AAA Translation News Blog

Global Business Advice, Industry News and newsletters with sometimes special offers


Bilingual employee or relative translate at your own risk

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

 Have you ever turned to your bilingual employee or relative to provide a business translation for you? If the answer is yes, you could be making a huge and costly mistake.

You wouldn’t have your company’s tax returns prepared by business students to save money? Nor would you approve of medical students performing minor surgeries!

Our example:

A well-known St. Louis university received a grant from a technology company to create a language translation lab and employ graduate students to translate highly technical software. Not having any knowledge of the high-level technical background required, the graduate students were pulled from the project and AAA Translation stepped in and provided tailor-made translation & localization services.

It is important to know that there are vast differences between bilingual employees and translators and recognizing the difference between the two will help you avoid costly mistakes.

Professional translators are writers who produce texts that read as they were produced in the target language. Translators are fluent in their source language and are subject matter experts. They are above all effective bridges between the languages they work in; they can render the message of the original text, with appropriate style and terminology, in their native language.

The American Translators Association (ATA) gives this example of a marketing translation by a bilingual employee:

  • Lina’s, a pricey French sandwich chain, advertised for franchisees abroad with a text concocted by a self-proclaimed bilingual employee.
  • Slogan: “Tomorrow, we will expect on your dynamism.”
  • Response: Zero.

Ultimately, the price of failing to produce quality translations is significantly higher than performing the translations appropriately at the onset. The best way to prevent costly translation errors is to have your documents translated by professional translators. This guarantees that documents are prepared properly and will be able to withstand thorough examination. Remember, while high-quality translation services can be more expensive, they are still far less expensive than translation errors that can literally cost you millions:

Client Testimonial: Just arrived in the office from the FESPA trade show in Germany.  The response to the banners your company interpreted for us was remarkable. Several individuals told me they were very good and accurate. One person asked if we had a partner in Germany, because they thought the German banner had been done by a local. Thank you AAA Tranlsation for the wonderful work your company provided - BBC Industries, Inc.

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Translation services sticker shock

Monday, August 20, 2018

 Translation services have been there since the industrial revolution and its growing tremendously due to the growth of the global economy. According to a report on "The Language Services Market: 2018   " by Common Sense Advisory(CSA), the global market for outsourced language services and technology will reach US $46.52 billion in 2018. As organizations both large and small make their products and services available in more languages, CSA predicts that the language services industry will continue to grow and that the market will increase to US$56.18 billion by 2021.

The cost of translation services can be met with a measure of sticker shock.“Why,” a company wonders, “does it cost that much for someone to translate from one language to another?We already did the hard work by creating original content.Can’t they just pop it into Google Translate, and voilà?”That kind of question is quite common, and a comparable question as a response is, “Does your doctor simply use WebMD to diagnose you?”Most of us would probably lose confidence, if not become terrified, if our doctor would decide to strictly rely on WebMD to diagnose us.Likewise, using online translation apps isn’t a best practice when in need of certain types of translation.

Every culture has subtle, day-to-day customs. If you are planning to market in a global context, “localizing” all your marketing materials and website can make the difference between your product being embraced or rejected. It’s important to integrate cultural niceties and to avoid insulting your target audience in all aspects of marketing; colors, images, and translations, and even gestures and body language 

The importance of a qualified and reputable translation agency

Working with a reputable translation agency is comparable to using the right doctor or auto mechanic.A cancer patient would not use her primary care physician to diagnose and treat her cancer; she would seek out an expert oncologist.A Porsche owner would not take his 911 Turboto a repair shop that only specializes in American-made cars; he would seek out an auto shop specializing in German performance vehicles.Similar to how it would be a bad idea to have the wrong type of doctor treat your ailment, or how taking your car to the wrong repair shop would not result in the most expert opinion about your car, using the wrong type of interpreter could end equally as badly.For example, it is common for someone going to the doctor to use a family interpreter instead of a medical interpreter.While the family interpreters might be sufficiently intelligent, they often lack medical understanding , may lack the ability to remain impartial in a stressful situation, or they could feel liable if information is inaccurately translated and something goes wrong. In fact, studies have shown that medical error is the third-leading cause of death for Hispanic Americans.Using a medical interpreter could potentially prevent many fatal medical errors and situations such as this one:

Is this the most expensive medical translation error?
Willie Ramirez and the $71 million word.

Willie Ramirez was only 18 and out with friends when he suddenly developed a splitting headache. By the time he got to his girlfriend’s house, he was barely conscious. They rushed him to the hospital, but he woke up paralyzed. He will never walk again. A brain bleed left him a quadriplegic for life, but it didn’t have to be that way. The hemorrhage should have been treatable, but the Ramirez family did not have access to a Spanish interpreter. So, when they told the emergency room doctors that they believed Willie was “intoxicado,” he was treated for a drug overdose. As Health Affairs explains, “intoxicado” is not the same as “intoxicated.” Among Cubans, “intoxicado” is kind of an all-encompassing word that means there’s something wrong with you because of something you ate or drank. I ate something and now I have hives or an allergic reaction to the food or I’m nauseous. Doctors only discovered the hemorrhage after days of improper treatment. By then, it was too late. The hospital, which should have provided a professional interpreter, is liable for a settlement of approximately 71 million dollars to pay for Willie’s care for the rest of his life.

It’s worth the cost

It is understandable that the cost of paying for translations or interpreting might not be a cost you initially calculated into the budget.However, it is a good practice to make a habit of anticipating that translation services will be part of your operating expenses, if you plan to reach the appropriate audience with accuracy, and if you hope to prevent costly (perhaps even deadly) errors.If you are willing to roll the dice and hire any ole bilingual person for your translating needs, we can recommend some cheap plastic surgeons for that face lift you’ve been considering.Not to worry—they are great doctors:pediatricians-turned-plastic surgeons.You’ll be in good hands.



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An International Spectacle: Russian interpreter in the spotlight

Friday, July 27, 2018

An interpreter’s role in government investigation

One might imagine that interpreting begins like a game of operator. The lead person whispers something in his neighbor’s ear, who whispers something in her neighbor’s ear, and on down the line until the speaker at the end of the line delivers the message to the group, and the original messenger determines how much of his message remains intact. Whose responsibility is it to ascertain that the message does not become misconstrued with each pass? What are the ramifications for a morphed message?


Not Child’s Play

In the elementary game of operator, the stakes are low. However, translating and interpreting are ever-present necessities in the real world. Due to technology and diplomatic relations, the world feels increasingly smaller, and the topic of translation/interpretation has been thrust into public awareness with the recent debate over the transparency of the notes obtained by Maria Gross, the interpreter for the press conference in Helsinki between Donald Trump and Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. The reason this is such a hot topic is because interpreters are not typically asked to appear in court to testify about the details of a discussion in which they have played a role—the interpreter has historically remained all but invisible due to the nature of the job.


Politician vs. Civil Servant

In order to understand the controversy surrounding this situation, it is important to clarify an interpreter’s role in the government. Unlike politicians, lawmakers, and even court reporters, interpreters are considered civil servants, who are employed by the government, but are not expected to divulge their lives as publicly as higher-ranking government officials often do. A civil servant’s job is to use his/her skills to uphold the policies mandated by the government. In the case of being an interpreter, the main component of the job is to use his/her skill-set to provide the oral translation of speech.


The Interpreting Process

Similar to the game of operator, interpreting is not an exact science. Accurate interpreting requires not only an ability to listen, understand, and speak a language, it also requires much consideration for the two cultures in the dialogue. For example, some words or concepts are not able to be directly interpreted verbatim between two languages. This concept might be a headscratcher, until one stops to consider that experiences vary from culture to culture, and language is largely determined by experience. There is a certification process for certain types of interpreters at different levels, so an interpreter at this level (interpreting dialogue between two powerhouse nations) would have the best understanding and most experience within these two cultures. Despite the credentials of this executive interpreter, expecting that a conversation, taking place in two languages between two very different cultures, would flow with the same ease and rhythm as a dialogue between close family members is not a fair expectation. Rather, the interpreting process is initiated prior to a meeting, where one party will set an agenda, and perhaps the other party will also submit items to be discussed, in order to give the interpreter an idea of where the conversation is headed, and the kinds of topics that will be on the table. During the meeting, the interpreter will take notes on the conversation, in order to provide the best possible interpretation of the words and concepts that have been spoken.


Meeting Minutes

So, why wouldn’t the notes taken by the interpreter be subject to subpoena during an investigation? To simplify the answer, the notes taken by the interpreter do not serve as an official record of the meeting that took place. The notes are uniquely for the interpreter to use for his/her own personal assistance, to help interpret or to serve as a reminder of important details within a discussion, but they are not intended to recreate an account of a conversation for later use.


The Essence of the Job

The best way to understand why many people feel an interpreter should be exempt from subpoena in a situation like this is to view the interpreter as simply an extension of the speaker—the interpreter has not come up with original thoughts or statements, rather he/she is a medium for two parties to communicate. If an interpreter is to perform his/her job effectively, it is imperative that the focus be on the accurate translation between two parties, and not on the concern with the accurate record-keeping of the conversation. If an interpreter is suddenly tasked with the burden of recreating an account of a very sensitive meeting, it would likely take the focus off the essence of the interpreter’s job—which is to interpret—and this could adversely affect the quality of the interpreting. Furthermore, in the case of Maria Gross, this is a prime example of a civil servant being pushed into the spotlight, which isn’t necessarily part of her job description and understanding, as it is for many politicians and public figures. There is a collective understanding of the existence of an ethical code for providing notes to outside parties. Interpreters need to feel secure in their ability to do their job, without the worry of subpoena and international public controversy. This is how interpreting differs from the game of operator: interpreting is not a game. Providing respected interpreting for two powerful nations is a consequential task, and the stakes are very high. In summary, the interpreter is not the court reporter, and a best practice would be that this role not be regarded as such.

Let us know your thoughts!


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The Art of Translation

Friday, April 13, 2018

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter — it’s the difference between lightning and a lightning bug”

Mark Twain

Don’t assume that all native speakers are able to translate and just being bilingual doesn’t cut it either.

Translating takes years of experience and detailed subject matter knowledge. Translators work into their native language. They need excellent writing skills in their target language, and excellent comprehension of the source language. They must possess in depth subject matter knowledge.

Back in the day, I was a technical translator for manufacturing companies and I used to walk onto the manufacturing floor to learn the ins and outs of the respective machinery and its functionality before I even started the translation process.

So how do we do it and what do translators have to watch out for?

Tone and style of a language is the most important part of the translation process. This requires a lot of experience and know-how. Tone of voice is also of high importance. Are you thinking of translating a fun video, an operating manual or a legal document?

Synonyms can be disastrous. Certain words mean different things in other languages, they should not be used interchangeably, you may offend someone!

Cultural aspects must be taken into consideration. In order to comprehend such, translators must know all the subtle differences and live in the country the text is being translated into. Idioms and phrases hardly ever translate into other languages.

An experienced German translator knows that “There is no fool like an old fool” translates to “Alter schützt vor Torheit nicht”.

Languages are different and word-for-word translations do not work. Each language has its own style of grammar, its own style of writing, some languages don’t follow the subject verb order in sentences. Different languages, different grammatical structures.

Proofreading is a must to eliminate mistakes like missing punctuation, incorrect spelling and context errors. Our proofreaders will make sure that this won’t happen and saving you money in having to fix costly mistakes afterwards.

Therefore, we prefer to work only with translators that have a degree in translation, at minimum of five years of experience, industry specific knowledge, and they must sign an NDA with us, so you can be rest assured your sensitive material is in good hands with us.

Need help or have questions? We are happy to share our years of global business experience and our advice is always complimentary.

Call us at +1 636 530 1010 with any questions you may have and we will provide you with 10% off your next translation project.

Have a great spring. Susanne Evens, Founder & CEO AAA Translation

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AAA Translation and Vidzu Media Announce Partnership

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

New Partnership Offers Video Translation Services

ST. LOUIS – Vidzu Media® and AAA Translation announce a strategic partnership between the two St. Louis-based companies. With this new partnership, AAA Translation and Vidzu Media will be able to offer video subtitles, voice-over translations and new audio, dubbing and transcripts to expand their clients’ reach around the world for small to enterprise-sized clients.

This strategic partnership between Vidzu Media and AAA Translation sets these two companies apart in today’s competitive global economy. The combined focus of the two companies and their unique, international video and motion content services will also provide businesses worldwide with a new realm of state-of-the-art communication tactics and tools.

Read more

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Olympic Translation Challenges

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ever thought about the language challenges at the Olympics?

I have to admit, I'm an Olympic fanatic and every two years it's a thrill to watch these talented athletes compete.

We have had the privilege to translate for the IOC before and since 2003, we have translated over 50 sports books from German into English for Meyer & Meyer Sport in Germany.


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If I Knew Then...

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Crain's St Louis asked about mistakes that have shaped my business philosophy.


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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Chesterfield Magazine

Chesterfield resident Susanne Evens, founder and CEO of AAA Translation was selected as a 2017 Immigrant Entrepreneur award recipient at the St. Louis Mosaic Project’s annual award ceremony that celebrates St. Louis community leaders. She established her Chesterfield-based foreign language translation and global consulting firm in 1994, which now offers services in 150-plus languages.

read more @

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Business Award

Friday, September 15, 2017


Susanne Evens, founder and CEO of AAA Translation, received an Immigrant Entrepreneur Award from the St. Louis Mosaic Project.


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AAA Translation Becomes Thirteenth Mosaic Ambassador Company

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


August 30, 2017

Contact: Vin Ko Susanne Evens

Senior Program Manager Chief Executive Officer

St. Louis Mosaic Project AAA Translation Co.

AAA Translation Becomes Thirteenth Mosaic Ambassador Company

AAA Translation has been a long-time supporter of St. Louis Mosaic Project, but is most recently contributing by joining ranks of the Ambassador Companies. AAA Translation is based in St. Louis and operates globally under its founder and Chief Executive Officer, Susanne Evens.

Since 1994, the company has offered translations services. Today, the company has evolved to provide multi faceted global solutions and services including:

  • Translation (for websites, print, video, technology and more)
  • Localization
  • Technology integration solutions
  • Foreign language video production, including creation, subtitling, voiceovers and marketing
  • Interpretation for conferences, trade shows, meetings, healthcare settings, tours and more
  • On-demand telephone interpreting
  • Global consulting
  • Language and cross-cultural training for individuals or groups

AAA Translation employs full-time and part-times individuals in St. Louis as well as contracted translators located all over the world. Translation services are provided in 150 languages at any time of the day. Clients utilizing one or more of AAA Translation’s services range from a variety of industry and size, examples being: Energizer, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Boeing, and Arch Grants. The company offers free consultations that can be requested here.

Susanne Evens founded AAA Translation directly following the move from her hometown, Aalen, Germany. Her entrepreneurial success and immigrant experience have inspired her to live a life of giving through cultural exchange. She has been a St. Louis Mosaic Ambassador since the organization’s inception as well as having served on the boards of the World Trade Center- St. Louis, the German American Heritage Society, and The Missouri Humanities Council and Trailnet. Evens’ work has been featured in National Public Radio (NPR),, Bloomberg Business News and many St. Louis Publications.

Going further, Evens has been the president for over 10 years of the St. Louis – Stuttgart Sister Cities program, the oldest sister cities partnership in St. Louis, established in 1960. Throughout her presidency she has organized major events and fundraisers, maintains the exchange programs between three local high schools and three high schools in Stuttgart, and three local universities and the University of Stuttgart, Germany, and has facilitated official trade delegations between the Sister Cities.

AAA Translation will continue fostering diversity and inclusion at the workplace by spreading information about St. Louis Mosaic Project by distributing literature on the programs as appropriate, participating in Mosaic volunteer opportunities, and encouraging those involved with the company to become Mosaic Ambassadors.

About the St. Louis Mosaic Project

The St. Louis Mosaic Project was launched in 2012 in response to an economic impact report that showed St. Louis was lagging in immigrant growth and highlighted the potential economic benefits of increasing its foreign-born population. The Mosaic Project is a regional initiative that is professionally managed by St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, World Trade Center and a 27-member committee. Its goal is to transform St. Louis into the fastest growing major metropolitan area for immigration by 2020 and promote regional prosperity through immigration and innovation. Learn more at

About AAA Translation Since 1994, AAA Translation has offered comprehensive yet simple solutions for multi-faceted global businesses anywhere in the world. The company’s objectives are to provide world-wide consultation services for the global marketplace, coupled with high quality, broad-based translation and interpretation services in 150+ languages. AAA Translation uses top-of-the-line language translation technology and interpreters, backed by state-of-the-art equipment in order to provide each and every client the personal, professional service they expect and deserve. At AAA Translation, “We’ll Take You Global.” Learn more at


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