Who in the heck can speak Khek?

It's not uncommon these days for a group of northern Nevada businesspeople to gather in the evening around 9 p.m.

or so and place a call to potential business partners in China.

And when they do so, it's likely they'll be joined by a interpreter from the Northern Nevada International Center, a nonprofit agency that finds its services increasingly in demand as northern Nevada companies search for world markets.

"We're beginning to see a lot more business translation," said Carina Black, executive director of the center sponsored by the University of Nevada, Reno.

The center provides translation and interpretation services in about 45 languages everything from French and Spanish to Khek, Punjabi and Estonian.

A German-speaking translator, for instance, recently was called upon to translate page after page of bid documents for a construction company that decided to chase some work in the European nation.

The most heavily demanded services, Black said, involve translation of documents into French for the Canadian market.

Northern Nevada companies looking to crack the Canadian market find they need to translate everything from sales material to training manuals into French and not just any French, but idiomatically correct Canadian French.

Some of those jobs, Black said, are daunting.

A biomedical firm, for instance, turned to the center's translators with hundreds of pages of technical, densely worded material.

Chinese is a second growth area for the International Center's translation and interpreter services.

"We're seeing a lot of companies that have us speak first over the telephone with their contacts in China," Black said.

Other companies turn to the center to translate letters of introduction and other correspondence to potential Chinese partners.

The center relies on a cadre of parttime translators and interpreters, tracking down potential contractors wherever they can be found in northern Nevada.

When she needs to recruit a Koreanspeaking translator, for instance, Black commonly heads to either a Korean Presbyterian church or a Korean market.

The toughest spots to fill in the region? Skilled translators in Tongan, a Polynesian language.

Once possible translators are recruited, they're put through a training program.

That training, Black said, has become substantially more rigorous in recent years as Nevada courts work to create a pool of skilled interpreters.

Most of those interpreters and translators who meet the courts' standards also work on business translation.

(The difference between an interpreter and a translator? An interpreter deals with the spoken word; a translator works with written materials.) The International Center charges $35 to $45 an hour for interpreter's services the interpreters themselves get most of the money and 14 cents to 17 cents a word for written materials.

Spanish-language translations, Black said, are among the least-expensive; Mandarin Chinese with its complexities is the most expensive.

No matter how modest the cost, Black said some northern Nevada businesses continue to rely on employees who speak a second language to handle interpretation.

As a result, she said, those companies sometimes put low-ranking employees in a position where they're the public face in discussions with important customers or suppliers.


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