AmeriClic: A Translation/Interpretation Service Meeting Changing Needs

Thursday, March 1, 2007 - 00:00

The Editor interviews Karin Maynard, Vice President, Operations, AmeriClic Language Services, LLC.

Editor: Please tell us about AmeriClic, LLC.

Maynard: AmeriClic was founded by two entrepreneurial women who are both Occupational Therapists by training. They saw a need for specialized interpretations and translation services specifically within the insurance and legal industries. AmeriClic Language Services, LLC was created to fill the gaps within the current system and provide reasonably priced interpretation and translation services. Over the past several years we have branched out and now provide these services to many industries such as medical, technical and even advertising and public relations firms.

Editor: Would you give us an overview of the services that AmeriClic provides these customers?

Maynard: Currently, about 70 percent of our business is telephonic interpretation. We have the ability to accomplish this almost instantaneously. If a company has someone on the line who does not speak English, within 30 to 60 seconds of a call to us we can connect them with an interpreter. If that response sounds too good to be true, let me say that we have documented it. All of our calls are timed by way of specially-designed software that enables us to monitor calls down to the second. This software is proprietary - we developed it for the specific purposes for which it is used.

Another service consists of on-site interpretation. Very often that involves a client who is unable to speak English and who is in need of, say, medical services. An increasing number of states are requiring a translator in these circumstances to be other than a family member. On-site is a service which brings professional interpretation - someone who has the appropriate credentials and professional certification - into this arena.

We also do translations. That also covers a pretty broad range of activity and varies from the insurance company starting up operations in Puerto Rico and requiring all of its policies to be translated to a trucking firm moving to Korea and needing its websites translated.

Finally, there is something we call transcreation. This concerns the situation where a literal translation from one language to another does not make sense. We spend a great deal of time trying to understand a document, and when we translate it we are injecting context and theme and the meaning as originally intended to be conveyed. We are also in a position to adjust to different reading levels.

Editor: What about languages? There are a dozen or so global languages, but how do you handle projects that involve other than mainstream languages?

Maynard: We work very closely with the American Translators Association, which certifies most professional translators. We recently had occasion to need someone with Burmese certification, and we managed to do it. We are seeing more work in Gujurati and Urdu. I have never encountered a language we could not handle, although a particular project may take a little more time.

Editor: Please tell us about AmeriClic's experience in global business translation.

Maynard: We do a considerable volume of work for companies looking to reach a new population. American companies seeking to connect in Asia or South America are one example, but we also work with companies from overseas and seeking to enter the U.S. When I accept a project, I try to understand the company's mission so that we might help position them to address the culture of the country into which they are moving.

We are also engaged in translation work for legal departments and law firms - foreign medical records is a particular specialty. There is a considerable volume of depositions, trial transcripts and a wide range of contractual documents as well.

Editor: In any language, different industries and professions have recourse to specialized jargon. How do you handle this kind of thing?

Maynard: Recently I had the experience of working with a paint company. They had a 300-page training manual, and when I read it in English for the first time I realized I had no idea of what they were talking about. It was more than a technical manual. The specialized jargon was almost a separate language. We walked through the entire document with the client, and eventually we were able to meet their needs. That is unusual, but it is not unexpected in this business.

Editor: Is there anything that you would like to add?

Maynard: The power of language and effective communication is critical. I offer the following suggestions to anyone seeking interpretation and translation services:

The agency should be an active member of ATA (American Translation Association).

Interpreters and translators should be internally credentialed (a standard written procedure should be in place).

All documents should be reviewed and proofed by another translator prior to finalizing the project.

Ask what type of translation software is used (proprietary is usually best).

Will the document be returned in the same format as received or is there an additional charge for formatting?

Be specific in your needs: direct translation vs. transcreation.