Misleading advertising in translation

Xerox recently launched a national ad campaign relative to translation services with some interesting claims. …And the lead time for user manuals has gone from fifteen days to just one. While this is certainly possible, it requires some explanation.

Don’t get me wrong! I am really glad that a big player in our industry like Xerox is doing a national ad campaign for translation services. I can’t recall ever seeing an ad campaign for translation at the scale of the Xerox/Ducati campaign. I have seen the piece in print in national magazines, airport signage and even in commercials.

The issue I have with the advertising is that a large user manual, like the one that gets blown away in the wind tunnel in the commercial or the ones that are stacked on the floor in the printed piece, simply can not be completed in one day unless one or more of the following is true:

-almost all of the text in the manual has to be contained in translation memory which means it was text that was previously translated

-the text was machine translated

-the client employs a sophisticated content management system to facilitate revisions to documentation and also makes page production and desktop publishing very easy to manage

All three of these conditions are not small considerations. I understand that advertising is not always meant to convey the truth or details that make up the truth. However I think that those of us in the industry need to keep our customers properly informed of the new technologies that speed up the translation process but we also have to make sure they understand the risks and costs associated with these technologies.

You can not simply sign up with Xerox (or any other translation company for that matter) and produce a 200 page manual in one day! That type of efficiency only occurs after the proper systems are in place, translation memory is accrued and an efficient workflow is established.