Tag Archives: native speaker

Big Ben and the Thames at sunset to reflect the sun setting on the UK-EU relationship with Brexit

Brexit, it’s different but also the same

Big Ben and the Thames at sunset to reflect the sun setting on the UK-EU relationship with Brexit
London needs to build new bridges after Brexit

Things I like about being British: Tea, marmite, the English language, the sarcastic sense of humour, the vast range of different accents and regional characteristics. The fact I can get to the coast in less than an hour, and the melting pot of different cultures.

Things I don’t love about being British: The weather, the inability of much of the population to learn a language, and now Brexit.

Despite my heartfelt wishes otherwise, the UK business secretary tells me the UK has indeed left the EU and the transition period ended on 31 December 2020. What a way to end a horrendous year!

Living in Kent, in South East England, I’m only too aware of potential problems this can cause international manufacturers. We have a dedicated space affectionately called the ‘Brexit car park’, which was already put to work in December when France locked her borders. Add a certain virus into the mix and you can understand why I was still receiving Christmas cards in mid-January.

What changes post Brexit?

Current guidance may be subject to minor amendments. I have attended a lot of information sessions, read government advice and spoken to relevant experts. However, as things stand, nothing changes for my clients in the way they work with me.

I deliver translation and proof-reading work by email or using a secure file transmission service and accept payment in euros. Video conference calls enable us to speak face to face, at least virtually, and I still intend to travel to events in Germany to meet in person when it’s safe and possible again. There’s no difference between working with me or a person a few miles away from you. Except with me you get a native speaker to polish your English texts to perfection. 

An ear to the ground

You get someone who works almost exclusively with companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Living in the UK means that I have one ear open to the subtle nuances of language as it changes. You can see just how rapidly language changes when provoked from the Covid terminology that has popped up. And how the pandemic has altered the meaning of pre-existing terms. On the flip side, although I’m well versed in your industry and native language, I don’t presume to know everything. You’re the expert when it comes to your products or research. You can expect the odd question from me to clarify and help decide whether translation option A or B fits best.

Should you need any help with amending documentation, product labelling or providing updates to your customers and business partners, then please get in touch.

Screen filled with information

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.

Old family photographs of holidays and special occasions. Circle-like camera lens reads Business Through the Lens

Business Through the Camera Lens

What do you feel when you look at old photos?

I’m talking about the pre-digital age photos. Those slightly fuzzy ones in muted colours your parents took on holidays, trips, and special occasions.

Realistically, you’re looking at a piece of shiny paper with smiling faces or a slightly wonky landscape. Nothing to write home about unless you recognise those faces. Unless that landscape is the scene of your family holiday in 1988 and that image transports you back to the beach. You can taste the salty sea air, hear the seagulls and relive how the wet seaweed felt under your bare feet as you clambered over the rocks to find crabs and mussels. You remember how proud you felt creating the biggest hole on the beach as you dug deep to try and get to Australia… er, maybe that was just me?

Even those black-and-white photos of your not-too-distant ancestors make you feel something though it becomes harder to forge a connection. I’ve got a photo of my great-great-grandmother dressed up in her Victorian finery. Though we never met, I can just about find a family likeness. I imagine little Flora (my Grandma) going to visit her grandmother and playing in the garden with her cousins. There’s a connection but you have to work harder to create the meaning.

Show my photos to someone else and they’ll see a bunch of semi-smiling strangers. There’s no connection there at all.

An image only delivers emotional impact if you know the stories and the people behind it. And don’t think you can rule out emotional impact in business. That’s the extra step most people don’t take that will bring you unsolicited business.

How to deliver emotional impact in your marketing   

It’s the stories you can tell. Most people know they have to make their marketing relatable. For instance, you’d do better talking about what a machine can do for your clients rather than its technical specifications.

If you know the people that work on that machinery though, you can forge an emotional connection. The connection becomes greater if you know the stories and feelings of those other clients. People like you who use that machinery, what they use it for, how relieved they were to find a solution, and how much time it saves them so they can go home and play with their children. Whatever it is that your clients want, if you can find examples of people who have achieved that directly as a result of working with you, and you use those stories as part of your marketing… click! Capture that on your marketing camera right away.

That’s how you create an emotional connection in business, through people and their concerns, hopes, and desires. Even if your business is chemical additives.

Look at what your products do, then look at how your clients use them. Why does your product or service help them achieve their goals and how do you make it easy?

Cultural considerations

This might be different for your British clients. People are people the world over but there are subtle differences related to culture and language that mean you need to adjust your marketing.

If a British person hears a German client talking about how his life is so much easier now, he even gets to squeeze in a game of handball after work, they will attach some positive meaning. It’s clear the product or service improves efficiency. However, because we don’t play handball in Britain, the message loses a tiny bit of impact. They might think well that’s good for them but it’s different for us. And it isn’t different but that’s their perception and they’re entitled to it.

One advantage of using a native speaker is that you get suggestions on what you’re saying as well as how you say it. If I think something won’t work for the British market, I’ll let you know and come up with an alternative.

I’ll take your memory-packed holiday snap and replicate it so it could happily slot into a British photo album and evoke the same feelings.

Your holiday may be over but we’ve got business memories to make!