What we’ve done

Since it seems to be true that actions speak louder than words, we thought best way of showing what we do is to look at a few projects actually done, so the following is just a tiny (but varied) selection of Communiqué’s “actions” over the last three decades or so!  

Case Study 1: Deep breaths, deep dives and ROVs

Translation, Proofreading and Layout for a leading subsea services supplier to the global offshore industries – of technical documentation from English into German – relating to a significant North Sea Cable Trenching project: 186,000 words

Much like a diver about to take the plunge, there was a collective sharp intake of breath as our team first learned of the 5 week delivery deadline on the translation of the first 80,000 words of technical documents. A vital project laying subsea cables, bringing electricity to land from wind farms in the North Sea.

We set up a specialist team of technical German translators and proofreaders to undertake this work. Their selection, coordination, the use of translation memory technology and a shared glossary/terminology database were key to maintaining consistency, quality and meeting tight deadlines. The work then had to be approved by the end-client, with any changes incorporated.

It’s a challenging area of engineering: it involves not only the cable-laying equipment itself, the ships and ROVs (remotely operated vehicles, which work off those vessels), but also precise mapping of the geology of the seabed. In addition to technical complexity, our translators needed to use language that was sensitive to Environmental impacts – offshore, for the substations and for the surrounds at landing points. Our highly professional team – never out of THEIR depth – ensured successful and timely completion of the work, for all parties involved.

“Thank you for the documents. The projects team commented on the quality of work.”

Case study 2: Heart in the Cloud, keen kerning and lean leading

Translation, Copywriting, Proofreading, Typesetting, Layout and Design of an advertising campaign about transitioning from Lotus Notes to Office 365 in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, traditional and simplified Chinese, Korean and Japanese

You might have seen the terms “transcreation” or “localisation”, flagged as extra language services. At Communiqué, we don’t need new vocabulary for a translation skill we consider intrinsic to a professional translator’s capabilities … and for this project, we translated creatively in 9 languages.

Launched around Valentine’s Day, the campaign’s romantic theme of breakup from Lotus Notes and finding new love in cloud-based Office 365 involved translating phrases such as “We’re on Cloud 9” and “Let’s make a date”.

Translators and proofreaders wrestled with the many double-entendres and idioms – in which English is especially rich – but also with how to find the appropriate voice in each of the languages.

We then typeset and recreated the posters and stickers produced by our client, in InDesign. We had to select a font that was workable for all languages/parties, and reorganise layout to fit variations in translated word, phrase and sentence length, line splits, and – in the case of Chinese, Korean and Japanese – ensure character breaks were according to local kerning and leading conventions. So potential for a headache but ultimately no heartache; you could almost call it a labour of love!

Case study 3: Net worth

Translation, Proofreading of website content in French for the international charity Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) which funds anti-malaria nets: https://www.againstmalaria.com

In 2004 “World Swim Against Malaria” was set up to persuade twenty people to find 5,000 swimmers each to raise monies for Malaria nets. Eventually 250,000 people swam in some 160 countries. As a result of this, many more people knew about malaria and that the equivalent of seven 747s full of children under five were dying from this disease every day. The charity approached us to see if we would help in their expanding international work, by translating (and subsequently updating) their website in French. Some of their more recent projects involve expansion into Togo.

Communiqué covers all costs for the work, seeing it as a contribution to a very important cause. We feel involved because the charity is great about keeping in touch – and it’s gratifying to hear that it helps:

“… the Togo Ministry of Health were very pleased to get (the) translation. It made our call with them much more friendly and productive…We are hopeful about establishing a large (multi-million net) malaria programme there. So many thanks, it’s already made a big difference!”

Case study 4: Communiqué’s festive elves engaging internationally

Translation, Proofreading, Programming and testing of an online Co-worker Engagement survey for a major player in global packaging, in 22 languages: French, German, Chinese, LA Spanish, Polish, Thai, Russian, Dutch, Brazilian Portuguese, EU Spanish, Turkish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Malay, Kazakh, Hindi, Tagalog, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Italian and Norwegian

For a client for whom we’ve produced quarterly newsletters, magazines, annual reports, presentations, technical documents and leaflets in up to 28 languages, we assisted on one occasion with an Employee Engagement survey that, although amounting to only a few thousand words in the source English text, had various elements:

  1. 22 language requirement;
  2. translating and independent proofing;
  3. coordinating with the client’s in-house, in-country reviewers for their input;
  4. creating XML files in each of the approved languages;
  5. producing PDFs for printable versions of the translated surveys;
  6. coordinating with the external website designer (in Australia) on final functional testing and signoff of the intranet site online – involving 22 (national) proofreaders across the globe …

Oh and there was the minor matter of the assignment arriving 3 days before Christmas with a delivery requirement of 4th January. But it was a wrap for our very dedicated team and our client was impressed by every elf effort:

“Not many people know how much effort is involved …(just seeing) the great outcome; a few of us do know and greatly appreciate the contribution you make.”

Case study 5: Building bridges and bringing down walls

Translation & Interpreting in Russian for a VIP visit!

Communiqué provided English into Russian translation (company product and key services summary and name cards) plus six top simultaneous interpreters – at extremely short notice – when Russia’s President Mikhael Gorbachev came to the Case Communications hi-tech engineering facility, on his first visit to the UK in 1989.

Reporting our involvement, newspaper headlines stated “She met Gorby” and “(Communiqué) …helps interpret Gorbachev’s Glasnost” … Indeed, I and we did… and it was quite something (as a Russian linguist) to be directly involved in (and present at) such a momentous meeting.

It was also a time of great optimism for the thawing of Anglo-Soviet relations. And of course the Berlin wall DID come down later that year! If Communiqué had a vision statement – it would include something about building bridges, as opposed to walls, but not really in the sense of Boris Johnson’s July 2020 Roosevelt reference!

“…the visit of Mr Gorbachev to our Watford facility was a complete success and this was due very largely to the fine cooperation we received from all our suppliers. Your personal efforts and those of your staff were very much appreciated, especially with so much work being done at short notice and at the weekend. Thank you very much indeed for your help”

Case study 6: Fast, fabulous but few and far between

Transcription of market research interviews for McLaren Automotive

We never know what the day will bring. And when a client called asking if we could transcribe “one or two tapes” within the next few days, then couriered across some 30 mini-tapes, which ultimately produced about a hundred hours of interviews, we had our work cut out.

It required setting up a team of (in this case English-only*) transcribers, a lot of coffee and burning the candle at both ends. As with many projects, confidentiality was of utmost importance and we were required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement – with the reason later revealed; the end-customer was McLaren and the tapes contained early, highly-sensitive market research for their P1 hypercar.

What would be the key hooks for purchasing such a vehicle?

Potential clients were based across the globe. It was a window onto a very different world, and it turns out the key hook was probably exclusivity. The P1’s debut was at the Paris Motor Show. Reportedly capable of 0-60mph in 2.6 seconds and reaching a limited top speed of 217mph, the car was launched in the UK in the October, with all 375 units of that model sold out by November.

*Given our foreign language experience, we more commonly receive transcription requests from media companies, where crews have filmed and interviewed in far-flung lands. Interesting BBC and other projects include documentaries/series such as Hidden Majorca (Spanish) and The Power of the Horse (Russian and Yakut) the Hairy Bikers’ food trip to the far East (Japanese and Thai) and the Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall documentary on the illegal Ivory trade (Chinese, Portuguese, Thai and Vietnamese).

For these assignments, our native-speaking transcriber(s) created the written text from listening/watching the recording/interview, which was then translated into English, inserting time-codes to assist in the editing and any subsequent subtitling process.

“The most recent job I used (Communiqué) for was particularly complicated, involving transcription and translation from a rather obscure language, but it was delivered accurately and on time. The staff are helpful, flexible and informed and always willing to put themselves out.”

Case study 7: A little too late to bail out

Translation and Interpreting of legal case material, in French, for an Old Bailey trial

We were initially contracted by a Bristol Solicitors but then worked directly with a team of Barristers based in the City of Westminster on what turned out to be a very interesting – and historically significant – case, requiring hundreds of pages of legal translation from French into English and English into French, in preparation for a trial at the Old Bailey. Everything was extremely time-critical, so it required a team of translators to work together to support the Legals, in gathering all relevant information.

Communiqué also provided two simultaneous Interpreters for the 2-week-long trial. The accused (of North African/Southern French descent, although the cocaine had come from much further afield) were indeed in deep water, having been caught red-handed off the Devon coast, attempting to smuggle the largest ever haul of cocaine (at that time), into the UK. They were found guilty.

Case study 8: Looking backwards, forwards and right to left on the tour

Translation, Proofreading, Programming and Layout in Arabic for an intranet website of a significant bank in Qatar, including a virtual tour of their prestigious new headquarters.

Initially a seemingly straightforward request for translation of around 20,000 words into Arabic suitable for Qatar, the source text was a “yesterday, today, tomorrow” description of the bank’s history, growth, current strategy, key personnel, values and vision for the future, linked to a virtual tour of the company’s HQ in Doha.

This involved not just sensitive translation and proofreading to ensure the target language was appropriate for the specific Arabic -speaking audience of that part of the Gulf, but grappling with the functional testing of the website and solving some tricky programming issues in Arabic, for which the website designers needed our help.

The English-speaking world gained a head start in software design for the internet – with initial investment, expertise and focus on text running left to right – so programming in languages such as Arabic, requiring right to left solutions, demands considerable lateral thinking – in fact using both sides of the brain!

Case study 9: Microsoftly, softly, catchee monkey

Clear Language/Editing, Style Guides and Glossaries for technical training materials for a one of the world’s largest software companies

Our work as translators naturally requires us to grasp the meaning of (sometimes less than optimally clear) text and often to rephrase to ensure meaning is correctly conveyed in another language. This skill also enables us to be very methodical – but not nitpicking! – copyeditors and so when we were approached about editing US English technical training materials for world-wide publication, we were happy to assist. The materials were in a variety of formats and used sophisticated templates.

We were required to adhere to an extensive set of style guidelines and to look at many aspects of the content including flow, style, voice, consistency, cross referencing, trademarks and use of acronyms, as well as the more traditional copy-editing tasks of jargon-busting, good sentence construction, grammar, punctuation, spelling and capitalisation.

The output from the work included glossaries, trademark lists and editing checklists for use later in the projects, along with fully commented and actioned master documents. And although our approach was “softly, softly”, we had to work fast and under pressure to meet the deadlines:

“…always highly professional, methodical and timely.. (Communiqué is) … skilled at being able to assess their brief and follow the guidelines and they work well with other members of the team to meet very aggressive deadlines. They are extremely reliable and always deliver work of the highest quality”

Case study 10: DADS-U dancing

Translation, Proofreading and Localisation French into English (100,000 words) of an accounting and payroll website for a leading UK accounting software company.

Acronyms and abbreviations can be a challenge in the translation process, but we don’t make a song and dance about them. Best practice is to define these at first mention and thereafter use the accepted equivalent in the target language or retain the source text version.

This project did keep us on our toes, though, and involved quite a few steps … as even prior to commencing, the translation/proofreading team first had to be trained on entering the English translations directly onto the client’s online draft English version of the French site.

Throughout the process, given that the French source text contained a lot of industry- and even company-specific abbreviations, we liaised closely with the client’s French and English contacts, to ensure the UK site got off on the right foot! DADS-U is nothing to do with your father (or his dancing) but stands for “déclaration automatisée des données sociales unifiée” – for which Google (using 2020 machine-translation technology) gives us “unified automated reporting on social data”.

However, with each country’s tax systems being unique, the “human translation” equivalent for the UK would likely be the “Annual Payroll Tax Return – P11, P14, P35 etc”. DADS-U somehow conjures up a more lively image!