SERVICES - José Henrique Lamensdorf - translation - tradução

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I have been translating professionally between Portuguese and English since 1973. My translation work is enhanced with supplemental services, such as desktop publishing (DTP), video subtitling, and DVD authoring, among others.

I work with any variant of the source languages, however the target language variants I offer are US English and Brazilian Portuguese. If you are unfamiliar with the differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese, my article about it might enlighten you to some extent.

My specialty areas in translation are:
    • Corporate Communications
    • Management
    • Human Resources
    • Marketing / Market Surveys
    • Training & Development
    • Instructional & Educational Material
    • Instruction Manuals
    • Company Policy Manuals
    • Sworn/Certified Translations
    • Video for dubbing or subtitling

Like any translator, I also translate in many other general areas, however I do not translate technical texts involving medicine, biology, accounting, finance, or sports intended for professional practitioners, unless they are targeted at the general public, which would include me.

Why hire a professional translator?

This is a perfectly valid question. You, like anybody else, should know bilingual people, maybe one or another of them owes you a favor...

In this case, please understand the difference:

A bilingual person is someone capable of expressing their own ideas in two different languages. A translator is a professional skilled in faithfully and correctly expressing someone else's ideas in a language different from the one in which they were originally issued.

Some points on translation quality

It would be expected from me to use your attention to boast the quality of my translation work, like everyone does. I could brag about quality, speed, perfection... After all, everybody wants that upon hiring any service provider.

Nevertheless I chose to stick to my habit of adding value, by offering some basic information on how to locate the most suitable translator for your needs. If I'm the one, so much the better, however I prefer to have each job done by the most adequate pro.

First, let's consider the regulated translation market: sworn translations. They fulfill some very specific legal requirements, and (in Brazil) must be done by legally enabled people, under clearly defined conditions (including prices). Conceptually, every Brazilian Certified Public Translator has passed an exam, and was rated by the proper agencies as capable of doing this work satisfactorily. If they fail to comply with any of the applicable legal requirements, particularly regarding prices, it will be reasonably safe to assume that they'll be neglecting other aspects, such as quality. I am Licensed as a Sworn Translator in Brazil, and there is more detailed information about it on this page.

Apart from this restriction, anyone is allowed to translate; it is a non-regulated profession. Due to the resemblance between the two languages, some people translate between Portuguese and Spanish without having ever studied to do it. Some people translate between other languages relying solely on basic knowledge. And there are web sites that offer free automatic translation, such as Google Translate. If you'd like to see a comparison from English into Portuguese, click here.

Though incipient human translation and machine translation present different flaws, their overall quality level is roughly similar.

Both extremes removed, the remainder is the professional translation market, which is not regulated. A translation client may feel somewhat lost while seeking a translator. It's quite understandable. If I were about to hire a taxidermist - a profession about which I admittedly know squat - I'd also lack the slightest idea on costs.

The first major concern is the language pair involved, the source and destination languages, and the latter's variant, e.g. US or UK English? It will be pointless to hire a translator who works with other languages, or into the "wrong" variant, for the targeted public. Within one language pair, it is also necessary to consider the translation direction, from which into which language. There are some good translators, including specialized ones, who work in one direction only. This is a translator's personal choice.

For the sake of quality, don't force a translator out of their "comfort zone". Arguing that "you translate from Portuguese, speak Spanish fluently, why can't you translate this Spanish text into for me?"  is a failproof way to compromise on quality. On the other hand, all Brazilian sworn translators translate both ways between the languages they are certified.

Some clients will only have translators working into their "native" language. There is a long-standing discussion on what would be a "native" language. As it depends on each individual's personal history, no fixed rules can be set on this matter. In my opinion, such restriction is justified in case of advertising copy, literary, inspirational and other texts. However its reason to be is mitigated when texts are informational, technical, everyday, and others as well. If you'd like to read more on this, please click here.

Another criterion is the subject. It's useless to tell the translator that it's a technical translation. Considering the advances in technology, it's not about a technical writing style, but instead the knowledge the translator may possess on the subject. In order to translate any text, the translator must understand its contents thoroughly, and be able to express them in the target language. If s/he cannot fully understand the original text, it will be impossible to deliver its content in another language.

One way to determine whether a translation requires a specialized translator is by checking the audience targeted by the original text. For instance, let's take a translation about medicine. If it's an article to be published in a magazine directed to physicians or other health care professionals, a medicine-specialized translator will be required. If it's an article for the general public about the symptoms and ways to avoid some disease, any translator should be able to handle it. The same principle applies to any other area: the translator must be compatible with the specific knowledge level required from the audience targeted by the translation.

Finally, there is a media issue: what is the medium containing the original? Traditionally, translation in itself involves text alone. Not so many decades ago, the translator's working tool was a pen or a typewriter. The current development stage of IT grants computer users access to a new world of resources. There are translators that offer other services beyond translation, like desktop publishing (DTP), video subtitling, audio narration and voice-over, presentations and DVD authoring, as well as many others.

It is important to keep in mind that these are not translation services, but additional ones. If one translator doesn't offer them, it will be necessary to find specialized professionals who do. The message here is that upon ordering, e.g. just the translation of a product catalog, this won't include layout or typesetting of a catalog in another language. Some translators do it (DTP), others outsource it, and there are those who deliver the translated text so the client will outsource that work.

While we are dealing with format, there may be software-related requirements as to the program in which the original material was developed. It's the trade standard, most translators use Microsoft Word. Nevertheless, if the job involves Excel, PowerPoint, QuarkXpress, InDesign, AutoCAD, or countless others, it may be necessary to search deeper.

If you have specific needs in translation, the best option is to find a translator you trust, and who is well networked in the worldwide translators community. If they deserve your trust, any time they can't do a job personally, they'll refer you to someone just as reliable to do it.

If you decide that I would be a good option to fulfill your translation needs, or even if you just want to discuss them, please send me an e-mail, or use one of the options available on the Express Estimates. It will be my pleasure to be of assistance, even if it's only to analyze your needs and the best options available to fulfill them.

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