About Translation

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? 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 […]

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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 […]

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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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Plural patterns

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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