Answers to frequently asked questions about our linguistic services
Aliseo ("trade wind" in English) is a constant and regular wind characteristic of the tropics, blowing from northeast to south in the Northern Hemisphere and from southeast to north in the Southern hemisphere. These trade winds were very important during the Age of Sail—particularly for merchant vessels—as they made traversing the oceans much speedier and safer, to the great benefit of both the ship owners and their crews. We chose to name our company after these winds because our aim is to provide linguistic services to companies around the world in a way that is satisfactory to both them and us as we drift along together on a sea of human communication.
- Italian → Japanese
- Japanese → Italian
- English → Italian
- English → Japanese
- Italian ↔ Japanese
- Italian ↔ English
As with all such professionals, the level of success achieved by freelance translators is based wholly on their individual skillsets (which must include organizational and marketing skills), the soundness of their workflows, and their ability to manage clients.
Many translation companies have salaried translators for the most common language pairs, such as English/Spanish/French ↔ Italian, but very seldom for language pairs such as Japanese ↔ Italian because the volume of work is not as significant for rarer pairs. Translation companies that do not employ their own in-house translators operate by reselling the translations of freelance translators, possibly offering added-value services such as DTP, editing, or proofreading (although freelance translators can also offer these services). In the case of interpretation, it's a simple resale—interpretation agencies connect clients to interpreters and charge a commission for doing so.
Many linguistic scholars also reiterate the continued necessity of human translation.
No, or yes but at the price of a pure translation and with ample freedom of manoeuvre. The reason is simple: to proofread a machine translation (activity universally known as MTPE, PEMT or post-editing) editors still need to check every single word of the original text against the translation done by the computer, plus adapt a writing style that almost certainly differs from their own. Both require more time than translating from scratch. And this of course on the assumption that translation quality is a priority requirement. Often it's, so we prefer to leave the unenviable task of correcting computer errors (from the point of view of translation skills) to others.
Moreover, if machine translation between languages of similar structure provides today better results than in the past (especially with technical documents that were originally written in a simpler way—terminology aside—and always assuming that the source text was originally written by a native speaker), this cannot be said for very different languages such as Italian and Japanese.
Automated translation is very much in vogue today even in professional environments, not because the computer has become so good that it completely supplants the human translator—it's still a long way from being so and we are not sure it will ever make it—but because it is completely free besides being actively promoted by translation agencies precisely for the economic benefits they can derive from offering clients a package consisting of the translation (at no cost for the agencies) and the proofreading (at a considerably lower cost than human translation for the agencies).
As said above, fixing a machine translation, in particular between Italian and Japanese, usually requires considerable effort and sometimes takes longer than simply translating directly from the source ourselves. We would rather provide you with a quote for a human translation.
Technical or scientific/specialized translation plays an important role in our work. Thanks to many years spent in large international corporations, we have developed considerable technical experience which forms a large part of our current translation capabilities. And since each of the translators in our pair has a different background, the resulting expertise is applicable to all of the language pairs we deal with.
While all languages are difficult prior to mastery, yes, the Japanese language is quite tricky when used for professional purposes.
Although Japanese grammar is generally simpler than Italian grammar (and much simpler than English), this simplicity combined with a fundamental tendency toward ambiguity means that Japanese sentences must be heavily reworked when translating them into in Italian, which is a very precise language. Certain aspects of the Japanese language—frequent omission of the subject, the absence of male-female declination, a general lack of distinction between singular and plural, various levels of politeness, and other quirks—can severely complicate matters for an Italian translator. Some expressions are simply untranslatable in any sort of satisfactory way. Another challenge is the effort required to memorize ideograms and their multiple pronunciations, especially when it comes to the rarer characters that often crop up in historical and specialized documents.
Some difficulties can be linked to insufficient knowledge of the Japanese culture, though this does not hold true in our case.
Generally, yes, unless they are so large that they prevent us from accepting work from other clients for several continuous months. We do our best to work with clients to meet their particular needs, so feel free to contact us for a consultation.
The work of a freelance translator cannot be rescheduled easily. Any delay in sending the source text is likely to cost us time (and therefore money) because there is a very good chance that we turned down new projects for that same period, and we might not be able to get a new job immediately to make up for the loss. In addition, any changes to the timetable could prevent us from delivering the translation by the agreed-upon deadline.
This is generally possible, provided that you pay for the amount of work already completed up to that point. Orders for our interpreting service may be canceled under certain conditions, as explained on the Japanese interpretation page.
For English to Italian and English/Italian to Japanese translations there are generally no particular requirements, provided that the source text is clear. However, translation from Japanese into Italian can present its own unique challenges. For instance, knowledge of how to read personal names and addresses as well as other foreign nouns written in katakana (the writing script that the Japanese use to transliterate foreign names) that appear in the source text can be very important. When there are insufficient contextual clues, it is often very difficult to ascertain the language of origin for these words or what they refer to. Therefore, there may be some instances where we will not be able to guarantee a correct translation if we are not provided with a clear indication of the readings of certain words.
First and foremost, we are professional translators as well as native speakers of Italian and Japanese, respectively. This is one of our greatest strengths, because it allows us to perfectly understand the source text (Italian, Japanese, or English) and then write correctly in the target language (Japanese or Italian).
Besides translation experience, the translation quality assurance process we employ when translating is an important reference for our clients, as is our combined resume (it can be requested). We also amassed considerable experience over the many years we spent working in several industries before we became freelance translators in 1997. We don't know everything, of course, and in addition to some very specialized topics we have never handled before, there are also topics that we are only familiar with to a certain extent. For this reason, we invite clients to provide us with as much technical information as possible so that we can learn the new subject matter.
What was said above regarding translation quality also applies to interpreting quality. Within certain limits dictated by our interpreting experience, a given set of specific words (just the words, not necessarily the details of the topic itself) can be learned in a relatively short time frame, as long as we are provided with sufficient documentation in advance.
The cost of a translation depends on several factors such as source language (for example, translating from Japanese in general takes longer than translating from English or Italian), the subject matter, the need to search specialized terminology, the level of clarity/correctness of the source language and any request for style and pagination control. The combined effect of these factors is the time that translating actually requires, which however cannot be established a priori with the necessary precision. For this reason, according to a widespread convention such factors converge on a single criterion: rate per word (for English → Italian, Italian → Japanese and English → Japanese translations in our case) or per character (for Japanese → Italian translations):
Should quantifying the individual weight of these factors be difficult or impossible, we might set a fixed price.
For particularly short translations we apply a minimum fee per job. We also apply a minimum monthly billing fee.
Revisions follow a different, generally hourly, pricing path:
For more information on our translation rates, please see the individual pages of this website.
The cost of an interpreting service too depends on a number of factors, but the fundamental criterion is the level of mental/physical stress to which the interpreter is subjected. For example, in general, simple assistance at a trade fair costs less than interpreting at commercial negotiations or technical assistance, especially when the service is to be given in particularly harsh environments. The cost may also depend on certain logistical factors and on the time required to commute to and from the place of the service.
Interpreting rates are calculated on a daily basis of 8 hours (a discount for fractions of a day may be considered) and overtime hours. In some cases we may opt for an all-inclusive flat rate that takes into account particular conditions of greater or lesser burdensomeness of the interpreting service.
For translations ordered from within Japan, a minimum fee of JPY 4,000 applies, with all banking fees paid separately by the client. For translations requested from outside Japan, the minimum charge is USD 40 (subject to change at our discretion in certain cases) with all required banking and handling fees paid separately by the client. We offer special conditions to translation companies—please submit a request.
For clients based in Japan, we only accept bank transfers. For clients based outside Japan, we accept WISE transfers, bank transfers, Payoneer, PayPal or credit-card payments.