You probably noticed that my company went through a wee rebrand – the amazing Jamie from Sprooter designed me a lovely new logo. Take a look:
I love working with local business owners and, given that our offices are less than a ten minute-walk away from one another, you can’t get any more local than that.
Jamie sent me so many different mock ups and backed them all up with meanings behind each logo prototype. The one I went for had such a lovely inspiration behind it!
The first icon, the scribble, represents incomprehension; the second one – translation; and the third one – clarity.
Translators aren’t simply walking dictionaries – we offer our clients solutions to their problems, help them understand complex documents, and let them communicate with the world. I think that the hidden meaning behind my new logo reflects that perfectly!
What’s in the name?
Sometimes choosing a name for a business can be very difficult. I’ve been there myself. After a few years of translating in different areas, it was high time for me to specialise. I wanted my name to reflect my business values and hint what type of areas I work in. That’s how Polka Dot Translations was born. But what does it really mean?
Among other areas, I specialise in fashion & textiles, and the name I chose seemed to reflect that well. Since 2017, I have been translating for sustainable fashion brands. I've been working on their marketing campaigns, press releases and catalogues. I'm also an amateur dressmaker myself (you can find some evidence of that on my Instagram). The name Polka Dot Translations really spoke to me.
Non-Polish speakers might not realise that there is another meaning hidden in the name. And it reflects my commitment to inclusive language. In my mother tongue, the word Polka means ‘a Polish woman’. Polish nouns, adjectives and sometimes even verbs are gendered. The situation is changing, but women are still quite often invisible in the language. Many translators overlook the exclusive – even offensive – aspect of the so-called general masculine plural. I want to prove to my clients that it’s possible to be inclusive whilst writing in a natural way. And it doesn’t mean only towards women – we cannot forget about non-binary people, for example.
How do I do it? I sometimes use the technique called splitting: using masculine and feminine forms of nouns. The word ‘patients’, for example, would be translated as pacjenci i pacjentki. The first word is a masculine plural form but in my view it can be excluding women. Thus, I prefer to clearly state women are also referred to in the sentence.
A more inclusive form is using the so-called ‘floor technique’. What does it mean? We include an underscore in a gendered word. In that version, the word would look like this: pacjentki_ci. There are other typographical tricks to shorten the word: pacjenci(-tki) or pacjenci/tki. Yet, there are a few problems with them. The first one includes women, but in a bracket, almost as if they came as an afterthought. The second options present only two gender forms: we’re speaking only to/about men or women. The underscore option also uses the feminine form as the first, full form of the word. This allows space for women, men and everyone else of any other gender. I use the underscore in the Polish version of my website because I want to remain as inclusive as possible. This also sends a clear message to my clients that I try to meet the needs of different audience members. I also use these forms on my social media.
‘What if I don’t want that in my translation?’, I hear you ask. My answer? Not a problem! Inclusive language is all about choice. For example, not every woman in Poland wants to use feminine nouns – especially when talking about their professional life. I myself use the form tłumaczka rather than tłumacz, the latter being the masculine form. But I believe we all have the right to express ourselves the way we want to. When working on your project I will barely suggest how you can make the text more inclusive.
A long publication with lots of special characters might sometimes look distracting. That's why I tend to write in a gender-neutral way in Polish (that will still sound natural and enticing). There is a lot of work that goes into crafting an inclusive text — I could talk about this topic for hours.