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There is no word for ‘privacy’ in Russian

Given that for almost all English speakers ‘privacy’ is a normal, everyday concept, it may come as a shock to find that there is no direct translation for this concept in the Russian language.

To English speakers the idea of not being disturbed or having every detail of our lives on display is very simple and natural to understand. However, in Russian, along with various other languages, such as Mongolian and Latvian, there is no word that adequately describes it.

This can, of course, cause various problems for translators. For example, how would you go about translating Russian privacy facebookFacebook’s “Privacy Policy” or any internet provider’s version of ‘privacy settings’. This is usually where calques, words borrowed from other languages, English in this case, are used as a translation strategy. For example, words such as приватность privatnost’ and конфиденциальность konfidentsial’nost’ have been introduced into the Russian language, however these are anglicisms which have come from our own language and can sound strange to many Russian speakers.

Having said this, when put into Google Translate, there are actually some results for Russian words which supposedly express the English concept of ‘privacy’. There’s уединение uyedineniye, but this word usually comes with the negative connotations of wishing to be isolated from people and society, therefore it would be better translated as ‘solitude’. So, whilst it does convey the idea of ‘privacy’, in that the person is completely separated from society, this word does not encompass the correct meaning of ‘privacy’.

Another word that google translate offers is тайна taina, however this would be better translated as ‘secret’ or ‘mystery’ and is therefore not adequate as a translation for ‘privacy’!

So why is this the case? We usually hear about foreign words that can’t be expressed in English, not the other way round. The most common thought behind why there is no translation for ‘privacy’ is because there is simply no cultural concept of ‘privacy’ in Russia. Throughout the Soviet times there was no such thing as private property, private space, private life, therefore many linguists presume that there is no direct translation for ‘privacy’ as it simply isn’t a part of Russian culture.

Why does Google Translate work better for some languages than others?

The quality of translations from Google Translate can vary from good to absolutely terrible, and some language pairs are much better than other language pairs.

So, why does Google Translate work better for some languages than others?

Translation fail! The translation should say 'We help YOU to become a customer-centric company'

Translation fail! The translation should say ‘We help YOU to become a customer-centric company’ instead of ‘We become a customer centric company’

Zero-shot technology pairs

Did you know that Google Translate can now translate from Uzbek into Zulu? And Javanese into Chichewa? Surely there aren’t many native Zulu speakers who can also speak Uzbek, or Chichewa speakers who can translate from Javanese…

Google now uses ‘Zero-shot’ translation technology, which means that it uses intermediate languages to match up content, and that no translations between the source and target were necessarily entered into the system.

For example, if English was translated to Uzbek and Zulu, then Zulu can be translated to Uzbek, and vice versa. The output is not going to be as good as for some of the other language pairs in Google Translate, however.

Amount of data

Frequently translated languages with many contributions to the database will produce better translations than obscure languages. By adding more phrases to the database, you increase the chance that segments are linked correctly.

Grammatical structure

Source languages with a highly structured grammar, such as Russian, often produce better translations.

Creative aspect

Legal or highly standardised text lends itself more to machine translation than creative or marketing content.

Similarities of languages

The closer two languages are in terms of language evolution, the better the translations are likely to be. The word order will be similar, as well as the grammar. For example, translating Dutch to English produces much better translations than French to English.

Obvious disclaimer:
Even when translating something into your own native language, with output that sounds fluent, you may not spot a mistranslation. Using Google Translate for anything apart from getting the gist of a foreign text is risky, as you can’t check it if you don’t have a good understanding of both the source and target languages.

At Web-Translations, while we wholeheartedly embrace new technology, we use only human translation.

Reflecting on Women in Translation Month

Women in Translation month is an intiative developed by The Reading Agency in order to appreciate women writers, including the writers whose works are translated, and the translators and publishers who transfer them into different languages. August was full of events and discussions around this theme, and our Client Services Director, Jasmine, attended an event in Sheffield arranged by Tilted Axis Press. The event featured Korean and Japanese authors, along with English translators who had worked with them. Some of the points raised left an impression and as a team with a real love for languages, it’s worth shining a light on them.

Under a third of literary translations published in the UK and US are produced by women. Given that only 1.5% of books published in the UK are translations into English, this represents only a tiny fraction of all literary fiction that we consume. Despite these surprising statistics, recent findings suggest that translated literary fiction sells better in the UK than fiction originally written in English.

This begs the question: why are we not translating more literature into English?

Perhaps one reason is that languages and translation students are often discouraged from going into literary translation, with it being perceived to be a time-consuming, difficult task with little financial reward. However, it must be argued that there is real personal reward from being involved in such a project, aside from the positive cultural impact it can have. From the translators who spoke at the event, there was a sense of warmth and mutual understanding between the authors of the original works and the translators who produced the translations. This is because the literary translation process is very much a collaboration, with the translator and author being in contact to ensure the translation is as faithful to the original as possible.

Another thing we hadn’t realised was how much influence a translator can have on whether or not something is translated. Deborah Smith, who spoke at the Tilted Axis event, explained how she herself suggested translating The Vegetarian, a Korean book, to a publisher. It was this impetus from the linguist that led to The Vegetarian being translated into English, and subsequently winning the Man Booker International Prize in 2016. Interestingly both the original author, Han Kang, and the translator won the prize and an equal share in the award.

While we have previously become accustomed to translators taking very little credit, with their name often not even appearing on the front cover, it is encouraging to see the translator given equal acknowledgment in this way. The focus must now be on increasing the presence of female translators, which initiatives like the Women in Translation Month can only help to improve. We certainly have some fantastically talented female translators in our team of freelancers!

One of the other important things to take away from this is that linguists should be proactive in seeking out content and being confident enough to propose a translation, rather than waiting to be asked. The next time you read a good foreign language book, check out whether it’s been translated yet. You could be the one who is responsible for bringing it to a whole new audience, which is perhaps the most rewarding thing that a translator can experience in their career.

 

Certified and Sworn translations

At Web-Translations, we provide B2B translations to help our clients trade internationally.  This includes website translation as well as translation of marketing collateral.

Occasionally we are approached by individuals who require translation of certificates for public authorities to support an application, such as a visa, passport or residency permit, or at the request of other official organisations. Certificates that are requested include birth certificates, marriage certificates and degree certificates.

image courtesy of UKTI

image courtesy of UKTI

In the UK, we do not have the ‘sworn translator’ or ‘certified translator’ concept that exists in some other countries. However, translators may opt to become members of official translation organisations, where they are required to present their translation qualifications before being accepted for membership. (more…)

Are you making the most of your TM? – Concordance searches

Translation memories are one of the most useful tools at a translator’s disposal. They allow us to save translated work to then leverage it at a later stage when translating a new text by providing matches at the segment level. However, many translation theorists argue that whilst these matches are very useful to a translator, a lot of the repetition in a text occurs at the sub-segment level, i.e. individual words or short phrases. This is where concordance searches come in handy for a translator. (more…)

Why keyword stuffing is a really bad idea

Adding keywords to your website, in a natural and readable way, is a great idea, but keyword stuffing is considered a black-hat SEO tactic. Even the phrase itself suggests furtive, shady behaviour; something that you wouldn’t want to be caught doing. There are real reasons behind why you shouldn’t include this method in your SEO strategy.

keyword-research

Google’s Matt Cutts warned webmasters about SEO keyword stuffing and over-optimisation, saying:

“We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and a great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect.” (more…)

Creative Translation in the Spotlight

The likelihood is that all254255_4204 of us will have read a translated book at some point of our lives, even if it was just a fairytale in our younger years. We often discuss translation, and ‘transcreation’, with our clients and fellow translators. This is because, as readers, we tend to spend little time thinking about the challenges a translator may have faced when trying to translate the text we are inwardly digesting.

It is far from reassuring that Daniel Hahn, director of the British Centre for Literary Translation, has described translation as ‘impossible’. But why is it this hard to transfer a story from one language into another? As translators, many of us are accustomed to the widely held assumption that speaking another language makes us naturally able to translate or interpret from that language into our native tongue. The reality is far from this.

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Choosing the right domain

Have you seen fewer .co.uk sites recently?

Many companies with an international presence have moved to a single site with subfolders for each country.

web consultancy
At Web-Translations, we started with a .co.uk domain in 2003, and as we grew, we added a .com domain, then a .jp domain, and over the next 10 years we purchased domains for many different markets including .es, .it and .pt. It began to get expensive and complicated! In 2014, we moved our primary site to a .com domain, with subfolders for different languages.

Previously, we would have advised against this. Top-level domains, such as .de and .jp, are automatically picked up by search engines, and are therefore good for in-country SEO. However, with newer geotargeting techniques, a single site with subfolders (also known as subdirectories) can be as effective as a ccTLD. (more…)

Meet the Team – Amy Forrester

Hi everyone,

I have recen10959696_10205023503298748_7147275264288063395_ntly joined the Web-Translations team as a Project Coordinator, having just finished my Masters in Applied Translation Studies at the University of Leeds. Prior to this I graduated with a first in Russian and Spanish, again from the University of Leeds. During my MA we studied a module on CAT tools which was geared towards preparing us for the world of translation and the language services industry. I particularly enjoyed this module; especially when we took part in simulated localisation projects which allowed us to mimic a ‘real life’ translation project and workflow. It was these projects which actually introduced me to the role of a project manager and piqued my interest in wanting to pursue a career as one. (more…)

Do you need an ‘Olá’ or an ‘Oi’? How to make sure you are really speaking to your target market.

Believe it or not, one of our most popular questions from clients is which languages they actually need to translate their materials into. This may seem obvious on the surface, but it can often bring up the least obvious of answers. Take a look at our top recommendations for getting your language choice right:

1. Check which languages are spoken in your target country.

Even if there is only one official language, there may be a number of co-official regional languages to consider, as in the case of Spain. You may be missing a trick if you are launching a marketing campaign in Spain and neglect to provide a translation in Catalan, for example, which is essential for capturing the imagination of a Catalan audience, particularly when considering that all important hub of Barcelona.

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What’s new in Trados Studio 2017?

As a company specialising in website and web-based translation, Web-Translations likes to keep its finger on the pulse when it comes to translation technology. This month we upgraded to Trados Studio 2017; here are some of the new features we’ve experimented with since the move, along with some of our thoughts about their relevance to our day-to-day workload.

  1. Overall interface aesthetics

The first thing we noticed when firing up Studio 2017 was the changes in aesthetics. Whilst we were relieved to see that the basic user interface has changed very little, we did notice some brighter hues, as well as a new colour-coding system on file completion bars, which is a nice touch.

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Omelettes, and frequently misused words

egg2We talk a lot about quality in the translation community.

Or rather, we debate a lot about quality, especially as it relates to grammar and style.  What is considered to be ‘correct’ grammar or usage by one person may be viewed differently by someone else.

The Guardian recently published an article listing “the 35 words you’re (probably) getting wrong”. (more…)

Translation Tips from our Translators #Top11

Thinking about a career in translation? Read through these top tips from Web-Translations’ qualified and experienced translators.

Guest post by Georgina Cornforth

IMG_1246

1)   Master your mother tongue

According to Web-Translations’ linguists, the best way to start is by mastering your mother tongue as much as possible. Translations should have smooth, uniform and consistent usage of language, which is not possible without a good foundation.  If you will be translating into English, bear in mind that the English language has over 170,000 words currently in use! (more…)

The Importance of Languages and Dialects

Endangered language

Endangered language

Guest post by Georgina Cornforth

With an estimated 6,000 languages already being spoken around the world in 2017, it’s surprising that there are enough speakers of the tens of thousands of dialects which we often don’t even realise exist. Although it is believed that languages and dialects are becoming extinct at a rate of around 3-5 each year, new ones are slowly evolving such as ‘Textspeak’ or even ‘Emoji’. If ‘Emoji’ were to one day be officially recognised as a language, it would certainly facilitate communication between people from all over the world and break down language barriers, however simple that form of communication may be. Nevertheless, dialects are extremely specific to certain regions and villages, so therefore maintain a great deal of culture within them which a possibly universal language such as ‘Emoji’ simply could not. (more…)

Is English still the world’s lingua franca?

striped globe cropAs the ever-expanding translation industry brings people more content in their native language, and on the eve of talks aiming to set out Britain’s exit from the European Union, it has been suggested that English is starting to diminish as the world’s lingua franca.

This blog post seeks to establish if there’s any truth to this idea.

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Plural patterns

piggy In English, we say 1 pig, 2 pigs, 3 pigs and so on.

So, does it follow that in another language it should be
1 [insert translated word for pig], 2 [insert translated plural of pig], 3 [same again] and so on?

Nope!

Earlier this month we worked on a project for one of our clients, a customer review network, which reinforced the fact that plural usage can vary greatly between languages. For this particular project, the translation source text included two snippets of text, one of which had a variable:
1 review
Showing {{number}} reviews

As the translation was into 27 languages, we saw many different patterns. We found this really interesting, and wanted to share them with you.

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How to sell the benefits of yourself as a human translator

Reports last week claimed that 40% of jobs would be replaced by machines by 2030, and that they will be able to ‘translate and interpret text quicker than humans’.

Many companies already use machine translation to provide quick and free translations of their websites and other materials, so it is down to us as language service providers along with our team of trusty translators to explain the added value of human translation.

But where do we start explaining to a company with their eye on the bottom line why they should invest in professional translation? Here are a few of our suggestions:

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Translation agency fees: what are you paying for?

In a world where machine translation (MT) is on the increase, it’s no surprise that someone might wonder whether they could save some money by having their text translated automatically. A performance comparison of machines vs humans is one factor in the debate, and is something we’ll touch upon soon. For this week however we’d like our clients to consider: what are you paying for when you hire a professional translation agency? Or to phrase this differently: what do you forgo when you choose to put your translation into a machine? (more…)

Translating mqxliff files in Trados Studio

Have you been sent a MemoQ .mqxliff file to translate, but you work with Trados Studio instead? Don’t worry, we can help you work with the .mqxliff file in Trados.

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Would your SMS be over the limit?

Ever contemplated a multilingual marketing campaign that uses SMS messaging to contact your customers? Or simply wanted to practise a bit of French with your latest foreign speaking acquaintance? Then you may want to have a serious think about size. Because when it comes to texting, it really does matter.

As English speakers, we are lucky enough to be given a grand total of 160 characters per text message. These days, our mobile providers generally allow us to exceed these limits and will concatenate multiple messages into one long message, billing us for the equivalent number of messages. UK mobile networks use GSM encoding, which supports a character set consisting of the Latin alphabet, numbers, many other symbols, and some support for non-English accented characters. ‘Extended’ GSM character sets are also provided in some countries and offer additional characters, but this can vary depending on the mobile provider and handset. Often, using these characters will also subtract more than one character from your precious 160 character allowance. In fact, even using your favourite smiley or salsa dancing emoji will instantly convert your message to Unicode and reduce your character limit to 70. And if you send a special character to someone with an incompatible handset, which is tricky to know beforehand, it may simply appear as a ☐. (more…)

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