Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed (Rien ne se crée, rien ne se perd, tout se transforme) –Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794)
The laws of nature are immutable. Green technologies now use these same laws to create installations that sustain the environment. Industrial and power generation smoke stacks are unpolluted by carbon capture. Storage systems, building and rooftops are used for biomass and agricultural production, resulting in reduced air conditioning expenses. New applications are devised daily.
Effective translation is subject to these laws, too. The science is important, even in linguistics. Certainly, speaking your native tongue makes you an expert on your language… but that ease and expertise doesn’t apply to translation, which requires transformation.
Situation: A German engineering firm designs a novel high-voltage protection system for a Canadian company based in Quebec. The company is Hydro-Quebec, the fourth-largest hydropower producer in the world. Hydro-Quebec requests a French-language user manual. The German company assigns an engineer -- one who “knows French” -- to write the manual.
Result: Hydro-Quebec employees can’t decipher the instructions and they reject the manual, at the same time withholding 15% of the contract price. The engineering firm then appoints a translation firm to do the job. Unfortunately, the French-speaking translator doesn’t understand the technical language. The manual is refused a second time.
Happy Ending: after two false starts, the project then finds its way to Richard Johnson, one of our specialists, who researches the new technology and rewrites the entire manual. It’s finally ON TARGET and approved.
Situation: One of the world’s three biggest translation firms is contracted by Porsche AG to translate a leasing year-end flyer from English to French-Canadian. They appoint a local translator and proofreader.
Result: The translation goes back to Porsche AG, who edits and returns the document, requesting the reformulation of some of the paragraphs and a general polish. They are not happy with the content, stating that it wasn’t localized to their satisfaction. The global translation firm, not wanting to take a chance on their low-rate freelancers, appoints Richard Johnson to do the requested changes.
Happy Ending: The global translation company credits Richard with “saving their skin,” and Porsche AG is fully satisfied by the second “transcreation.” Proving once again that ON TARGET does it right.
The moral of the story? Coming to ON TARGET first would have saved a lot of time and money, not to mention reputation.