Still not convinced? Read below and see whether your question has been asked before.
I have tried to categorize all questions asked until now on top.
- Freelance translators versus translation agencies (continuity)
- Freelance translators versus in-house translators
- Multiple translators for the same target language
- User translations
- Dutch versus Flemish
- Character restrictions
- Dutch is uncool
- Project continuity
- Supported formats
- Translation speed
- Other projects
- Sample translations
- Questions (general)
- Questions (how many)
Invoicing and contracts
- Indemnity insurance
- Non-disclosure agreements
You sound like a great guy, but I find it quite scary to work with an individual instead of a company.
Maybe you are concerned about the continuity of your project. Or maybe you think I'm not used to dealing with big corporations. However, did you know that direct clients of mine include the Dutch Ministry of Defense, Network Associates and Sybex International?
Do not worry. I deal with very big corporations on a daily basis. On top of that, I operate as a subsidiary of Akebono Translation Service, registered at the Chamber of Commerce in Leiden, The Netherlands (28066372).
Are freelance translators like you better than in-house translators?
Generally? Yes. In-house translators (that is: translators working in a translation agency) are on a payroll. In practice that means they earn only about 20% to 30% of what freelance translators can potentially make. The rest is a matter of supply and demand. Try to imagine why someone would stay on a payroll if he or she can earn at least twice as much money as a freelancer. Either the in-house translator really values stability, or he/she would simply not be able to get enough work on their own (yet). Now why would that be?
But of course, there are many good in-house translators, and just as many terrible freelance translators. This is just the general tendency.
My deadline is really tight. Why not use more translators for the same language?
Because this will always result in a schizophrenic translation.
Every translator has their own writing style. Since language is not mathematics, it is impossible to find two translators who use exactly the same style. Experience has shown that users always find out when a certain manual has been translated by multiple translators. This gives a very sloppy impression.
On top of that, it is virtually impossible to guarantee consistent terminology if you simultaneously use multiple translators for the same language.
Imagine this: you use one translator for the UI (translator A) and one translator for the manual (translator B). Now, the control configuration section of your game features an option called Quit. In PC games, the standard translation for this is Afsluiten (Microsoft glossary). However, due to space limitations, translator A decides to use the translation Stoppen (Stop) instead. Translator B doesn't know this and tells the user to click the Afsluiten button, which is nowhere to be found in the actual interface.
There are many technologies that help translators use the same terminology, but to make this work, translators need to link their translation software (which tracks the terminology used) via the internet. Unfortunately, the only reliable software that can do this costs about 6500 euro, which explains why most freelancers don't have it. So in the end, you need a third person (an editor) who unifies the writing styles and terminology. This costs both extra money and extra time, so that in the end, the delivery date is the same. You just got the same translation for a higher price.
Using multiple translators simultaneously should be considered as your very last resort. It only pays off if a very long text (think Baldur's Gate) needs to be delivered really quickly. Without an editor, the result will always be sloppy, no matter what others tell you. And remember, you can't use multiple editors, as this would result in multiple writing styles. The final review is the bottleneck.
If you use one translator, you don't need an editor. I am your editor, and it's all included in the price.
One of our users has offered to do the translation for free.
Don't do it. Writing and translation are two entirely different things. It takes years of study and training to become a good translator. Translation seems incredibly easy, but is in fact really difficult. (Wikipedia tells you why.)
Would you entrust the programming of your game engine to a user offering it for free? Then why do the same thing with the very first thing users will be confronted with: the letters on their screen?
On top of that, what are you going to do if the result is not satisfactory? You can hold no one accountable, because you got the service for free. Meanwhile, the damage has been done.
As long as games are not aimed at children, it is not customary in Holland and Belgium to dub games or movies. In both countries, all non-Dutch movies are subbed. Do otherwise, and your game will be run into the ground by all review sites.
Our game will also be released in Northern Belgium (Flanders). I've heard people speak Flemish there, not Dutch. What's the difference?
The written word: Flemish is considered a variant of Dutch. Using Dutch in Belgium is therefore totally acceptable. However, it is not acceptable to use Flemish in The Netherlands. Therefore, you should always have your games localized by a translator living in The Netherlands, unless you are planning to release your game in Belgium only. This is because Flemish translators will undoubtedly use Flemish idioms in their translations, which will make your game look ridiculous in the eyes of the Dutch.
The spoken word: if your game is aimed at children, it will need to be dubbed instead of subbed. In that case, you will need Dutch voices for the Dutch market, and Flemish voices for the Belgian market. It is considered very rude to release a Dutch game on the Belgian market or a Flemish game on the Dutch market, and this will undoubtedly impact your sales figures. If your budget is tight, give priority to the Dutch version.
Do you back-up all your translations?
The whole network (including internet cables) is protected by a Belkin SurgeMaster that can withstand 90,000 Ampère/3240 Joule power surges. Running projects are continuously synchronized with an external hard disk. Delivered projects are backed up on a second hard disk (daily synchronization) and dvd (yearly). One project contains the same data at least twice, in different formats. That means at least 4 back-ups of every project on hard disk, and at least 6 back-ups of every project on hard disk + dvd. Not once have I lost a project due to crashes or whatsoever. My back-ups go back all the way to 1995.
The worst that can happen is a system disk crash on my server. For those situations I have a back-up system available.
Can you work with character restrictions?
Of course I can. Be reasonable though. It is not reasonable to restrict a translation to 3 letters if the original English sentence takes more than 2 lines. Dutch tends to become about 30%-50% longer than English. A general guideline is that the stricter your restrictions, the more information you will lose in the translation.
The strings contain many codes and we're afraid you will touch them.
Don't be. I have programmed in C++, MySQL, PHP and even machine language. I know what to touch and what not. Here's even a small game I programmed myself.
How many valid complaints have you received about your game translations until now?
One, several years ago. There were 3 spelling mistakes in a 300-word file, which is way too much. I forgot to proofread the text on a very busy day. That is no excuse, so I offered the client the translation for free. The client refused, as my work until then had been very satisfactory.
Our product is top secret at this moment. Can you guarantee absolute confidentiality?
Definitely. If you want me to sign an NDA, I will do so.
Our audience says that Dutch is uncool and that we should keep the game in English.
The audience on your forums you mean? Those are hardcore gamers (the vocal minority) trying to distinguish themselves from casual gamers (the silent majority), by speaking and writing their own little language. Or they are people who have previously played a product that wasn't Loekalized, but localized (unfortunately there are still too many of those in Holland).
You can easily convince these people by showing them my sample translations on this site. Besides, research by national game sites has shown that a catchy localization will expand your market share in the Netherlands by 40% instantly.
Note that translations are a very sensitive subject for hardcore gamers. For some of them, playing games in English is a way of life. It is therefore extremely important to offer both English and Dutch language options, so that hardcore gamers can play the game in English, and casual gamers can play the game in Dutch. If you don't offer two options, you will aggravate your community and be ridiculed in all reviews (mostly written by hardcore gamers). Offer two options, and you will earn the respect of both camps.
Despite what many Dutch and Flemish gamers think, this phenomenon is not typically Dutch; you see it on every game market, including game markets on which games have traditionally been localized, like France, Italy, Germany and Spain. You can read more about this phenomenon on this page.
Do not underestimate casual gamers (those who crave for a Dutch localization) by the way. According to research by Macrovision Corporation, these people still play 20 hours per week on the average. If a game is aimed at all ages, chances are that the casual market is even 2000 times (!) bigger than the hardcore market.
Won't the fact that you work on your own endanger the continuity of our project?
What do you think will happen if you outsource the translation to an agency, which then outsources the translation to me again? If I get ill, the agency will start looking for someone else without telling you. You can do the same. There is no difference.
Research has shown that the absenteeism of agency employees is ten times as high as the absenteeism of freelancers. Freelancers will think twice before calling in ill, because the work we do directly influences our income. We don't have a sickness benefit, because we are self-employed.
By the way, did you know that most translation agencies are one-man companies anyway? Anyone can build a corporate website these days.
How well do you protect your files?
I have never been hacked before. The system is protected by a hardware firewall plus a virus scanner, which is updated daily.
Too many to mention. A better question is: which formats do you not support? To be honest, I have not encountered such format yet.
In a best-case scenario, I can translate about 2,000 words per working day per client. In a worst-case scenario, I might need some additional days to finish other projects first. Small translations can often be delivered in-between.
In extreme circumstances, I am willing to translate more words per day (up to several thousands), but this will need to be negotiated.
How experienced are you actually?
I translate about 6,000 words per day. That is 30,000 words per week and 1,560,000 words per year. I have been doing this for 28 years, resulting in a grand total of 43,680,000 words. That's about 145,600 pages. For some reason, I am still in business, so apparently clients like what I do.
Too many words you think? Once more check my sample translations to see I'm not cutting corners.
I'd like to see some more concrete examples of projects you have done.
Unfortunately, I am bound by non-disclosure agreements I have signed with other clients. Had I signed such agreement with your company, I'm sure you'd want me to keep my word.
Of course I do. I'm a human being like anyone else. The question is not whether I make mistakes, but how many I make. And I'm confident enough to give you a 10 euro discount for every spelling or grammar mistake you find. On the average, I will make a mistake once every 5000 words or so.
Can you provide any references?
Yes, plenty. However, I only provide these on special request for larger assignments, as my clients generally don't like to receive questions out of the blue, or even worse, several questions on the same day. They have to work too.
The best option is to order a 300-word sample translation (one per client, not one per project). A sample translation is free and there are no strings attached.
Nice sample translations, but I don't read Dutch.
Dutch is my native language. English is not. The English on this site was written by me personally, so if you didn't notice anything funny, I'm sure my Dutch will be alright ;-) Seriously though, feel free to copy those sample translations to your user forums and see whether your audience likes them. You can do the same with the free 300-word translation I offer each prospect.
How do you guarantee your translations fit in the context?
I have special tools and working methods for this. One of my tools contains every single translation I have ever done in the past. It will automatically warn me for possible pitfalls, like a word with several possible translations, depending on the context.
Will you contact us if you have questions about the text?
Of course I will! When in doubt, I always ask. Rest assured that if I don't understand something, your audience won't either. This is therefore a great way to check whether your manual is clear and concise.
So how many questions will you fire?
If it's a game manual, not that many, ranging from 0 to 5. If we're talking about a user interface though, it might be a good idea to either send me a prototype of the game (I support all consoles and systems), so that I can verify the context myself, or answer my dozens of questions.
Native speakers of English often have no idea of how ambiguous their language can be. Even a simple string like open can at least have two meanings: 1. the door is open 2. open the door. The first version becomes open in Dutch. The second version becomes openen. See the problem?
A general guideline is: the more game options and the less context, the more questions. If your game mainly contains dialogue though, you are lucky. Generally dialogues are pretty easy to follow, resulting in far less questions.
Can you also typeset the translation?
Yes, I offer support for Adobe InDesign, QuarkXpress and Adobe FrameMaker. Typesetting is not included in my standard rate though.
Yes, but only on repetitions (the same line occurring multiple times in the same text). Generally, these are few and will only save you a few euro (literally)!
The story is different for updates. If you are updating a manual which has been translated by me before, I will offer a 75% discount for every line that has not changed. In that case, the total discount can vary from a few hundred to a few thousand euros/dollars (!).
I do not offer quantity discounts. The reason is that I can work full-time no matter what: for me it doesn't matter whether I translate 4000 words for client A plus 4000 words for client B, or a total of 8000 words for client C. Offering quantity discounts would only hurt my own purse. I hope you understand my position in this.
Do you have an indemnity insurance, in case you deliver an absolutely terrible translation?
It goes without saying that I have never used this insurance before, but to answer your question: yes, I have an indemnity insurance.
Basically you will receive an invoice every week, unless the outstanding amount is less than 100 euro. The payment terms are 30 days net. I have both a euro and a USD bank account, so you need not worry about exchange rates. You can pay via Paypal or international bank transfer.
The maximum credit I extend to new clients is 2500 euro (we all know the world of games can be a shaky business). If your project exceeds this limit (which seldomly happens, due to my reasonable rates), we can split up the project in different phases (translate, wait for payment, continue translating) or arrange a payment in advance for the amount exceeding said limit.
Before we start, I'd like to know the costs.
Send me the files that need translation, and I will give you a quote within 24 hours (but mostly within 1 hour during European office hours). No strings attached!
Please sketch the workflow of an average project.
Every project has unique challenges, but to give you a general idea:
1. You send a Request For Quote (don't forget to include the text, or at least give an idea about the number of words).
2. I send you a quote with an estimated delivery time.
3. After your agreement or Purchase Order, I start translating.
4. If I have any questions, I will get back to you on a daily basis.
5. As soon as I receive your answers, these will be implemented in the translation.
6. When the translation is done, I proofread it twice.
7. I send the translation.
8. A few days later, I send you the invoice.
9. You pay the invoice.
And that's all there's to it. Some projects are more complicated than others (think intermediate updates of the source text while the translation is still going on, et cetera), but this is the general idea.