The musicians of language

Flute player“My cousin speaks this language, so he translated it for me. Could you just certify it?”

If I had a penny for every time I heard this or something similar, I would be rich. Alright, this might be an exaggeration, but I do hear this quite a lot.

People often underestimate translators and assume that everyone who speaks another language can also translate. Many don’t realise that being a translator requires hard work and dedication. Continue reading The musicians of language

The most economical language – Musings about Bulgarian, information rate and Marcel Duchamp

Marcel DuchampA couple of days ago I had an interesting conversation with Svetlana, from our sister company Cintra, about her mother tongue, Bulgarian. As it turns out it is rather economical. For example, the consonant cluster “sht” often appears in various words, so Bulgarians invented a single letter that represents this string of sounds: “щ”. Clever, ha?

This conversation lead to another one, about the economy of languages and various strategies speakers employ to convey the most amount of information with the least effort. Continue reading The most economical language – Musings about Bulgarian, information rate and Marcel Duchamp

Happy Easter! – witches, egg fights and water buckets

“Easter Sprinkling” by Mihály Munkácsy

It’s amazing how quickly time flies! I have just written a blog post about Christmas traditions and now it’s already time to celebrate Easter.

Although there are similarities in the way Easter is observed in most countries, and eggs, rabbits and flowers are featured in traditions one way or another, there are some curious customs that might need some extra explanation. Continue reading Happy Easter! – witches, egg fights and water buckets

Translation musings: Synthesized jam or why I am wary of machine translation

“Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.”

Quote from 1984 by George Orwell

translate with the click of a buttonMachine translation is awesome, right? With a click of a button you get work done that a human translator would possibly need weeks for. A few teething problems – such as completely ungrammatical sentences, wrong terminology and nonsensical target texts? Never mind! Thousands of engineers are working on ultra-intelligent AI systems that will untangle all those nasty little glitches. Machine translation is the future. Machine translation is our destiny.

Well… to be honest, I don’t actually believe this. Continue reading Translation musings: Synthesized jam or why I am wary of machine translation

Case study: Speak of the devil… – Angels and demons in art

Angels and demons 1One of the biggest projects we worked on recently was a book called Angelus & Diabolus. And when I say, big, I mean BIG. The book weighs about 12 kg, and its dimensions are 8 x 30 x 45 cm!

Although the size of it is awe-inspiring in itself, of course, this is not only why this project is so memorable for us. Continue reading Case study: Speak of the devil… – Angels and demons in art

Meet Ben, our new colleague

Ben AblettJanuary is the first month of the year and many regard it as the time for exciting new beginnings. I must tell you this January is super thrilling for First Edition: we have loads of remarkable new projects in the pipeline both for our Commercial and Editorial teams and we are also welcoming a new member of staff: Ben Ablett, our new Head of Sales and Marketing. Continue reading Meet Ben, our new colleague

Musings about the past year, paperwork and new challenges…

paperwork end of the yearThe end of the year usually finds us organising, alphabetising, categorising and filing our paperwork for the whole year.

I think most people would regard this as a rather dull task but I actually quite enjoy it: first of all, there is that same nice feeling you get after finishing your spring cleaning; when you create order and arrange things. It can be pretty meditative as you focus on sorting out the papers and put away the old in preparation for something new. Continue reading Musings about the past year, paperwork and new challenges…

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time…

Danish Christmas decoration
Traditional Danish decorations

It’s only a few more days to go till Christmas!
Are you all set for the festivities, feasts and family gatherings? Here, at the First Edition and Cintra offices we are more than ready for that Christmas pudding. Or a chat with Santa on the phone…!
Join us on a quick tour around Europe to see how our colleagues celebrate Christmas with their families in their countries. Continue reading Simply having a wonderful Christmas time…

Translation musings: “Time is your most valuable asset”

elia conferenceLast week I was in Barcelona (oh, warm and sunny Barcelona, how I miss thee) where I attended ND Focus, the first ever conference for Project Management organised by Elia, the European Language Industry Association. There were about 100 attendees of 29 different nationalities and beyond the great scope for networking (always a good thing), the conference had different tracks that covered time management, negotiation skills and above all, the ability to communicate effectively in order to understand our clients’ needs and passing them on to our translators correctly.

In that way, ND Focus was great in how it reinforced how important project managers are within the language industry. I’ve been a project manager at First Edition for the past 12 years and I’ve always known how essential this position is to keep things going smoothly. However, the conference really hit it home that project managers can make or break projects: a good project manager will ask the right questions to pinpoint and address the exact needs of our client; will negotiate costs fairly for all sides (the client and the translators) so that everybody is happy; and will manage each project with the care, attention and quality control that they need. And we will do that by effectively using our time – and this is perhaps the one specific track from the conference that I thought would be super useful to all of you reading this blog regardless of which industry you work in.

Time management is essential: according to Romina Kohei, the expert who walked us through on how best to use our time, “time is your most valuable asset”. From juggling different tasks during the day to making sure those around you are happy, from learning how to identity and use your peak time (the time during the day where you are most focused and can do your best work) to working toward your goals, this was perhaps my favourite track during the conference. Here is my takeaway – 3 tips – about time management that I’d like to share:

  • Make a list of tasks, prioritize from most important to least important;
  • Identify your peak time: for most of us, this will be between 7 and 11am. Make sure to work on your most important tasks during that time, without any interruptions. This means:
  • Divide your tasks by smaller blocks i.e. check emails between 9 and 9:15 then – if you can, of course – don’t look at them again until you have finished the next important task on your list and so on and so forth.

I’ve started doing this since I came back and I dare say it is actually working: I wrote this blog post in one sitting, as one block during my peak time. 🙂


Post by Ana Grilo, our Commercial Translations Manager