We are excited to announce our collaboration with Science Exchange. Science Exchange is an online marketplace that allows buyers to find and request services directly through the platform. Communication and payment processes are streamlined, which helps make the translation buying process more of an easy pill to swallow. Never heard of Science Exchange? Here’s a brief rundown:
Science Exchange connects buyers with service providers (like DTS!) to help lower the costs and turnaround times involved in conducting scientific research. The company was established in 2011 by Elizabeth Iorns, who holds a PhD in cancer biology, and Dan Knox who brings his business expertise to the team. Iorns reportedly came up with the idea for this marketplace while conducting research at the University of Miami.
The company website, www.scienceexchange.com, states that the founders’ mission was to “democratize access to the world’s scientific expertise”. The company has been called the “Uber for experiments,” as it allows scientists access to literally thousands of verified labs, government facilities, CROs, and other service providers. Buyers are able to search the marketplace for very specific services (think “transgenic genotyping”, “transmitted light microscopy”, or “document translation services”), compare providers’ descriptions and ratings from past buyers, and then request quotes and initiate orders directly through the system. There are no membership fees for buyers– instead, Science Exchange tacks a modest service fee on top of the service provider’s costs on a per-project basis.
Since its inception, Science Exchange has been producing great results. The company even made Forbes’ 2015 list of Most Promising Companies in America (#77). We are really looking forward to seeing what new opportunities our participation in this program might unveil and, even more so, to seeing how we might be able to help some of the smaller players who are trying to make big things happen in the life sciences industries. You can view the DTS storefront online.
Need some tips and suggestions on how to make your next translation project go faster, smoother, and easier? Here are seven suggestions:
When possible, always send softcopy (native file formats), not PDF or scanned hardcopy versions. Remember, in translation, we are literally overtyping the text in your documents into a different language, whether in the native file or in a translation tool. Only have a PDF? First, click on “File”, “Properties”, “Description” and you will usually see the original native file format. Someone, somewhere has that file! If time permits, it is better to try to obtain it because it will cost you less and take a much shorter time to deliver your translation.
Are your documents ship worthy? Did you spell and grammar check your files one last time? Are there still unaccepted changes? Any inserted comments not yet deleted? It is good practice to send only clean, validated files to any third-party vendor. Don’t leave it to chance that they will “accept all changes” or make other assumptions. What if there is a misunderstanding and a resulting mistranslation happens regarding key information? Will you have any idea after the fact, when your Chinese, Haitian Creole or Russian files come back to you?
Avoid using long file names as de facto file management systems:
Yes, we’re being a little bit snarky here, but you might be surprised at the very long and confusing file names that we sometimes receive! In general, brevity is better.
Use numbers at the start of file names as an easy way to reference multiple documents Why? If there are many files with closely-resembling names, it can be very confusing when this is then multiplied by a factor of X forwards languages (and then X English back translations on top of that).
Instead of this typical file naming:
Try this method instead:
This way, when communicating during the project, you can say “We received Chinese files 01-03, I just need number 04, please”, or “We need to send replacement English files for nos. 01 and 04.” There will be much less chance of misunderstanding or delay on both sides.
Send only final document versions, not draft versions. Do you have a non-IRB approved Assent File that you’re in a hurry to have translated? Want to send it for translation ahead of time, thinking that the translator can apply any changes to the approved version afterwards? Resist this urge! It is playing with fire. The chances are that somewhere along the line, there will be an error or omission in your translations that may or may not go undetected.
The same idea holds true for User Manuals where there is a software product or app involved. Do not send your supporting documentation for translation ahead of product release time, thinking that this will be a shortcut to beat the clock. Despite the time lag, usually it is much faster and safer to wait until the final software screen shots and terminology have been fully tested, validated, captured and approved.
Avoid using email to send large file attachments. Most email systems have built-in size limits. If there is a 15-megabyte limit on file attachments (or less), and you’re trying to email an 18-megabyte Word file, you may or may not get the rejection notification until hours (or even days) later—meanwhile, you may have assumed your file was received and is being translated. Not good! Instead, use a free tool like the DTS Online Portal or ShareFile to send files over, say, 10 MB or larger. New to the concept of the DTS Portal? We'd be happy to give you a very short demo at your convenience.
Do you have any other tips, suggestions or efficiency suggestions? Are you interested in learning more about the DTS Portal? Please send us a message and let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
it's that time of year again! International Translation Day 2016 is on Friday, September 30th. This holiday has been celebrated since 1953, and falls on St. Jerome's Day. St. Jerome is the patron saint of scholars and the first to translate the Bible from Hebrew to Latin.
In celebration of St. Jerome and of all the talented linguists that help break down language barriers every day, DTS is offering a 20% discount for any quote request submitted to us by Monday, October 3rd. Even if your documents are still in draft format, if the initial request is made by October 3rd, we will honor this discount. Please feel free to reach us with any questions: email@example.com or 800.524.0722.
Happy International Translation Day!
DTS Spotlight: Meet Kathleen Ruth Goldsmith Killing, MD
Brazilian Portuguese Language Lead
Recently, DTS employees Amanda Blevins and Duncan Shaw spent some time with DTS Brazilian Portuguese Language Lead Dr. Kathleen Goldsmith. Kathleen is an MD, educated in the US and medically trained in Brazil. She has been a professional translator for over 15 years, primarily in pharmaceuticals and clinical research. Kathleen has a tremendous wealth of experience and knowledge to share!
DTS: Bom Dia, Kathleen! Can you tell us where you were born, and a little about your family life growing up?
I was born in Little Falls, Minnesota. My dad was from Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and my mom was born in Bolivia, the daughter of missionaries there for 40+ years, but she is an American. I came to Brazil with my parents when I was 18 months old. So I was raised in Brazil, although our family would spend a year in the States every 4-5 years, so in all, I have probably lived in the US a little over five years. I attended Brazilian schools in the morning and did Calvert Correspondence Course in the afternoons whenever we were in Brazil. I finished High School in the States (Glendale, CA), so I have diplomas from both school systems, Brazilian and American.
DTS: That's quite an unusual cultural upbringing! Which languages do you speak/read/write into?
I only speak and write in English and Portuguese. I say "only", because my three kids and husband are trilingual: they are German/Brazilian citizens, and speak German, English and Portuguese. And my grandmother, who went to Bolivia in her early twenties to teach Bolivian children, spoke five languages.
DTS: So by comparison, you're slacking! Did you stay in the US during your college years?
No, instead of going to college in the US, I came back to study medicine here so I could practice in Brazil. I finished medical school in 1980, worked for a while in General Practice, but by then had been married for a few years, and decided to take some time out to invest in raising my kids.
DTS: Did you always know what you wanted to be in life?
I had known since I was a kid that I wanted to be a doctor. This was probably defined while I was in the hospital for heart surgery at the age of six. During med school, I always thought of specializing in hand surgery, but when I did the residency exams for Orthopedic Surgery, intending to later specialize in the hand, that area was still a no-no for married women. So I stayed on as a GP.
DTS: Your ability to understand US culture and Brazilian, in addition to language fluency and being an MD, is a very rare combination. Have you noticed differences with colleagues who may be translators but lack the medical training that you have?
Yes, there is a major difference. Although I have some close friends who have come from other backgrounds (their family came from Romania, for example, so they speak several languages), who have advantages over me. And there are a few other MDs who also do translation work.
DTS: How did you transition into becoming a professional translator?
Well, I learned that I DO NOT LIKE to teach English. After having translated a book for women and done translations in various fields, I had a friend who introduced me to people at a major pharmaceutical company who needed a “native” English speaker for translations of their clinical trials materials. And since then (1998 or so), I have specialized in medical texts.
DTS: Most translators only work in one language direction. Was being bi-lingual in two directions especially useful?
For the first nine years, translations were mostly English into Portuguese. But over these last years, I have been able to sort of carve out a niche for myself specializing in Portuguese into English, especially since there are so few Brazilians with that expertise. I get a lot of articles for publication in international scientific journals, theses for Masters and Doctorates, patient records with test results that need to be in English (so they can continue treatment in the States), and things like that.
DTS: Are you excited about the approaching Summer Olympics? What is the general mood in Brazil?
Mostly, Brazilians are wary of what might happen. I do not like Rio as a city, although I have been there various times. But the crime rate and the pollution do not attract me at all. Plus, the city has not done their part regarding preparations - some installations are ready and are top-notch, but other things have still not been completed…
Meaning, the cement is still wet, the water in the bay is still full of trash, and things like that. Unfortunately, that's the way it is now, and unless some miracle happens before then, we all fear major embarrassment for the country. But I do enjoy watching good sports!
DTS: Well, we shall have to see what happens. You spoke a bit about how you came to be interested in medicine. How is it that you came to start translating texts, even as a teenager?
I began translating as a child, since my parents were missionaries here for 30+ years. But in the beginning, I picked up the language before they did, even with my Mom's background in Spanish. Growing up, I also translated a lot of material for them to use in courses they gave at a seminary and at Family Life seminars, camps, for counseling, etc.
DTS: Who/what have been your primary influences in your professional development as a translator?
In terms of official preparation, per se, for translation, I confess I have never taken a translation course... Just medical school. But since I come from a family of English literature teachers (grandmother, mother, sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew), I have always been surrounded by people who insisted on proper English.
DTS: What do you like most about what you do? Is it the research, constantly being exposed to new material?
I really enjoy doing research when I am doing a translation in a specific field I am not familiar with, or that didn't even exist when I was in training, such as Epigenetics, for example. Another area is medical statistics, and all the equations, and tests, and indexes used...I have to be sure I understand what I am dealing with so there are no mistakes in the translation. I enjoy the mental stimulation of it all. I have a constant “brain itch”, and want to learn more things. I am fascinated with languages, and when things get a little slow with work, I have done a few courses in linguistics, neuroanatomy, and things like that on Coursera.
DTS: Do you have any concerns about the translation industry? What trends have you noticed in pharmaceutical translations, specifically, as of late?
One trend I do not identify with is the use of CAT tools for translation. That’s probably not even a “trend” anymore, since it is so widely used. I have tried it, and did a training course for one method, but I do not like it at all, especially when dealing with clinical subjects, patient reports, etc. I prefer using my “wetware” (my own brain), which I think is more dependable for catching nuances in meaning.
DTS: Every successful translator has their own ways of working, that’s for sure. Can you recall any particularly unusual or interesting situations that you've come across in your work over the years?
In terms of “unusual”, I did all the translations for Viagra when it was introduced to the Brazilian market - everything from the Investigator's Brochure to the patient questionnaires. It was interesting to read things about the drug in medical magazines after that, knowing what I knew. It was the same thing with inhaled insulin.
DTS: I can imagine so! Having been exposed to so many different types of documents within the pharmaceutical industry, is there anything that you would like to share with clinical writers?
I enjoy a well written text. Brazilian clinical/medical writers tend to be verbose, and I always cut down the number of words and “dry up the text”, as we say in Portuguese, because I know that Americans are a lot more to the point and concise. But I think that is a Latin tendency. It has to do with the culture. I get VERY frustrated when I translate some things from Portuguese into English for that reason. Another thing is that some doctors here did a year or so of residency in the States and consider that they know English, so they write the article in English. But there are so many errors, especially in pronouns, that I almost have to rewrite the whole thing.
DTS: Are there any other key differences between these two cultures that affect your day to day work?
Yes, culturally, Brazilians enjoy sounding erudite when writing, but that is not the point in scientific literature. I think most (Northern) European and American doctors don't have the time or patience to wade through wordiness in an article. It’s the same with correspondence. I would say it's a Latin cultural thing, because I perceive the same thing when working with texts from Portugal.
DTS: Do you agree that just because a person can speak two languages conversationally, that they won’t necessarily make an excellent specialized translator?
Yes. Just because you speak two languages conversationally does not mean you would make a good translator, at least not in the sciences. Maybe in romantic literature.
DTS: Indeed, some clinical writers and translators might have better careers as romance or science fiction writers.
DTS: Kathleen, as the DTS Brazilian Portuguese Language Leader, we want you to know how much you are appreciated and valued. Your keen sense of purpose in working with a document, your responsiveness, and your consistent accuracy are all vital in clinical translation. So from all of us at DTS, as well past, present, and future clients, please accept our sincerest thanks and recognition for everything that you do!
Thank you very much! Até logo.
Ah, price. The KEY element in the translation buying decision. Or is it? Do you make translation buying decisions just based on price? Or do you acknowledge value as well - what you are actually getting for what you’re paying?
Very often at life science organizations in the US, translation costs are completely forgotten about during early budget planning phases. Budgets are then finalized, signed off and appropriated. When unforeseen translation needs arise down the road, where is the money going to come from?
With that said, here are some key factors which influence translation pricing (yes, for you CROs out there, we know that you’re keenly taking notes):
How much text do you need translated?
Far and away, the volume of text that you need translated (whether measured by words or pages) will dictate cost. A 298-page medical device User Manual will cost more to translate than a 50-page IFU. A 22-page patient consent form will cost more to translate than a two-page MSDS.
But looks can be deceiving. For example, a 100-page Patient Diary document which contains 90% repeating text will cost far less to translate than 100 pages of unique text. Alternatively, a business card translation into Chinese requiring layout and QA proofing steps will cost proportionately more than just translation of a small amount of text by itself.
You need your translation by WHEN?
The next biggest factor is timing. For many of us, time is as much or more the enemy than cost. Although estimates vary, in general you can expect a translator to throughput work at about 2,000 words per day. On that basis, if you have 12,000 words of patient recruitment materials, there is no way that you are going to have quality translations ready in two or three days. Expect rush fees to hover somewhere around 25% in such cases.
Degree of translation difficulty comes into play as well—translating data bases of scientific chemical compound names is much harder than translating medical labels. Translating web sites is much easier than translating heavily-laden scientific SOP documents. So factor both your timing needs as well as degree of translation difficulty into your translation budgets.
Experience and geography
Let’s face it – the services of a brand-new CRA in Poland will cost far less than a highly experienced CRA in Boston. At DTS, translation costs tend to come in somewhere around $62/hour as a professional service. This is because we work with experienced, senior-level, accomplished translators. True, there are indeed far “cheaper” sources around the world (if you don’t mind worrying about confidentiality, security or delivery reliability too much). But when considering a lower price in hiring any professional from another part of the world, also consider: Trustworthiness, reliability, and how well your translation partner listens and understands you and your organization's needs. Is communication and responsiveness excellent, or only average? Are deliveries reliable and punctual, or only sometimes? And make no mistake, adherance to NDA standards varies widely around the world.
What’s at Stake?
You don’t need to pay more than you should, but do consider what’s at stake with your translations. If your company is in the process of acquiring another organization in a multi-million dollar, high-stakes deal, is a $12,000 translation cost “expensive” for a reliable, quality translation that saves the day and makes it happen? For that matter, is $62/hour “expensive”? Or is it a relative bargain when compared to typical hourly legal, consulting or IT rates?
If you need translation budget planning help, DTS can help you customize a translation pricing plan that works with your budget and avoids costs overruns. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation or to receive a translation project quote.
How to Use Translation Reviews to Protect Yourself
It goes without saying that the language that is used in your organization means everything – to employees, to new and existing clients, to partners, vendors, and anyone who has the slightest interest in following your track record. But what about your translations? Whether you have an in-house team of translators or whether you outsource translation, a great deal is at stake in the accuracy, quality and reputability of your translations. And what if something went horrifically wrong that could easily have been prevented if only your translations were checked ahead of time before being released?
One way to protect yourself and show that you have a checks-and-balance system in place is to periodically conduct translation reviews. Perhaps your European or Asian locations can serve the function of performing translation reviews periodically. What about your distributors or international partners whose success also is tied to the success of your translations? Even documenting that you have asked a bi-lingual employee who is familiar with your SOPs and requirements to check the translations is better than simply doing nothing. However, what’s equally bad is not giving a translation reviewer any guidelines or directions whatsoever at the start. In essence, you are simply saying “Uh, what do you think?” which is hardly a process.
Here are seven easy tips that you can easily use to start a Translation Review process at your organization:
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The most important instruction that you can give any translation reviewer is to NOT change a translation for stylistic preference reasons…Your reviewer may have different opinions or styles, but so what? We all do. Your first step should be to tell your review team to only make changes which are absolutely necessary and vital to the communication of the document. If the translation is within the bounds of acceptability, and adequately conveys the message of the source language, don’t make any changes. Gratuitous changes only lead to possible errors, misunderstandings and inconsistencies.
Use an approved glossary of key foreign language terminology. We recommend that your very first review process should be one of agreeing and approving on the key vocabulary, terminology, jargons and expressions that are used by your organization internally. Have you ever experienced a situation where “multiple” glossaries or terminology use guides are floating around your company, yet no one really knows which ones are right or even being used? Start over. Simply create 100 key terms and approve them, and build from there. You can grow this over time and refine it, but just get started. Involve your translators in the process, and make sure that they MUST use the approved terminology in their translations, every time!
Share the ground rules with your reviewers. What’s being translated? Is it a marketing translation? Company newsletters? A list of chemical compounds? Patents? Clinical trials informed consent forms? Depending on the goals behind having your translations done to begin with, your reviewers should be told what the rules and considerations your translators abided by. If you aren’t on the same page to begin with your reviewers, you will experience blow-ups, confrontations, delays, and drama. Help avoid this by sharing with your reviewers what the basic rules and approach that your translators followed.
Tell your reviewer it is okay if they make minimal changes (or even NO changes!). In the absence of this instruction, a reviewer will want to show off their indispensability to the company by making significant changes. This is a natural reaction—after all, if a translation reviewer’s role begins to seem like it might be unnecessary, their position is in danger of being eliminated! When gratuitous changes are being made, this creates an appearance of translation problems or errors which either never existed or which are likely greatly exaggerated (if they exist at all). Avoid all of this by simply informing your reviewer at the start that it’s perfectly okay if hardly any (or no), changes were necessary. You are seeking an overall QA verification, not to re-invent the wheel.
Provide full context and supporting materials to your translation reviewer. Let’s say that you want to have a medical device quick use guide translated. Your reviewer should be provided with the source language (English or other) files which were translated, as well as PDF or other context-related support materials. If your reviewer is simply reading the translation in their native tongue by itself, they will make changes which depart from your approved source language—because how would they know otherwise? Similarly, if your reviewers are checking software localized content, what does the text look like to the end user in the compiled format? If a web site translation is being checked, what does the web site itself look like? Help your reviewers do their job by providing all support documents.
Never perform translation reviews in full desktop publishing (DTP) layout. Typically, desktop publishing (layout) work tends to cost approximately 20-35% of the translation cost, and is handled by graphic layout design specialists, not translators. Therefore, only the final, reviewed and approved translations should go into layout format. If you put the cart before the horse and perform a full Adobe InDesign layout of a 200-page French manual for review, we can assure you that errors, misunderstandings, and inconsistencies will exist (known or unknown) in the final version that is released. Instead, before layout, translation reviews should be conducted in a simple text-editing format such as Microsoft Word, using Track Changes. Reviewers should be given full context of the document as described above, so that they are not “driving blindly”.
Make sure that your translation reviewer is qualified. Yes, this sounds obvious, but all too often a very junior-ranked employee is asked to review translations that were performed by and intended for an audience well above their pay grade and knowledge. Make sure that whoever performs your reviews has the necessary industry experience, company longevity, and bi-lingual skills (and is not just a native of the target language in question). If not, this would be like jumping out of an airplane with the full knowledge that you “might” have a hole in your parachute…If you do everything else right, except for this last consideration, then the bottom may fall out of the whole process, putting your translations, your end users, and even your organization at great risk.
Need further advisement about translation review processes? Let us help you. We can help you create a complete portfolio of instructions and directions at the start, which you and your staff can use immediately. Translation reviews should not be avoided out of dread or uncertainty. If done right, they are a vital piece of the success of any translation.
DTS Spotlight: Meet Patricia Vallejo Venegas
Spanish Language Lead, DTS Mexico
This month, DTS employees Carolina Barvo and Duncan Shaw caught up with DTS Spanish Language Lead Patricia Vallejo Venegas. Patricia started with DTS in 1986, and has performed or overseen over 6,500 translations to date. If DTS performs Spanish clinical translations for you, here is an opportunity to learn more about Patricia and her talented team behind the scenes!
DTS: Where were you born? Where is your family from, and how many siblings do you have?
I was born in Mexico City. My family was born there too and I have four brothers. I am the only girl in the family.
DTS: Ah, so being the only girl, must have made you stronger in some ways!
Yes, and I have also two sons, so you can imagine how is life between all of these men!
DTS: [Only better, no doubt...!] Can you tell us a little bit about the career medical paths that some of your family have taken, and how this helps in the translation process?
My brother, Enrique, is a cardiologist. He works in Mexico City and has a degree in Nuclear Cardiology from Yale University and a Cardiac CT from Cleveland Clinic. Lorena, my sister-in-law, is an infectious disease pediatrician. She is a chief in a well-known hospital in Mexico City.
DTS: Those are pretty good resources to lean on, when necessary! But just because a person is well-qualified from a credentials standpoint, and bi-lingual, that does not necessarily mean they'll be a good translator...Agree or disagree?
Yes, I agree. You must also have a good command of the language. It's not just translating what you think it is, but you have to use the right words and apply correct grammar.
DTS: Indeed. In fact, how often have you seen cases where in-country translation reviewers make changes which greatly depart from what the English text says? While in other cases, translation reviews can be very helpful because no one can better understand specialized medical device equipment, for example, than an employee of that company. So they might use acronyms and expressions "in their field" which we would otherwise never know about?
Very often. You can see it in journals, books even in movies. Translators not always follow the source language. They just interpret what they think. So it is important to understand what you are translating and what the writer is saying and follow it as close as possible.
DTS: Definitely! Would you say that in such cases, translators are exceeding their boundaries, and no longer remaining neutral? They are interpreting the content too much? This can be very dangerous in clinical translation work.
As a translator, you should know how far you can go when translating. There are some translations that need “extra” words to convey the exact idea of the writer, but in clinical translation projects you have to follow almost exactly what the writer says in order to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation.
You have now translated for DTS for over two decades! Can you please share with us the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that you have for your long, successful career in language services?
It has been a wonderful experience! Full of challenges but that is what life is. I'm basically a self-taught translator like most translators in the US. But I think that when you love what you do, you succeed in what you do.
DTS: You have been a pillar of dependability, Patricia, and a rock of inspiration for all of us, clients, staff and translators alike. And, you are still going as strong as ever!
DTS: Based on the experience and self-knowledge you have acquired over the years working as a translator, what makes translating interesting for you? What do you like the most?
The most interesting thing about translation is that you learn so much about so many things. Some translations requires investigation in order to get familiar with the topic, and with it, you explore so many wonderful things. For example, I love to see who the doctor is in charge of a clinical study. I feel as if I am talking with them personally by the time I´m translating.
DTS: I agree with you. You get to learn so much about different type of information, cultures, languages, which I've experienced myself. This in turn leads one to be open to current changes, to learning new things, including topics and rules about languages. How do you see Spanish adapting to changes, especially in the clinical field?
I know every Spanish speaking country has its own words to express different things. However, I believe the Spanish language per se is only one and can be understood by any Spanish speaking person. Therefore, we have to follow the rules set by the Real Academia to keep a certain order in our language. They are continuously making revisions about language, and they accept changes and adopt new ones when related to the clinical field.
DTS: So based on this, do you feel that translating very directly from a source language can affect in some way how the Spanish audiences will perceive the final message? With so many differences between countries and ways of saying different things, being so literal can sometimes change the intended meaning of the writer, or make it more difficult to understand for the audience. Does this possibility exist?
I don't think so. When translating medical documents you have to be clear and straightforward. It’s like when you read a medical article versus reading a novel. In a medical article, you have direct information and numbers, but in a novel, it is full of details. I consider that reading the final version of your translation to be so important—it must be clear enough for the audience.
DTS: Translating in the medical field is very case-specific and sensitive. As you stated, the translator has to be very clear.
DTS: Now, let’s talk about DTS Mexico! We are very proud of DTS Mexico, all the excellent work and responsiveness that you consistently lead and produce. So tell us about your team...Who is involved in the DTS Mexico team. What are their specialties?
Maria is a biologist. She is my right-hand assistant and she has been at DTS Mexico for almost 16 years. She lived in the US for almost 10 years, and she is a hardworking and very responsible person.
Carlos is an industrial engineer. He has eyes like a hawk. He is an excellent proofreader who evaluates completeness and accuracy of the projects.
Claudia is a certified translator. Her knowledge of the Spanish language is outstanding. She is an excellent editor. She also has vast experience in translating medical documents.
Enrique, a cardiologist, and Lorena, an infectious disease pediatrician, are my most valuable medical advisors. They always find the exact words to explain a medical term or condition, making things easy for us.
DTS: Very talented and professional team! We very much appreciate everyone’s contributions every day, and so do our clients and other DTS translators too, for that matter.
Now, I’ve got to ask you this: With all of these expert minds working in the translation field, how do you and you team feel when the term “US Spanish” is requested as a target language?
Hmm... There should be no such thing! As I said earlier, the Spanish language is only one, with differences (colloquial words) pertaining to each Spanish-speaking country. The Spanish-speaking people who live in the US come from different Spanish speaking countries but the root of the language is the same.
DTS: I completely understand. The first time I heard someone requesting “US Spanish”, I couldn’t believe it!
Let’s talk a little bit about the role technology plays in translation. We all have to be up to date with new software and tools, like every other industry. The translation field has long joined the technology revolution with a wide range of translation tools and programs. Do you feel this has improved your ability to perform your job more accurately and quickly? Do you see any negative aspects about it?
Technology has definitely improved our ability to perform jobs quicker and more accurately. Translation software saves a tremendous amount of time, mainly when a document has so much repeating text. On the other hand, the internet helps us to find a certain meaning or to do research so fast that we are able to consistently meet deadlines even of large-size projects. Unfortunately, state-of-the art software will be decreasing the demand for translators sooner or later.
DTS: Hmm, well, I think the human factor in the translation field will always be important and crucial.
Lastly, do you have a message that you would like to share with DTS clients, staff and fellow translators? How can we as a team (everyone involved) improve the overall Spanish translation experience? What should we be doing more of? Less of? Any particular tips or suggestions come to mind?
Please give us the opportunity to continue working with you. I'm sure you will be pleased with the quality and accuracy that we all as a team are offering you. We are proud to say that we always meet the deadlines. I think every translator has their own style or language preferences when translating and we have to respect that when reviewing someone else´s work. We have to be more flexible and accept new ideas. We all learn from each other.
Thank you DTS for giving the opportunity to work with you for so many years! It has been a wonderful experience. I have learned so much from you as a team! I love you guys!
Recently, a client asked us “I’ve only asked DTS for Spanish translations before – we have an Arabic translation requirement—can you do this for us? What are your capabilities?” Well, if one person has this question, chances are many of you do. So let us briefly give you an updated overview of how DTS can help you.
We’re the language of life sciences. DTS specializes in life science translation work, including clinical trials, biopharmaceuticals and biotechnology, medical device, healthcare, chemistry and scientific translations, or work related these fields in legal, regulatory or marketing contexts. Curious about the languages that we offer? Click here to find out.
DTS has multi-country staffing operations in place in the US, Romania and Mexico. This means that your translations can be performed much faster because we’re operating in multiple time zones, working round the clock, and all sharing the same secure network platform. We are equipped to move quickly when your timing needs are tight!
What about your website? Do you need your homepage, or entire web site, translated? Have you ever considered the benefits of reaching truly global audiences to share your message? DTS can perform this for you, and easily handle version control future updates to your content in multiple languages. We can help you keep costs under control yet still reach wider audiences than ever before.
Project & Document Management worries? Do you need advice about how best to name and/or organize your documents? DTS can help, and we can work with you using your internal document codes and other references. In seconds, we can show you how to access your translation projects including your source files, translation files, and Translation Certificates, and to share these reports and records across different departments. Let us help make your job easier when it comes to managing and accessing your documents.
Software localization: Do you need a software application to be localized into multiple languages? We can perform all aspects of software localization, from preparation and planning to terminology management to full QA testing on multiple platforms. We will make your User Interface experience easy for your distributors and end users to use, in any language.
Only PDF available? Do you have documents that are only available in PDF, but you need to update them? DTS can quickly and easily recreate softcopy formats of them from PDF into any file format that you require. We can recreate your documents with full functionality and images.
Have you ever needed a transcription? We can create a transcription (text record) of an audio file, in English or any language that you may need. Having a recorded document of your audio file will protect you and act as a record of controls which you can demonstrate in the event of an audit or other inquiry about your records.
DTS Spotlight: Meet Alex Afrentoaiei, MBA
DTS Project Manager, Europe
This month, DTS President Duncan Shaw sat down to chat with DTS Project Manager Alex Afrentoaiei to discuss differences between Europe and the US, translation pricing and QA standards, and how Alex and his talented team work to solve challenging translation needs for DTS clients.
DTS: Where were you born? Where do you live and primarily work now?
I was born in a small town in Romania – Buzau. It’s a rural, small-to-medium sized town. I’m the oldest of two (we are two brothers). I sometimes travel throughout Europe and the US, but nowadays I primarily live and work in Bucharest.
DTS: After your native Romanian, did you learn other languages as part of growing up in Europe?
English was the main study language from primary school onward. I have also studied French as a secondary language. Italian is very similar to Romanian and I have also travelled a couple of times to Italy.
DTS: How so?
They are both Latin languages and Italian is the closest one to Romanian. Also, because of our history with the Roman Empire - this is how Romania was born, from a mixture of Romans with "Dacs" (the inhabitors of old Romania (Dacia)). The alphabet and the pronunciation are very close.
DTS: In the US, we’re always being teased for being overly optimistic and polite (constantly saying “please”, “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, for example). When working with US managers, have you noticed different cultural styles or differences?
There are a lot of cultural differences in Romania, the communication is more aggressive and cold; I prefer the US style which for me, is the proper way to communicate - polite, optimistic and direct, all at the same time. It is always good to adapt to each cultural mentality to achieve your aim, but I always try to stick to a polite, professional way and which for me is a lot more efficient too.
DTS: Are there any cultural differences that you have observed when doing business in Europe versus the US?
The main thing is, we have a lot of catching up to do here – out here, business is still done in the ancient ways, which will never apply nowadays to developed countries like the US, UK, and Germany for example.
DTS: Even so, I'm sure that much has changed from when you were growing up? Are any/all of these things considerably different from 10, 20, 30 years ago?
Yes, sure, things have changed a lot and this definitely shows good signs for the future. The new generation has traveled a lot and they come back with a new mentality. Foreign companies are investing a lot in Romania, so the new generation benefits significantly from: specialized training, foreign management, etc. Especially in IT, this is a sector which is doing great and foreign companies are increasing their investments and hire more resources every day.
DTS: How are things in present day Romania in general politically, economically, culturally, etc.?
Politically speaking, it will take some more time - unfortunately the corruption within the public sector is still very high. The so called “anti-corruption fight” has started to yield some results in the last year, so this is an improvement for us too.
30 years ago, we were communists under Ceausescu, the communist dictator - all former communist countries like Romania, have gone through this transition period of around 20 years to recover and get rid of the old and corrupt generation (the old communists still rule a lot of the public sectors and work hand in hand stealing the public budget). So a lot of things have changed since then and they change every year. Only more good changes will come, hopefully!
DTS: Tell us about your studies, education and training. How have you been able to apply what you learned academically to the world of language, translation and localization?
I think my college education gave me the path - graduating from an Economics college with an emphasis on Computer Science gave me the basics for both Economics and IT. I was able to learn about Databases and IT systems a lot faster and learn the language of business along the way.
DTS: Did you find it challenging to bridge the gap between the academic worlds of IT systems/data language and solving real-world “people challenges”, in different countries and cultures?
It is always challenging and the language industry keeps you in alert all the time - all clients are different and they all have differentrequirements. You always need to find the right resources for their needs, but this makes the game interactive and always interesting!
DTS: I'm sure that our readers would like to know how you oversee and manage translators, many of whom have widely different personalities - are there times where you must be more firm and direct with some, while for others, a lighter management touch and style?
DTS translators are always selected based on their field of expertise; this is important, but how you maintain a business relationship with them is just as important. As a project manager, you need to understand the personalities of each of your resources, and be able to “speak their language”.
DTS: Do you find repetitious tasks for each translation project to be boring, or are there always opportunities to learn something new?
We always learn. That’s the beauty of this business - I never treat two projects exactly the same way. And the preparation phase is the most important! Every time, certain things must be done, no matter what, even if they may seem repetitious.
DTS: What do you like most about what you do?
Resource and Project Management is what I like best about the language industry. Dealing with so many different cultures is an interesting process and is very interactive. The end-to-end business processes are always challenging due to short timeframe or rush deadlines, and different requirements of our clients.
DTS: Tell us more. What else?
Well, I also enjoy checking translations in all sorts of languages and understand each country locale. In the future, I want to learn to write/speak fluently French and Italian.
DTS: What are you passionate about?
My favorite projects are Software Localization, User Interface and Website translations. I always like to take these types of projects to the next level, such as proposing to our client’s different methods for testing their software, ways to improve their UI, or even Design Ideas (mostly I suppose for websites).
DTS: What does a 'day-in-the-life' typically look for you as a DTS Project Manager in charge of our European operations?
As a project manager, I always start my day by organizing my tasks for the current day. Time management is the most important thing. You need to know how to prioritize all tasks, factor in different time zones, translator availability and scheduling, capacity and project volumes/due dates.
One of the challenges is the preparation phase – NEVER, but NEVER rush the preparation phase! Take your time and assign your project with all the required details, information, reference material, etc.
DTS: Tell us a little bit about your in-house team. What are their specialties?
Sure. They are all linguists and all graduated from a language university here in Bucharest. Ioana speaks English and Spanish and knows some French and Japanese, too. She’s very detail-focused and will make a very good Quality Manager one day.
Andreia speaks French and English fluently, and knows Spanish well. She helps with many tasks, and she is also involved with project management and many other needs.
Georgiana is a final-year student and she is very smart. From June on she will start working full time. She lived for a while in Canada, so she speaks French and English very well, and also Spanish. She’s also into technical side of things, like DTP and Language Tools.
Victor graduated from Philosophy and he speaks English very well - after graduation he became passionate about IT and he became a graphic designer. Now he helps me with everything IT related, including DTP.
DTS: Have you observed differences in translation quality standards and expectations between the US and Europe? Are they in fact different?
Oh yes! In Romania for example, translation services are very, very cheap and the quality standards are quite low too, unfortunately. In terms of quality standards, I can say that the US leads them all by far—including Germany or any other Western European countries.
DTS: Wow! I would not have guessed this.
Oh yes, you would be surprised.
DTS: Really? Even with some of the large, “Big Box” translation agencies?
There are so many large agencies in Eruope that do not care about quality in comparison to the ones in the US. So yes, huge differences. Even the end customers in Europe, they don't do [QA] reviews very much. But the pricing range is different too compared to the US, as you might imagine, which of course affects everything.
DTS: Yes, there are corresponding ups and downs with respect to both pricing and quality...In the end, no matter what currency or country, you get what you pay for!
Exactly! And quality is not always reflected by the image and high number of employees of an agency.
DTS: Translation demand continues to rise worldwide. What’s missing from the supply side?
Hmm…The first thing that comes to mind is good, proper testing of localized software. I think this is one thing that linguists need to be more involved with validating, not just the end client engineers. Also, the preparation of the projects from the client--glossaries, reference material etc. is lacking, which then affects the course of the entire translation itself.
DTS: Where are your favorite places to visit in the world?
The US—Los Angeles and New York. Come on now, that was easy!
DTS: You had no hesitation there! Do you find that traveling in the US is different than traveling in Europe?
It is, actually, and I’m not just talking about the bigger number of security checks. Europe might be more romantic, having more history. But the US has a special energy and the people are more relaxed. I always come back fresh and recharged with enthusiasm!
DTS: Lastly, on a personal note, you’re getting married this July. Will this impact your professional ambition, goals and motivation in any way?
I surely hope so! Yes, I think that it will impact everything, in a good way. I’ve been busy preparing this huge party, like we do in Romania. All the relatives will come, there will be around 200 coming. I never liked being the center of attention, but, we will live!
DTS: Alex, you’re clearly doing a terrific job in your DTS role, and also in life in general! Thank you for this opportunity to introduce you and your team to DTS clients. Congratulations, and until our next toast together of Țuică, thank you for everything that you do!
It’s been a pleasure, and I’m honored. And if I may, let me send a message to all of our wonderful DTS clients: Keep the projects coming! We’re ready. We appreciate you, and want you to know that. Thank you!
On July 10th, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new piece of legislation, H.R.6 (by a vote of 344 to 77). H.R.6, or the 21st Century Cures Act, was received by the Senate on July 13th, 2015. The Act was then referred by the Senate to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) and is still under review.
So you might be asking, “What is the 21st Century Cures Act?”. In addition to other initiatives, the main goal of the 21st Century Cures Act is to expedite the rate at which the U.S. FDA approves new medications and devices for ailments that currently lack known cures. One of the largest functions of the Act is to provide several billion additional dollars in funding to NIH over the next few years. The Act also proposes changes to the way that protected health information and biomarkers can be used in the FDA's approval processes.
The 21st Century Cures Act appears to be causing much controversy in the world of life sciences. The belief that research findings might have an immediate and beneficial clinical impact so that lives can be affected today, not generations down the road, is exciting. However, some are concerned about the possible consequences of more expedient approvals.
“For us, there are certainly concerns about …the misperception that you might be able to speed innovation by lowering standards for safety and efficacy, and we think that would be a terrible mistake,” said former FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg at a National Press Club event in April.
In short, the policies cited in the 21st Century Cures Act may help make drug and device advances less time-consuming and less expensive, which is good news for patients and families everywhere. This innovation could also help ensure that the US stays on the forefront of pharmaceutical and device development, while not sacrificing the FDA’s existing standards for safety.
Most recently, in February 2016 the Senate HELP committee approved seven biomedical innovation bills unanimously with full bipartison support. These smaller bills will act as a "Senate sidekick" to the 21st Century Cures Act. Certainly, much work, negotiation and politics remain ahead indefinitely, so stay tuned for updated developments!
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