Last year was a special one not only because it marked 10 years since I took on my first multilingual DTP project, but also because I tackled an 80th language: Hakha Chin, a language spoken in southern Asia by almost half a million people.
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with translation companies here in Canada and around the world. I’ve worked with governments at the federal, state/provincial, and municipal levels, as well as private companies. It’s been quite the experience, and in case you haven’t seen the Language Experience section of my website, here are all of the languages I’ve taken on thus far:
Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Assyrian, Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Bengali, Burmese, Catalan, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Cree, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dari, Dinka, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Farsi, Fijian, Finnish, Flemish, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hakha Chin, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Inuktitut, Italian, Japanese, Karen, Khmer (Cambodian), Korean, Kurdish, Latvian, Lao, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Mohawk, Nepali, Norwegian, Ojibwe, Oji-Cree, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Serbian, Sinhala, Slovak, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, and Yiddish.
Looking back it’s hard to grasp that I’ve worked on so many unique languages. It’s not easy, and I owe my success to a few habits of mine that I believe sets me apart from other typesetters and desktop publishers which I’ll elaborate on in future posts:
Response time. I gained a reputation to answer my clients as quick as possible; usually within minutes. A quick response to my clients results in a quick response to theirs. The last thing my clients need is to explain that they can’t get a hold of their typesetter or desktop publisher.
Quality. My years of multilingual desktop publishing has allowed me to know exactly what common problems to look for that someone less experienced may miss. I know what languages result in over-flowing text due to longer translations. I’ve learned prepositional words in many languages which, when found at the end of a line, should be brought down to the next line. As an Arabic-reader myself, I know when right-to-left languages such as Urdu, Pashto, and Farsi don’t render properly and sometimes appear disjointed. Using feedback from translators and proof-readers, I know what fonts for a given language they prefer and what fonts they do not. These and many other factors reduce the amount of back and forth with the proof-readers.
Round-the-clock availability. There are times when a client is on a tight schedule and assigns me a project on a Friday afternoon and needs it back by Monday morning. I personally understand the need to keep clients happy so I go out of my way to keep mine very pleased with my work; even if it means working weekends. Another reason I keep my schedule open on weekends is because places such as Dubai start their week on a Sunday, so if they need something done, I’ve proved that they can count on me.
One-man show. Of all my accomplishments, the one thing that makes me proudest is that I’ve done all my work myself in-house and have never outsourced a single project. No matter how busy I’ve been, I’ve always been able to manage my time effectively and I’m happy to say I’ve never missed a single deadline. In fact, my clients can attest that most of my submissions come in ahead of schedule and gives them extra time to double-check my work to ensure all is perfect.
So, here’s to another ten years and more, and I look forward to working with all my current clients and any new ones I may have the opportunity to work with in the future.