What is translation: FAQ

FAQ means “Frequently Asked Questions” and is rendered in French by “Foire Aux Questions” (Question Forum)

What constitutes a good translation?

This is an accurate translation, without any mistranslation and which “sounds good”, you should not sense the foreign origin of the text. An example says so much more than a lengthy explanation:

starting text: “Any comparable designer would rest on their laurels after having made such a distinct impression on the fashion world”.

  • a word for word but not so pertinent translation: “Tout créateur comparable se serait reposé sur ses lauriers après avoir fait une telle impression dans le monde de la mode”.
  • Professional translation version 1: “Pour un créateur de cette veine, il aurait été tout naturel de se reposer sur ses lauriers après avoir fait une telle entrée dans le monde de la mode”.
  • Professional translation version 2: “Après avoir laissé une impression aussi positive dans le monde de la mode, d’autres créateurs se seraient contentés de se reposer sur leurs lauriers”.

It is possible to see that there is not just one translation for a single text. Each translator has his own style, which makes the profession so rich!

Why do you always translate into your mother tongue?

So as a translation “sounds right”, you should not sense the foreign origin of the text. This is only possible when working into one’s mother tongue. This is why translators only work into one direction, even if they master several languages. Only a small handful of translators work in two directions, as they have two mother tongues.

How do you calculate the total cost of a translation?

The cost of a translation is calculated in line with the number of words in the document. It is the most accurate and, therefore, widely used method to undertake a calculation. In general, the number of words is counted in the document to be translated (source document).

What is a word?

It is a string of characters between 2 spaces or apostrophes. A word may include 20 letters (e.g. internationalisation) or just one letter (e.g.: a). The words within a hyphened word count as a single word (e.g.: ready-to-wear).

What is a translation memory (TM)?

A translation memory or TM is a computerised tool which stores in memory all translated texts and allows identical sentences to be detected from one paragraph or text to the next. It contributes to the coherence of the translation and means you do not have to pay for the same sentence twice.

What is a glossary

It is a lexicon of technical terms pertaining to your business and translated into one or more languages. It also informs translators of your stylistic preferences.

For instance, the German word “der Mitarbeiter” means “employee” in French. In your firm, you may prefer this to be translated by “collaborator”. These glossaries are presented for the most part in Word or Excel format. They are populated with each new translation.

Who are our professional translators?

They are all professionals translating solely into their mother tongue and into a limited number of specialist areas. Our profession therefore consists of using the most qualified translator to handle your project in the shortest timescale.

There are two main families of translators:

  • Those who graduated from a translation institute or university (Master’s level usually). They often master two languages in addition to their mother tongue and their primary asset is the quality of their style and accuracy of the translation.
  • Those who perfectly master another language as well as an expert field (often through their professional background)> They are experts in their field. Their primary asset is the technical terminology.
What is a source and target language?

The source language is the starting or original language of the text. The target language is the end language, into which the text is translated. This is the mother tongue of the translator.

What is the rate of reduction?

It is the percentage corresponding to the difference between the number of words between the source and target language.

For instance in German: die Wortzahl is translated as: the word count. In this example, 2 German words are translated as 3 English words. On average, a translation from German to French, for instance, leads to a reduction rate of 20% to 30%. This rate is specific to each language pair. It is used when a translation is invoiced on the number of target words (translated). This is often the case for languages such as Chinese or Arabic.

What is simultaneous and consecutive interpreting?

In simultaneous interpreting, the interpreter interprets at the same time as the speaker, which requires a high degree of concentration. For this reason, two interpreters relay around every 30 minutes and are required for each assignment. Audio equipment is also essential so as to “ignore” the interpreters as much as possible and allow them to work under the best conditions:

  • as part of a conference, Sound-proof booths are required, with desks, headphones, microphones and infra-red emitters for the recipients of the translation. This is what happens in major international meetings.
  • in the framework of a more informal meeting, interpreting packs or “gadgets” are sufficient. The material then comprises headsets for participants and a microphone for the interpreter. The cost is then reduced.

In consecutive interpreting, the interpreter translates once the speaker has finished. A single interpreter is sufficient for the assignment. This type of interpreting is most frequently used, notably in trade shows, company visits or commercial or technical meetings. A consecutive interpreting assignment does not necessarily require audio equipment. In this case, it is important to take into account the speaking time of the speaker which will be added to that of the interpreter. This can often double the duration of the meeting!

Should we say interpretation or interpreting?

Both names are accurate. An interpreter performs an interpretation of a speech and works in the interpreting field.