The Right Voice-Over Narrator for Audiobooks
02/08/2022

How to Find the Right Voice-Over Narrator for Audiobooks

Anyone who likes to hit the treadmill or who frequently gets stuck in bumper to bumper traffic is probably familiar with the ease and convenience of audiobooks. Listening to books is a great way to squeeze in a little recreation time while folding laundry or wrapping up mindless work tasks. 

It’s easy to see why audiobooks have grown so much in popularity in recent years. In the first quarter of 2017 alone, audiobook sales rose by 28.8% and in 2016, 24% of Americans listened to at least one audiobook, which was an increase from the 22% of people who reported doing so in 2015. 

With so much interest in audiobooks growing over the years, this leaves a lot of room for authors and publishing houses to benefit from this trend. Almost any book has the potential to become an audiobook, but for it to be effective, it has to be done well. There’s a lot more to making a good audiobook than just reading it out loud. The voice-over narrator in particular plays a key role in the success of an audiobook. 

Skills Audiobook Narrators Need

The bulk of the audiobook experience for the reader centers around the narrator, which is why it’s so important to work with an experienced narrator who is up to the task. These are some of the skills you should look for when hiring an audiobook narrator. 

  • Acting ability. A good narrator doesn’t simply read text, they act it out. When someone narrates an audiobook, they need to embody different characters and be able to authentically relay their stories. Having a background in acting can make accomplishing this task much easier. 
  • Voice abilities. To differentiate between characters, the narrator will need to alter their voice, to make it clear which character is speaking. They may even need to adapt accents or speak in different dialects. While no listener expects one narrator to completely change their voice for each character, they won’t be able to follow the story if the narrator doesn’t use a variety of voices. 
  • Stamina. Narration is a tiring task and one that requires stamina and a decent amount of breath control. Recording days can be long and tiring, so you’ll want to work with a narrator who is experienced working on these types of projects and who knows what to expect during a day of recording. 
  • Research. A narrator who is also a good researcher will be most effective at their job. The whole process will go a lot smoother if the narrator does some leg work and reviews the text in advance to confirm they know how to pronounce all the words. That way, they won’t stumble through the narration any time a new name or place they haven’t heard of before comes up in the text. 

How to Find the Right Narrator

To find the right narrator for an audio project, it’s important to compare work samples of any narrators you’re considering for the job. Here’s a few things you should pay attention to when reviewing those audio samples. 

  • Their voice. This seems like a no-brainer, but the narrator has to have the right voice for the project. No matter how good they are at their job, sometimes they may sound too young or too old for a role. They may have a flair for the dramatic or pronounce words in a specific way that doesn’t work for the tone of the book. Pay close attention to their voice to get a gauge if they can help your specific text come to life.
  • Their speed. How fast do they speak? Do they speak too fast for anyone to understand? Or too slow to keep the audience’s attention?
  • Their equipment and surroundings. If your narrator will be recording the audiobook using their own equipment in their own recording space, make sure you pay close attention to background sounds, echos, and other factors that can be influenced by their location or technology. 

Every book (or audiobook) is unique, which is why it’s only logical to be in doubt about what narrator to choose. If you’re about to embark on a project like this one, feel free to reach out to the Terra team and get advice and suggestions for your specific project. The last thing you want is for a great story to fall flat because the narrator wasn’t the right fit!

19/07/2022

The Role of Technology in the Translation Industry

Technology has impacted all areas of our lives greatly and the translation industry is no exception. In the past, translators did their work using paper and pen, typewriters, and dictionaries. As you can imagine, without the aid of technology, the translation process took a lot of time to complete. Fortunately, much has changed since the rise of the computer and the internet—word processor, access to many more digital resources (dictionaries, glossaries, corpus), reduced research time (no need to go to the library and flip through big books), faster communication with clients and between peers, and access to the best talent in the world make translation work easier and more effective.

Let’s take a closer look at how technology has impacted the translation industry. 

How Technology Has Impacted the Translation Industry

The advancement of computer technology and the internet created a wide range of tools and convenience for every industry, but the translation industry specifically started its road of exponential growth when technology stepped in. As technology expanded, so did our access to other corners of the world. Given the amount of content that needed to be translated to reach other markets and audiences, technology also needed to provide enhanced productivity, communication, and quality assurance tools.

CAT tools were the first big revolution in the translation field and absolutely changed how translators worked thanks to the implementation of translation memory, term bases, and QA checks. While at the beginning CAT tools were deemed to be a threat to human translators, it soon became clear how much they had to offer. Linguists became more efficient and productive, and found in them ways to reduce human errors. Now it seems inconceivable to work without them.

Machine Translation (MT) can be considered the next big revolution. This technological solution was created to help meet that vast demand for fast translation services at a cheaper cost. While the quality standard with MT can be questionable and there’s a lot of room for improvement, there’s no denying that to some extent and in some fields the use of MT can prove to be invaluable.

As demand for translation services grew, other technological tools came to the rescue in order to keep track of everything. Translation Management Systems in particular provide a wide variety of solutions to common translation struggles. This tool organizes all kinds of translation and localization workflows. Some of the benefits of a Translation Management System include: 

  • 24/7 access
  • Automation of workflows
  • Assignments by AI
  • Centralized linguistic assets
  • Easy collaboration
  • Progress tracking
  • Simple integration
  • Built-in accountability
  • Scalability
  • Deadline management
  • Improved translation quality
  • Transparent ROI

The Takeaway 

Technology has its faults—there’s no doubt about that—but in the translation industry it has been an enabler for progress. As long as all parties involved in the process understand that technology has its limitations, it can be used to do more, better, and faster work. In a world where access to information in a language everybody understands has become critical, having technology on our side is an enormous help.

Why-is-it-important-that-the-translator-has-a-translation-degree-or-certification
12/07/2022

Why is it important that the translator has a translation degree or certification?

The translation industry is made up of talented translators that hail from a variety of backgrounds. While some translators have earned a translation degree or certification, many other translators haven’t pursued a formal translation education. This begs the question, why isn’t there a set education standard in the translation industry? And is it important for translators to have a translation degree or certification? Let’s investigate.

Global Standards Vary

The translation industry is a global industry and one of the reasons that translators can have differing educational experiences is because every country has their own unique set of academic standards. In some countries you can attend a university and earn your translation degree after four or five years of study. In other countries, the universities may not offer an equivalent degree, but you may be able to take short translation courses focused on specific fields . Some countries only have translation associations that offer certifications like ATA. Point being, the education opportunities and therefore the hiring standards to become a translator, can vary greatly depending on where a translator lives. 

Why Do Translation Degrees and Certifications Have Value?

A translation degree or certification illustrates that a translator has the knowledge necessary to do translation work and do it well. This is especially helpful for those who are new in their career without much work experience under their belt. While some translators learn the necessary skills to do this job on their own through a lot of practice, not having credentials to account for what they know can create a roadblock for them. 

Pursuing a translation degree or certification plays an important role in learning how to work as a translator and how to create a linguistically and culturally accurate message. Some people believe being bilingual is enough to become a translator, but in reality being bilingual does not ensure that you have the skills necessary to be an accurate translator who can tackle all the important aspects of communication in both languages. 

The Benefits of Extending Education

Translators tend to be curious creatures, or at least in an ideal situation, they should be. A good translator must always be learning about new tools and reading about the latest developments in their fields of expertise. Some translators, after obtaining their degree in translation, go on to earn a degree in finance, the arts, history, or another subject relevant to their expertise. This desire to continue their education shows how committed a professional translator can be to delivering a top quality service.

What Employers and Clients Need to Know

To be on the safe side, always work with people who have become experts in the translation of specific language combinations through extensive studies. We know that literally everything can be translated, but not every translation has the same impact. There are fields that are very sensitive, such as those that have anything to do with health, security, and law. When it comes to the legal industry, some documents require a certified translation and having credentials is a requirement not an option. Certain industries allow no room for error, so working with a professional with vast linguistic and subject matter knowledge and experience is always your best bet. It’s worth noting that for some language combinations, there are no official certifications or academic programs available, so it’s important to do your research before hiring to be aware of what standards your candidate can realistically meet.


Should you hire a freelance translator or translation company?
09/02/2022

Should You Hire a Freelance Translator or a Translation Company?

If you find yourself needing a translator, you may be wondering if you should work with a freelance translator or a translation company. There is no clear-cut answer to this question, because both options have some really amazing benefits for you to consider. That being said, there are reasons why one option may be better for you than the other. Let’s take a closer look at what it’s like to work with freelancers or a translation company so you can make the right call for your business. 

Working with Freelancers

Freelance translators can be very helpful and valuable when translation services are required. If you need the translation of a very technical or specialized subject matter, it makes sense to go to the expert. Chances are, there’s a great freelancer out there who can fit your language, culture, and industry needs, no matter how niche they are. 

Freelancers are known for putting in a lot of effort to keep their clients happy and don’t shy away from hard work. For example, if you need a certified translation of a legal document, when you work with a freelance translator who specializes in legal documents, they will work very closely with you to make sure the documents that require translation (birth certificates, marriage certificates, academic certificates, etc.) are not an obstacle towards getting a scholarship or your dream job abroad.

Despite the many benefits of working with a freelance translator, sometimes you might need more than they can provide. You may have a project on your hands that is on the more complex side and that requires many steps that would be better handled by a translation company

Here are some examples of when a workload may be too much for a single freelancer to handle. A brochure may require a DTP step at the end. Marketing campaign materials could require a back translation performed by a different linguist. If the materials are for publication, then you probably need a translation, editing, and proofreading workflow (aka the TEP process). It may also be the case that you need materials translated into several languages. 

All of these are examples of tasks that require the expertise of several different professionals. In other words, a project may require a dedicated team that can help you complete it from start to finish. The last thing you want to do is have to hire and manage multiple freelancers who will work separate from each other. A translation company will fill your project management needs and make sure the work is cohesive throughout the project. 

Working with Translation Companies

As previously noted, translation companies are experts at managing large translation projects. They can handle the whole project management process from start to finish. From the first scope analysis, to establishing the right workflow, to creating timelines, to selecting the right team of linguists, to making sure everything gets done in time.

Translation companies also employ in-house teams which ensures staff availability even when there’s a high volume project. These teams are dedicated to you and will be there for you long term. You won’t need to worry about inconsistency or new translators not knowing the specific needs or requirements of your projects.

Because of the organized processes translation companies have in place to ensure quality (such as ISO, which is a top industry standard) and the professionals they work with, they can achieve the highest quality for their customers.

Which is Right For You

We can’t make this call for you, your translation solution totally depends on your company’s needs and the specific requirements of the project. Choose carefully to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible and that you’re happy with the end product!

In-House-Translators-vs.-Freelance-Translators
01/12/2021

Pros & Cons: In-House Translators vs. Freelance Translators

Whether you crave the stability of a nine to five or like to hit the road and let the world be your office, you may find working as a linguist or translator suits your needs. While some benefit more strongly from being in-house or working as a freelancer, there are some pretty solid pros for translators considering either option. Of course, there are a few downsides we’ll cover too, but let’s try to keep things positive!

In-House Translators

Working as an in-house translator is probably a bit easier to picture for most as many have held full-time in-house positions before. 

Pros

  • Fixed income. One of the main perks of working in-house is the income stability it provides. You know exactly how much money you’re going to earn each year and have consistent paychecks coming in. You’ll also qualify for unemployment in the event you do lose your job, which can be trickier for freelancers to obtain. 
  • Benefits. In-house employees typically have access to benefits that freelancers don’t such as healthcare, retirement, paid vacation, and more. 
  • Convenience. When you work in-house, there is no need to worry about the logistics of running a freelance business. There are other employees that will handle things like accounting, marketing, and looking for new clients.
  • Teamwork. You can rely on a team of peers to help you complete big projects. There’s no need to wear all the hats, which freelancers often have to do. When you need to take time off, ideally there will be someone there to cover your workload. And if you need help with a tricky project, you should have teammates you can lean on. You can learn from each other and grow together. 
  • Professional development. Typically in-house employees receive valuable training from those who are further along in their careers. Many companies invest in employee professional development on an ongoing basis. The company may offer to send you to conferences, to pay for educational resources, and to train you in new skillsets.

Cons

  • Less flexibility. Some in-house employees may have to work in a specific office each day at an agreed upon schedule. Not to mention, there are dress codes and other office rules to worry about. That being said, while most in-house translators used to work in a company office, nowadays it’s very common for them to work from home.
  • Cap on earnings. While working in-house provides stability, in many ways you have less control over your earnings. Freelancers have lows, but they can also have major highs. 
  • Less autonomy. When in-house, you typically have to do as you’re told. You may have little control over what types of projects you work on and might have to follow company protocols.

Freelance Translators

If you haven’t worked as a freelancer before, it can be hard to picture what that career path looks like. There are some major benefits of freelancing worth considering, but there are also some downsides that not everyone is ready to handle. 

Pros

  • Ultimate flexibility. Want to work by the seaside today and in a mountain cabin tomorrow? No problem. Are you a night owl who does your best work when everyone else is asleep? Good for you. Don’t like a client or aren’t interested in certain types of projects? Send them packing. As a freelancer you’ll be able to decide when and where you work, who you work with, and what your vacation schedule looks like. 
  • You’re the boss. Freelancing is essentially running a very small business of one. You’re a business owner, even if it doesn’t look like it from the outside, which means you get to do things your way. 
  • Earning potential. Freelancers get a bad rap as being “underemployed” at times, but many freelancers can tell you that when you’re retaining the whole profit from a project (and your company isn’t taking a cut) that your income can soar. You get to set your rates and can choose to only take on projects that work for your budget. 

Cons

  • Stability not guaranteed. Working as a freelancer provides a lot of excitement and the wins can feel really big since they’re all your own, but a stable income is not guaranteed. This can be challenging for people on a tight budget or who have a family to support. 
  • No benefits. You’ll have to purchase your own benefits and accept that there is no such things as a paid vacation anymore. It’s important to remember to aim to make more than you would in-house in order to pay for benefits yourself. 
  • Loneliness. Working as a freelancer can be lonely at times. If no one else in your household works from home or if you live alone, you may find you have a lot of solitude on your hands. The lack of teamwork can also feel very isolating. 
  • Out of pocket expenses. Office supplies, computers, and professional development will all have to come out of your pocket which can sting a bit.

The Takeaway

There is no “better” option here. Both in-house and freelance translators have some major perks to look forward to. At Terra, we employ in-house linguists as well as collaborate with freelancers. So whatever your preferences are, we can work together. The key is to find which is the best fit for your goals, personality, and lifestyle!

medical translation
11/04/2019

An Introduction to the Needs of Medical Translation

A passion for providing patients with the best possible care is something that guides many medical professionals throughout their careers. As our communities grow more diverse, the field of medical translation is growing too. This is a vast field and there is no way to fully summarize the goals and needs of the medical translation industry in brevity, but these are some of the basics that you need to know about this life-saving industry.

What Makes a Qualified Medical Translator

The standards required of a medical translator are more rigid than those expected of other translators. To translate a medical document accurately—which is of potentially grave importance— the translator is required to have a native (or close to native) level of language comprehension. They should also have analytical capabilities and deep cultural knowledge of the subject.

Ideally, a medical translator will have formal education in their native language as well as the one they are translating at a college level. Additional instruction in translation theory and practice is also a must. Because medical translation requires such a high level of accuracy, it’s important the translator is an expert on the subject matter, meaning they can fully understand the source text, write in the language, and can use industry specialized dictionaries. As a medical translator, it is necessary to research niche terminology in the target language. This research can even include regional variations.

Which Medical Documents Are a Priority

There is a multitude of uses for medical documents. They can inform the public on health matters, inform patients of treatment, obtain legal consent for procedures, and more.

You should consider the following criteria when deciding if a document needs translation (in compliance with Title VI. The Department of Justice).

  • How many individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) need service.
  • The frequency of needed contact with a program.
  • What the nature of the program and its importance is to the program beneficiaries.
  • The resources available as well as associated costs.

It is commonly recommended that the following materials require translation.

  • Signage and informational posters that are visible in high traffic areas of a medical facility (such as the lobby).
  • “Vital” documents such as admission, consent, and complaint forms.
  • Eligibility, procedural, and safety materials.
  • Privacy forms and commonly given release instructions.
  • Important patient educational materials.

Mistakes to Avoid

Hiring a translator who is not properly trained in the medical field can lead to disastrous results. An unqualified translator is more likely to make mistakes when translating vital documents. Bilingual medical professionals should also not act as medical translators. Even if they have a level of fluency in a particular language, that proficiency is usually acquired at home, not through a formal education. It may be tempting to outsource your medical translation needs to technology, but the risks increase exponentially if machine translation is used. Machine translation may give a general understanding of the text it’s translating and even come to the rescue when there is need of a medical translation quickly in a medical setting and no qualified translators are readily available, but isn’t considered appropriate to produce any official medical documents. If a translation engine makes a mistake when working with medical text, the confusion and consequences caused by a misunderstood word can be serious.