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The pain of managing a multilingual product

I used to be the Operations Director at Lingo24 – overseeing the operations that delivered millions of words of translation to a range of clients and applications every year. I’m now running the Operations at what3words – though this time I’m a buyer of translation services (mostly from Lingo24). Buying and managing translation is really a bit of a headache – even when the services provided by the translators/translation agency are hassle-free. There is so much more to managing the translation process than that which goes through the linguists and their project managers. Imagine a business that has a website, iOS app and Android app – pretty easy, as this is not a particularly unusual combination of things for a business to have. Now imagine that each of these are in, say, 10 languages. Again, not that uncommon. (what3words is in 25


Give it 5 minutes

Most good ideas start as bad ideas, or at least start off sounding like bad ideas. I recently came across this article: http://37signals.com/svn/posts/3124-give-it-five-minutes (I discovered it thanks to Ivan Mazour’s very amusing and appropriate use of the link above to respond to an instantaneous aggressive response to his blog post about banning incoming calls) The basic principle is that when you hear an idea you should give it the respect of thinking about it properly before pushing back. But chance are, the person who has put the idea to you has been thinking about it for a long time… It’s a bit like this in management. Much of management is about making decisions/giving feedback on things in 1-10 minutes – specifically things that other people have been spending hours, days, weeks, even months thinking about. If your team is to be


Machine Translation Gold Rush

The dozen or so companies in the translation industry that are investing heavily in machine translation tools have a major opportunity for about 1-2 years to make a lot of money out of post-edited machine translation (PEMT), and then the margins will shrink. Let me explain my thinking. The Chinese Anomaly About 10 years ago, typical pricing in the translation industry for Western European companies looked a bit like this (using very approximate rounded numbers to illustrate the point): En > FIGS, Portuguese etc.: £100 per k [fair enough: not necessarily the cheapest combinations – although some of them are fairly cheap – but lots of supply and demand] En > Eastern European: £120 per k [fair enough: cheaper combinations to source, but perhaps lower demand, so at least some explanation or higher prices] En > Scandis + Asian including


Pub Quiz Cheating

I gave a presentation at Bettakultcha in January 2013 about pub quiz cheating. The rules of Bettakultcha give presenters 5 minutes, working off 20 slides which move on automatically every 15 seconds. I’m not a fan of Powerpoint for presentations really, but that’s not really an issue here as the format gives a nice structure. Here is the video. If you want to read more, you can have a look at the long post that I wrote for the QuizQuizQuiz blog in 2012 about pub quiz cheating.



I may or may not be any good at writing (m)any blog posts, let alone regularly, but if I do, topics are likely to include…you guessed it…translation, quiz, start-ups, and general stuff about running small and medium-sized businesses.

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