RE: Translation Agencies

Subject: RE: Translation Agencies
From: Wil Gaffga <wil_gaffga -at- gibbscam -dot- com>
To: Tech Whirlers <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 03 Nov 1999 12:57:59 -0800

on 11/3/99, Jennifer O Neill wrote:

> We're dissapointed with the DTP results: they're not like the English
> versions. Some of hte labels were returned in Illustrator, which we can open
> in Coreldraw admitedly. Many of the files had font problems. The Polish PM
> manual was awful. A couple of PM files we couldn't open.
> With hindsight we should probably have told them the fonts we used but then
> again they never asked us either so we didn't think about possible problems.
> We're annoyed we got files back in a format different from that we gave them
> (Illustrator not Coreldraw). My question: in how much detail should you
> brief a translation agency when giving them a contract? It seems silly to
> tell them we'd like the files back in the same format, or at least so I
> thought until now. What should you tell them abouts fonts? I has assumed we
> were paying for DTP expertise (which they said) so where did we go wrong in
> briefing them? Thanks. We will complain to them.
> Cheers,
> jennifer

Oh, this is meaty. Sorry for the longish reply.
I don't "brief" translation agencies, I "detail" them.

If the company is indeed reputable, chances are that they do indeed have DTP
expertise. However, without guidance they may not come through with the
expected results.

Each language was translated by a different individual or group of
individuals, (a language team) and it is possible that each team (very
likely to be sub-contractors) did their own DTP. The translators would have
been given general guidelines by the translation company, such as do it in
PageMaker and Illustrator.

If specifics on fonts and deliverables are not supplied by a client, the
agency will likely just try to match an English master in the app they
prefer. That can get to be _very_ tricky when you start playing with
non-Roman based character sets. Your preferred font may have encoding that
is Cyrillic (or whatever) but if the agency doesn't know what the font is,
they have to guess (good luck!). More likely they will find a font, a Polish
font for example, that is sorta close. Across an entire manual that font
will provide a very different look and text flow. And each language team
working on a separate document with different fonts can create an
abomination without a good reviewer.

Sorry, I'm starting a rant here. In my experience, having worked for a
translation agency and a service bureau early in my career, _always_
inundate an agency with very specific demands.
"I want the electronic files returned in a Quark XPress Passport 4.04
format. Fonts to be used are provided, they are _. For non-Roman items a
proof must be provided. Hard copy out put should be _. Blah Blah Blah." Be
real specific otherwise they don't know what you want.

But an important point lies in the third sentence of the prior paragraph,
"...a proof must be provided." Did they not provide you with a proof before
the final product?

If the company is as good as their reputation implies they should ask dozens
of questions about the project and deliverables before you even get a chance
to bring it up. A written agreement of deliverables should be provided,
detailing the projects elements. Your contact should provide regular
progress updates.

Okay, to end this thing, I would say that more information and expectations
should have been provided to the agency, (especially if you've never used
them before), but mostly it is the agency doing a shoddy job on your
project. They should anticipate your expectations and do all they can to
meet them. That is what a good contractor should do, that is what you are
paying them for.


Wil Gaffga Gibbs and Associates
Documentation Manager 323 Science Drive
Wil -at- GibbsCAM -dot- com Moorpark, CA 93021

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