The nightmare of working in the English-language press in Estonia

Monday, August 03, 2009

Just stumbled across a pretty interesting writeup on what it's like to work for the English-language press in Estonia, which (as with many other countries) is often seen as an easy way to get attention and advertising revenue for newspapers and sites that otherwise publish in their own language. I find that generally the less prominent a country's native tongue is the less the quality of translation matters, since any translation at all is much better than the alternative. Azerbaijan seems particularly lax in the quality of their translation but the articles can still be read and understood and that's good enough.

(One example here: "Then why there is a need for visa? Then they will fine for a expiration of visa in airport...Why visas are not extended?")

You can read the article here, but it's also in the writer's blog here which has a lot of comments below as well. Working in the English press is usually a pretty thankless job, as it entails translating article after article and then "suffering the abuse of foreign readers" in the comments section afterwards.

Overall I think the matter is a pretty simple one - if you are the primary source of information for what's going on in Country X, then it doesn't matter if your translation is a bit lax. If another enterprise comes along and has better quality translations but you still outclass them in content and timing then the site with the bad translations is still going to win. It's only when both translation and content is superior that it's time to start thinking about hiring more, or different people.


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