Most translators never get their names published on the work they do, unless they translate literature, poetry and the like. After all, it is work for hire. And many ad agencies, production companies, etc. don’t want their clients, the end client, to know that the work has been outsourced, let alone to whom.
This also extends to getting samples of translations, typesetting or AV material that has been subtitled or voiced-over. Clients very often do not give permission to reproduce such work or feature it on a website for many reasons, whether it’s confidentiality, control over branding, or perhaps because they don’t want their competitors to know who is responsible for the fine language work they’re getting.
There can also be legal reasons. Christie’s, the world famous auction house, has been a good client to InterNation over the years. When we approached them for permission to feature some of the videos for which we’ve provided voice-over and subtitling services in Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, the answer was a quick but polite and firm “ No.” The explanation, however, was interesting and insightful. Because the artwork featured in these videos is subject to copyright and usage rights held by the artists, Christie’s itself is only allowed to use reproductions of the featured artwork for specific, time-limited purposes.
But sometimes the work really is for publication, and it is disseminated to a wide audience, as is the case with airline in-flight safety and arrival videos. When new clients ask us “Who do you work for?” one of the standard responses they will receive at InterNation is “A lot of Fortune 500 clients.” When asked to name some, we will often respond with a question. “Have you ever flown on Continental or United Airlines during the past ten years?” Nearly everyone responds with “Well yeah.” It is with great relish that we can then tell them “Well, then you’ve actually seen our work, because we’ve been doing the voice-overs and the subtitles on their in-flight safety videos since 2004 in about 28 languages, English subtitles included.”
It makes an impression. But what is even more fun is the follow up: “And you didn’t find any typos, bad grammar, bad punctuation or lousy syntax, did you? Because if we did make a mistake, at least one of the tens of millions of people who read our subtitles would have complained, and we would most certainly have heard about that.”
Tens of millions of readers, each one a potential critic, and no complaints. The result of InterNation’s proud quest for zero defect production for mission critical multilingual communication.