AN ASSURED SERVICE - IN ANY LANGUAGE
What’s the greatest human invention? The wheel? The printing press? The telephone? No, it’s language. Words are thoughts and we can’t think intelligently without them.
They light fires in the hearts of men and possess more power than even the heaviest artillery. But if you don’t understand, or you misunderstand them, they can be dangerous.
As globalisation grows, businesses need to communicate more effectively with each other all over the world, on any number of issues, some highly specialised or technical.
Your average translator can translate the average document. But when detailed, analysis and careful consideration is required, a company needs to really understand the topic in hand. In this situation, real expertise is needed. Step forward Interlinguae.
Interlinguae is a translation company with a longstanding presence in Italy and specialises in the most difficult and demanding translations. They really know their stuff and that’s why they were selected to provide interpreting services to high-level Chinese delegations, who attended International Festival for Business 2016.
The translation company was quite taken with International Festival for Business’s host city, Liverpool. So much so, they’ve recently chosen the city as a base for their UK operations.
We caught up with Interlinguae Director of International Development, Geoff Barclay, a colourful character, with quite a silver tongue himself, to talk about his UK ambitions and what International Festival for Business did for his company.
Geoff, tell me about Interlinguae, what makes you guys different?
“We’re a full-service, international translation company with highly sophisticated software that saves our clients time and money, by recognising and standardising repeated words or phrases. We have 700 language experts and interpreters, so we stand apart quite a bit from competitors.”
“We were founded in Parma in 1982 and our focus has always been to provide high quality, certified translation services with specific expertise in specialised sectors, including detailed legal technical documentation and instruction manuals. These vital materials and technical documents need to be translated into various languages. With a high degree of precision and standardisation, with no room for misinterpretation. We deal in translation, but what we really sell is confidence in accurate and compliant texts."
We first met at International Festival for Business, last year when you guys were providing simultaneous Chinese to English and English to Chinese translation. What else brought you to the festival?
“Expansion. We were looking to expand into global markets, like the UK and Singapore and the festival was a great way for us to present ourselves to our target sectors within these markets and create awareness about our service.
“International Festival for Business is a perfect fit for us because it talks directly to many of the sectors that we specialise in and puts us in touch with the right people. The festival introduced us to Invest Liverpool, for example, and they told us everything we need to know about setting up our UK base here. We made some great contacts and we love Liverpool. What a great city."
(Geoff told us what International Festival for Business and Liverpool have brought to his business)
So the festival led you to Liverpool and Liverpool has now become your UK base. What sold you on the city?
“The sectors. Liverpool is a force to be reckoned with in the very sectors that we specialise in. Life sciences, logistics, energy, low-carbon, creative and digital, manufacturing, professional, legal and financial services. They are all represented globally, right here. There’s also a great buzz in Liverpool and real enthusiasm for business. That appealed to us, we love the energy.”
Language is a funny thing and a tricky thing to get right. What do you think of automated systems like Google Translate?
“To be honest it’s not really related to our field of work. Even if it became a good translation tool, we would never use it, simply for confidentiality reasons. The texts you translate with Google Translate become immediately global. We have confidentiality agreements in place with our clients, who rely on us for their new technologies and patents.
"Besides, we offer much more sophisticated translations services. You wouldn’t risk using Google Translate on the work we do, so it just isn’t a consideration for us."
Any funny or memorable examples of when a translation has gone wrong?
“How long have you got? You see it all the time and even big international brands are susceptible. KFC’s famously translated ‘finger-lickin’ good’ to ‘we’ll eat your fingers off’ and Pepsi’s ‘come alive with Pepsi’ became ‘Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead!
“But sometimes the implications are not simply, unintentionally amusing, but dangerous. Another company misunderstood the word ‘disponibile’ in Italian , which lead to “we are available for all company services” being translated as “we dispose of all company services”. So a slight error can lead to a very different meaning, in many cases."
“Fortunately Interlinguae have a number of measures in place to prevent this kind of thing. We have dedicated project managers for each client, and as well as a lead translator for each job, there is always a reviser to check everything. For more specialised work, we bring in experts or reviewers who understand the sector or legislation or topic and review the final work. This attention to detail is essential.
“If an expensive piece of machinery has the wrong translation it can be used or even set up incorrectly, potentially causing costly delays, litigation and huge embarrassment. It also runs the risk of damaging important relationships. We eliminate these risks.
Relationships are important in any business, but even more so in translation.
“That’s right and they’re key to our success. We’re working to develop stronger relationships with our multi-national clients right now. What we’ve witnessed is that if you develop a good relationship with the German wing of a multi-national company, for example, then that gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself to their Swiss or British counterparts, so you really start to benefit from a company’s global network and you become a partner that knows their business inside and out.
“The truth is, business is all about relationships. Interlinguae works to become part of the scene and a trusted partner. We also help organisations to really understand the value of translation. If you want to make effective, connections in business, you need to speak their language.”