One of the challenges facing businesses involved in international trade is how to provide accurate translations of proposals, business documents, operating instructions and correspondence to their customers around the world.
Many businessmen and businesswomen have had the frustrating experience of reading a "literal" interpretation of a foreign contract or business plan, wherein the message trying to be conveyed is "lost in the translation." The problem lies in the "global village," where 5 billion people attempt to communicate with each other using more than 40 major languages and 25 different alphabets.
Even when English is a country's preferred language of business, a field operator or local manager's proficiency in English may not be sufficient to understand maintenance directions or installation requirements. In addition, they may not know how to request assistance from the vendor or service- provider. Also, in the waste management business, many words are "term of art," which means they cannot be translated literally without losing their meaning.
To assist its members, the Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC), a sub-association of the Environmental Industry Associations, Washington, D.C., has teamed with Linguistic Systems Inc. (LSI), Cambridge, Mass., to provide translation services into all major languages and to provide document setting, using all major alphabets.
"We consider ourselves to be a headache business service - we make headaches go away," says Dan Sutton, director of LSI.
LSI has a network of 4,000 translators located in virtually every corner of the globe. The company has been providing translation services in more than 110 different languages for 33 years. Thus, according to Sutton, the company has more experience with technical translations for a variety of industries than most other translation companies.
LSI has pioneered a new Internet-based document submission and retrieval system, which lets customers transmit documents directly into their system for translating. LSI distributes the documents to the correct translator and returns the completed translation to the client as quickly as is possible.
Sutton emphasizes that companies in need of translation services do not have to access these services through LSI's website. "Sometimes it's easier for people to contact us initially on the phone before graduating to automated ordering," he says.
LSI also is setting up a "waste industry translation center," which will include a multilingual glossary database of industry-specific terms to help translators produce technically and legally correct documents. Additionally, LSI's translators frequently have professional knowledge in the areas in which they translate - so a technical manual may be translated by an engineer, a contract by an attorney, etc.
"People are understandably nervous about hiring an outside firm to translate documents that could have a major impact on their overseas marketing and on their company's bottom-line," Sutton says. "That's why we are adamant about hiring and retaining quality translators. Most of the time, when customers send documents that need translating for their overseas employees, they find that they need to make little or no changes to the translation we have undertaken."
Aside from the translation and interpreting services, LSI, through the WASTEC Translation Center, also offers video translation and narration, multilingual typesetting, foreign language business cards, simultaneous and consecutive interpreting services for meetings or conference calls, machine translation with high-quality editing, and foreign brand-name and cultural impact analysis.
All submissions are sent directly to the LSI online translation center, to a customer-specific, password-protected location. All transactions are handled directly between LSI and the customer.
Members of EIA, WASTEC and the National Solid Wastes Management Association will receive a 10 percent discount off of LSI's fees, which are based on the document's size and language. Prices are competitive with other quality services, Sutton says.
To activate your account at the member discount, go through the link on the WASTEC Web site (www.wastec. org), or contact Sutton at Linguistic Systems Inc. Phone: (617) 864-3900 ext. 443. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.linguist.com