Oiling the wheels of business

Sophy Buckley explains how FirstWord set about transcreating more than 300 articles for a non English-speaking oil and gas company

A European multinational energy company approached FirstWord last year to help launch its new website. Aware that its stakeholders spoke many different languages, the firm had decided to ditch its own in favour of English in an attempt to broaden its appeal to a global audience and better oil the wheels of its business. The problem was ensuring that the website was in readable, idiomatic English that engaged the reader, even after translation from the original.

Work started in mid March 2016, and by late April the site was ready to go live. FirstWord had transcreated more than 150 articles, giving them a natural flow not normally found in translated business media.

By September the number of articles had jumped to more than 230, each with an average of 600 words. By December, we had transcreated more than 300.

The process is simple enough. The originals are translated into English and sub-edited for accuracy. They are then given to the transcreator, who looks for any phrases or words that sit uncomfortably with a native English speaker and changes them accordingly. All told, five people are involved in the process, each bringing specialist skills to ensure the finished articles are accurate, reflect the originals in tone and spirit, and read like prize-winners.

The project has been so successful that the company has asked us to use the same process for articles originally written in English for their native speakers. Transcreation has become a two-way street.