Just a Plain Hamburger on a Bun

hamburgerDid you know that years ago, when you ordered a hamburger, you received a cooked patty on a plain bun? You could put mustard and ketchup on it if you wanted. And then the California burger swept the nation. They put lettuce and tomato on top of the patty! Scandalous! But delicious!
Today, hamburger toppings are an ever-evolving topic: lettuce, tomato, and pickles, of course, but also onions (fried or not), various cheeses, coleslaw, eggs, peppers, hoisin sauce, chutney, bacon, olives, cucumbers, salsa and many other things. Our tastes have changed, and our expectations have grown. Today, a plain burger on a plain bun would mystify an American consumer.
The same has happened in many industries, including ours. When I began translating decades ago, a simple MSWord file, text only, was the expected deliverable. In some cases, it still is. But a translator these days should be able to handle images and tables and know when to hand a file off to the desktop publisher.
Yesterday, we received a quote request from one of the many marketing firms who are Tembua clients. Their client had sent a document laid out in MSWord, complete with beautiful graphics, and then asked our client to insert the accompanying translations into the Word document.
I was puzzled at first. If the translations were already done and the file was in MSWord, why would they need Tembua? Then I looked at what they’d sent.
Whoever did the work for them had delivered a document that looked like 1990: the translations were all there, but each graphic was listed as “[graphic].” They weren’t in place.
This is probably an inexpensive translation solution. It’s faster not to handle graphics, and the client presumably liked the initial quote—a quick turnaround for a low price! But that same client received a bare-bones, unappealing document. Their beautiful graphics, tables, and diagrams were simply not there. Their translators delivered a plain hamburger.
At Tembua, our hamburgers, our translations, can come with all sorts of toppings: transcription, desktop publishing, voice-overs, subtitles, custom revisions, and more. But even our plain MSWord translations aren’t the same plain hamburgers of years ago.
When our client sends an MSWord document for translation, we return it looking like the original. Improved technology and tools make that easier, but the most important difference is our customer service. Our project managers take the time to set up a document for easy translation and to adjust the formatting after translation if necessary.
We will spend the time necessary to make the plain MSWord documents we received yesterday look like the originals. We’ll have to charge the client for our time, of course, and that’s what irritates me. When they bought a translation, they should have received a usable document and not had to pay for the work twice.
There are times I want a hamburger with just ketchup and lettuce, but that’s a special order in most restaurants. If you want your text just pulled out and translated, let us know. We’ll gladly do it. Otherwise, we’ll return a document that looks like the original, a document you can use right away with your own clients.
How do you like your hamburgers?
Patricia May


About tembua

Tembua: The Precision Language Solution provides comprehensive linguistic services for 100 languages to private industry and government agencies on a global scale. Services include document and website translation and localization; conference and 24/7 telephonic interpretation; glossary development; proofreading, text adaptation, editing, multilingual design and DTP; transcription; technical / custom authoring editing, foreign search engine optimization; translation memory management; subtitling.
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