Hi. I’m Mikhail. Visit my LinkedIn page to connect, chat, and see more posts.

💡 An easy tip to evaluate quality if you don’t speak the target language

Go to Google Translate and back-translate the translation to the source language.

If the output closely resembles the original text, it’s likely that the translator simply translated words rather than conveying the intended meaning.

On the other hand, if the output differs from the original in terms of word choice and sentence structure (while still conveying the original message), it may be a good sign that the translator made an effort to understand the meaning of the original text and provide an idiomatic translation.

Here’s an example.

SOURCE: Compact and portable, ready to use in just two simple steps

❌TRANSLATION A: Компактный и портативный, готов к использованию за два простых действия
BACKTRANSLATION A: Compact and portable, ready to use in two easy steps

✅TRANSLATION B: Легко переносить, занимает мало места, устанавливается за считанные секунды
BACKTRANSLATION B: Easy to carry, takes up little space, installs in seconds

The tip may not be applicable to every language pair and domain, but for 𝐄𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐭𝐨 𝐄𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐒𝐥𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐜 𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐮𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐬 (Belarusian, Ukrainian, and Russian) in marketing context it often works like magic.

💎We had an awesome time at the American Translators Association’s 𝘚𝘭𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘤 𝘓𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘶𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘴 𝘋𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯 meetup yesterday!
Since there weren’t too many people present, everyone had a chance to share their thoughts.

We talked about the amazing possibilities of 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐆𝐏𝐓 and large language models, such as improving the quality of source text, contextualizing it, and even assessing and correcting machine translations (𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐜 𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐭-𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠). However, we also acknowledged limitations, like hallucinations and privacy concerns.

We also shared some 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐛𝐚𝐝 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 as linguists and talked about interpreters’ and translators’ work in 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐭𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬.

We even briefly touched on 𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐨𝐧𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐫𝐲! 😮

P.S. If you work with Slavic languages, check this link for some useful free resources.

Want to know how long a company has been operating? Try this quick tip 💡

When you want to work with a new company, an important thing to consider is how long the company has been in business.

Here’s how you can do it:
1. Visit the Wayback Machine website (
2. Enter the company’s URL address.
3. The first available date will give you an idea of when the website was first created.
You can even click on different dates to see what the website looked like in the past.

Here’s an archive of my company’s website. It starts with 2010 because we used a different domain name in 2008 and 2009.

Yesterday, a strange email came in.

It had all possible red flags I can think of.

– weird subject line
– typos
– numerous recipients
– different translator’s names (𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐚 and 𝐌𝐢𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐚)
– date
– “freelance 4translator”
– reference to “this listing”

I’m not sure you will read this, but just in case 😁
Dear Marina or Mirona, please avoid sending such emails in future.

Sometimes numbers need to be translated too

When I attended school in the USSR, we were taught that there were two types of numbers: Arabic (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) and Roman (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X).

I was confident there were no other types of numerals. Imagine my surprise when I traveled to the UAE, an Arabic country, and saw numbers that were different from “our Arabic” ones.

I did some research (thanks, Wikipedia) and discovered that the numbers I saw in the UAE are called 𝐄𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧 𝐀𝐫𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐜, while the ones used in Europe and other countries are 𝐖𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧 𝐀𝐫𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐜.

💵 The most amusing thing was seeing a banknote with a “zero” denomination. Fortunately, on the other side of the note, the “zero” is translated to English “five” to put foreign visitors’ minds at ease.

Here’s a list of Eastern Arabic numerals from 0 to 9.
٠ ١ ٢ ٣ ٤ ٥ ٦ ٧ ٨ ٩

Please note that these numerals are written and read from right to left.

My most unusual experience in the translation industry

One day, our agency received a piece for translation. We completed the job and the next day, another client approached us with an editing project. To my surprise, it was our translation.

🌍Two different clients from different countries… What were the chances of that happening?

This was about 15 years ago. I was young, inexperienced and didn’t know what to do. Without disclosing to the second client that it was our translation, I accepted the editing job. Additionally, I thought we couldn’t simply tell the client that the translation was good and no changes were needed, so we made some edits.

I submitted the edited file, but the next day, the first client returned, inquiring about the mistakes in the translation. It was a disaster.

💎 Fortunately, it eventually ended well and we continued working with the clients, but I learned a tough lesson – never hide anything from your clients.

Could 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐝𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 become a new term for individuals with disabilities❓

In the UAE, where English is commonly used in government agencies and businesses, individuals with disabilities are referred to as ‘people of determination.’

𝘜𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘕𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘗𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘺 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘌𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘗𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘚𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘕𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘴, 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘴 𝘰𝘳 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘴 ‘𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘥𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯’ 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘨𝘯𝘪𝘻𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘢𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘥𝘪𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘭𝘥𝘴.

If you ask me, it reflects a positive perspective on the abilities and potential of these individuals and is more preferable than terms like ‘disabled,’ ‘challenged,’ ‘handicapped,’ or ‘impaired,’ which may be considered offensive.

The client sent multiple source or reference files❓

You need to switch between them numerous times to find what you need?

📂Use the 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐛𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐅𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐬 feature in Adobe Acrobat to make a single file. Then press Ctrl+F and easily find the necessary context or all instances of the term in question.

If the files are not in the PDF format and the output is not perfect, try the 𝐂𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐏𝐃𝐅 option first.

✅PMs, send your translators all references as a single file. This way, the chances are higher they will actually open and refer to them.

👇 ­­Always ask where your translation is going to be used

A client sent a translation job the other day. It included a list of updated names for internal policies.

… 𝘱𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘺
… 𝘱𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘺
… 𝘱𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘺

It was tempting to quickly translate the names and consider the job done. But we asked the client where the translation was going to be used:

𝘐𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘶𝘱𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘱𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘺 𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘨𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘙𝘶𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘢𝘯 𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘴 (𝘦.𝘨. “𝘗𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘣𝘺 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘌𝘲𝘶𝘢𝘭 𝘰𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘯𝘰𝘯-𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘱𝘰𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘺”), 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬 𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥 𝘥𝘪𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘻𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴.

✅ It takes you just a minute to ask such a question, but builds trust and shows the client you really care.

How to stand out as a translator in Chrome

When I take part in browser-based chats or calls, I often notice translators don’t care about proper punctuation and typography.

It’s not a big deal in casual friendly chats. In professional environment, on the contrary, PMs and vendor managers pay attention to such “little things”, because they may think the translator will be as careless in translation projects too.

❌”Мне нужно 2-3 часа”, – сказал он.
✅ «Мне нужно 2–3 часа», — сказал он.

I use 𝐈𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐒𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐐𝐮𝐨𝐭𝐞𝐬 extension for Chrome. It automatically converts hyphens to N-dashes or M-dashes, dots to ellipsis, and standard quotation signs to correct ones in your language.
💎It supports multiple languages and it’s free!

By the way, do you know you can easily put N-dashes, M-dashes and quotation signs on mobile devices using standard iOS and Android keyboard?

Tips for self-checking translations 💎

This is what we ask our translators to do.
– After the text is translated, leave it aside for some time
– Compare the translation against the source for major issues (meaning, terminology, etc.)
– Leave the translation aside for some more time if possible
– Read the translated text without looking at the source
The last step is very important and can’t be skipped!

✅ It helps to spot punctuation and grammar issues and see if the text flows well and sounds natural. During this step translators usually make many changes which results in a high-quality target text.
P.S. The above steps should not replace standard editing by a second person. Even the most experienced and careful translators can make minor stylistic or major meaning mistakes.

How many websites and apps does it take to translate a document❓

Here are applications and websites our translators and editors use when working on clients’ projects.

1.      Trados Studio for translation
2.      Source PDF file for seeing the text in context
3.      Style guide for following client’s preferences
4.      End client’s website in English and target (if available) languages
5.      Client’s instructions
6.      Gramota for checking tricky punctuation rules
7.      ChangeTracker for making a list of changes between translated and edited files to give feedback to the translator
8.      Verifika for running QA
9.      Orfogrammka for checking spelling, grammar, punctuation, style, semantics, and typography
10.  Kartaslov for marketing and transcreation jobs to find synonyms, word collocations, associations, etc.
11.  Google — my favorite 😊

The list may be different depending on the language pair, project, market, client, personal preferences etc.

💎 Make sure your clients don’t treat you as 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘳 and are aware how much time, knowledge, and effort you put into their projects.

A great way to start a new year is to renew the corporate ATA membership

I’m sorry we joined ATA too late — in 2018. We should have done it from the very start, back in 2008.

As an American Translators Association’s Slavic Languages Division group manager, I invite ATA members working with Slavic languages to join our LinkedIn group at

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have.

P.S. ATA is open to individuals and companies from all over the world, not just the USA.

Editing, proofreading, review, revision, check… Who can tell the difference❓

Here’s what the ISO17100 standard says about the terms:
–         Check: examination of target language content carried out by the translator
–         Revision: bilingual examination of target language content against source language content for its suitability for the agreed purpose
–         Review: monolingual examination of target language content for its suitability for the agreed purpose
–         Proofreading: examination of the revised target language content and applying corrections before printing
To make things even more complicated, there are two notes in the standard:
1.      The term bilingual editing is sometimes used as a synonym for revision.
2.      The term monolingual editing is sometimes used as a synonym for review.
I have seen the above terms often used interchangeably when an LSP wants a vendor to check the translation against the source for all sorts of mistakes. Many translation agencies that are ISO17100 certified sometimes mix up the terms too.
No matter what the client may call it, most often they want you to check the target against the source for all types of issues.
It would be a good idea to ask the client about their quality expectations and if they want just a check for “real” mistakes like meaning, grammar, and punctuation or would they also expect you to improve style and consistency. In the latter case several rounds of checking may be necessary to ensure top-notch results 📃

Does your translation occupy more space than the English source? It doesn’t always have to 👉🏻

When one translates from English into French, Spanish, German, Ukrainian, Arabic, Russian, Hindi and many other languages, the text can expand by up to 35%. The problem can be even more serious, if source text is wordy.
Here’s an example from a survey that we translated.
𝘞𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘶𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘰𝘸𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘣𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘪𝘣𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘱 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰?
65 𝘰𝘳 𝘰𝘭𝘥𝘦𝘳
The above sentence works fine in English, but you don’t have to translate every word if there’s a shorter way to express the same meaning in the target language.

Here is how our linguist translated the question. 

𝘏𝘰𝘸 𝘰𝘭𝘥 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶? ✅

It may seem too straight-forward for an English speaker but is totally fine in Russian surveys. The word-for-word translation would be over polite for a Russian language audience.

If the context, style guide, text domain and purpose allow, translations should be concise and straightforward.
This saves the reader time and helps them quickly and correctly understand what the author wanted to say without having to wade through words and word combinations that carry no useful meaning.

It helps the client achieve their goal too 💎

Is 3,600 words per hour a new standard ❓

I came across a research made by an LSP.
Over the years, the company was measuring how long it takes their best vendors to edit machine translation output. The takeaway is that the quality of MT is getting better and it takes less time for translators to do editing. No surprises here ✅
According to the research, now it takes a translator slightly over 2 seconds to edit 1 word of machine translation. However, the benchmark for a perfect translation that doesn’t need any editing is 1 second per word which makes 60 words per minute or 3,600 words per hour.
Is the “good old” standard (that we use at our translation agency) of editing 1,000 words per hour gone? Will a translator be able to understand context, do research, check meaning, terminology, consistency, grammar, punctuation and style at a pace of 3,600 words per hour?
According to The Editorial Freelancers Association (US) the median pace of monolingual copyediting is between 4 and 10 pages (1,000 and 2,500 words) per hour depending on the subject (fiction take less time, medical texts take longer). And monolingual copyediting has nothing to do with translation or texts in foreign languages.

A client sent one page for translation… 📃

It may seem like a piece of cake, but here’s what steps we had to take:

  1. Export the PDF file to Word
  2. Create a Trados project with the client’s TM and termbase to ensure consistency with previous jobs
  3. Do pre-translation analysis to understand the text, its purpose, and audience
  4. Translate the file. Google search didn’t take much time and there were no queries for the client this time. PHEW!!
  5. Have a second person edit the translation
  6. Check 20 false positive issues in 7 categories produced by the Verifika QA tool
  7. Save the Trados bilingual file to a Word document
  8. Check spelling and grammar in Word (just in case Verifika missed anything)
  9. Check 2 stylistic improvements the Orfogrammka tool suggested
  10. Adjust the textboxes and font sizes because the target copy occupied more space than the original
  11. Export the Word file to the original PDF format
  12. Compare the layout of the original and target PDF files

I’m not making a mountain out of a mole hill — some of the steps took a minute or less.
I’m trying to say that your clients need to know what efforts you make to deliver top-notch translations, so they value your work and stay with you 💎

Join ATA's Slavic Languages group 💎

As a new American Translators Association’s Slavic Languages Division group manager, I invite all ATA members working with Slavic languages to join our LinkedIn group.

SLD facilitates networking and sharing of knowledge through social media, quarterly SlavFile newsletter, and blog, as well as conference activities and a certification exam practice group.

Please use the below link ⬇️

Sometimes just one sentence is enough to understand the translator’s skills ✏️

Here’s what our translator had to deal with the other day. To be able to show you this example, I changed a few words because of the NDA with our client.

✏️ Michigan State Primary Care at Outpatient Care Commerce


What can go wrong here?
1.      Michigan State is not a state name, but a short name of an educational establishment (Michigan State University).
2.      Primary care is not a type of medical care, but a primary care facility.
3.      Outpatient Care, again, is not just a type of care, but an outpatient care clinic.
4.      Commerce is not a synonym for business, but a town (Commerce township, Michigan).


So, the correct translation to another language should be something like:
Primary care facility at outpatient care clinic at Michigan State University in Commerce township.

What a great time we had at LocLunch Monterey yesterday 👏

I reminisced about 1999 when I worked in Monterey County.

Stefan Huyghe shared some great examples from his article “Bet you didn’t know that much of your English is actually Dutch”.

Caroline Crushell talked about the Irish language and accent. I love how the Irish pronounce letter R!

Thank you, Paulina Perepelkin, for sharing your optimism about future.

We discussed how crazy it is to learn Russian, Polish, Ukrainian or another Slavic language because of cases and genders resulting in a huge number of different word endings.

We even discussed Carmel’s former mayor Clint Eastwood.

One major global problem with MT 💡

Numerous machine translation engines… Statistical, rule-based, hybrid, neural MT types… Constant developments, new players, promising technologies…
Machine translation helps save time and money and is here to stay forever.
But when we talk about MT quality, we assume the source is error free, consistent in terminology, is written in a clear understandable way and does not require any Google search to understand the context and real meaning.
But is it always the case ❓

Trying to reduce costs doesn’t start with the translation stage.
Sometimes source content is created by unskilled technical writers or even non-native speakers, text in the original language is not edited by an industry expert, new document is made by combining parts of previous documents written by different authors, etc.

Are there any technologies that help MT engines fix source issues, understand meaning and translate the meaning and not words?

How long does it take to become a good translator❓

✏️ When posting jobs many LSPs require 2 or 3 years of experience.

✏️ The translation industry’s most stringent standard, ISO 17100, suggests:
–      A person has a degree in translation but no real-life translation experience
–      A person has a degree in any field + 2 years of translation experience
–      A person has 5 years of professional translation experience

👉 In my experience as a translator, editor and recruiter, a person achieves excellent translation skills after 5 to 7 years of translating and receiving regular feedback from a seasoned editor. At Lexicon Center, we only use translators and editors with at least 10 years of experience in a particular field.

I had a great time hosting the virtual side of #Locworld Silicon Valley After-Party 🎉

A huge thank you to Michelle Kuniko, Marina Gracen-Farrell, Óscar Curros, Stefan Huyghe, Paul Barlow, Joseph Holtman, Stephanie Harris, Marie Flacassier, Iti Sahai, Gary Lefman and around 70 other localization professionals who met offline 👏

Sorry not all of them are in the picture.

Does MTPE make a translator's writing style worse❓

At yesterday’s #LocTalk panel discussion by Josef Kubovský, Derick Fajardo and Igor Afanasyev I brought up a question.

❗️When a person actively does post-editing, they gradually (and unwillingly) adopt machine translation approach in their human non-MT translation jobs.

They may start copying source sentence grammar structures and word combinations that may not be characteristic of the target language. It results in unidiomatic translations that don’t sound natural.

This is what I have seen a lot.

✅For translators: be very careful to accept MTPE jobs if you have a good writing style and specialize in marketing, transcreation and other demanding fields.

✅ For LSPs: think twice before giving a particular translation job to a translator who offers MTPE.

Finding a good translator... 👉🏻

WHERE: A popular translation platform.

WHO: A translator with 15 years of experience, 90 positive reviews and 5 million translated words.

WHAT: A 500-word general translation. Deadline – 2 days.

OUTCOME: Overall, very good style and understanding. But when our editor dug deeper, he found 3 minor meaning mistakes, 2 stylistic issues, 1 unnecessary comma and 1 ambiguity. The editor pointed out the issues to the translator, and she quickly made necessary changes.


Is it just bad luck?

Do clients avoid leaving negative reviews unless there are major issues with the translation/translator?

Or do they just don’t dig deep enough?

💎 TAKEAWAY: Always use an editor, because even a very good translator can make mistakes