02/09/2020 - Translation
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Around 770,000 Swiss citizens currently live abroad. Based on its size, this Swiss Abroad community – also known as the “Fifth Switzerland” – would be the fourth-largest Swiss canton.
The “Swiss Review” magazine, published six times a year in four languages, helps keep Swiss citizens living abroad in touch with their homeland and up to date on relevant topics in Switzerland.
SwissGlobal Language Services AG has been the official language partner of the "Swiss Review" for the past two years and is responsible for translating the magazine into French, English and Spanish as well as any translations of foreign-language source texts into German.
Editor-in-chief Marc Lettau reveals what is most important when working with a language services provider (LSP) and what he particularly appreciates about the partnership with SwissGlobal.
Marc Lettau, how did you begin collaborating with SwissGlobal and what was the deciding factor that made you choose SwissGlobal as your language partner for the “Swiss Review”?
When I took on the position of editor-in-chief for the “Swiss Review” around two years ago, the magazine was being translated by another LSP. However, the agency wasn’t located in Switzerland, meaning that it wasn’t familiar with the cultural and linguistic characteristics specific to Switzerland. We were very unhappy with the quality of the translations. Even though they were often technically correct, the texts didn’t have a Swiss feel to them, and their style was awkward. I quickly realised that we needed (and wanted) to work with a Swiss LSP, because if a magazine has “Swiss” in its name but no longer sounds or feels Swiss, it loses its credibility and authenticity. Of course, a Swiss LSP charges higher rates, but the difference in quality and how cultural aspects are handled compared to providers outside Switzerland are immediately visible.
With SwissGlobal, we have found a language partner that is firmly established in our own linguistic region and shares the same values we do when it comes to language. For example, it is very important to us that the German version of our magazine sounds like it was written in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, and that the French version is clearly from the French-speaking region. After all, both of these languages are not foreign but rather national languages, and nuances certainly play a significant role.
For many clients, a translation of product descriptions or services has to fulfil another purpose as well, such as acquiring new customers or increasing sales. Language is more or less a means to an end. In our case, however, the translation itself is the end result that we want to present to our readers and is what constitutes our magazine. This makes the quality of the translations of primary importance for us.
Which aspects are absolutely critical for you when it comes to translations? What were your demands and requirements for the multilingual production of the “Swiss Review”?
We require various things on different levels from our LSP.
On an agency level, we value the clear definition of responsibilities and the personal and uncomplicated relationship with our contact person at SwissGlobal. The constructive feedback, attentive service and utmost reliability we enjoy from SwissGlobal are an enormous help to us in our day-to-day business. Obviously, we are not putting out a daily newspaper, but it can get very hectic around here as the publishing deadline approaches. During times like these, we are particularly happy to have our LSP at hand, a calming influence that we can always rely on.
On a translator level, we appreciate the proactive feedback that we receive from our core translators. What we don’t want are simplistic or stilted translations that are too close to the original texts. Our texts are multifaceted and contain challenging content. Translating them requires that the translators be familiar with local conditions and the reality of life in Switzerland. Our core group of translators and proofreaders now know our magazine backwards and forwards. They think things through, possess a high degree of linguistic finesse, and you can tell that they really enjoy translating.
And finally, on a production and administrative level, we couldn’t ask for a better language partner than SwissGlobal. The “Swiss Review” is sent to readers in 150 countries, meaning it is a complex undertaking with a laborious production process. As well as being published in four languages, there are also 13 different regional versions with additional news about the Swiss Abroad community. Since some of these regional editions are also published in other languages, we have a total of 19 “split editions” in the end. In this context, the smooth coordination of the translations becomes even more crucial. The team at SwissGlobal is usually even more punctual as we are, which is a great help in keeping to our deadlines. The clear and comprehensible invoicing method is another very positive aspect.
Has SwissGlobal met your expectations?
Yes, absolutely. The collaboration was excellent from the outset and has even improved over time as we became more familiar with each other.
Looking back, are there aspects that you would have handled differently with regard to publishing a multilingual magazine? Have you learned anything specific that you would like to pass on to other clients?
I wouldn’t do anything completely differently, but good translations also depend a great deal on the client’s preparations beforehand. The quality of the translation can only be as good as the quality of the source text. Thoroughly researched terminology databases and glossaries are also key to ensuring consistent, unambiguous language that is easily understood. We could have certainly invested a bit more time in optimising our terminology database, but it’s not something that is static anyway, it is constantly being updated and expanded. Additionally, we feel it is important to keep working on the partnership with your LSP and get to know each other better. After two years, our core group of translators and proofreaders now knows the different text types we use and are able to decide which tone or style is appropriate, usually without any specific instructions from us. This makes the process more efficient for both parties, saves time, and results in better texts.
To whom would you recommend SwissGlobal as a language services provider, and what should you keep in mind when choosing an LSP?
I would recommend SwissGlobal to ambitious companies that value communication based on dialogue and active participation and are looking for a close partnership rather than a business relationship with their LSP. I would also recommend a Swiss-based, top-calibre translation agency such as SwissGlobal to anyone who knows for themselves why they have such high quality standards for their texts, and who are therefore truly prepared to view their LSP as a partner – their language partner – rather than just a contracted service provider. You need to have a clear idea of your own goals and requirements and ensure that the LSP can fulfil them as optimally as possible.
Are you a Swiss citizen living abroad who would like to subscribe to the “Swiss Review”? You can find all the information you need about subscriptions and delivery of the magazine right here on the website.