Principal at Cheg Traductions
Can only great authors be translators?
No, and I certainly do not compare my writing skills to those of Nabokov, Ezra Pound, Seamus Heaney, George Eliot, Richard Francis Burton, and many others, but in showing my “former colleagues” on the homepage, I want to raise awareness among visitors and future clients that translation is much more than “transcribing” word-for-word into a foreign language.
Translating should be considered more than just a technical exercise: It is an art, even when translating a technical document.
Click here to read about what it takes to translate.
We all can’t write like Paul Auster, what makes a good translator/interpreter?
Good translators or interpreters not only master both their native tongue and the foreign language that they work from but also are well versed in both cultures. Like a good author, the translator must pay attention to detail and be a “sponge” absorbing both cultures, a variety of fields of interest and master the languages that communicate them.
I thought all you needed to be a translator/interpreter was to speak two languages?
I don’t want to beg the question, but can everyone who speaks English write a bestseller or an article for the New York Times?
Speaking a second language is just the starting point.
Do you translate a language or a culture?
Both. A language is the vehicle through which a nation and its people express their culture. They go hand in hand. The translator must master both.
Click here for the answer .
What is your background ?
My university training gave me the basics for French and, through my economics degrees, a business culture.
Living and working in France for over 30 years have, however, taught me the subtleties of the language and given me a deep understanding of French society. My experience in the pharmaceutical industry gives me an edge as I can write and speak “pharmaceuticals” and living in Le Mans with the 24 Hours has given me a second specialty, the automotive industry.
Shouldn't the price be a part of the selection process?
Cost is certainly important but cannot be the only driver. Quality and skilled writing or interpreting should drive the decision followed by the price.
When price is the only driver, the job very often ends up costing more than the initial bid because a lot of time needs to be spent correcting, editing or even retranslating.
Click here to find out what happens.
How can a low simultaneous interpreting fee result in a higher cost?
A simultaneous translator in a day of market research or at a conference can make or break a day in the field for a research company or conference attendees. If you do not have a skilled interpreter, the session and trip become a waste of time: The attendees cannot capture the information they need.
To be sure, transcripts are a back-up, but if you have a good translator, you should not need to pay for transcripts. The right person for the job is both crucial and cost-effective.
Do you have an example where cost drove the decision on a translation project?
All over France towns and regions have their official leaflets translated for tourists and businesses. This literature is designed to inform and even attract people to a region so that they can invest in the area or patronize local businesses.
When it comes to translations, the public employee only uses one criterion to select, cost. The lowest bidder always gets the job. Quality isn’t factored into his/her choice.
Yet, when you pick up some of these documents and read them, the words are English but you can’t understand them. As such, the foreign reader gets frustrated and disposes of the material without reading it.
When you add up the cost of paper, printing and manpower thrown away in the dustbin out of reader frustration, the leaflet is not serving its purpose to inform and attract, and the taxpayers’ money wasted.
How would you advise someone to choose a translator?
- only choose a native speaker of the target translation language
- look at the translator’s educational and professional experience to see if the latter has more than a linguistic background and if there is a fit with the client’s field or industry.
- ask how much time the translator has spent in both countries; it gives an idea of how well he/she knows the cultures and the languages.
- ask if the translator has ever been published. Being published generally is the sign of excellent writing skills and a good translator.
Why do you need a native speaker for simultaneously interpreting?
A native speaker will always have greater flexibility and a broader range than a non-native speaker when interpreting or translating. Bear in mind also that a non-native speaker cannot perform like a native speaker when simultaneously translating for 6 to 8 hours. When the interpreter fatigue kicks in (and it does kick in), the translator must rely on the automatic mechanisms acquired during childhood language development in his/her native tongue.