All posts by Sarah Silva

Typically British – International Tea Day

How do you like yours? Mine’s top right: strong, black tea with milk, hold the sugar

At times of crisis, Britons put the kettle on. It’s no surprise then, that sales of tea have increased sharply since lockdown. And today, 21 May 2020, we’re celebrating International Tea Day!

Tea is used to soothe nerves, enjoy with a biscuit or cake, gossip over with a friend. It’s the first beverage you offer a visitor.

Britain is second only to Ireland in its tea-drinking habits, and that’s going some. We drink an estimated 100 million cups of tea a day compared with 70 million cups of coffee.

Although fruit and herbal teas are available and increasingly popular, black tea (with milk mostly) makes up 85 % of our tea consumption. You can see why a recent translation citing lemon as Europe’s most popular tea tested my British roots.

And why my family looked on aghast when I returned from a year in Germany with ‘fancy ideas’, suggesting an alternative to our standard cuppa.

Keeping the Workforce Going

Standard everyday tea is what our nation is built on. Literally. It’s called Builder’s Brew partly because 90 % of tradesmen rely on access to a kettle and a constant supply of tea while they work.  

Despite being a southerner, my favourite is the northern Yorkshire tea. Pop in a mug, add fresh boiling water and let brew for a couple of minutes. Add a splash of milk (you know you want to) and a little sugar if you like it sweet.

If you really can’t stand the idea of milk, I’ll allow you a slice of lemon and honey as my friend Agata prefers.

Fortunately for us tea lovers, black tea is said to have a raft of health benefits, including the antioxidants it contains that help fight inflammation. Any excuse to put the kettle on I say. Here’s to International Tea Day, cheers!

For more fun facts and a bit of the history behind our humble cuppa, head here:

Behind the Scenes: Expectation and Reality

How much information is too much?

Too much detail or do you think knowledge is power?

Do you sigh at too much detail or appreciate the clarity about what you should expect from your business partner or supplier?

A web developer colleague asked for a ballpark figure for translation in an online forum. Prices vary just as they do in your industry and so do the levels of service and professionalism. After suggesting a rough price range for guidance, I advised him to check that individual quotes included proofreading by a colleague to ensure a fair comparison.

Another forum member was shocked:

“I assumed that no (professional) translation would be delivered without being proofread by another person”

What would you expect?

When I elaborated further and explained there was translation to suit every budget but the service provided would differ, he gave me his perspective:

“From a client perspective, I just see two offers and assume the same quality from each person. The fact that one contains proofreading and one doesn’t is too much information for me personally. I want to know the price and be done with it.”

If you feel the same, that’s fine.  Just know that the services you’re comparing may not offer the same benefits. For instance: I translate into my native language – English – and include proofreading by a similarly qualified translator colleague as standard.

Not always the case

Some professionals translate out of their native language and quality assurance stops at proofreading their own work. Not only do you lose the second pair of eyes and perspective, you miss the cultural insights and idiomatic phrasing that a native speaker naturally adds. This is what can take a translation from adequate to impressive, with the corresponding results for your business.

A sprinkle of native speaker glamour for sparkling texts

Optimisation potential

Another option for non-native speakers translating into their second language is to partner up with a native speaker editor. One of my Austrian colleagues who translates into English describes my role as sprinkling some “Native-Speaker-Glamour” on her translation. I wanted the same for my newsletter so I ask my German colleague, Zoe, to sprinkle hers. That way readers can focus on enjoying the content instead of stumbling over the odd awkward phrase – written by someone who speaks and writes German on a daily basis but will still never pass for a native speaker.

As with anything in life, make sure you’re comparing apples with apples not artichokes (or machine translation) and evaluate the services on offer in terms of the results and enquiries you want to achieve.

Bear Grylls, a Rock Face, and a Cup of Tea

I was always brought up to have a cup of tea halfway up a rock face.
Bear Grylls

What a great quote. You’re imagining it now, aren’t you? The rugged survival guy breaking his climb to be quintessentially British with a cup of tea. I’m pretty sure this involves a thermos flask and not a bone china cup and saucer but that’s what I envisaged.

It’s a great opener and all credit to Towergate Insurance, who sent this to me in an email. They followed with this: You might not be half-way up a rock face right now but you are halfway through your Professional Liability policy… 

They found a way to make insurance interesting. That’s clever.

It’s genius and an obvious link if you think about it. Extreme sports enthusiasts and adventurers are a high risk for insurance – how do you insure someone who breaks their back in a parachuting accident, nearly drowns in a fast-flowing jungle river, and willingly pushes themselves to the limit? But what thrilling stories they make.

The opener made me smile and instantly more receptive to the rest of their email, which was just to keep in touch and remind me of a few details. Usually, you get a reminder a week or so before your insurance is due for renewal asking for money. No-one likes that kind of reminders so ultimately, an email or letter from an insurance company causes you to groan inwardly. The alternative, keeping in touch with your clients just to say hi and not just when you’re asking for something is refreshing. Are you doing this?

A Strong Finish

They even ended the email with a smile: If you are in fact half-way up a rock face, and you’ve left your home unoccupied, you might want to look at our Unoccupied Property Insurance.
A little call to action, a hint that they offer other products plus they make you feel good.

Despite the fact that you’re sitting at your desk, possibly with a snack and a cuppa, still holding a little extra weight than you’d like (just me?), this insurance company believes in you. You’re an adventurer ready to throw yourself out of a plane for pleasure at any given time. Yes indeed, I may just go and book a jungle trek, or perhaps just a flight to that industry conference I want to attend. Oh, travel insurance… where can I get that from I wonder…

So many businesses forget the fun you can have when building long-term relationships. No matter how serious your product, find a way to make your clients smile and they’ll keep coming back for more.

Now, go and book that skydive!