Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Skating on ice

Pic of girl skating beautifully on ice with dramatic smoke trails

I arrived between sessions and stood at the side of the Christmas ice rink at Somerset House.  The ice machine renewed the ice for the next session. The man in the cab leaned over to watch carefully as he steered round.

As the machine left the ice, they opened the double doors to the cautious, enthusiastic crowd on the opposite side. All out for fun on a winter's evening.

Some stumbled onto the ice.

Some tottered around without actually falling over.

Some skated well, but wary of straying from the edges.

Two figures stood out. Both skated confidently through the middle of the ice rink and clear of the tottering throng.

The first was obviously proficient. She demonstrated her experience and ease on the ice. Nothing was obviously missing until I watched the second girl more closely.

The other girl skated as if unaware of the ice beneath her boots. She could have been on dry land.

She had a professional's beautiful white boots. Always important to have right tools for the job.

Most of all she had natural grace and style. Poise. Like an Audrey Hepburn on ice.

Pic of white, professional ice skating boots
The importance of the right tools for the job


Translation is a lot like skating on ice. You have to skate a careful line between two cultures.

Machine translation can deal with some types of work. It can give you the gist of a subject. However, like the ice machine, it still needs the eyes of a driver to ensure a thorough job over the ice. A professional to make sure that there are no unsuspecting pitfalls. No broken bones on the ice.

The enthusiastic crowd remind you of some bilinguals operating in the translation field. Or the cousin of the friend of a friend who sometimes offers translation as a "bit of a sideline". It's fun. A hobby.

When you select your translator, you want someone with the right skills, experience and tools for the job. You want a professional.

Your translation must be fit for your business domain and purpose. No good choosing a rugby player for the ice; any more than an ice dancer for a rugby match.

Transcreation is like ice dancing for marketing translations.

You don't want an ice skater who stays too close to the edge. Too literal.

You want a translator who will skate a skillful line through the middle. With grace and poise.

You want your copy to dance and sing. You want your brand to stand out from the throng.


Please call or email Karen to discuss your transcreation or copywriting projects. All contact options are detailed above.



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