Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Oh... Can I Translate that for You?

Believe it or not, this simple - seemingly harmless offer, send chills down many a designer's spine.
It seems like it would be so beneficial to have someone offer to make your patterns available in language(s) that you are not fluent in.  You would be able to branch out into markets previously untapped by you and that means more profit.  And many designers jump at the chance to put more money in their pocket!  After all, the BIG companies do it.  They have their works translated into nearly ever major language on the planet!  It's Win-Win... right?

No - it's really not.  And it's not as simple as just having "John/Jane Doe" substitute one language equivalent for another.  

Large companies offer their products/instructions in different languages because they have hundreds, or even thousands of employees; often, in various satellite offices in the areas they are marketing to.  People who speak a 2nd or even 3rd language as fluently as they speak their common language.  
For example, DRG Publishing, who is well known in the paper and fabric crafts (Annie's Attic, Molly Makes, etc), has hundreds of employees, sales & advertising associates as well as paid translators - that all fall under the broad umbrella of DRG Publishing.  That means it is in the translator's best interest to translate the instructions with the true intent of the designer; not 'interpret the designer's intention' or use variations in dialect or slang.  
If a pattern or design is not translated correctly and is then put into distribution to it's language destination - the complaints are going to DRG and someone is going to get reprimanded or even fired.
Using someone from a country offering to do you a 'favor' for the paycheck of a few free patterns... obviously, THEY can read your language well enough to offer to translate - but what is the incentive that they will translate your instructions correctly?  They've already gotten their "payment".  There is no contract between you and them saying what will/can happen if J.Doe misrepresents your work.  Ultimately, mistakes do not fall on the translator, the mistakes and ill feelings fall on your small business and on YOU as the designer.

There is also to consider - and this is specifically why I do NOT allow my patterns to be translated.  How are you going to help someone if you don't understand their native language?  Are you going to try to use an online translator and hope/pray that it get's it accurate?  (Don't you think that the person asking you the questions has already tried that?)

I have online friends from Brazil (Portuguese), the Netherlands (Dutch), Canada & France (French), Mexico (Spanish) as well as Cape Verde and Jamaica; and in the real world I have friends who speak Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian - heck, my X-sister inlaw taught high school French - but they know next to nothing about crocheting.  
Sure, I could get into a healthy conversation regarding food, home life or religion with any of them because we would be speaking in commonly used terms - actually we would be speaking primarily in English, with a few 'foreign' words tossed in here or there - but it is not about a specific craft with specific and not commonly used 'foreign words' (outside the craft). It's also with people who know and trust/understand you.

I have fellow designers who have also offered to translate my own works into other languages - languages which they offer their own works in their shops.  So I KNOW they are proficient in the regular language of the translations as well as the "crafting language"; and could translate the work accurately.
BUT.. are they going to take away from their crafting time or time away from assisting their own customers - to assist my client if there is an issue or someone has a question? 

Someone who has paid money for instructions in their own language doesn't "know you".  They are your customer.  They are expecting YOU to help them complete their project - and they are already probably a bit frustrated because something they paid money for isn't working for them.  In order for you to able to assist them, you need to be able to understand what they are having an issue with and explain to them how to fix it - in a way that they will be able to understand - IN THEIR LANGUAGE!   

And finally.. ... while no one likes to admit it - IT IS a very sad fact.  There are dishonest people out there!  In fact, there are a lot of dishonest people out there.  Maybe YOU don't know about it - because YOU are an honest person.  
You don't buy a pattern and turn around and put it on an illegal download site.. or translate it and sell it on a "specific language" site.  But there are MANY who do.. unscrupulous people looking to make a quick buck without actually working for it.  
I know of several artists, including myself, who have had their work fraudulently misrepresented and stolen by others; to be sold in online stores and even PUBLISHED in foreign MAGAZINES!  And how did they get their hands on the original?  At least one that I have personal knowledge of, offered to "translate" for a designer.   She translated nothing for the designer, but instead, translated the works for a local magazine and sold it to them.

For those looking to 'translate' - the honest people, who just love the craft and want to 'help' - I know there are MANY of you out there too.  The "cold sell" (that is sending an eMail or private message to someone saying "hey I translate for others, I can translate for you") is not the best way to go.
I recommend that you build up a rapport with a designer or designers that you enjoy.  Support their craft by purchasing their patterns.  Show them photos of your finished works.  Talk to them and get to know them before making an offer to "help" by translating.  Once trust is established, and a friendship is developed - that is when the 'partnership' is mutually beneficial to everyone involved.   

I cannot say that FDbyK4TT will never offer patterns in a language other than English, but IF/when this ever happens.  It won't be "as a favor".  The translator is instrumental in making those foreign sales and they deserve compensation also (beyond a free pattern ).  
Translators, do not sell yourself short either - you are doing something for the designer that the designer cannot do for themselves.  Each foreign copy sold would not be possible without YOUR assistance in translating the instructions.  Whether you establish a "set fee" for your time or a % of each sale; you have added your name to that designer's team and you should be compensated for that.

While the gesture is kind and in MANY cases, very sincere and heart-felt.  Before you decide to just allow 'anyone' to translate your work, you must remember that YOUR NAME - YOUR REPUTATION is the one that is on the line, not theirs.

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