lead linguist

The Role & Value of a Lead Linguist in a Translation Team

There is no denying that reaching high quality translation goals is a team effort. Project managers, translators, editors, and proofreaders all come together to help a translation project succeed. But sometimes there can be too many cooks in the kitchen. When it comes to large-volume projects with many teammates, or when a client has recurring translation needs, it can be wise to employ a lead linguist. 

Having a lead linguist ensures consistency and can bring peace of mind to both the client and the translation team. Both parties can be confident there is someone who has the big picture top of mind. And that someone is available to support them in every way. Let’s take a look at what a lead linguist does and how they can help a translation team succeed. 

How They Can Help a Translation Team

The translation, editing, and proofreading process (better known in the translation industry as TEP) is a process top-tier translation companies utilize. It can ensure accuracy and convey the proper meaning sourced from an original language. TEP can also keep projects and workflows moving along in a productive and effective manner. During TEP, there can be multiple  translators, editors and proofreaders working on the same project. When a team is this large, it can be necessary to have a lead linguist on the team. 

A lead linguist can benefit a translation team and client in many ways. One such way is by effectively driving and communicating evolving customer requirements. As well as priorities that unify the style, tone, terminology and quality across the language team. In the translation industry, consistency and unity are key. 

What a Lead Linguist Does

A lead linguist wears many hats, but is primarily in charge of overseeing an entire translation project. They will be a team’s go-to person when a translator has a linguistic question. If a question has a clear answer or was resolved in the past, the lead linguist can ideally provide an answer or a solution quickly. They can save the team time and allow them to keep moving forward towards meeting their deadline. 

Tricky questions that don’t have clear answers and require clarification from a client will fall to the lead linguist to handle. They will communicate with the client and then pass along the resolution to their team. The lead linguist is in charge of terminology management. They are responsible for updating the glossaries and style guides in accordance with the client’s preferences. They also take into account any feedback or clarifications received from the client.  

Qualities That Deliver Results

Translation projects will see less setbacks and clients will receive the best results when a lead linguist is part of the team. These are some of the qualities lead linguists usually have:

  • Vast experience in localization
  • A meticulous attention to detail
  • An extensive knowledge of CAT tools
  • Very good coordination and organizational skills
  • Project management skills
  • The ability to manage time well and meet deadlines
  • Strong empathy for their teammates and clients
  • A drive to be proactive and solve problems
  • A commitment and passion for language
  • The ability to drive consistent high quality work amongst their team

The Takeaway

A lead linguist establishes and maintains strong and collaborative working relationships with a client’s language counterparts. They are also able to provide mentorship and leadership to the translation team. Both the clients and translation team can benefit greatly from having a lead linguist on their team.

Spanish-Variants-Explained-What-are-they-and-which-should-I-localize-to

Spanish Variants Explained: What are they and which should I localize to?

As the official language of 21 countries, Spanish continues to evolve and establish itself as a globalized language. There are currently 577,256,327 Spanish speakers in the world according to a 2018 report from the Spanish government’s Cervantes Institute. This figure is five million more than the previous study published in November 2017. Although the number of Spanish speakers is on the rise, it’s important to note that within the single language are significant differences in speech. Grammar to expressions vary within the Spanish language highly dependent upon geography and migration. In addition to vocabulary issues, there are words or phrases that are actually inappropriate in some countries but not in others. In translation, the most common Spanish variants include LATAM, Mexican, U.S., European or Iberian, and neutral. 

So what variant is best for your translation and localization needs? Let’s take a closer look at Spanish variants around the world.

What is LATAM Spanish?

The culmination of Spanish, Portuguese, and French, Latin America is a group of countries that stretch from the northern border of Mexico to the southern tip of South America. There are 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean today, according to the United Nations. Out of these 33, Spanish is the official language of 18. Because the territory is so large, there is no “uniformed” Spanish. Every country’s dialect is unique and varies greatly. In order to cater to the majority of Latin American Spanish speakers, translators developed what is referred to as “LATAM Spanish”. This “Generic LATAM Spanish” avoids country colloquialisms but still sounds familiar with the general audience. LATAM Spanish is considered to be a broader variant than Mexican Spanish.

When localizing cultural references such as food, pop-culture, legal, and marketing texts, in-country linguists may be best to accurately reflect the target country’s expressions. However, in many cases, LATAM Spanish will suffice for the localization. 

What is Mexican Spanish?

Although Mexico is considered part of Latin America, the region has a variant all of its own. From vocabulary to idioms, there lives a dialect that is unique and specific to the country. In many cases, Mexican Spanish is the selected variant because of its large demographic and reach. When compared to other Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas, Mexico is ranked first. In the U.S., Mexican Spanish is often studied in schools more than any other dialect. This variant works perfectly for a Mexican audience but won’t effectively garner desired results in other Spanish-speaking markets. 

What is U.S. Spanish?

At over 50 million Spanish speakers, the U.S. now has the second-largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. There is a misconception that its proximity to Mexico means the U.S. Spanish variant is predominantly a Mexican variant. In actuality, the U.S. displays vibrant influences of Puerto-Rican, Dominican, and other Latin American countries. The influence of Hispanics who have migrated to the U.S. from various Latin American countries over generations has cultivated a Spanish variant of its own. The coexistence of the English and Spanish language has also transformed the way U.S. Spanish is spoken and written. The most distinct characteristic of this variant is that it reserves many of its the English formatting conventions such as date, decimals, time, and even capitalization.

What is European Spanish or Iberian Spanish?

European Spanish (or Iberian) is truly unique because it is the most isolated dialect from the rest of the variants. The Spanish spoken in Spain is called Castilian, a term that refers to the province of Castile located in central Spain. It is said that the Spanish language originated there.

Take an in-depth look at its vocabulary, grammar, and phonetic in our blog post Latin American Spanish vs. European Spanish.

What is Neutral Spanish?

Neutral Spanish is the “universal” variant. From the U.S. to Europe to Latin America, this variant can be understood on a global level. Neutral Spanish is the attempt of linguistic authorities to standardize the language across borders. Determining a common vocabulary is designed to ensure maximum understanding amongst speakers and readers, cutting out local variations and colloquialisms.

For technical and specialized texts, a universal Spanish could be acceptable. Unlocalized variants that don’t reflect specific regions or communities also work well for the translation of informative texts such as instruction manuals, medical prospectuses, and the description of products. 

Despite offering an efficient solution for technical information, this model is not recommended for translations related to artistic or creative activities such as literary translations, film subtitles, video games, and advertising. Failure to localize can disrupt engagement and negatively impact source credibility.

In conclusion, know your audience!

Neutral Spanish is an acceptable practice that most Spanish speakers will easily understand. However, to truly resonate with an audience, it’s best to localize to your target market as closely as possible. By taking the extra step to understand and learn the culture as well as the dialect of the target market, you will create materials that genuinely relates to audiences. Your audience will feel closer to your message and your business will gain a higher opportunity to engage. A strategic and successful campaign will be the launching pad to expand to more countries and craft messaging to new local audiences. 

When launching a project, marketing campaign, document, book, or movie in a Spanish-speaking market, be sure to do your research. Depending on what you’re creating, you may need to use a more localized Spanish dialect for maximum impact.

What is post-editing in the translation industry?

The development of artificial intelligence is not only changing industrial processes but also the translation workflow as we know it. In the localization industry, the use of powerful engines to produce machine translation (MT) output is becoming more frequent. Because of this, the role of the translator and other professionals in the industry is being redefined. MT cultivates new roles and needs while other tasks are no longer required. The most relevant evolution created through MT involves the translator. This new role isn’t in charge of the translation anymore but of the edition of the output generated by the engine. This process of revision is called post-editing.

What exactly is post-editing?

When we examine post-edition, we are referring to the process of improving a MT output. The textual product is modified with two main goals. The first is to enhance that particular text in order to get a readable and understandable output. The second is to improve the MT engine with the linguist’s work and feedback. This process involves the job of localization or language engineers. It is important to note that post-edition requires specific skills. A post-editor should be very aware of details to detect errors and make pertinent corrections. Also, he or she should be efficient, since in this task time is everything. The goal of post-editing is to get a correct text with very quick and short modifications.

Furthermore, when dealing with MT projects, it is important to know which text types are a better option for this technology. Technical or scientific texts are more suitable for MT and post-editing than marketing materials, video-games or audiovisual products. This is because these are related to other media (e.g., video, audio) and have more creative content as well as higher complex sentences. Such factors result in harder input for MT.

Types of post-editing processes

There are two different processes of post-editing. First, light post-editing consists of implementing quickly a small number of changes so the MT output is considered acceptable. The expected corrections are the following: 

  • Orthography
  • Mistranslation
  • Omissions and additions
  • Terminology

The text can contain grammar or punctuation mistakes. The purpose of the light post-editing process is to obtain an acceptable and understandable text. Also to make information available to readers, not an output with human translation quality.

On the other hand, in the deep post-editing  process more changes are expected since the quality of the output should be equivalent to the quality of a human translation. As a result, linguists involved in the task spend more time working on the MT product. In a deep post-editing project, the editor should implement light-editing changes, plus the following:

  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Style
  • Tone

After the edition, the text will be suitable for publication and distribution.

Types and needs

Knowing the difference between both post-editing types is key for a successful project. The process to be applied always depends on the clients’ needs. That way they can truly take advantage of MT technology.

The Translation of Medical Patents: An Introduction

Now, more than ever, we live in a globally connected world. Thanks to technology, progress and collaboration opportunities feel limitless. Language barriers don’t even exist anymore, with the services of professional translations available. Translation services are utilized in every area of the medical field. From medical devices to clinical trials. The translation of medical patents is yet  another area of the medical field that translators touch.

What are medical patents?

Traditionally, a patent is a legal instrument that gives the patent holder exclusive rights for making, selling, or offering to sell the subject matter that the patent “claims”. More specifically, medical patents may relate to pharmaceuticals. This can include the methods of making and using them. As well as medical treatment regimens, surgical procedures, medical devices, and health care information technology.

What is the purpose of medical patents?

The primary goal of a medical patent, or any patent, is to provide a unique marketing advantage to the inventor. Another goal is to limit the usability of any aspect of the subject matter of the patent for a set amount of time. This assists the patentee in limiting their competition. The patent can stop competitors from making, using, or selling the item or process outlined in the patent. These protections help the filer of the patent maintain the value of their invention.

You may be wondering who utilizes medical patents. Biotech companies, physicians, and universities are some of the most common to do so. Medical patents allow them to protect their inventions from their competition temporarily. The patentee can take advantage of this time period to generate revenue. Which will ideally help make up for any incurred research and development costs.

There is another great benefit to medical patents. One consumers can appreciate as much as creators. After receiving a New Drug Application (NDA) the Food and Drug Administration tests any medical product applicants for safety and effectiveness. This is a rigorous approval process that requires clinical trials and compliance with an extensive approval process. This can be an expensive step of the process, but is a necessary one. 

The translation of medical patents

You can file an international patent application in many languages, as long as the receiving office accepts that language. If you choose to file your application in a language that the International Searching Authority (ISA) does not accept, you must provide the ISA with a translation of the application. The ISA is one of the world’s major patent offices and it identifies published patent documents and technical literature that can influence if your invention is patentable. If your chosen language is not available for consideration, you always have the option of submitting your patent in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. These languages are official “publication languages”. And all receiving offices must accept these languages. This is the step in the process in which you may require the translation of medical patents.

The cost of medical patents

The cost of filing a patent may be one of the biggest challenges you’ll face. And the translation of medical patents will incur an additional cost. If you’re filing your patent in multiple countries, this cost can mount as each country will have its own set of fees. Not to mention the inventor may have to hire translation services to translate the patent into different languages for different countries they file in. Between filing fees, translation costs, and paying a patent lawyer, filing can cost anywhere from $2,000 to more than $20,000. These costs feel steep, but they protect both the creator of the invention and the consumers who will be using it.

The security you receive from medical patents, and the translation of medical patents, is undeniable. By filing your patent in multiple countries, you protect your invention in those regions. Because the wording of a patent certificate is very complex, it is important to work with a highly skilled translator and a subject matter expert. You want to ensure the specific terminology and details of the patent are understood properly. If the quality of translation is low, you risk dire legal and financial consequences. Errors in translation can result in the ineligibility of the patent in some markets. Investing in quality translation services will help protect your invention and your finances. 

The Secret to High-Performance Teams in the Digital Era

One of the highlights of CLINT 2019 (Congreso Latinoamericano de la Industria de la Traducción) was the session of Natalia Quintás, our Human Resources Manager. She led an in-depth session on how to manage high-performance teams in the competitive and challenging scenario of the localization industry. Natalia has 5 years’ experience at Terra Translations. She has worked as a vendor manager, permanent staff administrator and training and development manager. In addition, Natalia has a 15-year background  in first-level global companies. Her bachelor’s degree in psychology and postgraduate courses are a supplement to her solid expertise. Because of this, she is a specialist in employment relationships, staff selection and team management, key aspects that shape the translation workflow.

The digital era

Natalia’s  professional background was fundamental to the success of the presentation. On Sunday, September 15th, she took center stage in the packed conference room of CLINT 2019. Natalia began her lecture defining the context of where the localization industry is set today: a digital era in which the internet is a featured part of the productive process. In this framework, companies can operate completely under a remote model without losing their high-performance profile, establishing new skills, leadership models and monitoring processes that Natalia knows very well.

Competences and monitoring

With this context as a new reality, Natalia explained that companies tend to have a more horizontal, interactive structure with flexible shifts and workplaces. The scenario requires different professional skills as well as new ways of monitoring everyday work. For instance, constant feedback, follow-up meetings and using psychological assets like the enneagram for team composition are some of the methods that allow leaders to have control over their vendors and processes, in the same way leaders can take monitoring actions for on-premises companies. That is why HR personnel should know, like Natalia does, how to find the right vendors that adapt and provide their best for digitally connected high-performance teams. Complex problem solving, staff management, creativity and teamwork are some of the features that Natalia values in both linguists and operations staff. In companies like Terra, they result in quality of the final product and success of a project’s development.

Advantages of remote localization work

Remote companies like Terra have advantages that improve their employment conditions and, moreover, the value of the linguistic product delivered, she explained. First, savings in structural expenses (like office rent or electricity) can translate into more competitive rates for clients. Second, employees save time and resources. As Natalia outlined, not having to commute to work has a positive impact on employees because it results in enriched well-being and work-life balance. This directly influences  the team’s high-performance. The most salient asset of remote localization teams is that the vendors and managers’ location doesn’t interfere in recruitment because geography is not a limit for being part of the team. As a remote company, we can work with top professionals in their fields regardless of where these vendors are.