Verbal Media Services, Inc.

Voice-overs and
Translations
FAQs

                                           Verbal Media Services, Inc.
                                                                                             FAQs


1. With so many different Spanish dialects and accents in Spanish, how do I determine which one to use so that everyone will understand?

While it is true that there are 20 different Spanish-speaking countries (21 if we count the U.S.), and even more individual dialects within each country, almost everyone understands "standard Spanish". This is the Spanish taught in schools, used in newspapers and magazines, and heard on radio and television everyday of the year by millions throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Unless you are trying to target a specific audience like, for example, the rural Puerto Rican, it would be a mistake to use a particular dialect.

2. If we use a word that is common in Mexico in our training materials and videos, will it be incomprehensible to people in other Spanish-Speaking countries?

This is generally not the case. A Venezuelan may choose to use a certain vocabulary word for a particular item that is different from what Mexico or some other Spanish-speaking country would use. However, in the vast majority of instances, both groups of speakers would understand what the other is saying. This is where the skill of the translator enters the picture...making sure that the vocabulary chosen will be understood by all.

3. Is it true that grammar and pronunciation are radically different from one Spanish-speaking country to the next?

This is definitely a misconception. Spanish word order and pronunciation is basically the same throughout the Spanish-speaking world. There may be minor nuances, but none so radical that they would cause any serious misunderstanding. There is probably more consistency in Spanish than there is in English. All countries observe the rulings of the Real Academia Española, the Spanish agency that decides what is acceptable and unacceptable.

4. On a translation that another agency did for us, one of our in-house native speakers commented that he understood what the translation was trying to convey, but that it was extremely artificial. He said that it was not the way people really talk or write. What would account for this?

Translations of this type usually are the result of "word-for-word" translations. In these cases, the translator attempts to translate every word of the English text. Consequently, the translation sounds stilted and unnatural. Good translators translate meaning, not words. They use native expressions and idioms where necessary. If you are reading a good translation, you should not be able to notice that it was, indeed, a translation. Once again, the skill of the translator is the key to a natural and native-like translation.

5. How do we handle the translation of new technological phrases?

The answer to this question depends on many factors. If the document is for use in another country, then as much as possible should be translated or explained in the foreign language. If the document is to be used by Hispanics in the U.S., there may be terms that the client wants the Hispanic employee to learn and use in English. In many cases, English terminology has crept in to the Spanish lexicon…words such as "el marketing", "el software", etc.

6. Can all terms and expressions be translated?

Translators attempt to translate as much as possible. Frequently, however, there are "in-house" terms and coined expressions peculiar to a particular business that simply do not exist in another language. In these cases, we generally explain them rather than translate them. Trademarks, brand names and corporate names generally are not translated.

7. Should we always insist on "certified" translators?

While certified translators may be able to provide quality translations, there are better measures of a translator's skill and ability. All of our translators must be completely bilingual to assure that they understand the nuances and subtleties of both languages. In addition, the translator should exhibit expertise in one or more areas. Certification assures simply a minimal level of ability. Normally, certified translators are used only when official documents are involved such as birth certificates, immigration papers and legal documents.

8. Do you charge by the page, the word, the job or the language?

Actually, it's a little bit of "all-of-the-above". In reality, time, degree of difficulty of the material, language and area of specialization are the factors affecting price. If the material to be translated is general in nature, a page rate of $62.50 would apply, based on a standard 250-word page. If the material is semi-technical or technical, the per-page price increases. Also, it is more difficult to find competent translators for certain languages and certain fields than others. Consequently, we have to pay them a premium for their services. If a project is a "rush job", there is a surcharge of 40%. Due to all of the above variables, we are somewhat hesitant to give phone or email quotes without seeing the material to be translated. However, we understand the desire of our customers to have an idea of how much something is going to cost, and for that reason, we do give "ballpark" estimates.

9. We have some training and marketing videos in English. Is it possible to translate these and record a Spanish track, or other foreign language in the same space without re-editing?

In most cases we can translate the script and record in the same space without re-editing. The thing to keep in mind is that English is an extremely economical language. A general rule-of-thumb is that Spanish (and many other languages) requires between 15 and 25 % more words to say the same thing, depending on the nature of the topic. Therefore, this has to be kept in mind when translating a video script. Remember, we are translating and conveying MEANING; word-for-word translations generally sound stilted and are not desirable. A skillful translator makes sure that the translation does not appear rushed or unnatural.

10. Do you do only translations, or can you also provide the voice talent for our project?

Verbal Media Services, Inc.
is a full service agency. We have our own recording and partner with a top video production studio. Additionally, we have a large talent pool from which we draw depending on the desires and needs of the client. We can do all or part of your project.

11. I have heard that if something is to be recorded, either a Spaniard or a Colombian should be chosen to do the voice over because they speak the best Spanish.

The determining factor here is your target audience. If the majority of your audience is Mexican or Central American and you want to appeal only to them, then it would probably be best to use someone from that area. However, the standard Spanish mentioned above (sometimes called "broadcast Spanish") would be understood by all. Generally, it is advisable to avoid regionalisms or intonations that could readily be identified with a particular country.

12. What are some of the factors that could affect the price of a recording?

Here again, time involved is the determining factor.  If it is a straight narration-type of voice-over and the original English edit is not rushed, the edit time will be reduced.  However, if the original edit is very tight, or if we need to synch the voice-over with an on-screen talent, this requires more time for both the voice-over talent and the studio time. We will be happy to give firm price quotes once we see your English video.
 
13. What are some other factors that might affect the cost of the video?

On-screen graphics that need to be translated, multiple voices, any lip-synching that may be necessary, new background music that may be necessary…these are all factors that can increase the cost of your video. Again, once we see the project, we will give you a firm quote, and stick to that price. There will be no surprises or hidden charges.

14. We have some people on our staff who speak the language we need. Why couldn't we just have them do the translation?

While it is possible that your bilingual employee could translate the document, there are a number of factors you need to consider: 1) Are you sure of the academic level of your employee? 2) Is your employee totally bilingual? Do they understand the subtleties of English? 3) Is writing the "forte" of your employee?

Your bilingual employee could probably give you a fairly accurate summary of a business letter or brochure from another country, but it has been our experience that being bilingual does not assure an accurate translation. The fact that somebody speaks English does not mean they could write a company newsletter or compose a company policy booklet in their own language. Likewise being bilingual "does not a translator make."

15. We are producing a Spanish video with Spanish-speaking actors and actresses. However, we have no idea whether or not their Spanish is good, or whether or not they are taking liberties with the script. Can you provide any kind of consulting service that would help us?

Yes! Verbal Media Services, Inc. has served as cultural and dialectic Advisor on many nationally distributed videos. Frequently, a talent agency will provide Hispanic actors who have the "right look", but their Spanish is marginal. We are recognized in the industry for our expertise in assuring that your Hispanic talent provides not only the look, but also conveys the meaning you desire.

16. Do you use translation software to translate documents?

No, we do not. While some translation software might be suitable for translating conversational material of a general nature, most programs will advertise that they guarantee a 90% accuracy rate. This means that 1 out of 10 words will likely be incorrect. On a standard 250 word document (one page), this means you will have 25 incorrect words. Generally, the words that will be incorrectly translated are the keywords to your document. For the type of clientele we serve, skilled "human" translators are the only answer.

17. Do you do telephone voice messaging in other languages?

Yes, we offer voice messaging services in Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
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