Quality Control in Translation: Must-Dos for Success as a Translator

by Monique Longton

If you are considering starting – or have just started – a career in the translation industry, this article may be for you.

Here’s a challenge: if you had to choose a picture to describe the actual process taking place inside your brain when you translate, what would you pick? Personally, I would go for two pictures of one bridge: the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

The old London Bridge spanning the River Thames in England

The old London Bridge spanning the River Thames in England

The London Bridge today, in Lake Havasu City, Arizona

The London Bridge today, in Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Photos courtesy of the Lake Havasu City Convention & Visitors Bureau
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Enhancing Short-Term Memory for Accurate Intepreting, and More — Translorial Fall 2014 Edition

Translorial Vol 36 No. 2

NCTA members can download the Fall 2014 edition of the Translorial in print and downloadable PDF versions, covering a variety of topics.

If you are not an NCTA member, you can join here.


Table of contents of the Translorial Fall 2014 edition, Vol. 36, No. 2: → continue reading


Presenter Richard Le introduces the modern library.

Presenter Richard Le introduces the modern library.

At the February NCTA General Meeting, members got an inside peek into the evolving world of the modern day librarian.


I have always loved libraries. As a young immigrant I appreciated the free access to books that taught me a new language and culture, as well as those that made it possible to stay connected with my native literature. As an adult, getting to know the librarians at our family’s favorite libraries has been a pleasure. They are a wealth of information; the benefits of their know-how and their willingness to share their knowledge are invaluable. This was proven, once again, at the February NCTA General Meeting where members met Richard Le, Reference Librarian at the San Francisco Public Library. Le shared countless resources available to members of the public library system. In addition to checking out the latest novel by your favorite author or the latest movie to come out on DVD, Le discussed the new roles libraries are playing. → continue reading

The February General Meeting: Different Venue, Same Spirit

By Raffaella Bushiazzo

On February 11th, the NCTA General Meeting was held for the first time at the Mechanic’s Institute Library, where in the past we have traditionally held our workshops. Whether because of the cozy wood-paneled room or the anticipation of meeting new board members, the meeting was well-attended and successful.

NCTA President Tuomas Kostiainen opened the General Meeting with a few announcements of upcoming events.He then gave the final vote counts for the annual board election, and introduced newly elected board members Andrea Wells, Song White, and Stafford Hemmer, and re-elected board members Evan Geisinger and Naomi Baer. A heartfelt thank you went to outgoing Treasurer Barbara Guggemos, Webmaster Brigitte Reich, and Membership Director Tetu Hirai for all the work that they had done for the Association. It was a real pleasure working with people as professional and reliable as they are! Dear Barbara, Brigitte, and Tetu, thank you again from all of us.

Advanced Search

The highlight of the meeting was a panel discussion on advanced Internet search techniques and news gathering strategies, presented by Scott Gatz, Yahoo! Senior Director of Personalization Services, Tom Corbett, and Yves Avérous, NCTA Vice President in charge of Publications and founder of TransMUG, who moderated the panel as well.

Tom Corbett, a Healthcare Information Technology Specialist who is now applying his healthcare industry knowledge to the world of translation and localization, gave us an introduction to advanced search and provided useful tips. He also warned us of multiple dangers on the Internet such as false endorsements, rumors about false news, self-promotion, surveillance, and vandals who modify the information available on normally reliable news sources like Wikipedia.

He also suggested three websites that help translators make better searches: www.ohiotranslators.org/research.htm, where one can download a presentation by Chemali & Sommer held at the annual ATA Conference; www.lai.com/companion.html, a good site for translators’ search tools; and www.searchenginewatch.com, which allows you to find more detailed information about particular search engines.

Yves Avérous added more advanced search tips specifically for translation professionals. He gave us a few hints for terminology mining: try to guess your source term translation and verify your assumption in websites written in the target language; compare the number of results obtained by different possible translations; enter the source word that you want to translate and look it up in pages that are written in the target language; identify the word context in web pages written in the source language, then translate the context terms and enter their translation in a query made in target language pages.

RSS feeds and blogs

The panel continued with our third presenter, Scott Gatz. Among his many accomplishments, Scott has introduced My Yahoo!, opening the entire Web to millions of homepages. Scott presented the concept of RSS, Really Simple Syndication. This was developed to deal with the huge amount of information on the Web. It is a family of web feed formats used for web syndication, where live information from one section of a website is made available for other sites to incorporate. This allows users to create their own dashboard; a personalized web page like My Yahoo!, where they receive web feeds coming straight from the sites they choose. My Yahoo! was the first portal to provide users with a personalized page for receiving RSS feeds but today other sites offer a similar free service. And then there are the popular newsfeed aggregators like Bloglines, or the standalone newsreader applications for users who wish to keep their updates.

With all these solutions, there is no need to visit the sites containing information that you want to access multiple times a day, because you can automatically receive their content directly on your personalized page or your newsfeed aggregator. Millions of sites are now supporting RSS; their homepages present a little orange RSS icon that you can add to your method of collection. There are already more than 10,000 sites displaying the orange Yahoo! RSS icon. If you click on that icon, the site will be added automatically to your personalized page in My Yahoo!. The RSS concept not only saves time and makes it easy to manage a huge amount of information but also reduces spam because you get updates without providing an email address.

Yves concluded this interesting presentation by explaining the differences between the old and the current perception of blogs. Until not so long ago blogs were limited to personal usage, whereas today a blog is seen as a platform to instantaneously spread articles and information. For instance, under www.proz.com/forums translators can subscribe to several feeds, each on a very specific subject, and receive the content on their personalized page.

Finally, there is the wiki concept. A wiki is a collaborative site, ideal for virtual teams. Someone posts one article and somebody else can complete it. From there, the concept can build eventually to its most famous illustration: the free online, multilingual, encyclopedia Wikipedia.

On a lighter note

At the end of the panel there was a drawing to win two books: Yahoo Hack went to the youngest member in the audience, Ajita Sherer, and Google Hacks went to NCTA member Sjamsir Sjarif.

The official General Meeting ended with refreshments and networking. Tuomas invited everybody to join the board members at a nearby Hunan restaurant to celebrate the Chinese New Year together, sharing delicious dishes. Our afternoon ended watching the long parade on Market Street to welcome the Year of the Dog.

A Guide to the Process of Book Publishing

By Karl Kaussen

Some time ago, a number of questions about literary contracts and book publishing were discussed on the NCTA Members e-mail list. Longtime member and former NCTA vice president Karl Kaussen addressed the topic in a detailled message. We thought his contribution was interesting enough to be published again here.-ed.

Working with an Acquisitions Editor

The acquisitions editor will orient you to the basic workings of the company you choose, help you get your manuscript in shape, handle all contractual questions, and, finally, help put your book on the production schedule.

The Contract

Most companies have an author contract that is relatively uncomplicated. It is important that all aspects of the signed contract be honored. It is a violation of the contract to submit a completed manuscript that doesn’t fit the original conception of the book. If your book begins to move in an unanticipated direction, get in touch with the acquisitions editor immediately to avoid any contractual complications.

The contract usually states that there will be an editorial review at the halfway point between the signing of the contract and the deadline for the completed manuscript. This clause is usually written to require the review of a substantial portion of the book, as well as a chapter-by-
chapter summary of the book. This developmental review will give you an opportunity to get feedback from an editor while your book is still a work in progress. This is to ensure that everyone involved in the project shares the same vision for the final draft of the book, and that your tone, organization, and style will fit with that vision.


An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) must be assigned to each book under a system established by the R.R. Bowker Company and the International Standards Organization (ISO). The ISBN uniquely identifies each book, for order fulfillment and computer tracking of inventory. It is the publisher’s responsibility to assign each book an ISBN.


A book in manuscript form is automatically covered by copyright law. The Copyright Act of 1989 does not require that published works carry a copyright notice in order to secure copyright protection, but most publishers continue to carry the notice. Most companies register for the copyright upon the first printing of their books. The usual notice consists of the symbol ©, the year the book is published, and the name of the copyright owner. Most publishers also include the phrase, “All rights reserved,” to ensure protection for the book under the Buenos Aires Convention, to which the United States and most Latin American countries belong. The author’s name appears on the copyright page, with the name and address of the publisher listed below. This indicates that the author holds the copyright, but the publisher has the right to publish the book. Subsequent editions (as distinct from reprintings) of a book are each copyrighted, and their dates should appear in the copyright notice. If the new edition has been extensively revised, so as to constitute a new publication, all previous copyright dates may be omitted. For more on this subject, consult The Chicago Manual of Style, Fourteenth Edition, which is our source for this information.


As an author, you are responsible for obtaining all permissions for your book. The following subsections outline how to determine what kind of material needs permission and how to go about obtaining it.

When Permission Is Needed

Permission is needed for the following:
– More than three hundred words of copyrighted prose from a single source. This includes a single quotation of three hundred words or more as well as scattered quotations that total more than three hundred words.
– As little as one line of poetry, of a play, or of song lyrics under copyright
– Newspaper and magazine articles used in significant proportion to their length
– Any material that is complete in itself-a short newspaper article, a picture, a graph, or a table
– A secondary source-that is, a prose quote or lyrics from another source under copyright within a selection you are reprinting by permission
– Unpublished material (protected by common law copyright)
– A recent translation. A translation constitutes a new work and may be copyrighted even though the original work is in the public domain.
– Photographs, tables, and graphs. Permission is necessary to (1) use a photograph under copyright, or a table or graph from a copyrighted source, or (2) adapt a table or graph from one that is under a copyright.

Under current U.S. copyright law, which covers works published after January 1, 1978, an edition of a work is protected for a period equaling the lifetime of the last surviving author plus
fifty years. Works published before this date are subject to the former term, which was twenty-eight years after publication, renewable once for an additional twenty-eight years. British copyright law protects a work for fifty years following the death of the author.

When Permission Is Not Needed

Under certain circumstances permission is not needed, primarily when a work is in the public domain, or when the borrowing occurs within the bounds of fair use.

Public Domain

A work in the public domain is not covered by copyright and may be used without permission. A work is in the public domain only if:
– Its copyright has expired. However, keep in mind that a recent translation is viewed as a new copyright.
– It has never been copyrighted. This category includes most U.S. government documents and publications, as well as public speeches made by officials of the U.S. government. However, many works published by the Government Printing Office are not in the public domain. If you are in doubt, write to the agency or organization that prepared the work, not to the GPO.

Fair Use

Unfortunately, copyright law provides no clear definition of fair use. It is considered fair use for writers to quote from another author’s copyrighted work as long as they do not quote out of context or quote so much material that “the value of the source” is diminished, and provided that proper credit is given to the author quoted. Your own work is not excepted if you do not hold copyright.

How To Obtain Permission

You must request permission in writing from the appropriate copyright holders of the works you are using. The copyright holder is identified on the copyright page of a book or a journal; if a book copyright is held by the author, you should begin with the publisher. In the case of a magazine or journal article, permission is usually needed from the author as well as the publisher. The publisher will advise you if such permission is needed and can usually supply the last known address of the author. Address all permission requests to the permissions department of the publisher, not to an editor, and include all requests for that publisher in the same mailing, if possible.

Publishers’ addresses can be found in the Literary Market Place, an annual book that is available in most libraries and many bookstores. The permissions process can take some time, so it is best to begin writing for permissions by the time you begin to prepare the final draft of your manuscript at the latest. If you have trouble locating a copyright owner, or if permission is refused, you will need to find substitute material and perhaps obtain permission for that. Some publishers will charge a fee for granting permission to reprint material. Be sure to check with the acquisitions editor before signing any agreements. Permission fees are either paid for by you or charged against your royalties, unless your contract states otherwise.

Eight Tips for Requesting Permissions

1. Request early-there will be delays!
2. You must seek permission if the work is not in the public domain or considered
fair use.
3. Request permission whether or not the works are in print; remember that “out-of-print” does not necessarily mean “in the public domain.”
4. Document all your efforts.
5. Be wary of additional copyright embedded in the material.
6. Ask if there are additional conditions for getting the copyright holder’s permission.
7. Direct your request to the publisher’s copyright/permissions department, not the author or the editorial department.

The Editorial Process

The editorial process happens in two steps. The first begins approximately halfway between the time you sign your contract and the time your final manuscript is due, when you’ll send in a partial rough draft of the book. Your contract will stipulate how much of the manuscript needs to be sent in at this point-typically, half of the manuscript and a complete annotated outline. Your manuscript will probably receive a developmental edit to ensure that you’re on target in terms of content, tone, and organization. Once the developmental editor has gone over the material, all suggestions, questions, and comments will be sent back to you with your manuscript. This preview of your material will also be used to begin matching you with a copyeditor.

The second step begins once you’ve completed your manuscript and sent a double-spaced hard copy and disk (along with bibliography, art, and any permissions you needed to secure) to the acquisitions editor to meet the deadline specified in your contract. This second part of the editorial process involves teamwork-you and your copyeditor work together toward a common goal of making your book the best it can be. The copyeditor receives our manuscript, along with any information she or he will need to gain further insight into the subject and purpose of your book. After the editor has reviewed the manuscript and contacted you to discuss deadlines and any scheduling problems or conflicting obligations you might have, editing begins.

In this pass, the editor checks everything -the manuscript is read for sense, clarity, consistency, spelling, grammar, and tone. Changes are made and queries are written as needed, and then sent to you. This pass is sometimes done in batches, which means the editor sends you a third to a half of the edited manuscript to work on while she or he is completing the other part(s). Your job, when you receive the edited manuscript, is to respond clearly to all queries and make sure that you agree with all of the changes the editor has made. This is also the point at which rewriting, adding, or deleting text is still an option. Everything should be read carefully; after this step, the text will be in page proofs and substantial changes cannot be made.

You and your editor will have agreed upon a time frame in which you must complete this pass in order to meet your next deadline. You’ll usually have two or three weeks to complete the task. After you send the manuscript back, your editor will go through every page incorporating your changes and preparing it for the next stage in the process: production. The duration of the second step of the editorial process depends on the length of your book and condition of your manuscript and can last anywhere from five weeks to two months.

The Production Process

The production process begins when your edited manuscript is turned over to typesetting, where it is word processed and typestyle design is established. The typeset pages along with the style sheet, design template, table of contents, and any other relevant information are sent to a proofreader. Any questions the proofreader has are either answered by the editor or left on query tags on the pages to be answered by you, the author.

You’ll receive these pages three to seven weeks after the book comes in to production, and will have one to two weeks to read this pass, answering all queries and making any necessary minor changes. Your corrections and changes are incorporated, and second proof pages are then sent to the proofreader. The proofreader reads the second proofs against the first proofs. This part of the process takes between two and four weeks. The proofreader then returns all copies of the book to the publisher, and at this point the final changes are inserted. The final corrections are proofed by a new proofreader, who also reads the book for any problems that might have been missed. A typesetter makes these corrections, checks them, and sends the book to the printer, all of which takes about two to three weeks. Once it’s been sent to the printer, you can expect to see your book in four to six weeks.

The Royalty Process

Author’s royalty statements are processed quarterly each year, in April (for January-March), July (for April-June), October (for July-September), and January (for October-December). Royalty statements, which are accountings of receipts from net sales and licensing of your work by the publisher, and payments are mailed out during the weeks following these quarters. The royalty statement does not report all sales for the quarter-only paid net sales.

For foreign edition sales, your author’s contract usually entitles you to receive half of all royalties received by the publisher. Foreign rights contracts typically include an advance sum, usually equal to royalties on the retail value of 50 percent of the edition’s total print run. (For example, if a book sells to a Spanish publisher who is printing 5,000 copies, and the book sells for $2 in Spain, and the royalty rate is 8 percent, then the advance amount would be $400, of which you would receive half. If an agent had been involved with the transaction, a 10 percent commission would also be deducted from the advance, making the advance amount $360.) Royalty rates for foreign editions typically range from 6 to 10 percent of the publisher’s sales.

This description of the publishing process is only an approximation. Particulars may vary, depending on which publisher you use for your book.

ISBN Demystified

by Radlex

Information taken from The New York Public Library Writer’s Guide to Style and Usage, HarperCollins Publishers, 1994.

On the copyright page, which is the verso of the title page of every book, among much other information you can find the ISBN (International Standard Book Number). The ISBN is a ten-digit number unique to each book. It is a code that tells where the book was published, identifies the publisher and includes other numbers that differentiate the book’s ISBN from all others.

When there are different editions of the same book (for example, hardcover and paperback), each edition must have its own ISBN. Multivolume sets have several ISBNs – the set itself has one and each volume within the set has its own. Serial publications such as monographs or journals carry International Standard Serial Numbers (ISSNs). The ISSN is an eight-digit number that stays the same for each issue of the series.

The ISBN numbering agency for U.S. publishers is operated by the R. R. Bowker Company. When a publisher registers with this agency, it is given a four-digit identification number that becomes part of the ISBN for all of its publications. The number must be assigned in the earliest stages of the publishing process to become part of the Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication (CIP) data that libraries and booksellers use as an aid to cataloging. The agency will issue a publisher a series of ISBN numbers that can be assigned to future books. The publisher then notifies the agency as the numbers are used, rather than repeating the application process each time.

The ISBN also appears as part of the barcode, or Universal Product Code, placed on the bottom of a book’s back cover. The other numbers in the barcode represent the Bookland EAN, an international numbering scheme for the book trade. The digits 978 form the prefix to this number and are followed by the book’s ISBN. An additional five-digit code can be used to show price and currency. These barcodes speed the purchasing and inventory process for wholesalers and booksellers.

For more information, contact the International Standard Book Numbering Agency, R.R. Bowker, 121 Chanlon Road, New Providence, N J 07974, (908) 665-6770).