Teleworking : How to Do It Right

Working from home, at a coffee shop or a coworking space is not uncommon among translators and technical writers, whether they are freelancers or not.


In general terms, working from home is more and more common. Indeed, the number of remote jobs keeps increasing, and the French Labor Law, which was enacted late 2016, promotes teleworking. In France, 17 % of employees were telecommuting in 2016, and 41 % wanted to do it fulltime.

This type of work enables employees to increase their well-being (according to 96 % of people surveyed), lower absenteeism (5.5 fewer off days per teleworker), gain in efficiency (+22 %), time (37 min dedicated to family and 45 min of sleep) and money (related to means of transport).

However, remote work cannot be improvised : it is essential to be prepared.

The right skills

The more time spent working from home, the more it is necessary to develop essential skills in order to feel fulfilled by this type of work.

Adrienne Jack from Lionbridge presents six skills required to get started :

  • Time management : learning how to value one’s time, and how to say “no”, combining one’s work and lifestyle.
  • Self-discipline : avoiding distractions, self-training, delivering the project on time.
  • Independence : not cutting oneself from the outside world and knowing instead when to meet others to develop one’s empathy.
  • Reliability : delivering quality work on a consistent basis, keeping managers updated on one’s progress, asking for feedback, offering help to colleagues when it is possible.
  • Flexibility : adapting to customers’ needs and urgencies.
  • Joy for the work : remote working does not make one enjoy working.

The right tools

Apart from owning a computer equipped with a good setup and the right software, it is also important to have a good internet connection with access to online resources, but also to facilitate the customer relationship and the delivery of information or projects.

In addition, some tools can make remote teamwork easier (such as Trello or the new open source platform Crust) and others simplify work organization.

For example, author and translator Lionel Davoust made an inventory of the most relevant tools on his blog to create a “toolbox”, ranging from spell checking software to applications allowing for faster typing, and including software to avoid distractions.

The choice of telework is not random. It isn’t a miracle but, if you are prepared enough, it can provide great opportunities.

Alexane Bébin

Translated by Sarah Deville

To be (or not to be) an effective translator

In a recent article, Jenie Gabriel from the translation agency Gengo has been suggesting seven practices to improve one’s efficiency :

  1. Work quality assurance
  2. Continuous proofreading and reviewing
  3. Good customer relationship management
  4. Learning from feedback
  5. Stepping out of the comfort zone
  6. Meticulous time management
  7. Continuous learning and improvement

What kind of efficiency are we dealing with ?

Upon reading this advice, we instantly realize that it is not about time-saving nor organization or customer relationships improvement tools. It is rather a question of work improving than of “work more to earn more”.

Jenie Gabriel quotes Aristotle : “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit”.

Therefore, translators must aim for excellence. Why is that ? For the love of the profession, or for work ethics ? Partly, but it is mostly to stand out.

In a world where language service providers must meet increasing needs, the supply also rises, but with very different quality levels.

These habits would therefore rather be a way of determining the difference between a trained and experienced expert and others. Between someone who, through the quality of its work, manages to develop a loyal customer base with interesting and profitable projects, and someone forced to translate whatever is given to him.

Being efficient is not a matter of word count, but rather of gaining more savoir-faire and quality. It is not only about translating, but also building a reputation and making sure there will be more translation projects tomorrow.

Yet, the excellency standard set by this advice—while it allows long-term efficiency to the company—seems to contradict the short-term need to translate fast (and well) and therefore to be cost-effective.

Develop the habit to be effective (and vice versa)

“Time is money.” You could think that the time spent waiting for proofreads, sending e-mails and calling customers is wasted for translation.

Of course, but that is when practice steps in : the daily tasks get faster to carry out. By making sure that they keep improving for each new project, translators make less mistakes and thus spend less time reviewing their work. They gain efficiency in their short-term work.

Excellence and habit go hand in hand, just like Isaac Newton said : “When two forces unite, their efficiency double.”

Alexane Bébin

Translated by Sarah Deville

Proofread by Kim Condron

 https ://

Your Translation is all Chinese to me !

Translating for China, what a real headache ! China counts up to 81 dialects, 49 of which bear the same name as the ethnicity that uses it. The other 32 are named differently than their speakers’ ethnicity (for example, more than 90,000 Tibetans have the gyarong language as their mother tongue).


Linguistic distances between minor languages are largely more visible in the South of China than in the North, which makes communication harder for southern Chinese people. Those 81 dialects are strongly different from one another and this is why they are sorted into four large categories : Sino-Tibetan languages, Altaic languages, Austronesian languages, and Indo-European languages.

Sino-Tibetan languages

The Sino-Tibetan group clusters half of the dialects spoken in China. Those 40 languages are spread into four distinctive groups : Chinese, Tibeto-Burman languages, Kam-Tai languages, and Hmong-Mien languages. With 1.5 billion speakers, the Sino-Tibetan group represents the second largest linguistic family in speakers. Majorly spoken in China, this linguistic group extends to Nepal, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Thailand.

Altaic languages

Altaic languages cluster 19 out of the 81 languages spoken in China. This linguistic group is named after the Altai Mountains, which cross through Central Asia, containing China, Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Altaic languages listed in China include the Turkish languages at 0.7 %, the Tungusic languages at 0.5 %, and the Mongolic languages at 0.32 %.

Austronesian languages

With just under 300 million speakers, Austronesian languages are part of one of the most geographically spread out linguistic families, second only to the Indo-European languages. This area includes a large part of Oceania (Taiwan, New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island). In China, only 0.035 % of the population speaks a language coming from this family. These 14 different dialects all come from one group.

Indo-European languages

Globally, Indo-European languages form the most spread out linguistic family. Despite their prevalence in most of the world, these languages are not really spoken much in China (only 0.0026 % of the population speaks them). With 0.0023 % and 0.0003 % of the Chinese speakers, Tajik and Slavic languages are respectively the two categories represented in China.

Written by Morgan POULELLAOUEN

Translated by David LOURY

Source : http  ://

The difference between Localization and Translation

There is a fine line between localization and translation, but according to the definitions, these two activities are different. Translation consists in transposing a text in an original language into another language, the target language. On the other hand, localization requires further work. It goes beyond mere translation by adding a cultural aspect in order to adapt the product to the local needs in the best way possible.


Localization is often mistaken with translation. The difference between the 2 concepts is hard to grasp for some people and therefore the importance of the processes of localization is often underestimated, like adapting the non-textual components of a product or a service. For instance, let’s take the adaptation of graphs, the adoption of local currencies, the use of specific date formats, addresses or phone numbers, the choice of colors and many other details. These modifications can lead to the complete physical restructuration of a project. The purpose of all these changes is to avoid any misunderstanding with the local culture and customs and also adapt to the specific needs and desires of a population when entering a foreign market.

The localization service is a direct consequence of the increasing internationalization of global trade. That’s why many translation agencies are hired to localize products. They will mostly be asked to localize computer products, like translating software and its documentation, as well as websites or more “traditional” documents such as leaflets, packaging, pictures, etc.

Localization is a process in which the culture of the target audience is taken into consideration. The translator knows about the characteristics of the target language and is thus able to perceive its nuances. This requires a thorough understanding of the rules that govern both the original and the target culture. In that sense, it may be said that the process of localization simply is a more advanced and complete version of translation.

But be careful, translation is a vital step that remains at the heart of the process of localization.

Written by Anne-Laure ZAMARRENO

Translated by Nathan HERMANCE

One for Humor, And Humor for All

When we bring up the difficulties that may be encountered in a translation process, we tend to think about very complex legal or commercial documents, or even poetry. Indeed, translating Victor Hugo’s or Baudelaire’s verses in English is not a piece of cake ! However, it’s not what this article will be focusing on today. I’d rather propose you to give a round of applause for all those who have to translate humoristic messages.


Thanks to streaming websites –that are getting more and more numerous over the years- American series live beyond their shores. Nevertheless, some like The Big Bang Theory or Two Broke Girls are sometimes really hard to deal with. Indeed, whether humor can be translated or not has led to many studies and debates. Some authors like Zabalbeascoa have even decided to create a classification for the different types of jokes, in order to make it less tedious for audiovisual translators.

If humor is something universal, its translation is way more complex, as puns are usually specific to a culture. Thus, translators have to succeed in adapting these references to the targeted culture so they can be understood..This can turn into a real nightmare, considering they also have to respect translation techniques and restrictions which exist in subtitling, for example.

Below are few examples to help you understand :

  • I assume you haven’t forgotten about the Game of Thrones episode in which the origin of Hodor’s name is revealed. Admittedly, this passage is not humoristic at all, but it does a good job of depicting the challenge that is translating puns. The sentence “Hold the door” works pretty well in English, but it’s not as easy to find a translation that makes sense in other languages. The Dubbing Brothers chose to translate it by “Pas au-dehors” in French, (litteraly “not outdoors”), which then becomes “Au-dehors” and finally “Hodor”. In Spanish, it became “Obstruye el corridor” (“Obstructs the corridor”).
  • Did you know that during the Cannes Festival, the directors of the movie Intouchablesmade a guide book adapting the dialogues and jokes for the foreign audience ? Therefore, the joke “Pas de bras, pas de chocolat !” (which literally can be translated to “no arm, no chocolate”) was translated by “No handy, no candy !” or by “No feet, no sweets !” in order to keep the rhyme.
  • Sometimes, the translation choice itself makes us laugh : John Snow’s name was kept in the French version of the show, but not in the Quebec’s one. They decided to translate it literally, which leaves us with a wonderful Jean Neige, as testifies the French Tumblr “Les sous-titres de la honte” (“The subtitles of shame”).

Written by Déborah Rivallain

Translated by Zohra Lepeigneul


Google Translate, or the Mistake Often Made by People who are in a Hurry

Nowadays, translation methods keep evolving. This is especially true for automated translation systems, Google Translate (GT) being the most famous among them. Made available by Google back in 2006, the appeal of such a tool is understandable. Even though Google Translate is constantly being improved upon, some mistakes remain unavoidable and a machine cannot correct them. Here are a few reasons why a company or even an individual should not prefer Google Translate over the services of a professional translator.


A tantalizing description…

Right. Picture yourself as the manager of a small company which is fast-growing. You tell yourself that it might be a smart idea to have your website, your products, contracts or any other relevant documents translated. However, one thing still worries you : is it really worth investing money in the services of a professional translator if you don’t make it on a foreign market ?

A thought then pops into your head : what about Google Translate ? After all it is free, and you already use it here and there to find vocabulary words.

The idea seems like a good one on paper. The technology behind automated translation tools keeps improving and getting more effective. It relies on a corpus to be as precise as possible and Google Translate even allows for its users to improve the system themselves. The number of language pairs available is yet to be rivaled : professional translators could never offer as many since they always translate towards their mother tongue. However, isn’t there a good reason for this ?

… for a result which falls short of expectations

Translating a text cannot be reduced to simply translating words or sentences. Translating the content and the meaning instead of the style requires a professional. An automated translation tool cannot compete with a human being’s sensitivity and will not be able to find the small nuances which make all the difference. Did you ever notice ? Google Translate will always translate “you” in English by “vous” in French (which corresponds to the second person plural or the polite form) instead of “tu”, when both are correct depending on the context. Here lies the core of the issue : Google Translate does not take the context into account.

A text heavily relies on its context. Performing a translation without taking into account the context is akin to cooking without being familiar with the taste of the ingredients. It might turn out okay if you are lucky enough, but it will never be as good as you expected it to be. The creators of Google Translate are aware of this issue and it is why their tool relies on a corpus. However, the context of two different texts will never be the same and, as such, it is fairly easy to distinguish a professional translation from an automated one.

Furthermore, any text entered on Google Translation is automatically saved in order to be translated. This is a real issue for confidential documents which are not to be made public.

Finally, it goes without saying that a bad translation puts your company’s credibility at risk and can tarnish its reputation. It goes against the professionalism that is expected of a company and is counterproductive.

All of this holds true for Google Translate but for other automated translation tools -such as Reverso, DeepL, Linguee, etc.- as well. Even though they are constantly being improved upon, these tools are far from being as effective as professional translators.


Translated by Céline ECHILLEY

Source : https :// 

Is Chinese the Language of the Future ?

If there is one sector in which languages and translation are strongly tied to success, it would be tourism and travel. This sector is certainly the one most exposed to the world’s various languages and that is why languages services are essential to the success of any company whose activity revolves around tourism. It is essential for those companies to translate their services in the most common languages in order to target a bigger audience on a global scale and make them want to go abroad.

However, which target languages are the most profitable in the market ?


The Tourism sector is in constant evolution and remains very profitable worldwide. In 2017, one-in-ten is employed in tourism and its GDP rate raised by 10.2 %. The reason is simple : we all seek to discover new cultures by travelling around the world despite economic setbacks and political conflicts.

But, where do these tourists come from ? The World Tourism Orgnanization (WTO) gathers and analyzes the figures of this market. Thanks to the international organization, we have access to reliable resources on global economy. Their book, the World Tourism Barometer, follows the evolution of tourism on a short-term basis and provides the sector with relevant and timely information.

The data provided by these documents allow us to identify the main target languages thanks to :

  • The census of the countries from which most tourists come from.
  • The census of the nationalities of tourists who spend the most abroad.

After comparing them, the most profitable languages for tourism translation are as follow :

  1. Chinese
  2. English
  3. Spanish
  4. German
  5. French
  6. Italian

The Chinese language seems to stand head and shoulders above the rest in terms of profitability, as China has been the leading market for outbound tourism since 2012 and the money spent by Chinese tourists abroad continues to grow. Their expenditures amount to $261 billion, compared to the $124 million spent by Americans who are in second place.

Then, does that mean that Chinese could become the language of the future ? Despite being the most dominant language in the Tourism sector, we need to be sure that a majority of people receive all the help necessary through easily accessible information and advertising material in their mother tongue. Thus, profitability doesn’t stop at Chinese, as tourism is one of the markets that benefits the most from the exposure offered by professionally translated content in as many languages as possible.

Jennifer Afonso

Traduit par David Loury

First Working Experiences : Asking the Right Questions

For the first year students of the 2018/2019 class of the CFTTR’s Translation and Technical Writing Master’s degree, the time to get in touch with companies for the first time draws near. Indeed, they have to fix the specifics of a possible internship following their second semester.

Diversity is at the core of our line of work and greatly contributes to the interest we hold for specific fields of expertise. However, our working experiences also find themselves impacted by this diversity.


As translators or technical writers, what do we need to be mindful of when interacting with clients or companies in order to establish a strong basis when taking up a position ? Below are a few tips to help answer that question.

The cornerstone of discovering what your role within a company entails lies in trying to understand how the company operates. Of course, you should research the company beforehand and be aware of its field of expertise so you do not find yourself at a loss when confronted with a vocabulary that is, for example, overly specific.

If this assessment seems obvious to you, don’t hesitate to go beyond and conduct a more indepth search about the company’s particularity : 

  • Which kind of client is it aimed at ?

This question is essential as it will help guide your work. The answer will help you adapt the terms – whether they are specific or general – as well as the register you should use. 

  • Is the company used to working with people whose resume is similar to yours ? Why do they need you ?

That will help you better understand your role in the company.

  • What tools will you be using ? 

Some companies will indeed impose you to work with specific CAT tools or file formats, while others will let you work as you wish. For this matter as for many others, you can assuredly suggest some solutions in order to improve the team workflow. But you always must stay flexible and understanding.

  • What will be the legal status of your work ? 

A few of your assignments will perhaps be protected by a confidentiality clause. Being an efficient professional, it is necessary to inquire about this topic as soon as possible to avoid information disclosure (e.g. with informal conversations or web searches).

  • Is there an expected deadline ? Is it negotiable ? Will you work alone or as part of a team ? What are the steps preceding the final delivery of your work ? 

You must keep all those questions in mind to build your professional integrity and avoid many obstacles and casualties that would prevent you to prosper in the company and in your relations with the customers.

For a young professional, enthusiasm is required and often valuable. But it is also fundamental to adopt a true reflective position so as to get the foundation right, instead of diving head down into a blurred project. Therefore, the company and yourself will be able to engage in a deliberate and quality business relationship.

Maxime Cicurel

Translated by Céline Echilley and Sarah Deville

Source : https ://

The Revolution in Instant Translation

Everybody loves to travel and that is a fact. One of the major problems is the language barrier and it is widely known that when going abroad, you must first learn how to speak the language of the country or at least have a dictionary –  paper or digital – close at hand. However, times have changed and the use of these dictionaries is no longer necessary. Numerous groups of companies specialized in the field of technology and artificial intelligence have created new apps available on Smartphones and iPhones allowing an almost instantaneous speech and/or visual translation.


Could these new technologies possibly have a negative impact on the future of the profession of translators and interpreters ? Can we rely on technologies based on artificial intelligence and finally, what benefits do they offer ?

Two Different Jobs…

Translators and interpreters are different from one another, despite the consistent confusion between the two. Translators are given a certain amount of time to translate a source text into a target language. They usually work with computer tools to facilitate translation (CAT tools, translation memories, terminology databases) and can also carry out in-depth research on the subject or field of the source document in order to improve their translation result.

However, interpreters are asked to verbally translate a text almost instantaneously (a speech, for example) into the target language. There are three different types of interpreting :

  • Consecutive interpreting consists in writing down an interlocutor’s speech in order to deliver the same speech verbally to a third party’s language. In general, this type of interpreting requires the use of symbols as the interpreter does not have much time to write down every word and/or sentence.

  • Simultaneous interpreting consists in instantly delivering in the target language a speech that the interpreter is hearing in the source language. Generally, this service is commonly requested during conferences and meetings at the European Union or the United Nations. An interpreter, who can translate instantly only for twenty or thirty minutes, must work alongside another interpreter, who will take over at the end of the specified time. Each booth, therefore, houses two interpreters and is available in one foreign language.

  • Liaison interpreting is the process of instantly and verbally translating a speech into another language in order to help two people who speak two different languages understand each other. The interpreter is, therefore, the communication link between the two parties.

To summarize, a translator translates a written source text into their native language or into a target language, whereas the interpreter verbally adapts a speech in the source language into a target language which can be their native language or not. In both professions, the initial message of the source text must be communicated.

…A Similar Challenge

Despite differences between translators and interpreters, both may see their future threatened by the evolution of technology and artificial intelligence. Indeed, the market for linguistic services is increasingly exposed to technology, especially the recent development of new IT tools for translation assistance, which did not exist a few years back. However, nowadays, man and technology are working hand in hand and some studies believe that despite the constant evolution of technology, human translators cannot be replaced by machines.

Technology : New Apps and Software

Recently, new software and apps have emerged on the market, in particular on the various online application distribution platforms, such as App Store, Google Play. These apps offer a hybridization between translating and interpreting.

Have you ever tried to communicate with someone who does not speak your language ? For example, when a tourist asks you for information or directions ? How would you react ? Some companies specialized in technology and artificial intelligence have made these impossible communications, quite possible.

  • Almost instantaneous voice translation ? You just have to install the app on your smartphone. Once installed, you choose the language you want and speak into the microphone. The app will translate into the language of your choice and you can then let anyone listen to and/or read the translation. You can usually choose between approximately twenty foreign languages, but the rarest languages are not included in the app.

  • Almost instantaneous visual translation ? This process is the same as the previous one with a few exceptions. Using an app, instead of translating audio content, the app can translate visual content such as texts, menus, and even outdoor panels by using your camera. Thus, when you “videotape” a panel, the app can translate its content into the language that you have chosen.

With these new technologies, you no longer need to travel with large and heavy dictionaries. This is yet another improvement that breaks down the language barrier and facilitates communication.

However, despite a further expansion of technology in the language industry, artificial intelligence still cannot detect the nuances, contexts and human language idioms. This is why it is safe, for the time being, to say that technologies are not ready to replace linguists such as translators and interpreters. These programs, although somewhat limited and unreliable in some very specific areas (legal, financial, etc.), can be quite useful for some people, if not all people willing to learn languages.

Avatar Christelle Dilling

Source : https ://





Translated by Gildas Mergny

The Arrival of Translation Memories

Until recently, translation memories were state-of-the-art technology. It was not until the late 1990s that translators massively adopted this tool. Working time and costs were quickly optimized and the price calculation is no longer based on the total number of words, but on word weighting statistics.


However, it was not until 2005 that translation memories were commercially available and the prices were extremely high making them inaccessible to small businesses and freelance translators. A translation memory could cost up to several hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. As a result of this commercialization, small technology providers have begun to offer translation memories that meet the basic needs of their customers, making it easier for many translators. While the software offered by these small suppliers was not cutting-edge technology, they managed to build a significant customer base by focusing on continuous product improvement. The major software distributors were significantly concentrating on some aspects of their software while neglecting others. Small suppliers have therefore exploited this error and are making a profit from using much more affordable technology.

Today, translation memories are available at very affordable prices that offer great flexibility and allow for easy operation and are compatible with any operating system. Thanks to these improvements, translation time and labor costs have been optimized, making translation services more accessible and also facilitating the work of professionals.

Camille Rigaud

Translated by Sonia Ahamada

Source : https ://