Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Translation: good for business

It is refreshing to learn that the Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov employs a team of translators to translate the up to 300 pages of reports, analysis and news items he reads per day in order to keep abreast of developments in the markets he is involved in (Financial Times 17th November). 

The deadlines must be tight, but no doubt the people doing the work do not mind in the least.

This is someone who chooses not to rely on some approximation to a translation obtained online, and wants to know the exact meaning of the written information on which he bases critical decisions.

Realizing that a good translation makes good business is what we, as translators, need to do. We also need to ensure that our customers and prospective customers know this as well.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Language Gambling

News from the gambling group Betfair (Financial Times 10th November 2012) which is parting company with its UK director and laying off staff, beginning with 50 translators.

The explanation is a shift in strategy which will see the company reduce the number of languages available on its websites in Asia, Eastern Europe and Nordics. This is in order to focus on countries that are “more strategically attractive”.

I am not much of a gambler and will not be patronising this platform any time soon, but it is always a pity to see a cut in the number of language versions offered by any company. The world will be a much poorer place if the only languages available are English and perhaps Mandarin.

Diversity is a luxury we cannot afford to be without.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Janus Face

Continuing the backwards and forwards reflections, a look at how different cultures or languages look at the passage of time.

We English speakers tend to look ahead, as we progress into the future, and commonly look forward to (usually pleasant) things happening. In the French language this looking forward does not take place. Instead, one waits in anticipation, or impatiently or for the pleasure of seeing something develop.

In other cultures you cannot look into the future at all. The future is seen as something unknowable into which one is reversing, blind. You can only look back on what has already happened.

And what should we make of Janus the Roman deity of beginnings and endings, who looked both forwards and backwards?