Tag Archives: Microsoft

An expert misusing terminology obliterates confidence

I recently translated more than 50 pages of Russian—nearly 16,000 words–for a video course about Microsoft Word 2010.  Half of the job was supposed to be proofreading a previous, partial translation.  Unfortunately, I had to retranslate from scratch, because the original translation was utterly unacceptable.

Utterly unacceptable?  Well, how much confidence would you place in a mechanic who wants to sell you a “grease change” instead of “oil change”?  Or a doctor who recommends a “physical quiz” rather than a “physical exam”?  If I don’t have confidence in your ability to teach me about Microsoft Word 2010, then I won’t be watching your video course.  And if the content of your Microsoft Word video course casts doubts in my mind, I won’t likely trust any of your other content.  Nearly everything worth translating has specialized terminology that must be used correctly. 

Video courses for text editors are no exception.  During my proofreading, I found terminology used incorrectly.  Consider the following Russian text about applying text effects in Microsoft Word 2010:

Также вы можете добавлять эффекты по одному, для этого раскройте один из списков: структура, тень, отражение или свечение и выберете один из предложенных вариантов.

Here is the original—and utterly unacceptable—translation:

You can also add effects one by one. To do this, open one of the lists: structure, shadow, reflection or luminescence and select one of the offered options.

The Russian text refers to a specific part of the user interface.  A proper translation must make the connection between the user interface and the terminology used.  Here’s my translation:

You can also add effects one at a time.  To do this, open one of the submenus: Outline, Shadow, Reflection, or Glow–and select one of the options.

Note the correlation between the list of submenus and the relevant part of the user interface.  The original translation uses “structure” rather than “Outline” and “luminescence” rather than “Glow”.  Do you trust a Microsoft Word expert that’s telling you how to change the “text structure” or apply a “luminescence effect”?


Russian to English translation of economic news

The short story: As I begin my career as a freelance translator, I am eager to demonstrate and develop my translation and writing skills.  I have zero years of paid translation experience.  However, my language skills are progressing daily.  My love for Russian began when I lived and worked in Russia for two years as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Upon my return I pursued a career in software development, earning a BS and MS in Computer Science and taking a job at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington.  I left Microsoft at the beginning of 2011 after more than five years of employment.  Now I’m chasing my dream to be a freelance Russian translator.

The following is an excerpt from an article by Andrei Babitskii on www.forbes.ru.  Please critique the translation.  Thanks!

Russian source text

English target text

Microsoft согласилась купить Skype за $8,5 млрд, решение о сделке уже одобрено советами директоров компаний. Это крупнейшая покупка, которую когда-либо совершала компания Стива Балмера. Могла бы быть второй, но катастрофическая идея купить за $47,5 млрд Yahoo, к счастью, потерпела неудачу в 2008 году.

Google и Facebook, вероятно, надо признать неудачниками: еще несколько дней назад обе компании вели переговоры о покупке или масштабном партнерстве со Skype. Акционерам Skype, напротив, несказанно повезло. Если бы не война за трафик, затеянная интернет-гигантами, они никогда бы не получили и половины от нынешней суммы (ради продажи им придется отказаться от планов публичного размещения, на котором они привлекли бы первые сотни миллионов долларов при несравненно более низкой оценке бизнеса). Microsoft в выигрыше хотя бы потому, что не допустил покупки Skype конкурентами. Сайты Microsoft и так отстают в популярности от сайтов Google и Facebook, а могли бы отстать безнадежно.

Как бы ни была сладка победа над Эриком Шмидтом, вряд ли Стив Балмер отдал $8,5 млрд только для того, чтобы не дать убежать конкурентам. Еще менее вероятно, что он рассматривал эту покупку как инвестиционный проект — кто будет платить десять выручек за компанию, которая поставляет услуги каждому десятому человеку на Земле и при этом уже много лет не может выйти в прибыль. Microsoft попытается каким-нибудь образом встроить Skype в свою линейку продуктов. Вопрос только в том, каким именно.

Microsoft has agreed to buy Skype for $8.5 billion. The boards of both companies have already approved the deal. This is the largest purchase Steve Ballmer has ever made. It would have been second largest, but the catastrophic idea to buy Yahoo for $47.5 billion, fortunately, failed in 2008.


Google and Facebook must be acknowledged as failures here; just a few days ago both companies held talks about either a purchase or a significant partnership with Skype. Skype shareholders, on the other hand, are inexpressibly lucky. If not for the traffic war being waged by the Internet giants, they never would have received even half of today’s sum. (Because of the sale they will need to abandon plans for a public offering which, given the far lower business valuation, would have attracted just a few hundred million dollars.) Microsoft is the winner at the very least for not allowing its rivals to purchase Skype. Microsoft’s sites would have lagged in popularity behind those of Google and Facebook, perhaps hopelessly.


No matter how sweet the victory over Eric Schmidt, it is unlikely that Steve Ballmer would hand over $8.5 billion for that alone–to not allow his rivals to break away. Less likely still is that he considers this purchase an investment project. Who would pay ten percent of earnings for a company that serves one out of every ten people on the Earth but still hasn’t made a profit for years. Microsoft will try in some way to integrate Skype into its own product line–the only question is exactly which way.