About Translation

Join the Crowd – is crowdsourced translation the future of multilingual online content?

I first stumbled across the concept of crowdsourcing a few years ago, when a small globe symbol appeared in the bottom right hand corner of my Facebook profile. Intrigued, I followed the link to Facebook Translate, an application that enables any user to contribute their own translations of the ever-expanding site content. In an impressive feat of translation ‘by the crowd’, Facebook was translated into French in a 24 hour period by a group of 4000 volunteers in 2008. But what implications does this open call principle have for the translation industry?

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Defining and measuring linguistic quality

Quality is a word which is thrown around loosely, in many different contexts. What one person considers to be quality, another may not. This is especially true with something as subjective as translation. People interpret language differently, and translation quality is often judged on subjective criteria such as style and choice of terminology. Some aspects of translation are are objective, however. ‘Yes’ translated as ‘no’ is clearly wrong, for example. The Project Management Institute’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (4th edition) defines quality as “the degree to which a product meets the specified requirements.” The International Organization for Standardization says quality is “determined by comparing a set of inherent characteristics with a set of requirements. If those inherent characteristics do not meet all requirements, a low or poor level of quality is achieved.” Both of these definitions include the concept of quality as a scale, with varying degrees, and also state that there must be a […]

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International Translation Day – 30 September

Saint Jerome, best known for his translation of the Bible into Latin, is the patron saint of translators. In 1991, the International Federation of Translators selected 30 September, Saint Jerome’s day, as International Translation Day, with the goal of bringing together the global translation community once a year to celebrate the art of translation. This year, the British Library is holding its fourth International Translation Day symposium, with a programme full of interesting-sounding seminars. One topic concerns how translated literature is reported in the press. Translated literature receives little attention in the press, and when it does, the translator’s contribution is generally either ignored or mentioned only very briefly. This is also often the case with the book itself; whereas the author is frequently lauded with a page detailing their life and previous works, the translator is usually just listed on the title page and that is it! Is this really fair? Translation is an art, and translators should be […]

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Happy European Day of Languages!

Can you speak fluent Pig Latin? It’s not one of the 200+ European languages celebrated today as part of the European Union’s “European Day of Languages”, but it does work well as a secret language. This is especially true in Britain, where it doesn’t seem as popular as in America. So, if you don’t speak Icelandic or Esperanto, I’d recommend brushing up on your Ig-pay Atin-lay for top-secret conversations.

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Untranslatable words

  Image credit: Ella Frances Sanders, Maptia

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