For new Silverstone Park Innovation Centre business Matterhorn Languages, German is not just a second language – it’s second nature too.
The professional services company has built up an enviable reputation for its near-unrivalled level of attention to detail in German-to-English translation, as reflected in its highly impressive client roster:
- Volkswagen Group
- ŠKODA AUTO
- Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board
It is from its Silverstone Park office that Matterhorn’s team of six carries out translations for these companies (there is a seventh employee in Australia who, thanks to the time difference, is able to keep output flowing effectively around the clock)! Chiefly, Matterhorn’s translation work centres on technical and engineering speak – just as with many of the products it covers, precision is everything.
“We do a lot for the Swiss Government with air accident investigation reports,” explains Managing Director Susanne Lewis. “Usually the content of the reports has safety-related international implications, so the text needs to be published worldwide as the findings affect all airports. Or maybe the manufacturer is from abroad and therefore the text needs to be translated into English.
“It’s a really fascinating side to our business, as is the work we do for Sport-Thieme – this is a big German client that sells sports products worldwide. Really, anything you can think of from therapy needs to specialist or trend sports. We’re just in the process of translating a 400-page catalogue for them – and as soon as we finish this year’s catalogue, the next one with new products will be ready to be translated, which means we are busy all year round.
“For the automotive manufacturers our work involves some language training and other online learning solutions, but mainly we translate press releases, brochures and presentations or similar. We’ve also been asked by the pharmaceutical industry to deliver training for 1000 doctors – by standing on stage and addressing them. It’s not all done by email; you need to be prepared to speak to large audiences, too.”
Susanne set up Matterhorn 14 years ago and in that time it has enjoyed plenty of repeat business from clients, all premier names in their respective sectors. This, believes Susanne, is down to Matterhorn’s work ethic.
“The translation industry is competitive but I’d say what makes us really stand out is that we don’t sub any of the work out and this improves the attention to detail we can give the client,” she continues.
“We do everything in-house and, to me, that is crucial. It means we can apply our very robust three-stage translation process at all times.
“Firstly a native speaker translates the German into English. Then a German speaker checks that the source text and the target text are actually saying the same thing – colloquialisms can easily catch out translators so it’s very much about ensuring that nothing gets lost in translation.
“Thirdly the text goes back to a native English speaker to go over it again so that it reads naturally for an English-speaking audience – it must roll off the tongue easily. Sometimes you have to say ‘no, you just wouldn’t say it that way’ and sometimes we can be stuck on a phrase forever because every language has some expressions that are peculiar to it and there is no 100 per cent translation.
“It’s all about achieving a very high level of detail that meets our clients’ needs. I want to guarantee that quality.”
Susanne, who hails from Switzerland, comes from an engineering background as well. “My father does a lot of work as an accident investigator – cranes, tunnels, aeroplanes – so I’ve always been around that sort of dialogue which helps,” she adds. And the company name – Matterhorn? “That’s easy… I met my husband there while snowboarding.”
Susanne concludes: “We’ve moved the company here from Buckingham – our rent was going up, so we looked around and the Innovation Centre here really stood out.
“We love it here – it’s brilliant. The address, the fact it is set up really nicely, there are a lot of good, professional people in the same building and it’s airy and nicely lit and also provides a good atmosphere for thinking. And of course, on some days, there’s the great noise in the background, being so close to the circuit. We all like that!”