The results are in… 2016’s Most Valuable Translator awards

The results are in… 2016’s Most Valuable Translator awards


Happy New Year!  We have had a great start to 2017, and would like to announce
Web-Translations’ Most Valuable Translators for 2016.

We’re extremely grateful to our network of linguists, whose extensive talents allow us to offer translation services across a wide range of industries. We’re privileged to work with many exceptional translators;
our MVT awards showcase just some of these. (more…)

Is it a pain parisien or a baguette?

tesco bread

Using little-known foreign words in advertising can make a product appeal to a certain clientele who understands the word or at least associates it with a particular culture. It can distinguish the brand as global and trend-setting.

Languages incorporate ‘foreign words’ all the time. At first, the use of a new word may be only between speakers of the source language who know the word, but at some point they begin to use the word with those to whom the word was not previously known. To these speakers the word may sound ‘foreign’. At this stage, when most speakers do not know the word and if they hear it think it is from another language, the word can be called a foreign word. There are many foreign words and phrases used in English such as bon vivant (French) and Schadenfreude (German), as well as many types of foreign food, such as pain parisien (French).

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How to Avoid a Branding Blunder

Following the decision of a Judge in France to prevent parents from naming their baby girl ‘Nutella’, this has sparked debate over words that should be deemed suitable, and indeed unsuitable, to be used as a name. In this case, the French courts deemed that the name would ‘lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts’ (BBC News) due to its association with the popular hazelnut spread.

This certainly isn’t the first case of its kind, but brings to mind an interesting point regarding our word associations and the power held within language. There are few instances where this becomes more apparent than in the translation world. (more…)

Will 2015 be the Year of Instant Translation?

Back in November 2014, Skype launched a preview of Skype Translator, which will aim to provide real-time translation of conversations in over 40 languages. Hot on its heels, Google has now updated its own app to include an instant interpreting function using voice recognition, as well as an impressive translation feature which utilises a phone’s camera to automatically translate text viewed through the lens.

Long gone are the days of trying to decipher the unusual looking dishes on foreign menus – now all you have to do is hover your phone above the page and receive an instant translation. Here at Web-Translations, we’ve given the app a quick road test using three major tourist preoccupations: warning signs, tourist information and those all important menus. Take a look at how we got on below. (more…)

6 resources every translator should use

Contrary to what some may think, not all translators sit alone in a dark room, typing furiously, using only a dusty old dictionary for reference. Translation has moved on!

It is more than just one opinion, one draft, one dog-eared dictionary. Translators, like lawyers, refer to myriad sources to select the best terminology, cite examples of similar contexts, delve into background information, and so on.

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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? (more…)

Proudly working with memoQ software

memoqAfter many years of working exclusively with SDL’s Trados software, in January we purchased memoQ, a new type of translation software. The purchase was primarily to aid the provision of a new site for Party Delights, a UK e-tailer selling party products. With nearly a million words to translate to French, we needed software that could handle such a large word count. memoQ quickly handled large Excel files that Trados often took over a day to analyse, making it much more suitable for the project. It also correctly handled the .resx files we needed to translate.

memoQ was also selected for this particular project because of how it aids our QA processes. With 13 translators each working on multiple files, we needed to be able to review multiple files at once in order to ensure consistency. With memoQ, we could open all of the files for a particular product type, checking for consistency and running various functions across large amounts of text in disparate files. The user interface improves the QA process, with many features which help Project Managers to ensure consistent and accurate translations.

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Google Translate Used in Terror Investigation

Broken records be damned, because it apparently needs stating again; it’s not okay to use machines for important translation. Included in the very long list of things that count as “important” are things like medical records, immigration documents, and transcripts being presented in the course of a terrorism investigation by the police.

 

…yeah. In Denmark, police used Google Translate to present a suspect with a text message which it later transpired meant something entirely different. The Internet giant’s machine translation is widely accepted as a leader of its pack, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to rely on it. It might be a clever computer, but it’s still a computer.

 

Maybe this all needs to happen. If you knew nothing about the law, the chances are you wouldn’t sue somebody and represent yourself using a free PDF as your guide. If you knew nothing about medicine, you wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself after a quick Wikipedia search. So why do people think that linguistic solutions are one click away, courtesy of an algorithm?

 

“The police said no other documents had been translated using Google Translate,” but it’s hard not to be skeptical. That’s the thing about machine translation – it’s 90% accurate, but the other 10% is really, really going to hurt.

Microsoft’s Speech Translation is still all talk

At an event in China last month, Microsoft’s Rick Rashid unveiled a piece of technology that will likely attract a considerable amount of hype. In front of the company’s Asian 21st Century Computing gathering, the Chief Research Officer showed off speech recognition and automated spoken translation technology, his words being accurately transposed into Mandarin with his vocal tone synthetically carried through to the translated version. From the reaction of observers, the demonstration appeared a success, and the technology raises interesting questions about the possibilities, and the limitations, of automated translations.

 

Much has been made of the voice recognition and emulation side of Rashid’s translation, which is at best an optional enhancement, and in some cases would appear as undesirable excess. It’s exciting, for sure, that a computer can imitate a person’s vocal habits – but it’s not earth-shattering. On the other hand, the suggestion from some quarters that we are now capable, to some degree, of replacing interpretors with computers, is one worthy of serious intrigue.

 

The question we need to ask, though, is how this would ever be possible. You might pin me as naïve, and you’d be half-right, but language factually entails more than a series of algorithms. Consider the relationship between semantics and pragmatics; one concerns itself with somewhat strict meanings and definitions, while the other is wrapped up in the implicit nature of what we say, how we really use language. Which of these is more important? You could certainly argue that each requires the other to act as a balance, but it’s absolutely clear that the way we communicate has more about it than mere dictionary definitions and the frequency of a word in proximity to another.

 

It is common for us to assume that we can build machines capable of anything and everything, but the simple fact is that most of language is conducted on a very human level, in our instinct and the traits we share. For us to understand one another, we need to have a good idea of unspoken context, of the intricacies of a conversation, and of the peculiarity of much of our language. If a computer can do this at all, it cannot do it well. It cannot purposefully soften a verb to keep a diplomatic meeting from boiling over and it cannot understand the in-joke and explain it to a new audience. Those things exist in a different ball park to what we’re currently excited about; the art of professional translation is still as essential as ever.

qTranslate: The easy way to talk to everybody

 

For all our proclamations that the Internet has rendered geography null and void, it’s startling how many business opportunities are still missed because of language barriers. Though much progress has been made since the turn of the millennium in bringing global reach to a huge number of successful brands, many great organisations still don’t know how to even begin communicating with audiences abroad.

 

In this light, it’s a wonder that the fantastic qTranslate plug-in for WordPress has taken so long to flourish. Once activated, qTranslate transforms the control panel into an incredibly simple and reliable interface for making your site’s content multilingual. It organises your pages neatly and intelligently, and offers a user-friendly integration which is compatible with Search Engine Optimisation add-ons and a huge range of content types. In essence, qTranslate condenses the work involved in reaching foreign-language users down to an absolute walk in the park.

 

 

If you’re fluent in the second language you want to target, it’s as simple as opening that language’s tab in WordPress’ Post Editor and writing your new content – you can even change the layout of your posts based on the language in play. But if you’re not a native speaker, part of the beauty of qTranslate is how easy it makes getting what you’ve written translated by professionals at LiveTranslation. There’s an option to turn on the translation service, which allows you to pay for an affordable, professional translation, courtesy of Live Translation, with just a couple of clicks.

 

There’s no mess involved: you get your content, in a range of different languages, all housed on one site but still clearly distinct from both your users’ and a search engine’s perspective. It’s simple to install and even simpler to maintain.

 

 

When combined with the supplementary qTranslate with Slugs, what results is a multilingual WordPress control panel which is both intelligent and uncomplicated. It’ll translate your dates and times without being told, let you optimise your URLs for each individual language, and even give you multilingual menus. And if you’re missing a language that could help you crack a key market, you’re literally five clicks and no effort away from taking the first step across the border. Online, you can talk to everybody. Now, they’ll be able to understand you, too.

 

Download qTranslate.

 

Translators & Project Managers – just like Fish and Chips!

Translators and Project Managers (PMs) are just like fish and chips: one won’t go without the other. Here’s a short guide on how to enjoy this recipe without giving yourself indigestion!

Rather than writing about what freelancers love or hate (or a similar rant from the Project Manager’s perspective), it’s possibly more useful for everybody to know what elements link translators and agencies together so tightly, and how they can work better together. (more…)

"Slave earrings" translation blunder causes great offence

Vogue Italia has been widely criticised for the feature it ran on its blog this Monday, a piece entitled “Slave Earrings” that has since been removed.

The post read: “Jewellery has always flirted with circular shapes, especially for use in making earrings. The most classic models are the slave and creole styles in gold hoops.”

It continued: “If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern United States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom. Colored stones, symbolic pendants and multiple spheres. And the evolution goes on.” (more…)

The importance of Translation Project Management

Well, where to start? Not wanting to blow my own trumpet, as a former project manager, but project management is, in my humble opinion, vital to a smooth, problem-free, well-executed translation project!

A recent article handily backs up my opinion, stating that project managers are, in fact “indispensable to the process due to the vast number of project variables, requirements, exceptions to project scope, etc.” Project managers liaise with both clients and translators to see a project through to completion. Their role involves understanding clients’ needs and requirements, ensuring that they can all be met, and then creating a logical sequence of tasks to be carried out to a specific deadline, not to mention assigning the work to suitable translators and proofreaders who specialise in the subject in question. (more…)

In the mood for foreign films?

It’s a comment you may have heard expressed before by many native English speakers: despite possessing an interest in foreign films and a willingness to embrace their ‘quirkiness’, it sometimes feels as though you have to be “in the mood” to watch them. After watching a French film the other night and hearing my housemate make this exact comment, my thoughts consequently drifted to how world cinema seems to have rapidly gained popularity over the last ten years in the U.K. (more…)

Pre-translation preparations

There is a lot more to translation than meets the eye. Yes, the essence of the process is translating a piece of text from one language into another, but there is a lot more to consider than many people are aware.

There are lots of factors that need to be taken into account both before starting work, and during the translation process itself. Clarifying these points, and identifying any issues at the start helps to ensure a smooth translation process, and avoids delays while any difficulties are overcome.

Depending on the size and complexity of the project, clients should be asked several key questions, including (but not limited to):

What is the purpose/end use of the translation?

File formats – what format do they need the translation back in?

Processing text post-translation – will it be added to a Content Management System, or typeset into a design ready for print? If so, are those responsible experienced in doing so?

Reference material – could include previous translations and any background information to guide the translators. Clients who take the time to provide such information reap the benefits by getting an accurate translation that reflects their company style and is immediately fit for purpose. Without background information, the translators are often working in the dark, and it can take longer to produce text that is ready to use or publish.

Is there an  in-country manager who will be reviewing the text, or who can help with any terminology queries?

Is the author of the document available to answer any queries about its contents?

(more…)

Crowdsourcing and machine translation: the start of a beautiful friendship

Machine-aided translation is one of those things people love to hate. Despite the best efforts of enthusiasts like myself, the majority of computer users still believe that machines are useless translators.

The whole area of machine translation has a terrible image problem. There are endless jokes and “true” stories about computer translation failures. Some of these are very funny (like the machine that apparently translated the English saying “out of sight, out of mind” into “invisible idiot” in Russian). However with a little crowdsourcing help, I suspect the machines may have the last laugh. (more…)

Nothing beats a good pun!

Eating penguin chocolate bars with a couple of Spanish friends the other day got me thinking about jokes, puns and play on words in general. The Spanish translation of the word “pun” is “juego de palabras”, meaning literally “word game”, which sums up just what a pun is. Having always been interested in language and humour, I am a big fan of word jokes, and feel particularly proud of myself when I make what I consider to be an amusing pun (though others might disagree…).

We regularly groan at puns printed on the front pages of tabloid newspapers, and at the jokes printed on penguin wrappers and in Christmas crackers. Last year in fact, The Sun newspaper held a competition to see if its readers could “Out-pun the Sun”, inviting readers to give their best suggestions. Shakespeare used puns in Romeo and Juliet, and puns also appear in Harry Potter and James Bond books, which are internationally popular and have been successfully translated into many languages. Idioms and puns often have similar equivalents in languages with a common root, but there’s always a challenge for the translator to convey the original meaning, and this is why literary translation in particular is such a specialised and highly-prized skill. (more…)

"25 things translators should never do"

I recently read an interesting blog article citing “25 things translators should never do”. Whilst a company’s employees may have a contract or be given guidance by fellow employees or their boss, freelance translators trust their opinion, instinct, business acumen, or all of the above, in order to decide how to behave. This raises the question as to whether these ideas vary greatly between translators, whether there are any generally accepted rules, and how clients view different behaviour. (more…)

Should the German language use English words?

The question of the introduction of anglicisms into foreign languages is not new, it has long been a polemic, controversial topic about which many feel strongly. Words such as “le weekend”, “das Marketing” and “un hobby” spring to mind. Recently, German linguists have expressed fears that the introduction of more and more English vocabulary could be dangerous for the future of the German language.

The German Language Association, Verein Deutsche Sprache (VDS), makes monthly updates to its “Anglicism Index” to include English words that have been recently incorporated into the German spoken word. They then suggest German alternatives for these words. Recent additions to the VDS list include “follower” and “live-stream”, words for which there also exist German equivalents.

Opinion is currently divided regarding the threat that the introduction of English words carries to the German language. VDS spokesman, Holger Klatte, recently commented: “Particularly in the areas of technology, medicine, the internet and the economy, English is becoming ever more important.” He also stated: “There are not enough new German words being invented, and many people find they are excluded from the conversation because they can’t understand it.”

Not everyone is in agreement with VDS and the threat English poses to the German language. The Managing Director of the Society for the German Language (Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache), Andrea-Eva Ewels, comments that “only 1%-3% of the average German’s vocabulary of 5,000 words is made up of anglicisms.” This Society believes that the inclusion of English vocabulary enhances the German language, rather than harming it. However, the public in Germany seem to be on the side of VDS, with 39% of interviewees questioned in 2008 confirming their opposition to anglicisms.

There are a handful of foreign words that we use in English, such as “déjà vu”, “siesta” and “rendezvous”. How would we feel if more and more foreign words were introduced into our everyday vocabulary? The most important question that this discussion and debate poses is surely: why use an English word when a German word will suffice? Is there a benefit to incorporating a new English word into the language, in place of the equivalent German? Let us know what you think…

Interpreter/Translator listed as one of the best 50 careers for 2011

U.S. News has compiled a list of the predicted best 50 careers for 2011. They have based their decisions on estimated projections of job growth from 2008 – 2018 provided by the Labour Department, and then finalised the 50 careers by taking into account which jobs would provide an above-average median income, and the careers for which the number of jobs is expected to increase. They also used information on job satisfaction and turnover, as well as consulting industry experts to gather “anecdotal evidence about employment prospects and job satisfaction”, according to a recent article in US News.

Interpreter/Translator appears in the subcategory ‘Creative and Service Jobs’, along with Film and Video Editor, Commercial Pilot and Multimedia Artist, amongst others. Employment of both interpreters and translators was expected to increase by over 20% between 2008 and 2018. Cities in America, such as Washington D.C. and New York offer the most possibilities, particularly with Spanish, given the increasing number of Spanish inhabitants in the US.

In fact, many professional translators agree with this trend, with nearly 50% of those polled by Proz.com saying that they believed their income would increase in 2011 – that’s compared with only 14% who felt the opposite.

Besides the potential growth of the translation marketplace, there are many other reasons why becoming a translator is a good career move for individuals with the necessary skills and dedication:

Alternatively, in-house translation positions (although rare) also offer the opportunity for creative language work, and honing your craft while in a stable, secure working environment.

What skills do you need to become a translator?

Qualifications required by each company may vary, but as a general rule, all translators are expected to have completed at least 5 years of Higher Education, and many translation companies (Including Web-Translations) will require a minimum of 3-5 years of commercial translation experience.

Lots of the language translator professionals we work with have worked in a particular industry such as engineering, or in a legal profession, before deciding to change career.

If you’re a translator, share your career journey with us: How did you end up becoming a translator, or is it something you always wanted to do?

Are there any other benefits of working freelance that we’ve overlooked?

“Translations can only be as good as their source text”

A recent poll on Proz.com invited users of the site to agree or disagree with this statement. It is fair to say that opinions varied. Just under half – 48.5% of respondents – disagreed, opining that translations can be better (perhaps indicating that translators feel it is expected of them to improve on the source text); 34.5% stated that ‘It depends’, whilst a mere 15.2% agreed with the statement. A very small percentage – 1.8% – chose the ‘Other’ option.

In the forum attached to this poll, there are comments from a number of translators who have strong opinions on the topic.

Whilst some translators argue that as long as the meaning is represented, the translated text can be edited in order to produce a more fluent final piece, others disagree, stating that regardless of the standard of the source text, the translations must be faithful, and it is not up to the translator to edit the meaning or style of the text. The latter, it is argued, is particularly relevant when working with legal or technical documents. One translator comments that some mistakes such as spelling errors and examples of incorrect punctuation can be easily corrected, however improving a badly written piece of text to the extent that the resulting translation is a smooth, fluent text, often proves quite difficult.

“Although they say you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, we usually have a bash anyway” is one translator’s contribution to the discussion, whilst another remarks that it would be “absurd” to reproduce a poor piece of writing in the target language.

On the other hand, one contributor, who clearly feels very strongly about the subject in question, states that it is not his job to correct the source text, but merely to translate what he is given. He gives the example that an interpreter would not say what they thought their client was trying to say, but would faithfully translate what their client had said. He states that it is up to the author of the text to ensure that the text is coherent and comprehensible. Another translator agrees, opining that the translator’s principal job is to preserve the meaning of the text.

One point that the majority of the participating translators seem to agree on is that the final decision lies with the client. If the poor quality of the source text is highlighted to the client, and they give their permission for the translator to take more initiative and edit the text to create a more fluent final piece, then translators are generally happy to do so. Although this does raise the issue of rates and charges – should translators charge more if they are expected to proofread and edit the text, as well as translating it?

“The better the original text, the higher the probability that a skilled translator will produce not only an excellent translation, but one that accurately reflects the original text without being a “transcreation” is the concluding view of one translator. Therefore, if clients provide translators with well-written, fluent, accurate documents for translation, this will be reflected in the resulting translations, and everybody is a winner!

Google to machine translate patents

Google has confirmed that it will machine translate patents into more than 29 languages, using the Google Translate interface.

On 30th November, an agreement was reached between Google and the European Patent Office (EPO), in order to facilitate the understanding of patents throughout the world.

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Is machine translation making a comeback?

Now, before I get shot down by a flurry of irate translators, hear me out.

There’s been an increase recently in the use of post-edited machine translation for some projects where the volume of content is so huge, and the time window so short that human translation, and then proofreading and subsequent editing of the text, would just not be practical. We at Web-Translations are observing this trend with great interest. (more…)

Harry Potter and the 64 Translations

With J. K. Rowling’s final instalment of the Harry Potter books coming out in cinemas soon, a blog post about how other countries have learnt about this brilliant saga is long overdue! The best selling series of books has been translated into at least 64 different languages, including Latin and Ancient Greek.

With so many new and invented words, translators had a hard time making the book as magical for their own nation as it has been for us!

Lord Voldemort, meaning ‘flight of death’ in French, has been difficult to translate as his real name – Tom Marvolo Riddle – forms an anagram of ‘I am Lord Voldemort’. This means his name had to change with the language.

In Icelandic, he is called Trevor Delgome; he became Tom Gus Mervolo Dolder in Swedish which is an anagram of ‘ego sum Lord Voldemort’ – that’s Latin, not Swedish! And my personal favourite is the French, where He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named goes by the name of Tom Elvis Jedusor.

Many of the spells in the books come from Latin words, and usually we British can get the basic gist of them. For example, from the word Expelliarmus we could take out the words ‘expel’ and ‘armed’ or ‘armour’ to figure out that this spell disarms somebody.

However, for languages that don’t stem from Latin, other methods were used to create the same effect. In the Hindi version, translators used words that derived from Sanskrit to invent the spells.

As well as the authorised translations, other illegal, amateur translations have been made – in China in particular. Among these was a version completely different to the genuine books. It was called Harry Potter and Leopard Walk up to Dragon. In this book, Harry becomes a fat, hairy dwarf, is stripped of all his magical powers and is made to fight a dragon that embodies all the world’s evil!

Maybe we should just stick to the films for now…

Guest article by Annie Smith.

More goals than you can shake a spear at! Actually, no…

International sporting events always generate lots of opportunities for work in all sectors, from supply of equipment to provision of accommodation and entertainment during any competition or tournament. There are usually plenty of opportunities for language service providers too, but this year’s World Cup in South Africa has created more work than ever in this arena…sadly none for Web-Translations. Oh well, maybe next time…

Written translations are needed for not only the 11 official South African languages, but then of course the 22 standard official languages of the 31 nations whose teams have qualified, before even taking into account regional variations of some of these, such as Brazilian Portuguese, Swiss German or Mexican Spanish.

In addition to this, there have been other barriers besides language to overcome. This is almost certainly the first World Cup where regulations have prohibited not only motorcycle helmets and umbrellas inside the stadium, but also Zulu spears and shields!

We look forward to an exciting, multinational and multilingual competition. Good luck everyone!

Or should I say: Geluk!

How to localise a content-managed site – Case Study

We’re going to take you step-by-step through a localisation project to explain how it’s done. The example we’ve chosen is the multilingual site we did for Loc8tor.

Loc8tor.com is an ecommerce site where customers can buy Loc8tor devices to help them keep track of keys, mobile phones, pets and all sorts of other belongings. This is an ideal showcase for the different elements involved in the professional localisation of a website.

 

With any website, the first step is to get the content into a format that translators can easily work with.

There are two main ways of translating content from a CMS – the translators can work directly into the system and input translations as they go along, or an export can be obtained from the system – usually either XML or Excel format.

Translation is not always done in a linear fashion – starting at the beginning and finishing at the end – a translator needs to be able to skip parts and come back to them later, raise queries if something is unclear etc. When it comes to proofreading the translation, a file will usually be easier to work on and edit than the content within the CMS. With this in mind, an exported file is often the best method.

So, the Project Manager will deliver the file to the translators, or give them access to the CMS as necessary. Once the translation is complete, the proofreaders do their part. Any images or other parts of the website not already part of the CMS/export file would be localised at this stage too – a professional localisation includes everything, not just the obvious text components of the website.

If an export file has been used, then this needs to be imported back into the CMS. This is usually done by the client’s web team, but sometimes we are given an access login to the system and can upload it ourselves.

The published sites we localised for Loc8tor can be found at www.loc8tor.eu, www.loc8tor.fr and www.loc8tor.es.

With some projects, this is where our involvement ends, but there are other stages that are recommended in order for the localised website to be a success:

Usability testing – this is especially important for eCommerce websites or any others where transactions take place. The localised site is tested from the user’s point of view to make sure all functions work correctly, links lead to the pages they should, etc.

Multilingual SEO & eMarketing – just because you’ve invested in localising your site doesn’t mean that customers in that particular country know it is there! Submitting your site to local search engines, building some inbound links and promoting the new website online will all help get more traffic, and these initial measures are included as standard in our Strategic Approach to Localisation packages.

Managing updates – it’s important that you consider how updates to the website will be managed. Many CMSs can be configured to send updates for translation, which minimises the delay in keeping the multilingual site current.

Keyword Research – Knowing the most popular search terms for your product or service is critical. We help to capture maximum exposure by identifying not just your keywords, but also complementary keywords and competitive keywords to help you optimise your website, and maximize the effectiveness of your multilingual Pay Per Click campaigns.

Pay-Per-Click – ideal for giving your web traffic a boost, for promotions, sales and to announce new content. In most industries it will be expensive to stay at the top of results using PPC alone, but it should form part of your overall web strategy if you have sufficient budget.

A good localisation strategy will consider these additional elements of the process as well as simply translating the main body of text on a website.

If you have any questions about website localisation, or any comments about this article, please let us know.

London Eye vs London Zoo

Oh dear! If ever there was an example of how not to translate a website it must be the London Eye website. It would seem that the Merlin Group clearly don’t care about their international visitors…

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New Windows 7 fonts give more scope to non-Roman languages

Windows 7 includes over 40 new fonts which expand the script and language support the system can offer. Far from simply being a means of displaying text, different fonts can change the way we read text, and even how we feel about what we are reading.

As well as allowing much more versatility for people using languages already supported by Windows, such as Japanese, Arabic, Hindi, Tamil and other Indic languages, the new fonts also expand the flexibility of the system for languages such as Khmer, Vai (a Mande language of Liberia) and Lao, giving users more options for those languages.

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Crowdsourced translation – Twitter jumps on the bandwagon

Twitter is the latest company to use crowdsourcing to localise their website and interface – about time they localised it too, as in the arena of social networking, Twitter has been lagging behind other sites such as Facebook when it comes to reaching a multilingual audience…

So what is crowdsourcing exactly?

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New EU language Regulations for Pharmaceutical and Medical Device manufacturers

Latest EU regulations demand that all packaging and instruction leaflets for pharmaceutical products and medical devices are translated into the official language of the country they are being exported to.

American companies in this sector who intend to export their products to Europe must comply with these regulations, and indeed should embrace multilingual packaging in order to compete with their European counterparts.

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Automated/Machine translation – put to the test

We’re always being asked “why can’t I just use Google Translate/Babelfish/[insert name of machine translation tool here] instead? It’s free!” Where do I start?…

Well, it’s true of translation as much as of anything else: you do get what you pay for. So if you are paying nothing for your translation, you can guess how good (or not) it’s likely to be.

The free automated translation tools can sometimes be very useful for getting an understanding of the text. But if you intend on publishing the text, this is the last thing you would want to use as the automated translations are very literal.
For example, there’s nothing French about french fries, but a translation machine doesn’t know that and you could end up with a very odd text! (more…)

A travelling Spanish translator

This – the second guest posting on our company blog – comes from Spanish translator Carlos Montilla. Unsurprisingly, given the subject of his post, tourism is one of his specialisms but here he recounts a tale from his recent trip to Peru in near native English: cheers Carlos!

Spanish from Peru

Puno is a city in south Peru located on the shore of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. Puno’s access to the lake is surrounded by some 40 man-made floating islands inhabited by the Uros people. The Uros people live on these islands and depend on the lake and tourism for their survival. We took a boat with members of a Chivay Cultural Association and their families and disembarked at one of the islands, where part of the Uros community welcomed us.

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Reviewing translation – who should do it?

Having shelled out money, time, and other resources on getting a web translation done, it’s important to choose the right person to review it if this step is part of your process. An inexperienced or overzealous reviewer can change the meaning of the text entirely, or introduce errors if they are rushed or their written skills in that language are inadequate.

There’s a delicate balance that must be struck between the translator’s knowledge of their language, and the client reviewer’s knowledge of their company and products. So who is the best choice as a reviewer? (more…)

Hillary…we can help!

 

Oh dear, who did that translation for you, Hillary? Next time, give us a call!

If you haven’t seen the latest US foreign relations gaffe on the news, have a look at youtube – it really is quite funny! Hillary Clinton, in an attempt to improve US/Russian relations, had a meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and presented him with a gift in front of a room full of reporters. The red button on a black and yellow base was supposed to say ‘reset’ in English and Russian, and was intended to be symbolic of Russia and the US restarting their relationship.

Clinton: “We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?”

Lavrov: “You got it wrong; this says ‘peregruzka,’ which means overcharged.”

Ooops!

More on uncleanable ttx files

After my last post about cleaning the uncleanable, I thought that crying over broken ttx files was a thing of the past.  Well, it wasn’t, unfortunately.  This week I had another file that would not clean up, no matter how many tricks I tried.   This problem was (somewhat) solved by:  1) obtaining the TM used by the proofreader 2) running the source file through Trados Workbench’s “Translate” function to create a new bilingual ttx file based on the translations present in the proofreader’s TM 3) cleaning up the ttx file as normal.

The problem may have been caused by the large number of broken tags, but attempts at repairing these and then cleaning the ttx file as normal just did not work.  So, after I was able to create a new bilingual ttx file and clean that, the resulting file was still a mishmash of Swedish with English where the tags were broken.  Some copy/paste magic was needed to get the file into its final state, but at least it didn’t take too long 🙂

Translation Industry Glossary

This post is just to point both new and regular readers in the direction of our updated Industry Glossary.

This glossary gladly serves to save you the hassle and embarrasment of asking your resident techno-geek for an overly convoluted explanation of any industry terms, by providing simple, jargon-free definitions of the terms below…

 

Bi-directional

If you would like to add to the exisiting definitions, or have a fantastic industry term that you can’t wait to define, let me know and I’ll add it to our list.

Ordem e Progresso: Brazilian Portuguese spelling reform

Many major Brazilian newspapers are finally implementing a new spelling reform. The reform was to include all Portuguese speaking countries and aimed to unify spelling but only Brazil, Cape Verde, and Portugal signed up initially in 1990, with Brazil, only now, actually implementing the changes.

It is believed that 0.5 percent of words used in Brazil will be affected, against the 1.6 percent of Portuguese words. Furthermore, around 98 percent of the spelling discrepancies between the two countries will be eliminated once Portugal implements the agreement. They have until 2014 and are not likely to act before that time given the resistance to it of the people. The reason? Many common usage words will be effected whereas Brazilians must only become accustomed to a few missing accents, for example in idéia and vôo (which are now spelled ideia and voo), and also to new hyphenation rules.

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Mistranslations – English in other countries

It’s a favourite cautionary tale among translation professionals: Make sure your translations are accurate or you and your product could become a laughing stock. The first step in achieving this is to use a native speaker – a golden rule that should never be broken.

Here are a few examples (many of which you may have seen before – but the old ones are often the best) of mistranslations into English – a language I would hate to have to learn as a foreign language myself, as there are so many exceptions to rules and slight nuances as the following will demonstrate:

“We take your bags and send them in all directions” – Airline Ticket Office, Copenhagen                (Never a truer word said!)

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Tips for translators

We’ve already given our dos and don’ts for clients who want to buy translation services, but what about those selling them? Yes, I’m talking about translators – the missing link in our business equation. Those who help us make it happen for each and every one of our clients.

Here is an early Christmas gift – just a few pointers for translators who are looking to increase their client base (and in the current economic climate, who isn’t?) by applying to agencies.

 

1. Your CV: Cast a critical eye over your CV. The same rules generally apply for translators as they do for anyone applying for work: anything over 2 pages is just too long. Two pages is ample to give an overview of your relevant experience, qualificiations and specialist subjects – you can keep a list of translation projects you’ve worked on separately, then it’s ready to provide should someone ask for it. Doesn’t belong in your CV!

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More fun with accented characters…


This blog post is dedicated to all of the Céciles, Célines, Josés and Frédérics out there…

An easy way to make someone feel appreciated is to get their name right!  (I’m sorry, Petar, for writing “Peter” in my email last week…)  It does get a bit tricky when you are writing to Jesús or Agnès, however, as to really get their name right you need to stick in one of those funny accent marks…

The obvious way is to click the “insert symbol” function in Word or Outlook and look through all of the characters until you find the one you need, but this can sometimes take a while.  When I was at university, typing out too many French essays, I reassigned the functions of all the function keys on my laptop, so that when I hit “F2”, an “à” appeared, and “F3” an “è”, etc.  (I don’t think it worked for F1 for some reason.)  I re-learnt to type with an extra row of keys and it really did speed up my essay-writing!

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Foreign quotes…

The greatest – and I do mean greatest – quote by any non native in a second language has to be that belonging to US President, J. F. Kennedy. On June 26th 1963 he declared ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’. Here comes the shocking part: he did not categorise himself as a jelly filled doughnut in saying those words, as the whole world, it seems, thinks he did.

In fact, according to the nuances of German, his translation of ‘I am a person of Berlin’ was perfect, as should any translation be. And that includes the punctuation, and brings me nicely to the topic of this entry: foreign quotation marks.

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Trados | Cleaning up files:

Recently, we had a .ttx file that would not clean up. We tried the usual tricks, including putting the Excel source file in the same folder as the .ttx, and naming the source file exactly the same name as the .ttx file, but nothing seemed to work. The error message we kept getting was:

“Unable to locate original file. Please copy this original file into directory above and try again. File skipped!”

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Subtitlers have never had it so good

I reckon subtitlers must be well in demand going on the amount of subtitled content we’ve been seeing on our screens of late.

Now, as a linguist and having spent many of my language-learning student years with my eyes glued to that bar at the bottom of the screen, I’m no stranger to subtitles. In fact, I am eternally grateful for the invention as, without them, not only would we be missing out on hours of Kung-Fu lips-moving-no-speaking hilarity, but I’d have been lost in the midst of countless French films, despite learning the language for most of my conscious life.

But what’s with all the subtitling of English speaking people that’s happening at the moment?

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Life as a PM

Oh, sorry, that title is probably a shade misleading: PM refers, of course, to Project Manager, rather than Prime Minister. We all know what a Prime Minister does anyway, right? Not much…unlike a Project Manager.

My ears are often pricked when someone talks of their day-to-day toils, be that out of nosiness, out of insecurity – their job’s not better than mine, is it? – or simply out of narcissistic wanton to confirm that my job is the only job worth doing. (Which of course, boss, it is.) And so I find myself detailing a day in my life, for any one of you who is curious as to what I do between replying to your emails.

The day begins at nine, and with a heavy inbox.

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Language-ism in sport


It has quietly come to light that any golfers competing on tours run by the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), must speak English.

The language vigilantes seem to be targeting 45 South Korean players, and the fact that eight of those women rank amongst the top 20 earners only serves to highlight the underliying cynicism of the crusade.

For those in question, failing an English Language test will result in an overly officious suspension from the tour. The reason? Well, these succesful Koreans are winning a large portion of the tournaments but are not reaping big-buck rewards for the media moguls behind the scenes, owing to their inability to give post match interviews. Tricky as it is to work out exactly how enlightnening such an interview would be, there seems to be a fairer way of doing things…

Interpreters, anyone?

Translation’s more than just words…


Language has come a long way from the pictographs of 5000 years ago (above), with the development of grammar an integral part. You wouldn’t think much of reading a piece of text littered with grammatical errors, as much as you wouldn’t were it soiled with spelling mistakes, right?

I read somewhere that, back at the turn of the last century, some Bolshevik print workers from St Petersburg refused to carry on with their jobs unless they were paid, not only for each letter they printed, but each punctuation mark, which seems fair…(note to self: do not let a translator hear that, we’ll have all manner of trade unionists on our backs: those printers arguably precipitated the first Russian Revolution!)

My point is that, paid for or not, grammar is as important as anything else, which is why translations should not be edited by anyone other than a trained linguist, despite what your intuitions may tell you.

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To translate or not to translate?

The ultimate answer is ‘it’s up to you,’ but here is a small gathering of words which may help to sway you one way or the other…

Think of this address on the back of your widget sales brochure, which has been translated into Hindi:

Widget Heaven
13 Wiggle Road
Bristol
W1D G3T
United Kingdom

Sure, the city and street should not be translated, but is the average provincial Indian postman really going to know what United Kingdom means? If you were posting something which had been translated into English would you know what यूनाइटेड किंगडम meant? (That’s an easy one, too, it means United Kingdom.)

You see the point.

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