fluent enough in the language to work in it readily, translations might not appear very important. But for the millions of Ubuntu users who can’t read English, or who feel they should be able to use computers in the languages of their choice, absent or low-quality translations can make open source platforms such as Ubuntu a non-option.
And beyond users, developers and marketers of software are also affected by language issues in ways they may not often consider. This is particularly true in the open source world, where VARs hoping to resell a software package may face an artificially limited market if the original developers do not provide sufficient translations and the VARs can’t supply them themselves. (On the other hand, perhaps translations represent an area where VARs could easily add value to an existing software package, although I can’t think of any concrete examples of this being done in practice.)
The extent to which Ubuntu developers are able to collaborate with upstream projects on making sure the best translations reach users with the least effort possible, then, has ramifications that stretch across the open source ecosystem. The new Launchpad tools are good news for everyone interested in developing, reselling or simply using open source code. Source: http://www.thevarguy.com

Monday, May 2, 2011

An Introduction to MemoQ