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How pro bono translation can lead to paid work

Posted by Annemieke, August 08 2011

CAWN, a small international NGO based in London, carried out a funded research project on violence against women and asked Media Lingo to translate the report into Spanish. When Media Lingo, a subtitling and translation company in Kent, asked their network of Spanish translators if they would be willing to help out with the translation of the 60-page Toolkit for Intersecting Violences, almost 40 linguists were keen to get involved. The work was divided over nine translators with expert knowledge of the subject and proofread by local volunteers at CAWN in South-America. The charity gave the translators feedback and acknowledged their work in the translated version, which in turn has led to more work for the volunteers involved.

Pro Bono translations cost the charity or NGO nothing, however translators who undertake pro bono work are generally looking for two things. There's the feel-good factor, the satisfaction one gets from putting his or her skills to good use and helping groups of people or charities who are in need of help. The other rewards pro bono translators are looking for relate to professional development, recognition and recommendations.

Pro bono translation work is becoming a popular way to enter the translation profession. The subject matter is often interesting, the charity usually provides useful feedback and references, and translators work together in teams where they can make valuable connections. References are particularly important for freelancers starting out in the translation industry, because prospect clients are normally unable to judge the work a translator has done previously. A good reference from an NGO can just give the freelancer's career the boost it needs.

Media Lingo plans to carry out more pro bono translations to help charities and provide valuable feedback and experience for translators. It points out that pro bono translation is not to be confused with free translation. “Free translation refers to the use of automated tools. In our opinion, no self-respecting translation company would offer so-called free translation. Just as a Michelin-star chef wouldn’t serve up boil-in-the-bag coq au vin, a translation company that is serious about producing high-quality translation would not recommend free translation”, says Annemieke de Bruin, Managing Director of Media Lingo.

Media Lingo is a translation and subtitling company based in Royal Tunbridge Wells. It was incorporated in 2009 and is growing quickly thanks to the unique mix of services offered. Dealing with one company that offers both translation and subtitling under one roof is especially beneficial for companies in the media industry, who need text and website translation as well as video subtitles, because it ensures consistency across all communications and allows for quicker turnaround and a more efficient service.

  Posted by Annemieke, August 08 2011
  Free Translation, Press Release, Pro Bono Translation, Recent Projects, Translation



Proofreading copy can save businesses millions of pounds

Posted by Annemieke, July 26 2011

Charles Duncombe, an online entrepreneur, says spelling mistakes are costing the UK millions of pounds in lost revenue for internet businesses. His analysis of website figures shows a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half.

This is hardly surprising, as nearly all online communications and sales rely on the written word. When clients are considering spending money on a website, they are more likely to be wary of spam and phishing scams. In such situations spelling mistakes can make a website appear untrustworthy and can directly affect traffic and sales.

Double your revenue by having your copy proofread

Apart from using a spellchecker and carefully editing and re-checking your documents, it is wise to have your copy checked by a professional proofreader to make sure your texts are not only correct, but also fresh and engaging.

Media Lingo works with qualified linguists with years of experience in proofreading all types of texts. Just give us a call on +31 (0)23 - 2024 723 or send us an email for more information.


  Posted by Annemieke, July 26 2011
  Proofreading, Website Translation



Thanks to the Pro Bono translators who volunteerd for CAWN!

Posted by Annemieke, June 29 2011

We have just finished the translation of a 48-page booklet for Central America Women’s Network (CAWN) from English into Spanish. A large number of translators offered their time and services for this cause, and we put together a team of nine volunteers who did an amazing job in a short space of time.

A big thank you to these translators:

  • Suani Vera
  • Laura Miguez
  • Virginia Muñoz Bermúdez
  • Ioana Basterra López
  • Mariela Gonzalez
  • Ana Mattioli
  • Aldana Michelino
  • Iballa López Hernández
  • Ana Clara Pergamo

Thank you all. The English and the Spanish version are available on

  Posted by Annemieke, June 29 2011
  Free Translation, Pro Bono Translation, Recent Projects, Translation



The Cost of Free Translation

Posted by Annemieke, May 24 2011

More and more websites are now offering ‘free translation’ tools, or Machine Translation. You might be wondering what these tools can and can’t do, and whether you should consider using them.

In our opinion, no self-respecting translation company would offer so-called free translation. Just as a Michelin-star chef wouldn’t serve up boil-in-the-bag coq au vin, a translation company that is serious about producing high-quality translation would not recommend free translation.

The reason is twofold. First of all, translation is a complex process. If you have ever attempted to learn a foreign language, you’ll know that not every word has an exact equivalent in the target language. Some words do, like ‘Rain’, ‘Cat’ and ‘Dog’, but try translating ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ word for word into any foreign language and people won’t know what you’re talking about. Trying to outsource this complicated process to an automated tool will cost your company money.

For example; if you’re thinking of buying a television and the description reads ‘You let enchant through the tremendous performances and enjoys brilliant SUFFERED design-technology in an ultraplat of high-quality aluminum’ (as rendered by one popular translation tool), would you really go ahead? No, you wouldn’t. When customers read unprofessional copy, they will not trust the product or service offered, and buy elsewhere.

Secondly, you might consider the impact they have on the overall translation industry. When more companies decide to use automated translation, there is less work for professional translators as a result. Competition amongst translators gets more fierce, rates drop and ultimately some of the most experienced, highly educated and skilled translators will decide to leave the profession in search of a more financially rewarding career. Without these translators, the quality of translation will inevitably deteriorate, new translators will not be trained as thoroughly as the generation before them. It paints a pretty bleak picture for the integrity of language and meaning around the world.

A translator needs an intimate knowledge of the language and culture of the market for which the text was originally written, as well as subject knowledge in their chosen field and serious research skills. The translator then needs to render the source text into a different language without losing any meaning, factual or otherwise, and write the final translation as if it was originally written in the target language and specifically for the intended audience.

Machines lack creativity and the ability to put content into context. When a word is used that can have more than one meaning, machine translation tools do not know which one is meant. When an equivalent is not available for a certain colloquial word or humorous turn of phrase, some of the local ‘flavour' of a sentence might be lost. Translators can compensate for this by adapting another sentence, or even a whole paragraph, to make up for this and to retain the overall tone of the text. Automated translation is not capable of adequately achieving this. At least not yet.

If you are concerned that translating your documents professionally will be expensive, look at it this way; translating 1 page of text into 1 language will cost you about £35. If your text needs to be read in several languages, then that probably means that you have spent valuable time drafting the copy or having it written for you. Surely you’d want to maintain that quality in the foreign versions as well? To trust a mechanised translation tool with your valuable copy is akin to that Michelin-star chef shoving a lovingly prepared dish into a microwave oven and hoping for the best.

So what can you use these tools for? Well, they are useful when you quickly need to get the gist of a document. In any case, you should not let a machine translation ruin your carefully crafted copy. Or, as one translation tool puts it, ‘Anyhow you should rent destroy no free translations tool your careful made copy. ‘ Right…

  Posted by Annemieke, May 24 2011



What we’ve been up to at Media Lingo

Posted by Annemieke, April 21 2011

Wow, the new website is certainly doing its job. We’re receiving more quote requests than ever for our Multilingual SEO and Translation services, and we’re loving it. Over the last few weeks we’ve subtitled a Japanese corporate film, helped out a Dutch client with his Arabic DTP, and recorded a Chinese voice over for an online video production company. The client, David, wrote:

“I was really pleased. [The interpreter] has an excellent clear voice and was really good to work with. She'd also done a lot of preparation, which meant we've got a much better translation than the at-event simultaneous translation. Thanks for sorting this out for me. I felt like you took the problem away, so it's much appreciated!”

Well, that’s always great to hear. Right now we’re in the planning process of some major e-Commerce site translations, we’re about to move onto a new Project Management system to meet the growing demand more efficiently, and we’re always on the lookout for the best linguists out there with translation qualifications and experience, media expertise and a knack for media lingo.

If you’re looking to get your website translated or your corporate film subtitled, give us a call on +31 (0)23 - 2024 723 or email

I look forward to hearing from you!

Project Manager Media Lingo

  Posted by Annemieke, April 21 2011
  Languages, Recent Projects, Subtitling, Website Translation



Communications Intern - Spanish Translations (unpaid internship)

Posted by Annemieke, March 07 2011

The Oxfam International (OI) Communications team is looking for an enthusiastic Spanish translations intern.  You will be a native Spanish speaker, and have English and preferably French language skills, proven organizational and time management skills and strong communication skills, translations experience will be highly regarded.  Please note that this is an unpaid internship.

Internship Profile

Location:  Oxfam International Secretariat, Oxford, UK
Department:  Brand & Communications

Internship Purpose

To provide translation support to the Brand and Communications team in the form of ongoing tasks and projects within the Oxfam International Secretariat office based in Oxford.  The projects will bring you into contact with the national Oxfam affiliate organisations and various personnel with a communications role.

Key Responsibilities

The Communications intern will support the Communications team with high-quality translation for the day-to-day tasks serviced by the Secretariat.

The internship will involve a range of the following activities to support internal and external communications, both verbal and written. Oxfam International produces all core materials in our three core languages; English, Spanish and French.

• Translating items for the Oxfam International Website including blogs, twitter posts, press releases and media briefings.
• Translating material and ensuring that the meaning of the source text is retained, alongside proofreading and editing final translated versions.
• Using specialist language and developing glossaries.
• Assisting with specific meetings, following the process from planning through to the meeting conclusion and outputs with regards to translation and administrative requirements.
• Working with the wider translations network within Oxfam International (French and Spanish web editors) and affiliates to ensure that the translations process is effective and efficient.
• Supporting the Secretariat to maintain the translations area on the intranet, updating and contributing to the translations group processes.
• Help ensure consistency within Oxfam translations.
• Assisting the team with other projects as required, this will include translating one off documents, e.g. the Oxfam Annual Report, Humanitarian reports.
• Answering general email enquiries (French and Spanish).
• Updating the general enquiries FAQ’s.

There is also opportunity to contribute to new projects the comms team are working on. You are expected to develop a good understanding of the main focuses of the organization and the processes which support out work.

The post-holder will work to a specific workplan and objectives and there will be regular opportunities to discuss progress against these.

Key competencies

• Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
• Native Spanish speaker, a good standard of English, and French is preferable.
• Accuracy, consistency and attention to detail.
• Proven organisational and time management skills.
• Familiarity with IT programs, including Lotus Notes, and Microsoft packages; Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Knowledge of CMS desirable. • Ability to work both autonomously and as part of a team.
• Previous translation experience is highly desirable.
• Any additional languages would be highly desirable.

This is a six-month (part-time or full-time) voluntary unpaid internship.

The post-holder must be eligible to do unpaid work in the UK.

To apply please send your CV (MS Word format) and covering email

Closing Date:   21 March 2011, 17:00 GMT (GMT +00:00) (GM +00:00)

  Posted by Annemieke, March 07 2011
  Internships, Languages, Pro Bono Translation, Translation



Welsh Translation + Multilingual DTP

Posted by Annemieke, February 11 2011

We recently translated a brochure from English into Welsh for the Researchers in Residence scheme (funded by RCUK with support from the Wellcome Trust). The client also used our multilingual DTP-service.


To find out more about our Multilingual DTP services, please call +31 (0)23 - 2024 723 or email

  Posted by Annemieke, February 11 2011
  Languages, Multilingual DTP, Proofreading, Translation, Welsh Translation



Interpreting for Jack Black at Blenheim Palace

Posted by Annemieke, February 10 2011

Media Lingo was recently asked to interpret at Blenheim Palace, for a number of families at the 'Gulliver's Games' event organized by Sublime promotions for 20th Century Fox.

The Media Lingo team consisted of four interpreters: Ilaria Feltre (Italian), Jana Kohl (German), Claudio Elgueta (Spanish) and Annemieke de Bruin (Dutch). We worked all day and evening in the sunny but freezing cold weather, interpreting for families from all over Europe who had been lucky enough to win a trip to the beautiful Oxfordshire palace.

"You were punctual, efficient and provided a great service and I was very happy!"
(Matthew Loader, Sublime Promotions)

Jana interpreting for Jack Black:

Ilaria interpreting for Jack Black:

Ilaria interpreting for the Fox crew:

  Posted by Annemieke, February 10 2011
  Interpreting, Recent Projects, Translation