Visit with our Arabic team at Saint Joseph University

While on a personal visit to Lebanon, our Marketing Manager visited the School of Translators and Interpreters of Beirut (ETIB) at Saint Joseph University last month. In response to an increasing demand for English to Arabic translations over the last few years, our firm started a partnership in 2017 with this prestigious institution. This collaboration has allowed us to produce a greater volume of high-quality Arabic translation in our areas of specialization while diversifying our pool of Arabic translators.

Interested in learning more about our Arabic language services? Contact us for a quote!

Mitigating Translation Budgetary Constraints With Strategic Content Selection

While international development actors are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of multilingual communication, budgetary constraints often prevent them from making all the content they produce available multiple languages. 

In addition, civil society organizations are playing a greater role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, which is driving the demand for translation.

In this context, a strategic selection of content for translation can help international development actors increase the impact of their communication in an effective way.
Our agency offers five criteria to take into consideration from all actors producing and consuming this content while making a strategic selection for translation:

1. Offering abridged versions of documents that signal a paradigmatic shift or present innovative ideas;
2. Producing (in a set of pre-determined languages) meta-reviews of critical documents published in specific thematic by different organizations;
3. Favoring the translation of executive summaries, talking points and other shorter formats instead of systematically translating full reports;
4. Encouraging the production of short videos with subtitles, infographics and other visually appealing material.
5. Focusing on content that can empower local actors and improve interaction between stakeholders involved in the project or campaign.

In addition to considering the criteria listed above, allowing time to consult with a linguist before launching the project will help save time and money down the road. To encourage this collaboration, all our quotes include a free consultation on strategic content selection for organizations working with a limited budget.
Interested in learning more? Contact us via our website to schedule your consultation!

Linguistic Debate Brings Different Meaning to International Women’s Day in France

Celebrated every year on March 8, International Women’s Day commemorates the movement for women’s rights. While this day is observed in a great number of countries worldwide, its meaning has been subject to interpretation in France, where a linguistic debate over its official name has sparked controversy over the last few years.

International Women’s Day is translated both as “Journée internationale de la femme” and « Journée internationale des femmes” on official UN websites. While both are grammatically correct, the first version is often associated with the celebration of the feminine beauty ideal “la femme” while the latter with a plural noun “des femmes” connotates a day in defense of women’s rights.

Originally created as a day for women’s rights and equality by socialist movements in the United States and Europe, March 8 has increasingly become an advertising opportunity for retailers in a similar fashion as Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. This trend has led prominent political figures and activists to offer different versions of the name to bring the attention back to its original intent. For example, in 2013, the former French Minister for Women’s rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem called for the celebration of ‘la journée internationale des droits des femmes, associating this version with the French left.

Similarly, a French Slate article quotes the political communication expert Simone Bonnafous, who believes the lack of consensus regarding the official name of March 8 “allows NGOs and political parties to use the meaning they prefer to advance their political agenda”. The article lists different names and their political connotation with humor: “’ ‘la journée de la femme’ is the sexist version while ‘la journée des femmes’ sounds feminist and ‘la journée des droits de la femme’ is for someone who just cannot make up his mind” explains the author while listing all the names used.

While this debate might seem frivolous to an English speaker, it does highlight the importance of translation when dealing with a politically sensitive subject. In this case, the use of a different article changes the meaning completely and can cause strong disapproval from your target audience.

On a lighter note, if you encounter a woman who is a French speaker today, you might want to use a partial translation and say “Joyeux international women’s day” just to keep it safe!

Having a Studious Summer? Plan Your Next Translation Project!

Summer tends to be the time when you decide to reorganize your files, and when you can finally work on the projects at the bottom of your priority list. Using this downtime to evaluate your translation needs at the end of the year will allow you to avoid rush jobs down the road and get better value.

Here are a few tips to help you make the best of your translation planning: 

  • First, make a list of all your translation projects from last year. Who was your target audience? Did the translation help you have a greater impact? Should you translate the same material in other languages? Answering those questions will help you develop a strategic approach.
  • Second, bring up translation at your next staff meeting and compare notes on translation management and potential areas for collaboration. Does your communication team need a press release or website content translated? Will the next big event require translation? Addressing those needs before everyone gets wrapped up in their work is a great way to avoid rush requests and save money.
  • Lastly, estimate your translation budget for the end of the year and ask for quotes from multiple vendors. Being able to anticipate a project will give you more time to negotiate the rate, and you could even take the time to send a short test for a large project to evaluate the quality of the translation before committing.

Feeling overwhelmed with the planning process? Our team is available to answer your questions. Do not hesitate to contact us !






Mozambique’s Independence Day: Key Data on the Use of Portuguese for Your Next Development Project

June 25 marked the 43rd anniversary of Mozambique’s independence.

Geography and political context: Mozambique sits on the southeast coast of Africa with a population of about 28 million. After three decades of conflict between the Frelimo (ruling party) and the Renamo (rebel group turned opposition), a truce is in sight. Municipal elections are scheduled in 2018 and presidential elections in 2019.

Economic outlook: Mozambique has successfully expanded its economy, achieving growth rates in excess of 6%, and has attracted the confidence of foreign investors. The economic outlook of the country has slightly deteriorated in the last year and despite its rapid economic expansion over the past decades, the country still relies on international development actors to overcome economic challenges.

Interested in Mozambique’s development? Portuguese translations are key to communicating effectively with Mozambicans.

The rise of public-private partnerships and continued involvement of the international community in the country are encouraging greater knowledge sharing among international entities. As translators specialized in international development with a team of experienced continental Portuguese linguists, JPD Systems has witnessed a rise in translation requests from English to Portuguese (and vice versa)

Key facts to keep in mind when communicating with a Mozambican audience:

  • Continental Portuguese is the official language, and Mozambique is a full member of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.
  • Country-wide, 50% of Mozambicans are fluent in Portuguese, 80% in rural areas.
  • Mozambique is also a multilingual country; a number of Bantu languages are indigenous to Mozambique.
  • Mozambique did not ratify the Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement (Portuguese abbreviation: NaO), a controversial spelling reform implemented by Portugal and Brazil last year that affects around 1.5% of Portuguese words.

JPD Systems has translated nearly 2 million words from English into Portuguese in areas such as education, nutrition, agriculture and rural development, water supply, road, rail, and telecommunications infrastructure, community-driven development, etc.

A professor at Universidade Catolica de Moçambique said about one of our translations on an infrastructure project in Maputo: “Real Portuguese at last!”

Jean-Paul Dailly on the Role of Language in Development

On May 11, 2017 JPDS’s Founder and Vice President Jean-Paul Dailly participated in the two-day symposium organized by the Study Group on Language and the United Nations.

Speaking to an audience composed of scholars, UN staff, and development professionals,
Mr. Dailly highlighted the role of language in fostering participation and governance with a focus on French-speaking Africa.

“While a lot of progress has been made by international organizations to produce knowledge in languages other than English,  more is needed,” he declared in his introduction.

Drawing from his experience as a former development practitioner and founder of a translation agency with 20 years of experience  in economic development, he illustrated the impact of translation in ensuring successful project implementation with real-life examples and offered recommendations on financing options to increase the number of publications available in all UN official languages.

Interested in learning more about this topic? Contact us to receive the full presentation.

The Symbols of Green in Different Cultures

Today is the day to pull all the green you own out of your wardrobe to show off your best St. Patrick’s Day spirit (or to avoid getting pinched). But, as linguists, we are always thinking about how aspects of culture are interpreted around the world. What effect does the color green have in other societies? What is the significance of this color around the world?


Beautifully nicknamed, “The Emerald Isle” by poet William Drennan, green holds an important symbolic meaning for Ireland, not only for its glorious green countryside but also for St. Patrick. The holiday and the color both have a spiritual significance in the country.

Western (except Ireland)

In Western cultures, green symbolizes luck, money, and jealousy. On St. Patty’s day, it also usually means pub-hopping.

Latin America

Though South America is known for its rich forests, green usually symbolizes death. In Mexico, green is associated with independence since it is one of the main colors on the country’s flag.

Muslim World

Green is very important to Islamic cultures because it was supposedly the prophet Muhammed’s favorite color. The flags of Iran and Saudi Arabia include the color. It can also symbolize respect, which causes it to be held to a high honor.


In Asian cultures, green usually symbolizes eternity, wealth, fertility and sometimes, infidelity! If a man is wearing a green hat in China, it means his wife has cheated on him! Ironically, the jade stone in China also represents virtue. In Japan, green represents eternity and vitality, while in places like Indonesia, the color used to be banned.

So if you’re planning to use the color green in your next global communication campaign, make sure the color is in line with the message you are willing to share with your target audience. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask us!

Is it Time to Break Up with your Translation Provider?

It’s Valentine’s Day again . . . but before you get caught up in all the hearts and flowers, take a step back and think about what’s working (or not working) in your relationship with your translation provider. Just like any relationship, there are a few key factors to consider. If your provider is lacking any of these, it may be time to break up.

1. Trust. “A relationship without trust is like a car without gas: you can stay in it all you want, but it won’t go anywhere . . .” —Michael J. Herbert

Trust is possibly the most important element in any relationship, even the one with your translation service. You are trusting them with material you have invested a lot of time in and you don’t want them to weaken the quality of your work. Of course, it takes a lot of time and effort to build this trust, so if your translation provider doesn’t put in the necessary work, it might be time to call it quits.

2. Timing. “The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.” —Joshua Harris

Would you want a significant other who is always late? Of course not. Having good timing in both relationships and translation helps build a strong foundation. You need someone who is there for you when you ask them to be. You have important deadlines, and your translation provider should respect them. If they’re always late with their work, it might be time to walk away.

3. Avoid embarrassing mistakes! “Do not be embarrassed by your failures; learn from them and start again.” —Richard Branson

When you take your significant other out on dates to show them off or to meet your friends and family, you don’t want them embarrassing themselves—and you! Just like it’s important that they have good manners and can carry themselves in public, your translations should be attractive to your target audience. If not, it could be embarrassing for you and your company.

4. Don’t settle. “Always know the difference between what you’re getting and what you deserve.” —Unknown

Finding a good partner is hard work, ; so is finding a translation provider.But don’t stay in an unhappy relationship to avoid dealing with the uncertainty of a new partner. Move on! Finding a new translation provider may seem a little scary, but your perfect match is out there waiting for you.

Before you make a serious commitment to your translation provider, take some time to consider these components. If you are looking for a good relationship, take a look at our clients’ testimonials. JPD Systems has never been through a bad breakup!

Connecting Worlds: The Importance of Translation in International Development

Little research has been conducted on the intersect between language and international development so far. However, given the fact that cultural understanding plays a crucial role in international development, such intersection is worth exploring. Faced with this phenomenon, here are three examples of the importance of translation in international development with a particular focus on the connection between the principal actors in this field.

First, the use of translation plays a vital role in fostering collaboration among multilateral funding organizations. Today’s development challenges – including climate change, food security, trade, and migration – are complicated and interconnected, which puts forward higher requirements on multilateral organizations to collaborate with each other in the pursuit of global development. The response to the Ebola pandemic provides an excellent example of this trend, where the mobilization of $285 million to support the three countries that were hit the hardest by the crisis was contingent on the French translation of a 28,000-word document.

Translation also plays an instrumental role in fostering exchanges between international aid organizations and the recipients of aid. According to UNESCO, “as demonstrated by the failure of individual projects underway since the 1970s, development is not synonymous with economic growth alone. It is a means to achieve a more satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence. As such, development is inseparable from culture”. Given this new paradigm, the use of translation has become critical in ensuring the success of project implementation.

Lastly, as shown by the recent growth of the nonprofit Translators without Borders, multilingual communication has become an essential element of the humanitarian response. In addition to facilitating necessary information sharing between actors on the ground, the use of translation has become a critical tool for data gathering from social media sources during times of crisis. For example, during the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, the development of a platform designed to enable the crowdsourced translation from Haitian-Creole to English and geo-location of incoming text messages reporting affected areas played a key role in launching a crisis map of the country.

From securing multilateral aid, to responding to a crisis, translation is playing an increasingly significant role in helping international development actors overcome key challenges. As our world is becoming more interconnected, it is safe to predict this year’s International Translation Day theme will hold true for many years to come.