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Supertext – for the right word in any language

As of this year, the online translation and copywriting agency Supertext is responsible for the Tour de Suisse translations.

Whenever possible, the Tour de Suisse communicates in three languages: German, French and English – and also occasionally in Italian. This often all has to happen very quickly. Supertext is well-prepared: «We have five to seven freelancers per language working on the Tour de Suisse translations», says Marketing Manager Fabio Schmuki. They asked particularly sports-savvy translators to be involved with the Tour de Suisse. In addition to the tour, the «Supertexters» are also translating for the WTA Ladies Open in Biel, and were also involved in the ice hockey World Championship in 2009. The freelancers come either from Switzerland or the neighbouring countries – or England, in the case of the English freelancers. «This means that we can ensure the distinctive features of the Swiss language are always properly taken into account», emphasises Schmuki.

In addition to these Swiss features, the cycling jargon is one of the most important parts of the Tour de Suisse translations. «There are standard terms in cycling. A literal translation can completely change the meaning», explains Jolanda van de Graaf, who heads the Tour de Suisse media office. «For example, the ‹Königsetappe› in German is the ‹queen stage› in English and the ‹étape reine› in French» – outside German-speaking countries, the king’s stage becomes a queen. Meanwhile, the translation teams have gradually internalised the technical cycling terms. Schmuki asserts that «it’s a steep learning curve: with every translation, more expressions and phrases are clarified.»

From technology start-up to a team of professional writing experts

Founded in 2005 as the first online copywriting agency, by 2008 Supertext was already one of the top 100 European technology start-ups. The company now has 40 employees and a network of more than 900 freelance copywriters, translators and proofreaders, with a wide client base. «We deal with everyone from SMEs to large companies, across all sectors», says Schmuki.

The companies order and manage their copywriting and translation jobs online, profiting from the latest technology such as the termbase, which allows the client to define fixed translations for terms that continually reoccur in their orders. There are also translation memories that store every translation unit ever created for the Tour de Suisse. «It’s fantastic», says van de Graaf. «It allows us to make optimal use of synergies.» Previously translated passages are suggested to the translator during a second translation, increasing the consistency and quality of the texts. It also reduces the time and cost.

Speaking of costs: every client sees the price, listed by delivery date, as soon as they upload their document. If the client is able to wait a week, it becomes significantly less expensive. The online system is extremely popular with the Tour de Suisse media team, as it is transparent, fast and secure.

Despite the huge success of their web-based system, the Supertext bosses soon realised the importance of personal contact. «That’s why every client is assigned a personal project manager, who is available to answer any questions», emphasises Schmuki.

You can find out more about the online text agency Supertext here.

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