On this podcast, we share insightful questions and information about the translation industry, where it is headed, and what companies should be thinking about when translating or doing localization. Some of the questions that we discuss with Veronika Gonzalez include:
What makes a great project manager in the translation and localization industry?
Where have companies gone drastically wrong their translations?
What is the difference between translation, localization, and transcreation?
Tune in to find the answers to these questions as well as advice for translators who are just getting started in the industry.
“It’s not only just that ethical aspect of asking somebody to do something for free a service that usually companies charged for now have your employee to do for free. But it’s also the idea that just because you speak the language does not necessarily make you a translator.” – Veronika Gonzalez
Veronika has been in the Translation and Localization industry for over 15 years. Her experience ranges from project management, account management, and business development to operations and department lead. With her hands on experience working in, teaching and training in translation and localization roles, she provides a unique perspective of this industry.
Connect with Veronika on LinkedIn.
Listen to Linguava’s podcast on all your favorite platforms here.
At Linguava, we are dedicated to reducing communication barriers and providing equity to all members of our community through language access services.
If you are interested in learning more about incorporating interpreting and translating services into your organization or would like to book a training session, contact us today.
If you have a document ready for translation, get a free quote here.
Transcript – The Invisible Profession Podcast Ep. 008
Welcome to the Linguava podcast, Invisible Profession, or we give you tools, tips, and resources in medical interpretation, and translation that helped bring to life our industry and ultimately help improve health outcomes for the Limited English Proficient communities.
David: Welcome everyone. We’re are super excited and have a very special guest with us today. Someone who has been in the industry for a long time and is going to be able to bring a lot of knowledge and experience to the table about what it takes to be a great translator, what it takes to make the right decisions and who to work with for your language service provider. And we’re really excited to have Veronika on the show today. Veronika is she’s a Translation industry veteran with more than 14 years of experience working from a project management side, account management. And more recently over the last four to five years in new business development, she’s worked with fortune 500 companies and really helping them expand their global footprint.
So I am super excited to welcome Veronika to the podcast. Welcome Veronika.
Veronika: Hi David. Thank you so much for having me I’m honored to be on this podcast.
David: Yeah. Or would it be appropriate to also call you a polyglot? Can we say that? Because you do speak five languages.
Veronika: So that would definitely be a compliment.
Thank you, David. I do not consider myself a polyglot only because you know, when you think of the idea of a polyglot, it’s definitely a person who is fluent in multiple languages. I probably would just say I’m bilingual. I do have a basic understanding of multiple languages, but I’m not as fluent or would consider myself fluent.
David: I think you’re being a little, well, we’ll keep calling you a polyglot, but tell us, tell the audience a little bit today. And again, you’re speaking with Translation organizations, translators interpreters organizations that work with translation services today. And we’d love to hear how you got involved in the Translation industry.
Veronika: Yeah. So, you know, when I think about it, my initial gut reaction is always to say, oh, it was by a chance. You know, I applied for a job and got a job in the translation industry, but I think my whole life, I think, kind of led to this industry. Probably subconsciously or unknowingly let towards this industry.
You know, my father spoke seven languages.
David: Wow. Where are you? Where are you from? Originally?
Veronika: I am from the Czech Republic, so my father’s Czech. And you know, he spoke many languages and I learning new languages and knowing about other cultures. it’s always been part of you know, me growing up.
So my parents enrolled me in a school with expanded languages. So in the third grade I started learning English. Then in the fifth grade, they added German, and then in the seventh grade they added Spanish. So you should be typically in, in school. You only take on one language the foreign language you learn.
So from a very young age, I was exposed to different languages, just learning different languages. So I think there was always something there that led me towards this industry.
David: The seed was planted.
Veronika: Yes, I think so.
David: That’s cool. And then you, so you got started in the industry and then initially you started as a project manager as a PM.
Is that right?
Veronika: Yes. Correct. So in 2006, you know, I felt it was about at the time. I get a serious job. I so doing these little jobs here and there, and then just start my career and I for a job for a project manager job. And it’s funny because back then, I didn’t even know something like the Translation industry.
It was more like, okay. Project manager. I can definitely do that, but I had no idea of the industry. That’s something like that actually really existed. Anything, you know, while the industry has grown so much over the years, a lot of people still wouldn’t even know that something like this, like that are.
David: Yeah. That’s very true. I hear that. I hear that all the time.
Veronika: I’m still very new, so, so yeah, but I started in project management and grew, you know, project management and vendor management. So I dealt with onboarding new vendors, new linguists, and then. It was a natural transition to, to move towards management.
and developing sales.
David: Yeah. And who you are. And I didn’t mention this at the beginning, but Veronika also does work with Linguava as are, and we’re we’re very thrilled and blessed to, to have Veronika on the team. And so Veronika from your perspective I think the audience would love to hear.
What it takes to make a great project manager, what it makes to make a great PM for PM’s are a lot of times, you know, bit behind the scenes and there’s know expert multitaskers. And what does it really wasn’t really take to to separate the good from the great. So, and as he said, multitasking is probably one major aspect of the job.
Veronika: So the more obvious would definitely be the ability to multitask and handle stress and be good with time management. But over the years, I’ve also noticed some of the most successful project management managers are people who are very good at working with people. And being open to other cultures and understanding other cultures you know, as a project manager, you work with linguists from all over the world from different backgrounds who may not have understanding of your background.
And so you have to be able to adapt to knowing how to communicate with people from different backgrounds. So that’s one side of it, but then the other side is you communicate with clients. And it could be anyone from you know, the administrative assistant to even sometimes a CEO of a startup. So it’s just the ability to be able to communicate with people from different backgrounds, different job roles.
And then the second one I would say is flexibility and being able to learn on the spot and always be willing to learn. You know, technology constantly improving. And so when is your need to be willing to constantly learn new tools, learn new techniques? Don’t say no.
David: Yeah. I think about thinking about that too, because with technology is constantly improving, advancing, changing.
So how to. How do project managers stay on top of all of the advancements and all the opportunities that are available?
Veronika: Yeah, I think it’s just just having a natural curiosity to constantly learn to not be open with this is how we’ve always done it. Right. As you know, Just looking for ways to improve on current processes and looking for ways of making things better and being open to doing the research of, okay, this is what I’m doing now.
I don’t think this is very efficient. How can they make this better or more efficient and easier for everyone?
David: Yeah, and I think there’s also the partnership and communication with the LSP there as well of making sure that, you know, we’re being innovative together. And when you said utilizing the best processes and the most up-to-date processes as well to best serve the client.
Veronika: Yes. Yeah. Sorry, David. And they said, you know, just not saying no, like, no, we’ve always done it this way, but me being more of a yes person, like, yes, we can do this. We can out. Yeah.
David: So, so this morning I was reading on a. Slator newsletter. And then we’re talking about a the Thai majesty apparently was really upset because that their Facebook, there in, in, in Thailand, they had like their Countrywide Facebook that they, there was the King’s birthday and they did some sort of a write-up about the King’s birthday.
And then they did auto translate. It was from English to Thai and they and apparently completely botched it. It was so offensive to them that they didn’t even want to share the original, the mistranslation that, that occurred. That’s you know, took it down. They wrote a letter to Facebook.
They actually, they banned. Banned auto Translation, I guess, in, in Thailand because of it. So I was really curious to what the message said, but it was so bad that they that they banned the auto translation there. So it leads me to, to the next question too, which is just about where companies fail when it comes to getting their documents, their information, their website.
There are social media translated. So from your experience, what do you see as where companies are getting it wrong?
Veronika: Yeah, I think it’s this idea that a machine can do it. That translation is so easy. A machine like Google translate or you know, Facebook auto translate can do it. Whereas it’s not so.
It’s not so simple, right? Geez, no matter how advanced the technology is, they can not understand still they can not understand context. Or as I mentioned with the example of, you know, the Thai prints, I mean, they don’t have cultural understanding or the sensitive sensitivity of certain issues or the specific wordage that needs to be
used, and also is the idea that Translation is a commodity, that it’s all about price. And then, you know, it’s the last day most companies, unfortunately, you know, Translation is the last thing to be planned for. And it’s the last thing that is budgeted for. So a lot of companies because they don’t plan for it because it’s the last thing don’t really have budget for it.
And so they’re looking for ways of saving, saving money. And the obvious is usually to just do it with Google. But yeah, so these automatic translation and that’s where I, that’s where it goes wrong. You’ve seen other examples. So over the internet with some hilarious. Translation fails or just companies did it.
David: Yeah. There, there are. So, so many, I know you wrote an article recently. It was a beautiful article you published in in LinkedIn all about Translation fail. So tell us a little bit about the about that.
Veronika: Yeah, so I’ve always, you know, I’m always curious to see what other companies are doing.
Always looking for just the fun side of our industry. Right? How can I share a story? How can I show clients that you should not be using automatic translation and just using real life examples? So I’m always on the search for that. And usually, you know, if you do a little search, you can always find, usually it’s like signs or things on menu.
Being translated improperly and incorrectly, but it’s funny because I mean, there’s some really big name companies that thought they could save on Translation and skip a step and use an automated tool, or just use one person who’s not really familiar with. With the target country and just do it a and not have it verified by anyone living in the target country where they want to use the document.
And so then all these, you know, hilarious mistranslations or mislocalization comes from, so one of my, you know, one of my favorite examples of a large, big name companies Pepsi, and in the sixties, late sixties, they had a slogan. Let’s say come alive and you know, they translated and nobody really verified it.
It wasn’t localized for the Chinese market. They brought it to the Chinese market. It said something like Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the grave. It’s just examples like these. And I said, there are so many. Some of them even, you know, turns quite inappropriate for these large companies and ended up being quite an embarrassment.
David: So, and that’s just from companies cutting corners not doing, not working with a professional language service provider to get their translation done and just doing. Yeah, Google translate or auto translate. They, you think about the amount of money that you spend with any, you know, campaign or marketing campaign, and then to only have to go to try and retract and all the millions of dollars you have to spend to try and rectify and correct that.
Veronika: Right? Exactly. I, you know, my colleague. Some of my friends in the localization, we have this thing save money now pay more later. So that’s an example of, you know, saving money. Now it’s going to cost you so much more later on trying to fix it. So, yeah.
David: Yeah. The way I like to look at is like the difference between.
And costs, right? You can always find a lower price out there. You know, the price, the rate per word. You can find really cheap, you know, pennies per word, but ultimately what’s that going to cost you in the long run effects, if that is a mistranslation and it’s going to be a lot more, what’s the difference between we hear these terms, the translation localization transcreation.
Can you kind of give us a quick description on what the, what those three are and how they’re different.
Veronika: Right. So Translation those that basically means you know, converting the text from one language to another, or for factual, not really changing anything. The source, basically whatever the source says exactly what the translation in front of you to say to which works more for just factual types of documents you know, like forms or I think hues or annuals.
Just very factual documents. Now, localization is a step closer and it’s it adapts the translation to be linguistically and culturally appropriate for the target market. So it takes into consideration, you know, the product names, The layout of the document and sometimes even graphics need to be changed.
It’s it even takes into consideration the, you know, the religion of the target market. So it’s just a step further up. It’s not just a translation, you’re adapting the translation to fit the target market to fit that culture, to be culturally appropriate. Yeah. Now transcreation is a slightly different and you see more of that.
It’s mostly for motivational types of documents like slogans. You know, headlines or even I would say jokes or puns. And so in this case, you’re actually completely changing or modifying the text to better resonate with the speaker in a different country. So, for example, you know, with let’s see jokes, right.
Or puns or playing words work in one language, but if you just translate it, it’s not really going to be funny or really make sense in another language or another country. So with transcreation you adapting and modifying the message To resonate with the audience and the other language and same with, you know, slogans marketing campaigns, advertising.
This is probably the best example of where transcreation will play an important role. We just don’t want to just translate the text. You want to go step further. Transcreation plays more on the emotional aspect. What the reader is reading.
David: Another question that, you know, that I hear sometimes come, comes up and I’m sure that you do as well as if you’re asking an organization about, you know, what’s your process for getting your documents and, or website or manuals translated in the, and they respond with, well, you know, we have, you know, Bob who speaks a little bit of Spanish or a little bit of Russian or et cetera, That just helps with that.
So we just call on them when we need an interpreter when we need our documents translated or are just an update on our website or our social media. So what is your advice to I know that you’re probably you probably cringe, like I didn’t want, but what is your response to someone when they say, oh yeah, we just, we have someone in our office that actually, you know, that speaks Thai or that and they, and we have them translate.
Veronika: So it plays on two very interesting topics and it’s just, you know, I think the most obvious would be speaking a language does not necessarily make a person a translator. So unless, you know, as he said, unless Bob is really truly a translator and that’s his experience and he was hired for that specific purpose, which in many cases, you know, it’s just something they’re being asked to do on top of the many other tasks supposed to be doing during the day.
So it’s not only just that ethical aspect of asking somebody to do something for free a service that usually companies charged for now have your employee to do for free. But it’s also the idea that just because you speak the language does not necessarily make you a translator, right? It’s translators have degrees, in translation.
They, you know, they specialize in a specific subject. So they’re very familiar with the terminology used. They have all the tools that makes their process easier. And also, you know, working with an agency, for example, instead of a translator internal, sorry, working with an agency instead of a internal employee you know, agencies have.
QA checks. So you’re using only one person in house who speaks the language. What if there’s a typo that the spellcheck doesn’t catch, you know, on the front page of your manual, it’s going to be printed thousand copies off, you know what then like who’s going to catch it. If it’s the only person you go to.
So, agencies that will work with qualified linguists, you know, we have. QA checks in place. Also flexibility, right? So agencies we’ve worked with a wide network of linguists. And so you’re not relying on only one person. What if Bob gets sick? What if he goes on vacation who works with the document then. Right. And in the worst cases, I, you know, I don’t like to bring this up too often, but it does happen.
And if they said, you know, what, if there’s a big mistake on the front page of your manual printed thousand times agencies have liability insurance. So if anything like that, I mean, worst case scenario, it’s actually, you know, I’ve never seen it happen in the past 14 years that I’ve worked for translation agencies, but in the case it does, or should it ever happen?
You know, Translation companies have liability insurance to cover.
And so, but yeah, so just working with that one person again, you know, I speak Czech and English, I’m bilingual, but I’m not a translator. I tried that long time ago during my college years, you know, helping out with translation and it’s really difficult and it’s definitely a special skill that translators work on it. And not only that, but they have this additional knowledge of other topics too, that they specialize in. Right. So it’s yeah.
David: Yeah. That’s why I’ve seen it. I remember one time, back when I did a lot more Spanish interpretation, I was interpreting at a clinic and the doctor had said, I was working with the patients had spent, you know, obviously some time maybe in Mexico or something like that, a short period of time, six months or so I spoke a little bit of Spanish.
And so when they came in, they said, yeah don’t worry. You know, I got this, I’ll let you know if I need you. All right. Sounds good. And then when they say that you never know what’s actually going to come out of their mouth. And it was very poor grammar. The patients like looking at me the whole time, but the doctor insisted they were very confident in their Spanish speaking abilities and it was pretty bad and and the patient was not understanding and how to kept going and going to me throughout the appointment.
And at the end, you know, I followed up and spoke with the organization or the supervisor from that organization to basically report that, Hey this doctor should not be utilizing their Spanish like this, and it should be, they should be relying on professionally trained interpreters.
And the person said, oh gosh, thank you so much for letting us know. We should probably. Stop having them translate our documents as well. So are they here they were not only interpreting, they were also translating documents, which I can only imagine what those look like because their grammar was atrocious.
That’s a difficult word. Their grammar was very bad.
Veronika: Yeah. Gosh. That’s. Yeah, but that’s the thing, you know, a lot of people, as we talked about earlier, they just see it. Oh, yeah. I just, I speak the language I can do that.
David: Exactly. So, so that’s something definitely to be aware of.
So, 1 other question for you, Veronika is where you see the industry headed. We talked earlier about just how fast technology is changing and you can’t have a conversation about translation without addressing the fast changing of the technology where does Google translate come into play with that?
What about machine translation? And so from your experience and perspective where do you see the industry headed as it pertains to that.
Veronika: I think it’s gonna, it’s definitely going to grow. It’s we’ve already seen it with, as you said, know, machine translation. I think neural machine translation has been the more widely used.
But again, you know, speaking about it, if it can replace human translators and I actually to be entirely honest, I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. It’s definitely automatic translation or neural machine translation is definitely going to help speed up the process and help translators you know, be more efficient and do more in less time.
It’s not going to replace that. Only because, you know, if we see from the examples, the localization fails, examples machines still cannot understand the context or cultural differences or religious differences. So yeah, they’re not going to replace human when it comes to that.
David: They’ll continue to make improvements and that makes things faster and more efficient.
I don’t see it completely replacing it.
Veronika: No, no, not anytime soon..
David: Yeah, I know. Who knows. It’s so hard to know where we can only imagine, you know, what things will look like in a few years from now, it’s hard to know what things will look like in, you know, seven to 10 years, right. With technology changing. So fast.
Veronika: I think it’s going to help. I’m not, I know a lot of people are really against it.
I’m actually for our industry, I think it’s only going to help. I think it’s going to help make things more efficient and faster and allow us to do more and help more people. I don’t think it’s a bad thing and I don’t think it, yeah. Human translators they’re good to stay.
David: All the translators listening. I’m sure they’re excited to, to hear that as, as well. And and we’re coming up here. To the end. But what, on that note too? What advice would you give to a translator that with as maybe just getting started in the industry and difficult industry to get started in?
So what would you will be your advice for someone getting started?
Veronika: I would say I would tell them to find a topic. They went to specialized. Since this is their career of choice and it’s what they’re doing probably for the rest of their lives you know, speaking the other language or having that degree in translation is just the first step.
You know, the language, you know, the theory of translation, you know how to do it. That’s specializing or finding that niche for yourself is where you can really excel. So. Just look at what you like, you know, what would your interest in, do you like, what are the topics that you like to read about? Do you like health and wellness?
Are you interested in those topics or are you more technical and are you really into learning about machines and how they’re built and how they work? Or are you into sports? So. You know, figure out what you really like, because it is going to be something that you’re going to be translating for the rest of your life.
And so it has, you know, it should be, I think it should be something that you enjoy.
David: Yeah. And then you can get and get excited about getting up in the morning.
Veronika: Yeah. Right. So find that talk, find what it is other than from inflation that you really enjoy and just learn as much. As you can about that specific industry, that specific topic you know, read books on that topic too, and just get as much knowledge as possible in both languages.
So if you translating from English into Spanish acquire that knowledge in both languages. So, you know, you’re familiar with the specific terminology and that can go really a long way. As opposed to just being a generic or like a general translator trying to do everything right. Specializing I think is where we can really Excel if you specialize in a specific area, like Linguava in medical Translation, right?
David: Yeah. Yeah, there’s lots of opportunity there. Well, this was a, this was an excellent opportunity to to learn from you, Veronika. We thank you for your time with us all today. I’m sure that the audience all gained a lot from from being given the chance to listen to you and tuning in all the way from Chicago where you’re at right now. And and thank you all for tuning in as well. This was it was great. Great to have you joining our episodes. And if you liked the episode and want to hear more, go ahead and hit subscribe. If you haven’t already and feel free to share this with your language interpretation, Translation community.
We would love to continue to get content like this out, and we’d love to hear from you as well. So what type of topics would you like to hear, or what type of questions would you like us to tackle in this podcast? This podcast is for you and we want to make sure that we’re talking about the right, right questions and topics that you have in mind. So thank you again for being a part of the community. We will see you very soon on the next one. Veronika. Again. Thank you so much for joining us.
Veronika: Thank you for having me, David.