Frequently Asked Questions
We have many common questions that we have tried to answer here for you.
Are technical terms a problem for you?
Only a very minor one. If all people ever did was say one word at a time to each other then yes, being unfamiliar with some subject matter term might delay proceedings a little. But a tour through our case studies will show that this is no impediment to delivery of service.
From the point of view of a translator or interpreter there are much bigger problems we must solve that are generally invisible to our clients, and mostly have to do with untangling the grammatical structure of sentences, understanding the elliptic background and intent of a text or utterance, or just plain getting people to speak up!
If you are a fellow translator or interpreter then ONWARDS BROTHERS AND SISTERS TO A NEW WORLD!
If you are a client please don’t take offense. I promise it is your best interests that motivate us.
Are you an “agency”?
Technically, we do use a lot of people who aren’t full-time employees. But the word “agency” has negative connotations in Australia, due to the dominant business model that consists of little more than a single point of contact and a fixed price for government departments, a long list of freelancer phone numbers and a computerised booking system. We are very different:
Agencies go to great lengths to avoid employing people - we do everything we can to get people on board full-time.
They have minimal quality control input - we trust no one and expect no one to trust us. Every sentence is checked and edited under our supervision and with all necessary input from the client, author or end user.
They compete on price + credentials and nothing else - we price according to the cost of producing the translation and will show you that this is less than the benefit we bring to your business process.
Agencies are known to withhold payment from freelancers if unhappy with their work - our position is that we own the entire process from client brief to delivery, and if the drafting or interpreting stages of the whole job fail then we take complete responsibility: the freelancer gets paid in full, and we learn our lesson, and often that lesson is that we must provide better training and support for our people.
Are you NAATI accredited?
Yes we are NAATI accredited and can provide certified translations or an accredited interpreter if necessary, but after working with us, our clients know that they should be aiming a lot higher than NAATI as a benchmark of quality.
How do your rates work?
We only quote after we understand your requirements.
If it is interpreting, we need to understand the time, location, numbers, setting and content. We generally apply an hourly rate, which is the same every day of the year and at any hour. In other words no overtime or penalty rates. Corporate rates are sometime available for longer projects, and day rates are available for work that involves travel.
We do not quote written translation until we see the text and understand the end use, and the cost can vary widely. Please call to discuss your requirements.
Is interpreting hard work?
Some people imagine that talking all day is easy money, but that’s not what we are doing.
“Talking all day” would still be saying what you want to say, when and how you want to say it, with time to think about it first, and the choice to tune in or out to what others are saying in response.
Interpreting is a very different process. We have no choice. We must hear and understand every single word spoken by everyone present, and we have no time to form a personal opinion of it, but rather must be thinking constantly about how we are going to reproduce that sentence in another language either as soon as the speaker finishes if we are working consecutively, or while they are speaking if we are working simultaneously.
This uses a completely different part of the brain and uses it very hard. It is difficult to illustrate this but here’s an exercises for you. Sit at home with your watch (it must have a second hand) and the TV remote. Listen to 20 seconds of anything: the news, a comedy show. (20 seconds is the average length of an utterance in normal conversation.) Then mute the TV and repeat the words exactly – no omission, no hesitation. Then turn the sound on for another 20 seconds, and do it again.
See how many times you can do this. Then imagine that the utterances range from one to sixty seconds, that others hold the remote, and you are being paid to do it, for hours at a time, without reacting emotionally or taking sides, watched by a room full of people whose personal or financial interests could be damaged by any mistake you make, and they all think it is easy money.
Oh yeah. Then imagine repeating the words in a different language.
Yeah it’s hard work.
What languages can you translate?
This business was founded on work in Japanese, but we have long since diversified to the point where we have undertaken work in dozens of languages including rare ones such as Catalan, Rohingya and Calabrian, which, it turns out, is not just a kind of pizza.
The problems that must be solved to produce accurately and faithfully translated sentences are mostly not language-specific. They are more to do with having a clear definition of quality and completeness, understanding client requirements, finding the right people, making sure that they all carry out their work according to our system, and keeping them happy so they do it again next time.
Where do you work?
We have worked extensively in Japan, New Zealand, The Solomon Islands, the UK, Thailand, China and Taiwan. Modern teleconferencing technology now means that much of our interpreting work can be done sitting in our office.
Why should I choose CPT?
We do not charge for guesses. We ask lots of questions and will not deliver a completed translation until we have obtained background information, context, clarification of the end use, and unless we have satisfied you that we have delivered exactly what you need.
Please compare that approach with any other T&I providers.
Why shouldn’t I just use Google Translate?
You should use Google Translate! If the benefit to you is greater than the cost you’d be a fool not to!
Google Translate, and other tools like Babelfish etc., have become very powerful and effective tools, useful for all sorts of things – to both translators and their clients. For triaging documents to find the most relevant passages; to gauge the general feelings expressed by someone, there are all sorts of ways that Google Translate can refine your decision-making process, which can only lead to a more rational allocation of resources.
With a bit of understanding of how translation works, and by learning a few tricks (and incidentally, translating something backwards is not one of them – see here for a technical explanation) anyone can produce very useful translations.