Friday, October 28, 2016


At PLG we provide fee-based translation services, but recent technology has made useful tools available for free. We don’t consider that unfair competition at all. Indeed, whenever accuracy, company image or liability are not on the line, free translation software has come to replace the phrasebook of yesteryear in breaking down language barriers (by the way, feel free to visit our website and use our free translation tool anytime:

The Google Translate app is a nifty pocket translator/interpreter that provides instant rendition of both the printed and the spoken word in 27 languages. Google Translate allows you to decode foreign speech through your phone’s mic or camera, or enter your own sentences to make yourself understood. 

Photo: BBC

One visually entertaining feature of the app is its ability to render translation of street signs, posters, timetables, menus, press articles, etc., in approximately the same font as the original text. On the practical side, one impressively useful dimension of the system is that you don’t need to be online for the visual recognition system to work. That means at least two things: 1) no need to worry about international cellular frequencies and charges, 2) the ability to understand public information even in remote areas without a network.  

The system, however, has limitations inherent to machine translation: it may not always be accurate (in an early in-house test on a captioned Ansel Adams poster depicting a “snow-covered” landscape, the app stubbornly and mysteriously insisted on inserting the word “snot” in its French translation). With non-Western languages, especially, Google Translate will often render foreign speech without correct syntax, i.e., words in the wrong order.

Photo: PLG

Finally, the app even has a function for blocking offensive words, which we, after scientifically-conducted experimentation, are not so sure is helpful. Indeed, the risk of running into an insulting street sign or menu is rather low. On the other hand, if it so happens that a stranger is hurling epithets at you, you might want to know, instead of being provided a softer interpretation of the message.  

In the end, you can count on the Google Translate app to provide at least a sense of what the message is. And as a free app, it’s a tool no traveler should be without. Happy travels!


At PLG, we offer more than just translation. We have a full range of capabilities, including multimedia globalization/translation, which means a whole package of services at your disposal.

Today’s Project Highlight features one type of project our Project Managers love to undertake: video subtitling. A recent project involved the Million Dollar Round Table association, a professional association formed almost a century ago to help insurance brokers and financial advisors establish best business practices. MDRT gave us 12 videos to be translated from English into 5 languages: Spanish (for Mexico), Chinese for Mainland China, and Chinese for Hong-Kong, Korean, and Japanese. We have completed similar projects for MDRT for 3 years in a row now.
  1. The key processes for such a project involve:
  2. Transcription of audio content 
  3. Time-coded synchronization 
  4. Embedding the English subtitle into the video for quality assurance 
  5. Translation of the time-coded transcript into required languages
  6. Hardcoding of non-English subtitles to video files (MP4 for example) 
  7. Final quality inspection before file delivery.

Managing such projects require a high level of coordination between the client and all translators involved, as well as knowledge of the most efficient, up-to-date techniques to produce visual rendition of the spoken English version. Displayed below are stills from different versions of the videos.

Do not hesitate to contact us if your business could benefit from our expertise in translation/subtitling.

English subtitles  
Chinese subtitles
Spanish subtitles

Korean subtitles 


Based on PLG’s 22 years of providing translation services to world-wide customers, these guidelines will help you optimize quality of service and client satisfaction.

1. Choose a translation agency that utilizes Translation Memory (TM). A TM is critical in two ways: it ensures consistency in the way your products are presented to the world, project after project, even when utilizing multiple translators. It also decreases turnaround times by assisting the translator with repeated text.

2. Specify a language dialect if necessary. Are your French labels going to customers in Quebec rather than France? Is your target market Taiwan or mainland China? Will your Spanish-labeled products sell in Mexico or in Spain? Are your Portuguese-language brochures destined to Brazil or Portugal? A good translation agency will assign a native speaker of the target language/country to the project so that your translations will not only be accurate, but also culturally authentic. 

3. Clarify the need for measurement conversions from U.S. standard to metric and for adjustments to local settings. Your U.S. toll free number, for instance, may not work abroad. Provide alternate information to your translation agency if necessary.

4. Provide a glossary if you have one. Glossaries are beneficial when terms have a distinct meaning in your industry (even the simplest ones, like plate, for instance). If you have had labels translated before, your previous translator may have created a glossary of the most commonly terms that appear on your packaging.

5. Educate the translation agency about your products. Contextual materials you can provide include brochures, flyers, instruction manuals, previous translations, and even videos. The more context translators get, the more they are able to tailor the translation to your product’s specificities. Having all the necessary information at the outset will help your project manager handle the job much more efficiently.

6. Use an agency with graphic design capacity. Take advantage of PLG’s  in-house typesetting/DTP (desktop publishing) layout services. Placing language in an artwork file can be problematic if you are not familiar with the language or graphic design software. This is especially true with languages featuring non-Latin characters. It may be easy to find a good language professional or a good typesetter, but finding someone who is proficient at both is rare. A good translation agency often has staff that is familiar with both the language and desktop publishing software. 

Applying these 6 tips will optimize the project’s workflow and ensure your satisfaction with the final product. For more information about our label/packaging translation services, please visit

Thursday, September 29, 2016

8 Reasons why you need to market your product in French

75% of the world’s population does not speak English. Successfully tapping into foreign-language markets means increased sales and improved profits. The most efficient way to accomplish that goal is to tailor your approach with translation of packaging, manuals, and promotional materials that not only is accurate, but also reflects your target market’s cultural specificities—what the translation industry calls localization. That’s PLG’s bread and butter, and we will develop that subject in future newsletters.

Our clients are well aware of the benefits of marketing their products in foreign languages. In the past few years, requests for French translation have come to represent 40% of our business, much of it destined to the francophone Canadian market right next door to us. Let’s take a quick look at some of the statistics available in the public domain showing why translating your product in French makes sense in a global world.
  1. There are an estimated 274 million French speakers worldwide.
  2. An estimated 7.7 million of Canadians reported French as their mother tongue in 2011, a number that increased from 7.4 million in 2006, even though the proportion of the overall Canadian population decreased slightly in the same period.*
  3. French is the 9th most widely spoken language on the planet and the only one, together with English, to be spoken on all five continents.
  4. French is the 3rd most widely used language on the Web with 5% of Internet pages, after English (45%) and German (7%) and ahead of Spanish (4.5%).
  5. With 18.9% of world exports and 19% of world imports, French-speaking countries account for 19% of world trade in goods
  6. In the European Union, French is the 2nd most widely spoken mother tongue (16%) after German (23%) and ahead of English (15.9%) 
  7. In the European Union, French is the 2nd most widely spoken foreign language (19%) after English (41%) and ahead of German (10%) and Spanish (7%).
  8. French is spoken in over 40 countries and territories around the world: 
     In Europe: 
  1. France
  2. Belgium
  3. Luxembourg 
  4. Monaco 
  5. Switzerland
     In Africa:
  1. Benin 
  2. Burkina Faso 
  3. Burundi 
  4. Cameroon
  5. Central African Republic
  6. Chad 
  7. Comoros 
  8. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  9. Djibouti 
  10. Equatorial Guinea 
  11. Gabon 
  12. Guinea 
  13. Ivory Coast 
  14. Madagascar
  15. Mali
  16. Mauritius 
  17. Mayotte
  18. Niger
  19. Republic of the Congo 
  20. Réunion
  21. Rwanda 
  22. Senegal
  23. Seychelles 
  24. Togo

     In the Americas:
  1. Canada
  2. French Guyana
  3. Guadeloupe
  4. Louisiana
  5. Martinique
  6. Haiti
  7. Saint-Barthélemy
  8. Saint-Pierre and Miquelon
     In Oceania:
  1. French Polynesia
  2. New Caledonia
  3. Saint-Martin
  4. Vanuatu
  5. Wallis and Futuna

Bridge Morton in China

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that China’s government is chipping away at the country’s millennia-old salt monopoly, scrapping controls on the price and distribution of edible salt. China’s expansive chemical industry and the dietary needs of its 1.4 billion people make it is the largest consumer of salt in the world. The country is also projected to be the fastest-growing salt importer and to remain the fastest-growing major national market as a result of the robust expansion of its economy.  

Morton Salt, the largest salt manufacturer in North America, has formed a joint venture with the China National Salt (Shanghai) Salt Company. Their strategic collaboration aims to expand the iconic Morton® brand, product offerings and technologies in China.  

Since 2012, Dr. Eric Zhang, managing director at PLG, has been retained by Morton as the business consultant and interpreter to support Morton’s expansion in China. He travels to China with Morton’s CEO and other corporate officers to attend business meetings. Eric’s knowledge in business strategy, planning, supply chain, engineering, and quality–not to mention his fluency in English and Chinese–helps to bridge communication between partners and provides valuable insights from both a cultural and business perspective.    

As Niles H, Vice Chairman, JV, Morton Salt, Inc., puts it, “Eric Zhang of Precision Language and Graphics provides effective interpreting services for us with our Chinese colleagues and promptly delivers exceptional translations. He has diplomatically provided Morton with key insights into nuances of communication that made our meetings successful." 

Such a recent trip to China allowed Eric to visit the Yellow Mountain with his son, Max, who is a Chicago dancer.  This video shows him practicing his art with one of the most beautiful mountains in the world as background. 


Got a personal story about mistranslation you want to share? A funny mistake you made in a foreign culture? A professional translation project gone wrong? Send it to us and we will publish the best ones. In the meantime, here’s one from our in-house French expert: 

On my very first day in the US, a friend came to pick me up at JFK Airport. As we drove through neighborhoods leading to his house, I noticed a sign on a house that read “GARAGE SALE.”  That sign plunged me into an abyss of perplexity. What prompted these people, I remember thinking, to advertise something about their house in my language — and wrongly so, on top of it? Indeed, I assumed they had been ripped off by some dishonest salesperson. After all, I thought I understood that perfectly correct French phrase. To me, it read, “DIRTY GARAGE.” Not only did I not know that the word “garage” was used in English, but since France has flea markets but no sales from one’s home, I lacked some cultural data as well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

PLG Welcomes Diego Lévano!

We are proud and excited to announce the latest addition of a new member to the PLG team! Diego Lévano is joining us as a project manager. With his skills and expertise, he will be focusing on improving the quality of our translations and the scope of our abilities.

Diego was born in Lima, Perú, and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology Engineering. He is a native speaker of Spanish and is fluent in English. During his time working as a Google Development Specialist he leveraged his expertise in both languages to translate manuals, reports and other files from English to Spanish. It was here that he refined his knowledge of translation, and ultimately decided to make a career within the translation industry.

We are very excited to welcome him with such strong background in translation, language and engineering. Bienvenue! Willkommen! Bienvenido! Congratulations and Welcome to PLG!