Tag Archives: translator

Eastern Europe – Polish and Slavonic languages a speciality

Are you hoping to expand your business into new markets?

For anyone considering business expansion, Central and Eastern Europe constitute an exciting market.  Important developments are taking place in commerce, science and medicine, spurred on by strengthening ties within the European Economic Area. Many of the countries of Eastern Europe became members of the European Union in two waves, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004, followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, and lastly by Croatia in 2013, with some of the later countries finally achieving full migration rights in 2014.  Other countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) are at varying stages of the negotiation process, whilst Armenia, Georgia and Moldova have all expressed interest. As Europe gradually emerges from the effects of the recent recession, economic activity across the region is steadily picking up. All this means a growing customer base and new opportunities for trade.

Slavic languages map

Slavic languages map

How can we help?

Linguamax is proud to have a particularly strong pool of language specialists for Eastern European languages. Our Management Team includes native speakers of Polish, with many years of experience in successfully arranging and overseeing diverse and demanding language projects, and our highly qualified Eastern European translators include legal, medical, technical and financial experts, who of course translate into their mother tongue.

Some of our most recent projects include:

Translation into Russian and Czech of product specifications

Translation of medical reports from Polish to English

Translation of clinical trial questionnaires into Hungarian, Bulgarian and Czech, with proofreading

Translation of insurance documents from Russian to English

Translation into Bosnian of legal communications

Translation of financial documents from Serbian to English


Which languages are spoken in the area?

Slavic or Slavonic languages

Predominant amongst the languages of Eastern Europe are those belong to the Slavic or Slavonic group. They show strong similarities, but each language has its own marked characteristics.

The Slavic or Slavonic languages can be divided up into broad families:

South Slavic: including Serbo-Croatian, Slovene and Bulgarian-Macedonian

West Slavic: including Czech, Slovak and Polish

East Slavic: including Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian

These Slavic languages also share some common attributes with the neighbouring Baltic languages comprising Lithuanian and Latvian.

Since the break-up of the former Soviet Union, and subsequently Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, individual Slavic dialects have become identified as the official languages of the newly formed states, whilst some countries have more than one official language. As a consequence translations may need to be specifically adapted for the target audience in particular countries. Our native translators can ensure that you are genuinely speaking the language of your client or customer.

Geographically, the Eastern European area is also shared with other non-Slavic languages such as Romanian, Estonian, Hungarian and German. In the neighbouring Caucasus, Turkic languages are spoken in Azerbaijan and Armenia, whilst the distinctive language of Georgia is of unknown origin.


A further complication is the use of different scripts. Cyrillic script is used to write all East Slav languages plus Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbian. However other languages such as Polish and Czech use Latin script together with special diacritic signs to represent particular sounds.

Just to confuse matters, Cyrillic script is also used by several non-Slavic languages: Kazakh, Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Tajik, as well as Mongolian, so it may not always be easy to identify the language of a document if the source is not specified!


What are the particular challenges of translation between Slavonic languages and English?


As a translator between Polish and English, I was asked about the translation challenges posed by the differences between the two languages.

The main difference is grammar, which is significantly more complex in Polish, with different suffixes added to words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs etc.) in sentences, depending on a particular case, tense, person or gender. And unlike just a couple of mostly regular suffixes in English (-ed for verbs in past tense or -s for nouns in plural), the suffixes in Polish are numerous and different for each 7 noun cases, 3 verb tenses, 6 persons and 3 genders. This may be troublesome for a non-native translator of Polish and will require a great attention to detail.

Polish is also more sensitive when it comes to the use of language and style. Written Polish seems to be more formal comparing to English and when translating one must avoid repetitions, ensure proper collocations and carefully adapt the language to a given register.

English vocabulary is of a larger volume, there is a greater specificity of words, which in the absence of equivalents in Polish must be paraphrased. This often expands the volume of translated text and may pose a problem when the space is an important factor (e.g. subtitling).

A Day in the life of a Project Manager

The great thing about working as a Project Manager for a small translation agency is that one never knows at the start of the day quite what challenges the day will bring! So much of our work relates to analysing the client’s varied and specific requirements for each particular task and selecting the most appropriate person to meet those requirements.

As I open the morning batch of e-mails, in pops a message from a regular client, a legal firm dealing with transport claims. The attached pdf file reveals the rough handwriting of a Russian lorry driver’s report. A quick phone call to our favoured Russian translator who is best able to deal with semi-legible scrawls, rouses him from his bed (he’s a man of nocturnal habits!) and after examining the text he asks if an improved source text can be obtained, as some words cannot be made out at all! After we’ve done a little work on enhancing the contrast, he promises to give it his best attention for delivery the following day. This eye-witness account may prove crucial to the case, and we know our translator will give an accurate rendering of the driver’s words. We are lucky this time that the reports are not in Kazakh or Tajik, which also use the Cyrillic alphabet, and so are not easily distinguished by the uninitiated!

The phone rings. A young woman needs a certified translation of her German birth certificate. The source document and the certified translation need to be presented to the American Embassy in London in just two days’ time. We arrange for the document to be translated, certified, and sent by Special Delivery in order to reach her in time.

In the meantime, a 6000 word financial report has been delivered by our Danish translator. This is part of a batch of jobs for translation into several languages, due back to the client by the end of the day. It will need careful checking to ensure that all facts and figures match the source text. We will go through it systematically, line by line, checking each figure, as well as doing a spelling and grammar check. We are expecting the Portuguese, French, German and Norwegian texts to come in during the course of the day, and each will be checked with the same meticulous attention to detail. If independent proofreading is required, we will liaise between the proof reader and the original translator over differing forms of words, but ultimately the original translator will have the final say on the wording which is adopted.

Another regular client contacts us with some updates to a product manual. The new text needs to be translated into 5 languages, Russian, Polish, Czech, Greek and Turkish, and it is best if it is done by translators who have worked on the text before. In fact they need to be users of Trados and have the relevant Translation Memory to match the new text to the old. Translators are contacted, deadlines established and Purchase Orders raised in double-quick time, so that within an hour we are able to report to the client that the project is underway.

An English translation of a Polish medical report is needed as part of a job application. It includes both numerous medical abbreviations and some semi-legible handwritten text. We have a strong pool of reliable Polish medical translators to call upon, but because they are often very busy, we may have to contact several people before finding someone who is available. After several e-mails and phone calls, a satisfactory deadline is achieved for the client.

Each of our translators has their own special strengths. An English translation of a Portuguese text comes in from one of our oldest translators. He is a real wordsmith, the master of the apposite phrase. He produces reliable and trusted translations of complex legal texts. Unfortunately his eyesight sometimes fails him when faced by arrays of figures, so we prefer to use him for continuous text, giving jobs which are dominated by figures to a younger translator with good formatting skills.

It’s 2.30 pm, and a client in Canada has started work for the day. He wants a Chinese translation of a medical text proofread for start of business tomorrow. The job will involve some four hours’ work. Working across different time-zones creates particular problems.  It’s a conundrum: most Chinese native speakers are based in China, where it is already 10 pm! We try our UK-based contacts, but they are all very busy and would need more time. As the clock ticks by, tension mounts. Can we find an appropriately qualified and available translator in the time we have? Fortunately one of our contacts in China is working late and picks up our message. With a medical degree and extensive medical translation experience he is ideal for the job. Grace works overtime to get the project in place.

A request for interpreters for a multilingual conference requires careful negotiation on times, prices and general requirements. Will interpreting be consecutive or ad hoc? Is there likely to be any equipment available? Additionally, access to the venue and travel arrangements need to be established. A full day’s session may require more than one interpreter per language to allow for breaks and ensure efficiency. To confirm the bookings, signed terms of agreement need to be acquired from each interpreter.

Out of the blue, and coming up to closing time, a request for a Mongolian translator comes in. This is not a language for which we experience frequent demand, but we willingly turn our minds to the task of finding a UK-based Mongolian speaker. Whilst it is generally preferable that translators should work into their own mother tongue, the difficulty with less common languages is that they are seldom studied by English native speakers, so translators are likely to be non-native speakers. Extra special attention has then to be paid to the quality of the English translation, and if necessary individual phrases are double-checked to ensure accuracy.

Before we shut down the computer for the evening, we make sure all outstanding projects have been safely delivered, any queries from the clients have been answered, and all Purchase Orders have been sent out to translators for the next round of jobs. What will tomorrow bring?

Written by: Sarah Wright


Linguamax Featured in HSBC Business Matters

We were really pleased to be featured by HSBC in their March edition of Business Matters. It focuses on our work with freelance translators. You can read part of the story below – the full article is available here:

How my business works with freelances
Grace Azadvar – director of Sidcup-based Linguamax Ltd

Grace Azadvar“My business probably works with up to 200 freelances a year, of whom half would be regulars. It’s a cost-effective solution, one that is perfectly suited to the varied nature of the work my business does.

We offer translation services in more than 70 languages – ranging from Albanian to Zulu. Translation and interpreting from English to Polish, Czech, Romanian, Russian, French, German and Spanish are particular specialities of ours.

We draw upon our vast database of linguists, which we’ve built up since the business was formed in 1995. We also get sent CVs – probably every day – from people offering their services. Sometimes we find new people online or go on personal recommendations we receive.

Quality and accuracy is extremely important when it comes to translation, so we begin by checking someone’s ability by testing them on a short document. If the quality of their work is high enough, their name goes onto our database….carry on reading the article here.