Better Languages Translation Agency origins

The business traces its origins back to 1982, when Enelia Avila, a Chilean linguist, decided to set up her own translation agency.

Better Languages sign

In the 1980s we sent and received translations by fax or floppy disk. Most of our work was with European languages, with some work into Indian languages. Clients were generally locally based within the Nottingham area. Translators were also recruited locally.

Over time, a larger network of mainly UK linguists was established offering a widening range of languages and specialisms.

From its earliest days the business was characterised by a “can do”, customer orientated approach to translation, and developed a reputation for speed and accuracy in translation.

Labels for China

With the emergence of China sourcing for clothing labels, we started to work directly with our first label translation client based in Hong Kong in the early 1990s. Faxed orders would arrive overnight, and we could process label orders for start of Chinese business the following day. This was, and still is, very time efficient for our clients, as they could send orders up to end of day their time, and have a response for start of business the next day, only these days work is processed electronically and we actively discourage clients from sending work by fax, as you get much clearer information by e-mail.

Changing translation agency structures

In 1993 Hillary Charman acquired the translation agency. She worked first as a sole trader, and then in partnership with Beatriz Hunter. Bea took over the day to day running of the agency, and eventually purchased it in 2000. At the time the business mainly specialised in care label translations for the retail sector, and translated into around 40 languages on a regular basis. Translators were still predominantly UK based, and members of one of the two UK translators bodies, the Chartered Institute of Linguists or the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

Mike Hunter joined the business in 2000, and started to make changes to the way the business operated. Internet developments had been allowing the agency to send and receive work by e-mail for some time, even though download speeds were slow. We remember receiving large engineering drawings for translation which could take up to an hour to download, with dial up broadband, you would be looking at the clock, checking progress, and hoping it would finish downloading before the session timed out! The advent of broadband has thankfully changed all that.

The business started to recruit a wider range of linguists, including in-country translators in a growing number of countries. A constant translation industry debate is the relative merit of whether a translator should be based in a country using the source or target language. When recruiting translators we always look at level of understanding of both source and target languages, as well as any specialist expertise.

4 years in Spain followed by growth in the UK

After four disastrous years trading in Spain from 2001 to 2005, we re-registered the business in the UK. We haven’t really looked back since. Incorporating in 2007, the business has continued to grow, currently using a network of several hundred translators in 27 countries (and counting)! We are always looking for freelance translators offering different languages and specialisms. In financial year 2008-9 the business grew 173% against a background of global recession.

2010 was a tricky year for Better Languages. Although continuing to grow the customer base, loss of a key account resulted in a difficult year’s trading. Recovery and consolidation in 2011 has led to sustained growth since. 2014-15 was a record year, including our largest ever single order. We won major new clients, and translated more languages than ever before.

A few milestones

Our core values remain offering a client focused, and flexible translation service. We have a reputation for quality and accuracy in translation projects. Here are a few of our major milestones:

  • 2006: we won both Mothercare and New Look as clients on the same day.
  • 2007: Our first major website project for a major multi-national into 11 European languages.
  • 2008: Translation into new languages, including English to Catalan and Catalan to English.
  • 2010: Our fastest ever large volume job, translating 62,000 words into Polish in 5 working days.
  • 2010: Our highest volume single language project ever, into Hungarian.
  • 2013: Our widest range of languages on a single order so far (40 languages).
  • 2014: Largest ever direct export order, direct exports over 30% of total sales for the first time.
  • 2017: major relaunch of our website.

The translation agency has won new business in the US, within the EU, and across the world. We continue to serve a wide range of customers with diverse translation needs across the globe.

Contact us to discuss any aspect of translation.

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    We have been translating craft kit instructions for Leicestershire Company The House of Crafts since 2006.

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    We work with marketing and brand agencies, as well as with marketing departments of large multinational clients. Here is a case study of work we did for a local Leicestershire marketing agency.

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    Mothercare

    Global retailer translation case study - Mothercare

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    New Look Retailers

    Better Languages worked with New Look in the mid noughties, helping them enter new European markets by translating a wide range of retail texts.