basque-country

Meet the Basque Country

We enjoy introducing clients and friends to the Basque Country – one of the places that the Word Connection team calls home.

While many of our clients know and love Biarritz, there are always a few who don’t. So, please indulge us as we introduce the birthplace of Word Connection: the Basque Country!

Basque Country 101

Where is Basque Country?

First of all, the Basque Country (in Basque: Euskal Herria) today runs from the Pyrenees to the Bay of Biscay. The area spans a large territory from Bilbao in the south to Bayonne in the north.

One of Europe’s oldest ethnic groups

Historians believe that the Basques arrived in southwestern Europe before Indo-European migrations around 5,000 years ago. While little is known of the Basque people’s origins, they have survived invasions from the Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, French and Spanish.

Another little-known fact is that Basques became prominent explorers and shipbuilders. In fact, they were among the first to discover and commercialize whaling. As early as the 1300s, Basque whalers may have sailed along the Canadian coast. Most noteworthy among Basque sailors may be Juan Sebastián de Elcano, who was the first captain to circumnavigate the globe.

A distinct language and culture

Because of their long-standing cultural identity, the Basque language is widely spoken here. The Basque language, Euskera, is the oldest language in Europe. Today, there are seven different dialects.

Why we love it here (and why you should visit!)

Along with a deeply rooted history, the Basque Country offers a high quality of life and a wide variety of sports, gastronomy and culture.

Sport and surf

Basque beaches boast world-class surfing (just 10 minutes from our headquarters!). In the summer, tourists flock from all over the world for surf competitions and sport in the waves.

Meanwhile, the mountains draw skiers and hikers year round. This is one of the few places in the world where you can surf and ski in the same day.

Also noteworthy is the international sport pelota (a popular variation is cesta punta), which originated in the Basque Country. A hybrid between handball and squash, the fast-paced sport draws spectators from around the globe.

Food and drink

Like the wide variety of sports, the Basque culinary scene is equally diverse. As a result, you can choose from pinxtos (tapas), sheep’s cheese, axoa (lamb stew), Espelette pepper (a mild chile pepper) and the ever-popular basquaise (a dish with tomatoes and red peppers), to name a few options. Likewise, local beverages range from cider to local beers and wine.

A dynamic economy

Because of the culture and gastronomy, it’s no surprise that tourists flock to the area. While tourism is important, the robust economy is largely service-based with important manufacturing, transport and car industry exports.

A vibrant blend of languages and cultures

Along with having a strong economy, the Basque Country is distinctly multicultural. Above all, the area is Basque, but French and Spanish cultures also co-exist here today. Certainly, a part of the multiculturalism also stems from a long-standing tradition of welcoming holiday-seekers from Russia, the United Kingdom and all over Europe.

Our headquarters

We set up our headquarters in Biarritz in 2015. Even then, we knew we wanted to find a way to share the Basque Country with our clients. So, to do just that, we recently added a custom VW Word Connection van to our team as a way to show clients where we live. Come visit and we’ll be pleased to introduce you to Basque Country!

Human translation

Super human translation and why we need translators who are great writers

Some say that human translation is a thing of the past. As machine translations become more and more precise, what sets a human translator apart?

We could (and probably will in a later post) count dozens of reasons why human translation is here to stay. But one that gets little publicity is writing skills. Why? Because behind a great translation is a great writer. After all, a translation is, in essence, a rewrite of the original. Let’s take a look at how translators use their writing skills, and why it’s so important.

Translate the idea, not the words

A great translator approaches the piece like a writer, seeking to transmit the same idea as the original. For example, take a translation from French to Japanese. More often than not, a literal word-for-word translation into Japanese makes no sense at all.

First, translators must pull the meaning and ideas from the French text. Then, they put them into a Japanese context. Because they are skilled writers, they craft their translation to make the same ideas and concepts relevant for Japanese readers.

Maintain the right tone

Most importantly, a high-quality translation keeps the same tone as the original. Now, a word-for-word translation, in many languages, can still be understood (however inelegant). But tone is different. Translators must first understand how the tone strikes the reader in the original language. In Asian languages, this is especially important. Like, any good writer, a good translator makes sure that they strike the right tone in the target language.

The end result can stand alone

When the translator strikes the right tone, the end result will be well written. At the same time, a human translation becomes a work of art in its own right. We have all read translations that read awkwardly or in stilted, unnatural language. The translation is clearly just that: a translation. Readers can sense that they’re getting a second-hand product. On the contrary, a great translator uses their writing skills to ensure that their work stands on its own as a well-written piece.

A truly super human translation

Now, that’s not to say that there isn’t a place for machines. Our superpower at Word Connection is the way we leverage the best of both human and machine for our projects. In fact, all of our translators have high-level training in the use of Computer Automated Translation tools (CAT). Combined with our server solutions, these tools rapidly increase translation project speed without compromising quality. The machine’s thoroughness helps us catch human error and help us provide consistency and reliability.

Because writing skills are key to a good translation, we make sure that our translators are also great writers. Not only do they provide the creativity, but they also provide evaluation and feedback that machines lack. Producing an excellent translation that can stand on its own is not a science, but an art.

Yes, machines can help with terminology management, project management and streamlining our processes. But no, science cannot yet produce great writing. Until then, we’ll value and keep training our superhuman translators who craft their art with care and precision.

If you are interested in training on CAT tools, be sure to join our co-founder Kaori Myatt at Ijet-29 in Osaka from June 30-July 1. She will speak on how to improve translation with term extraction and text mining.

 

T-UPDATE 2018

Join us in Madrid at T-UPDATE next week!

Next week, the 13th International EUATC Conference, T-UPDATE on Management & Sales kicks off in Madrid. Leaders in the language industry will meet from April 19 – 20 to discuss this year’s theme: “Going International.”

At this popular industry event, speakers from across Europe and beyond will discuss the complex issues LSPs face when entering new markets. Participants include those who seek to enter new markets as well as those who want to expand an already-established presence.

Word-Connection looks forward to attending alongside other senior LSP decision-makers. For the past three years, we have attended EUATC and ATC conferences and consistently enjoy the events.

We’ll arrive in Madrid in time for the April 18th networking reception, and will also attend the April 19th networking gala.

Connect with us at T-UPDATE

We look forward to seeing old friends and forming new partnerships! If you want to meet us, don’t hesitate to drop us a note at info@word-connection.fr.

 

 

Language services

Beyond Translation (Part 1): Language services go beyond document translation

Ten years ago, language services largely centered on documents. Translators tapping away in cubicles or cafés all had one goal: to transform text from language A into language B.

Not so today, when the translation industry is quickly evolving with the increased drive for globalization. As more companies of all sizes enter foreign markets, they can easily find themselves lost in an unfamiliar culture. Language services companies are uniquely positioned to serve as a guide.

So, how can translation agencies tap into their clients’ needs? How can they expand their services to help clients achieve success in a foreign market?

Develop a niche market

First and most importantly, develop a niche market. Take the Japanese market, for example, which happens to be our specialty. We have first-hand knowledge of the language, culture and business context. Most of our team is Japanese, and we also have a small army of native Japanese translators across a broad range of specialties. It’s our market, and our team knows how to do business there.

Grow or hire business savvy

Notice that we say that our team “knows business” – not “knows Japanese.” That’s not to say that we don’t need our highly-trained Japanese linguists; they’re our pulse. Even so, your team must also bring strong business knowledge to the table. You need to know the business environment in your target market and how to succeed there.

Know your clients

We have clients come to us all the time with materials to translate into Japanese. Because we take the time to speak with them, we learn about their larger goals. As a result, we can not only create better, localised translation services, but we also can identify where they might need help.

Determine what success looks like

Most of all, ask clients for more than their core values and marketing strategy before translating an ad campaign. You also want to know what success looks like for them in your niche market. Since you know the market well, you can begin to identify ways to help them get there.

Talk strategy

Likewise, when you know a client’s goals, you get a grasp on their overall strategy. Maybe their strategy works perfectly well in France, but they don’t know how to accomplish their goals in an unfamiliar market like Japan. Ten years ago, big multi-nationals entering the Japanese market would have hired consultants or teams on the ground to help adjust their strategy. Now, even small companies go global. With smaller teams, there’s make room for you, the language services provider, to also put on your consultant hat.

Be a bridge

As a consultant, a translation agency can be a bridge for a client to succeed across cultural and linguistic barriers. And this goes both ways – for the clients entering Japan and for Japanese clients doing business with foreign clients.

I want my language services to go beyond translation – what’s next?

Since every client is different, you likely will not have a one-size-fits-all “beyond translation” package. As you begin to identify your clients’ needs, you can step in with solutions that are best suited to their goals.

Finally, one of the best ways to illustrate what such solutions might look like is to share our own stories. In upcoming posts, we will delve deeper into what translation services we offer, and how we have helped clients achieve success.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

This article is the first in our “Beyond Translation” series. Check back soon for more about how to help clients achieve success in their target market.

 

Translation project managers

What you need to know about translation project managers

Translation project managers are some of the most valuable members of a translation team. And no wonder – they oversee nearly every step of the translation process.

What is a translation project manager?

As the person who manages translation projects, the project manager is ultimately responsible for delivering high-quality results. A good project manager is a unique mix of communication, management and tech skills. They may work behind the scenes, but they are key to the agency’s success. A proactive multitasker, a project manager has a wide range of responsibilities.

Common skillset

While each project manager brings a unique background and skillset, all great project managers are:

  • Strong communicators
  • Negotiators
  • Organized
  • Multi-taskers
  • Flexible
  • Tech savvy
  • Service-oriented
  • Relationship-builders

What do translation project managers do?

So, what do these key players in the translation industry actually do every day? Here at Word-Connection, our project managers juggle different projects, languages and client requests all day long.

Although no workday is exactly the same, our project managers all say that these items are constants on their to-do lists.

Build relationships

Most importantly, we build strong relationships with our clients. Making clients happy is the heartbeat that keeps our project managers going through fast-paced, sometimes stressful days. As a boutique translation agency, our project managers have the flexibility to adapt to last minute projects and requests. It keeps us all on our toes, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Communicate with clients

A great project manager is a great communicator. They negotiate rates, deadlines and communicate project updates to the client. In some cases, they also invoice and manage the project’s budget. Most of all, clear, open communication helps us build trust and sustain a strong relationship with clients.

Pick the right translators

When a project comes in, our translation project managers begin to form their team. First of all, they need to estimate how much time the project will take. Then, they consider the client’s deadlines and budget to select the appropriate number of translators. Each translator brings a different expertise and education background to a project. It’s up to the project manager to select the translator who will be the best fit for the client. For our Japanese translations, our project managers communicate with translators in their native language (Japanese) to make sure they fully understand the project. We’ve found that this adds depth to client requests, especially for technical or complicated issues.

Manage project timelines

What would the life of a project manager be without deadlines! This is easily one of the most stressful parts of the job. From setting deadlines to keeping them, the project manager is responsible for getting everyone over the finish line on time. Staying organized is key. Our project managers’ tech savvy comes in here, since they use the latest software and tools to help track and manage our projects.

Ensure Quality

Ultimately, the project manager is responsible for the quality of the project they deliver to the client. They understand the project, and coordinate quality review to achieve the highest-quality result. A great project manager coordinates proofreading and review time and again until they are confident that the client will be pleased. 

Meet our translation project managers

Here at Word-Connection, we value our translation project managers as integral to our overall success. Without our hardworking, relationship-oriented team, we would not have the long list of happy clients that we are pleased to work with.

In conclusion, we’re pleased to feature our own project managers and introduce you to these important members of our team!

 

 

Carine – our Japanese project manager, Carine is one of our two project managers who focus exclusively on Japan. She works with our Japanese translators and with clients focused on the Japanese market. Carine is fluent in Japanese, French and English.

 

 

 

 

 

Christine – our German project manager, Christine provides a bridge between our German-speaking clients and our Japan-focused team. Christine is fluent in German, French and English.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Momoko – our Japanese project manager, Momoko works with Carine and is focused on Japan. She also works with our translators based in Japan and helps clients with projects concerning the Japanese market. Momoko is fluent in Japanese, French and English.

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah – our French project manager, Sarah works with our French-speaking clients seeking Japanese translation services, or one of our other language pairs. She is fluent in French, English and Japanese.

 

 

 

 

2018 translation services conferences: why we attend and where you can join us

The translation ecosystem is a thriving, vibrant place to work. One of our greatest privileges is attending events where we meet, learn from and teach the wider translation services community.

Why we attend

We attend conferences in over seven countries each year. As a small translation agency, we value the chance to connect with other firms and build partnerships. We also learn from the wealth of experience of our peers.

Attending lectures and workshops throughout Europe and Japan is vitally important to our growth. These events help us to monitor changes in the industry. Even more importantly, we can work alongside leading language professionals to find innovative solutions to improve both translation services quality and project management.

Our participation in industry events allows us to:

  • Collaborate with other translation companies
  • See existing clients and talk about projects
  • Identify and share solutions to industry challenges
  • Learn about new technology and trends
  • Meet like-minded companies to partner with

Where we’ll be:

T-UPDATE MADRID

European Union of Associations of Translation Companies (EUATC)

April 19-20, 2018

Madrid, Spain

Word-Connection will be in Madrid for the upcoming 13th EUATC Conference, T-UPDATE on Management & Sales. The industry’s professional association, EUATC, has a “Going international” theme running through this year’s event.

Retro Live

May 18, 2018

Blackhall Place, Dublin, Ireland

Word-Connection’s James Myatt and Kaori Myatt will speak at Retro Live on services that we offer to local companies to help them grow. Beyond translation, services like Japanese voice over, interpreting, business correspondence, Japanese SEO and business coordination make a strong impact. We hope you’ll join us to learn and consider how you might expand your own services as well.

memoQfest 2018

MemoQ

May 30 – June 1, 2018

Budapest, Hungary

Word-Connection is highly involved on the MemoQ platform, and we will participate in the 10th annual memoQfest starting May 30th. We localized MemoQ into Japanese, and this is our main translation tool for the majority of our projects. Word-Connection is proud to be a part of MemoQ’s Grow Together Program. We have helped MemoQ promote their translation services in Japan via seminars in Osaka and Tokyo on the use of C.A.T. tools. We also presented a series of webinars online for Japanese translators who use MemoQ.

IJET-29

Japan Association of Translators (JAT)

June 29 – July 1, 2018

Osaka, Japan

Word-Connection’s Kaori Myatt will travel to Japan and speak at the 29th International Japanese-English Translation Conference (IJET). A member of the Japan Association of Translators (JAT), Word-Connection regularly sponsors and speaks at the annual IJET events. Last year, Kaori presented on “Keep Calm and Keep Quality! When Technology Meets Translation Quality.”

Jaba Partner Summit

Jaba Translations

June 20-22, 2018

Porto, Portugal

Word-Connection will be a sponsor at Jaba’s annual event for LSP partners. We will provide transport support for participants with our Word-Connection minibus.

LSP Strateski Summit 2019

Word-Connection 

January 18, 2019

Les Contamines, France

Word-Connection will proudly host the annual Strateski Summit in Les Contamines, France. The innovative “Unconference” serves as an informal setting for free, honest discussion about shared challenges in the language industry. The event facilitates partnership and knowledge sharing among language company owners and senior management. If you have a passion for mountains and the great outdoors, this is for you. Click here to read about last year’s successful event.

The boutique translation agency: small is beautiful

For years, businesses turned to the world’s largest language service companies: global translation agencies offering a standardized service with a big price tag. Bigger is better, right?

Thousands of contractors and project managers work daily in hundreds of big agency offices in major cities across the globe. Global agencies opened up new markets for big Business by communicating their clients’ brands to the masses in every language under the sun. Global brands offering corporate, pre-packaged translation solutions – but at what price?

But, for most businesses, a presence isn’t enough. International enterprises lose when their product or service isn’t as relevant as a local competitor’s.

As businesses seek relevancy and knowledge of their niche market, they are going small. A David and Goliath scenario, where a boutique translation agency continues to out maneuver larger rivals delivering a human touch with perfect timing.

Another year of mergers and acquisitions is in full swing, and boutique agencies are hot on the menu. We can expect to see many more small agencies snapped up by rapidly growing multinational groups.

Large groups are finding themselves having to offer every service, language and specialization imaginable.

What is a boutique translation agency?

FLEXIBLE

A boutique translation agency brings the same type of niche services as a boutique law or PR firm. A small firm can adapt to the client’s ever-changing needs. Boutique language service companies are fast-paced and flexible enough to even become an extension of the client’s team.

With a small, skilled team, a boutique firm reacts quickly. Instead of hustling to break through the bureaucracy of large firms, clients get fast solutions to their problems. Their small size gives boutique firms the freedom to follow market trends and industry developments to offer cutting edge services.

SPECIALIZED

Unlike large agencies, a boutique translation agency does not try to meet every need. A small firm offers true expertise. A boutique firm knows their target language, culture and industry inside and out. For clients working with Asian languages, a small firm’s mastery of context and culture is key.

What’s more, boutique firms know their target market. Each member of the specialized team brings deep expertise across a few subject areas or industries, like marketing, technical or medical translations.

Many boutique agencies go even further to help clients gain relevancy in their local market. They offer services like localization, DTP and quality, express translations.

PERSONAL

With a small firm, clients have much more than a specialized expert. A boutique firm also brings a personal touch.

Put simply, a boutique agency knows their clients. Instead of making clients choose from pre-packaged services, they learn the client’s core values, goals and work-style. Then, their service is built directly around the clients needs.

Since small agencies are, well, small, they want to keep their business. That desire to earn and keep a client drives them to consistently deliver excellent results. They work with highly trained, qualified translators and take quality control seriously. It’s not just a box to check – it’s their relationship with you.

SMART

Companies are often surprised to learn they can actually save money with a boutique firm. That’s partly because small firms tailor solutions to the client – not the other way around. Many small agencies also manage their teams online, so overhead is low.

Smaller firms often elect to employ contractors in their target market. Translators likely live in the country whose language they specialize in and receive payment in their local currency.

This allows a boutique agency to keep quality high and costs low. Translators are happy with generous rates in the local currency, and stay with the agency long-term. On the other hand, clients are thrilled with the quality and value.

Why choose a boutique translation agency?

Clients win when a smart and nimble team invests in their success. In an ever changing, evolving world, a small firm can offer the most personalized solution. Clients who want to be relevant today, tomorrow and for years to come will continue to choose the company that evolves with them. With the winning combination of quality and value, boutique translation agencies are here to stay.