Finding linguists with a good understanding of culture can be difficult, according to a Transcreation Solutions Director. Recognizing the importance of culturally-relevant translations, a New Jersey-based language service provider (LSP) hired a Multicultural Marketing Director for a newly created post.
Meanwhile, a Director of Project Management, said post-edited machine translation is still not economically viable. And while conversations have evolved to encompass technology and automation, according to a new Managing Director, high quality is still a consideration.
Vijay Suppiah – EC Innovations
According to Vijay Suppiah, Managing Director of EC Innovations, finding native English resources for Southeast Asian language pairs will forever be a challenge, particularly for “highly technical content such as those from the pharma, regulatory, banking, and legal industries. For example, Thai into English for drug research content or Vietnamese into English for an M&A document.”
Suppiah joined EC Innovations on June 11, 2019 and reports to Founder and Global CEO James Wei.
He told Slator EC Innovations has moved its headquarters from China to Singapore as with most of their key functions. “The team has expanded to six within the past two months and we are planning for more hires in the coming months. Southeast Asia Sales and SEA Vendor Management and Operations report into me for now,” he said.
A language industry veteran, Suppiah had spent a combined total of over 10 years at the CLS/Lionbridge organization prior to joining EC Innovations. He recalled, “It was back in 2006 when I saw an online job posting for translation / localization project manager for CLS Communication AG. I still had no clue what I was getting myself into until I went for my first interview. I started my career as a Translation Project Manager and slowly got to understand the language industry.”
Since that time, he said, conversations have become more complex and now “revolve around technology solutions, automation, and high quality. [But] these days, there are specialized divisions within large organizations to manage localization. Clients do understand the need for their local content to go global. Localization experts in large organizations are aware of state-of-the-art technologies and how AI could help them to publish their multilingual content across different platforms,” he said.
According to Suppiah he foresees a challenge, however, in “training freelancers (e.g., a Khmer into English translator) on new CAT tools.” Therefore, “constant coaching and technical support have to be provided to translators who are based in emerging markets or developing countries.”
Paulina Makles – Venga Global
“Transcreation requires maturity on the client side,” said Venga Global’s Paulina Makles; “but, also, there has to be creativity at the source. New companies more often realize how important it is to speak a brand-specific voice and recognize the need to have that replicated across all their markets; while well-established tech companies have just begun to realize that transcreation and creative services are the best solution for on-brand content.”
Based in Poland, Makles joined the San Francisco-based LSP as Transcreation Solutions Director on July 17, 2019. She reports to COO Chris Phillips and is responsible for the company’s project management teams, supporting clients that require marketing content.
Makles told Slator the biggest demand for transcreation right now comes from new tech and software startups. She said certain instances of IT around hardware and programming as well as surveillance or security have proven the most challenging. She explained that these types of content are “filled with technical words and phrasing, leaving almost nothing to imagination, but still being qualified as marketing. It is also targeted at audiences that speak a very specific language, use a lot of English and set phrases, leaving not much space for creativity.”
Asked what a typical client brief would look like, Makles replied, “There is none! Each brief is different, and this is my favorite part of the role. Working with marketing content always involves loads of creativity on the teams’ side, not only linguistically. It makes building programs difficult because of constant change, but also makes it a great learning experience.”
As for talent, Makles said, “Transcreation and creative marketing localization requires the linguists to be able to move freely between the cultures they’re localizing into, not only language. And while there are many specialists with superb knowledge of languages, finding linguists with equally good understanding of the cultures is more difficult and it permeates all language combos.”
She said they use a combination of single-language vendors and freelancers, “mostly focusing on freelancers being external language managers supporting final quality for each of the clients.”
On the subject of neural machine translation (NMT), Makles pointed out that because transcreation and marketing-related localization rely heavily on preference and style requirements, it would be “hard to control in NMT-based processes.” Thus, using NMT “can turn out to be counterproductive,” especially when it comes to heavily transcreated content, where the text is remade entirely in the target language.
Amanda Hadlock – AccuLing
AccuLing’s Amanda Hadlock told Slator that, while they do provide machine translation (MT), “our clients don’t often pick it, often opting for higher quality translation and editing by qualified translators.” She added that post-edited MT “still has a ways to go before it can be economically viable.”
Hadlock joined the Utah-based LSP as Director of Project Management on July 1, 2019 and reports to CEO Brandon Kidman.
According to Hadlock, “In my experience, whenever a client has requested PEMT, it is often riddled with so many errors that it takes as long, if not longer, than it would have taken if the linguist had just done the initial translation.”
She said their clients mostly come from “medical, legal, and technical groups,” although they look to “expand into more general business work.”
Immediately prior to joining AccuLing, Hadlock worked as a Performance Consultant, “managing projects and linguists on the vendor side.” As such, she tries “to bring a more consultative role to translation and localization projects to ensure that the clients get exactly what they’re looking for. This means vetting projects carefully, asking a lot of questions, and not assuming clients know our process.”
Hadlock said that in light of the pressure from shorter deadlines, they “make sure to educate clients about the tradeoffs with shorter timelines (i.e., quality and consistency issues), and verify whether the timeline can be moved.”
She added that they have switched to more single-language vendors, allowing her team to control and test quality, even as it takes more overhead. It helps, however, that the company uses its own translation productivity and management tools. “Our biggest advantage is our proprietary technology,” Hadlock said.
Farhanna Balgahoom Sayegh – CQ fluency
Joining the language industry from the buy-side, CQ fluency’s Farhanna Balgahoom Sayegh noted how all the companies she had worked with in the past had invested in language services “and the biggest pain points were in culturally-relevant translations.”
She joined the New Jersey-based LSP on May 6, 2019 as Multicultural Marketing Director under CEO Elisabete Miranda.
Balgahoom Sayegh has served in marketing roles at companies such as Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, and Reckitt Benckiser, where she learned that, to succeed, every marketing campaign needs to respond to local, diverse preferences.
She recalled how, at one company, they coordinated a global advertising test in five different countries. “While LSPs usually have a great quality process in place, we were sure to leverage our internal (native-speaking) employees as another step in the QA process. We uncovered translations about sun exposure that were the correct literal translations, but didn’t take into account that certain cultures favor less time in the sun than other cultures — and the overall approach to the questions needed to be tweaked,” she said.
Today, Balgahoom Sayegh is responsible for “a network of freelancers and agencies” at CQ fluency. Hers is a newly created role and she helps clients with, among other things, the cultural adaptation of their campaigns.
Balgahoom Sayegh is also the First Lady of Paterson, New Jersey. She told Slator, “I helped manage my husband’s brand as a public servant to ultimately get him elected as Mayor of NJ’s third largest city, and one of the most racially diverse cities in the US.” She has since leveraged that experience for other volunteer work, most notably “a literacy program helping immigrant parents with limited English proficiency assist their children in improving their reading skills.”
Asked if they have experienced any impact from the US government’s deregulation drive, Balgahoom Sayegh replied, “We do compliance work with many of our clients and believe, despite deregulation, that our clients will do the right thing in ensuring patients with limited English proficiency understand their medical coverage, needs, and care.”