Category Archives: Discussions

Email correspondence on the subject of translation.

Four Professional Activities That Need Translation Services


Communication across cultures is at the heart of global business success. Utilizing professional translations services for website translations, software localization, etc. is imperative for anyone wishing to ensure their message to the world is heard and understood. Marketing messages, global patent filing, clinical trials, and even HR policies all require precise interpretations. In doing so, they can adhere to local regulations and compliance mandates. Additionally, translating for new markets lets a global audience understand your brand’s offering.

By restricting documents and content to English, businesses cut themselves off from international marketplaces and estrange employees, customers, and stakeholders. To truly connect with local audiences, improve global workforce engagement, and ensure you are complying with local laws, professional document translations are a must. By doing so, businesses enjoy the advantages of both accessing multiple markets and gaining the confidence that local rules and customs are being met.

#1 Selling to a Global audience

When looking to international audiences for business expansion, communicating your message with clarity and cultural sensitivity is crucial. Website content, advertising materials, contracts, and other resources must be translated succinctly to ensure you are not only reaching your audience, but also speaking a language that enables them to understand your brand.

By 2020, almost 1 billion consumers – nearly half of all online custom – will buy from businesses in other countries. This equates to approximately $1 trillion of all online spending. To be a part of the international online marketplace, though, you need to engage regional audiences effectively. Making translation and localization of your brand message a priority is paramount to success.

#2 Filing Patents

The correct filing of patent applications can make or break a new product. The process becomes even more complicated when applying for one in a language that is not your own, and that comes with different sets of regulations. Complying with these mandates while maintaining the technical accuracy of patent applications is imperative. A  wrongly interpreted word can cause years of work to go down the drain.

Filing applications for patents and maintaining them in international markets varies in cost from country to country. Translation prices for international filing have increased in line with the cost of filing alone. The European Commission (EC) asserts, “The cost of a single translation of a patent can be more than €1,500.” Adding up the cost over multiple languages and countries filing fees can lead to about 40% of the overall cost of patenting in Europe alone. The price alone is reason enough to get it right first time.

Qualified and professional language service providers help to reduce the overall cost and ensure the precision of translations during the process of patenting. Thus, they make the process more accessible to businesses.

#3 Overseas Litigation

As with the patent process, international law can be complex enough without the further complication of language, varied legal processes, and cultural expectations. In many areas of law, regulations are vulnerable to frequent adjustments. Additionally, associated documents for a case can often include multilingual materials. Cross-cultural miscommunications are of a high risk without effective translation.

Three common instances of the need for professional legal interpretations and professional translation are:

  • A law exists in one language and is needed for use in a case not of that origin.
  • Legal cases that need to be heard in multiple courts and nations.
  • An international case includes documents or interviews in a language that court staff are not fluent in.

The specificity of the legal process leaves little room for error in translations of audio or textual materials. Hiring ISO-certified translators to interpret this media accurately is crucial to the outcome of all legal matters.

#4 Clinical Trials, Research and Publications

From publishing research papers to organizing clinical trials, translation plays a key role in reaching participants and in the distribution of findings throughout the scientific world.

Bucking the trend of the mid-20th century when scientific papers and research findings were accepted and published in a variety of languages, today almost 80% of all peer-reviewed scientific papers are written in English. Simply put, to produce a globally recognized research paper, findings must be in English.

Running a clinical trial goes hand in hand with creating mountains of paperwork. If the trial is being run globally (or even across cultural groups), most or all of the documentation will need to be translated for each language – twice. All forms and documents will need to be translated from the original language into the native language(s) of parties and then back to the original language. Doing so ensures everyone involved can understand them.

Although this is a drawn out process, the legal obligations to do so are clear. Professional LSP’s will speed up the process, and should be available throughout to smooth any language-associated wrinkles as they arise.

Start with a Professional LSP

Inaccurate translations in all four of the above scenarios can lead to huge losses in revenue, reputation, and even be the cause of legal proceedings. Employing a professional LSP from the start will ensure accuracy and efficiency of interpreting all relevant documents. Additionally, they’ll localize your message and ensure your brand identity is understood by all.

How to Break Through and Land a Work-From-Home Translation Position

The market for work-from-home translators is very competitive. Therefore, credibility and experience are the keys to success. But as is the case in many fields, it’s hard to find opportunities to gain experience when you are just starting out. Here are the top five ways to break into the area of translation by getting valuable and needed experience while earning credibility and honing your skills from home.

Apply for a Translation Internship

Many companies offer internships for translators. Most require a degree instead of experience or vice-versa. Some internships are paid, while others are not. Before you begin your search for internship opportunities, craft a resume that highlights your related experience as well as a unique cover letter that explains your desire to help others by working in the field of translation.

Volunteer Translation Services

Charities and non-profits are always looking for translators. By volunteering, you are not only gaining valuable and marketable translation experience, but you are also helping the lives of others. Translations for Progress is one such charity that specifically helps students and new graduates gain real-world experience in the field of translation. If you also like to write, Global Voices may be a great fit. They are an international community of writers who report on social issues. They are always looking for writers, translators, and proofreaders to join their community.

Check with Your Company’s Helpdesk or Call Center

Most companies have some type of customer service or IT help desk. Many are based in the US and outsource their translation services. However, if you are employed, let your supervisor know of your interest in assisting with in-house translations. If the need arises, you may land a position doing what you love —where you are already based.

Search for Entry Level Work-From-Home Positions

Conducting a job search using various filters can help you find the perfect entry level position that you can do from home, even when they are not posting for jobs. To do this use the following search terms on Google:

“translation” + “work from home” + “entry level” (or “no experience”)

“translation agency” “work from home” + “entry level” (or “no experience”)

This will give you a more targeted search result. Currently, there are pages of results that indicate a world of opportunity for remote-based translators.

Sign-up for Freelance Sites

The pay on these sites is a little off-market. However, the work for translators is plentiful. Be sure to read the fine print as fees for using these services can be steep. You won’t get rich. Still, it is a good option for getting the needed experience and improving your skills while earning some extra money.

Becoming a work-from-home translator is ideal for many who know a second language fluently. In the increasingly global marketplace, these skills are very marketable, as well. It takes some time to find the perfect opportunity, however, and may require you to offer your services at a reduced rate to gain the experience you need.

Seeking Native English Proofreaders and Copy Editors for Long Term Work and Jobs

Seeking-Native-English-Proofreaders-for-Long-Term-Work-and-JobsThis website helps translators find new translation clients, mostly translation agencies, but sometimes these agencies ask if the translator can translate into English, which they are not native in.

For times like this I like to provide them with a list of tested and quality native English speakers. Your job would be to proofread their translation to bring it up to native English level. They would contact you directly, so you could set your own rate each time based on the quality of their translation.

For the first few times, and sporadically throughout their career, they would send me your work for evaluation. Based on these evaluations I would update the list of proofreaders I send to these translators, or possibly remove a proofreader from the list.

If you would like to be added to this list, please download this translation, proofread/edit it in Track Changes mode (you may set up your Word so that you do not see your own changes), send it back to me and state what you would charge per word (271 for this particular file) in USD.

Seeking-Native-English-Proofreaders-for-Long-Term-Work-and-Jobs-2Whatever your definition of proofread or copy editing is, the bottom line is that translation agencies demand top quality, so the final product must look and feel like it was written from heart and in good quality by a native speaker.

If you do establish regular work with a particular translator, you may suggest to them that they study your changes and learn from them, to make your job easier moving forward.

Please send this sample proofread to kenax AT kenax DOT net and put “TA proofread sample” in the subject.

Poll: do you prefer to be informed when you are not assigned a project?

Having managed many translation projects, I often wondered whether I should write back to all the translators who responded to my original inquiry informing them that I had chosen someone else. After all, translators might get enough emails that they do not want to be bothered unnecessarily, they might not appreciate receiving news that they were not chosen, and the only time-saving way I could write to all of them (for larger projects I often approach well over a hundred translators) was by mass email not addressing them individually by name. This seems potentially rude, but I’m curious to find out the average vote, so please state your case! You can also leave comments at the bottom of this page.

Travel While You Translate

Not only because it allows me to work in the comfort of my own home and on my own schedule, but another reason why I like the profession of translation is because it gives me the freedom to travel around the world while maintaining an income. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection and you can do this job anywhere, any time.

For example, when I first started traveling through Asia, I was worried that the different time zone will cause me problems, but I found that it actually helped. After all, my major customers were located in the US and Europe, but with some fancy manipulation I resolved all issues and found that my value increased while my stress decreased.

Accepting Jobs and Doing the Jobs

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Motorbike bridge across river, northern tip of Borneo, Malaysia (roadtrip video).

The trick is to pay for some service, such as or, which forward emails from important customers as text messages to my mobile phone, wherever I might be.

For this I set up a forwarding filter on my primary email account with gmail. A copy of any email coming in from my most important customers is forwarded to my email-to-sms service. Any email sent to one of these special email addresses will be converted into a text message and sent to my mobile phone.

Whenever I move to another country, I always get a local sim card, so that I do not have to pay for incoming calls or text messages, and because internet through mobile phone is much cheaper rather than any roaming plan.

In the Discovery Rainforest outside of Sandakan, travel while you translate

In the Discovery Rainforest outside of Sandakan, Borneo, Malaysia (rainforest workstation video).

When I switch sim cards, my phone number changes, and I likewise change this with my email-to-sms service.

I may be having a picnic on a mountain top, or spending my evening with good friends in a restaurant. I’ll hear the incoming text message, or feel the phone’s vibrator. I’ll quickly check to see that it is an email from one of my important customers, in which case I’ll use the credit on the sim card to check my mail. Gmail supports smartphone viewing so that the costs are minimal and the correspondence is fast.

I’ll check my email and respond quickly to the customer. After all, it is a time game. Almost every translation agency sends job offers to many translators, whereby the ones who respond the fastest most often win the project. It really does not matter what time zone you are on, as long as you respond quickly to job offers.

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Botanical garden in Discovery Rainforest, Borneo, Malaysia

Sometimes I have to forward the attached file to another email account which I use specifically to download and view PDFs and other file types on my smart phone. Other times I might ask the customer to send a screenshot or sample of the text, so that I can view it and give my final confirmation that I can take the translation. Always make sure you know what you are accepting and that you can meet the deadline.

Once I accept the job, the customer confirms, sends the PO and I confirm etc., after which  I can relax for the rest of the evening, assuming I have accepted a job that will keep me busy for at least the next day. Other times I will accept many smaller jobs. The bottom line though is, because of the time difference, I generally accept work during my evenings (during working hours in Europe or the US), and do the work my next day.

I’ll usually finish all my translation work by 2pm, which is well before the offices start up in the US or Europe. This greatly alleviated any stress for timely delivery while my customers are happy because they have someone they can depend on if they receive a job offer towards the end of their business hours. I may have to wake up at 4am to accept a job, but I will deliver before they start up the next day. What chances do they have of finding a translator on their time zone willing to work late into the morning to get it done by the time they start up the next morning? Most translators will charge extra for such overnight service. I don’t have to, or I can, even though it is a casual work day for me!

In this way you can see that the time zone difference really does not have to be an issue.

Internet Connection is Crucial

From the example above, you can see that having a smartphone with internet connection (in Asia, unlike Europe or the US, it is easy to get a prepaid simcard with cheap internet capabilities, not requiring a permanent residence or long term contract) is crucial to quickly respond to customer requests. But once you start translating, the speed offered by such packages can often be too slow to do proper internet research, such as with online dictionaries when searching for specific terms.

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Exploring caves in Malaysia (photo album of caves).

For this, a faster internet connection directly to your laptop is desirable. Although it is true that many times have I used the internet package on my sim card to turn my smartphone into a wifi zone so that I could perform such research, albeit slower, and deliver my projects while riding a bus or train across a country!

In any case, with some creativity, it is becoming increasingly easier to find faster internet connections for this purpose. You may have to stomach a McDonald’s “happy pack”, a lunch at Tim Horton’s or Wendy’s, or perhaps surreptitiously slip into the lobby of a fancy hotel, but there are always options. When I first started traveling while translating more than eight years ago, it was more difficult and, heaven forbid, I often had to take a local bus to an internet café in a neighbouring town! A small price to pay though for the freedom to enjoy the fruits of the world at your own pace.

Some instructions on internet connection while traveling I wrote a long time when I first started out with this wonderful concept.

Taxes and Paperwork

Inevitably on the mind of anyone considering the same venture, but solved easily enough! In places like Beliz, Hong Kong, the Channel Islands and many others, it is perfectly legal to set up your business and pay a flat annual tax without the need to fill in complicated tax forms and other unnecessary headaches! If your bank account is in another country than where your customer is located, everything is smooth sailing. Since I have started traveling I have gone fully digital. No need to kill trees for paper at my corporate headquarters, or hire expensive accountants, or deal with the migraine of all that paperwork. More details here.

Extra Battery Power

And if you do try something like this, you will definitely want some backup power. If you buy a laptop, you might consider buying at least a second, backup battery. Simply switch batteries once one is emptied. You never want to drop below the dreaded 3% remaining power just as you are about to deliver a job. To conserve battery power, turn off your wifi, on your phone too if need be, and you will see how quickly power may drop once you do use it again.

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More caves in Malaysia.

For my smartphone I purchased a few extra lion 12V batteries with a standard 5V usb output, which I could use to charge up my phone. Or I could use the 12V output to power a 220V, compact inverter which I could plug my laptop into. These devices are not heavy and you can get rather compact ones, but you never want to be enjoying a beautiful view on a mountain top and realise you are not able to deliver a big project on time. Be smart and set things up so that you can enjoy your freedom!

Some tips on electrical connection and consumption when I first started translating while traveling.


And lastly, be careful about boasting of your new found freedom. Many customers can be conservative and quickly skeptical that anything like this is possible. When I first started traveling I lost practically my entire client base because most of them thought it was not possible and stopped sending me work. Give it a careful test run before diving in full throttle. You can do much of your work offline at the cottage, but always give yourself room for some quality internet time before delivering so that you can research terminology properly and hand in your work well ahead of time. Your customers need not know of your backend technical issues! Just make sure you deliver quality work every time and you should be all set.

Videos of my travels
Videos of translation workstations while I travel
Pictures of my travels

The most effective way how to get translation work

Work at Home Translation Jobs

translation CV campaign