• Recent Posts

    Hymns and tones: Melodic Intonation Therapy
    3 Tips for Navigating the World of Foreign Language Data
    Signs and Culture: The World of American Sign Language
    Linguistics Research: Patterns and ‘Mini-Languages’
    Multilingual Link Roundup
  • Resources

  • Hymns and tones: Melodic Intonation Therapy

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    Hymns and tones: Melodic Intonation Therapy

    People with aphasia, a condition discussed in a previous blog post here, experience the loss of language in both spoken and written form. There is one somewhat controversial but fascinating course of treatment for people with aphasia (PWA): Melodic intonation therapy (MIT). As early as 1745, a case of a 33-year-old Swedish farmer piqued his community’s interest: this man was paralyzed on the right side of his body, and could only say “yes.” But during church services, he could sing the words of familiar hymns. Olaf Dalin, a contemporary physician, commemorated this phenomenon in writing, and in 1904 a neurologist named Charles Mills found again that some PWA can sing before they can speak.

    downloadMills suggested a primitive form of melodic intonation therapy in the form of singing songs with patients, which he found to help with patients’ emotional well-being, but which did not necessarily help with their speech.

    In 1945, speech-language pathologist Ollie Backus suggested presenting words and phrases PWA wanted to learn in a rhythmical fashion: the beginning of contemporary melodic intonation therapy. This iteration did not involve singing hymns, but rather drilling patients by showing and having them repeat useful words and phrases in varying tones and to a specific rhythm. Formal studies of the therapy began in 1972; in 1974, 6 individuals out of a group of 8 in one study made improvements in speech with MIT. These results should be interpreted with caution, as they only come from a single study and confounding variables may have affected the results. The idea of melody helping patients learn to speak again is certainly an appealing one, however.

    A popular hypothesis for explaining the positive effects of MIT on aphasia patients is that while language is generally controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain (at least in right-handed individuals), it is commonly believed that musical knowledge and processing happens in the right hemisphere. Could using the other side of the brain help compensate for the left side’s weaknesses? The jury is still out. But the next time you sing along to your favorite song, know that it may have a permanent spot in your brain, whether there is a loss of language or not.

    3 Tips for Navigating the World of Foreign Language Data

    relativity-logo-rgb-150This blog is presented with the permission of kCura, the makers of Relativity. We thank them for allowing us to share this blog with you.

    John Del Piero – Discovia | Review & Production, e-Discovery

    3 Tips for Navigating the World of Foreign Language Data

    Rarely does a review project shape up exactly the way we predict. Litigation support teams need agility and flexibility to be prepared for everything e-discovery can and will throw their way.

    Growing data volumes are an obvious contributor to this reality, but so is today’s international landscape. Globalization means more foreign language documents are finding their way into company data stores, and that results in added complications during e-discovery for both litigation and investigations.

    If you’re starting to see that foreign language data is becoming a bigger part of everyday e-discovery, here’s how to get ahead of the complexity.

    1. Think multilingually.

    It is important to always be prepared for foreign language data that may appear in your collections. Odds are good that your business—or your client’s business—involves some dealings in another country, whether via product sales, outsourced services, or recruiting efforts. Modern business means foreign language documents are always a possibility, if not likely.

    For example, our team recently kicked off a relatively small internal investigation involving five custodians. After initial strategizing with the client, we knew we might need to handle foreign language data. Even though we didn’t know what languages or volumes to expect, we were fortunate to have prepared the right technological workflows, including tapping a specialized translation plugin for our review workspace, in advance. It turned out that this small investigation became a big one, and more than 10 million documents involving English, Russian, and several Middle Eastern languages were collected when all was said and done.

    Bonus Tip: You can also use early case assessment workflows to perform analytics on your case and identify which foreign languages are used in which documents.

    2. Hone in on foreign language insights with the right technology.

    The days of setting aside individual documents with foreign language content during a manual, linear review so they can be attended to separately by native speakers are more or less behind us. Case teams can now take advantage of text analytics to identify those documents at the very start of the review. The benefit here is that, while still requiring a separate workflow, these documents can undergo a first-pass review simultaneously alongside the English documents—instead of being flagged and funneled into a separate process as reviewers churn through the entire data set manually.

    Working with foreign languages in your e-discovery software also means identifying the right stop words—common terms that the system will ignore, such as “the” or “it”—for searching and analytics, so be sure to have a proper understanding of those dictionaries from the start. You can also get creative during searching by looking into slang or other regional terms that could be present in your data set.

    Creating a unique analytics index for each language is a good way to ensure you’re making the most of your system’s conceptual analysis of the data. Additionally, work closely with foreign language experts to identify any foreign names or terms that could but should not be translated, such as “Deutsche Telekom,” and dig into foreign keyword search criteria that may uncover the most important files by helping to create clusters—conceptually related groups of documents that can be automatically organized by the system.

    Bonus Tip: Taking note of some special considerations for use on foreign languages, leverage email threading and other analytics features on this data for better organization with minimal human input.

    3. Know you have options for translation.

    All of those technology options mean that a slow linear review by native speakers is no longer necessary—at least not to the full extent it once was. However, once you’ve identified potentially relevant materials via these workflows, you still need to get the data into the hands of the experts on your project. You can’t build a convincing case strategy based on second-hand reports of the stories the documents are telling—at some point you’ll need accurate document translation to provide evidence.

    Fortunately, even translation is a different animal when you have the right technology and workflows in place. Machine translation is a very low cost option, but you must be careful. It can provide a gist meaning, but is unreliable for the true meaning of any sentence. While convenient and fast, machine translation may produce misleading information—and some of it may be simply incomprehensible. For reliable accuracy, consider human revision of the machine’s results.

    For instance, on that same case of 10 million documents, our team ended up with more than 70,000 files that required translation—and the task seemed daunting. Working closely with Linguistic Systems, a Relativity developer partner, we were able to identify a collaborative, hybrid workflow that utilized post-editing of the machine translation to split the difference between the cost-effectiveness of machine translation and the refined accuracy of human translation. In the end, it cost 65 percent less than we anticipated for a manual translation—and we gathered all the insight we needed, easily within the time allowed.

    Bonus Tip: Specialized tools that can be added directly to your review workspace support translation workflows in real time, so you don’t have to move data around. Discovia worked with the Relativity Developer Partner, Linguistic Systems, Inc., who does this translation work through their proprietary LSI Translation Plug-in, an application in the Relativity Ecosystem.

    When it comes down to it, tackling foreign language data is yet another example of how modern e-discovery requires a healthy balance of technology, expertise, and collaboration. How do you ensure you’re sticking the landing on feats like these? Let us know in the comments.

    John Del Piero is vice president of global e-discovery solutions at Discovia, where he helps foster effective partnerships with law firms and corporations tackling complex litigation and investigations. He joined Discovia in 2010.

    Signs and Culture: The World of American Sign Language

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    Signs and Culture: The World of American Sign Language

    “Your name is what?”

    This is not how most English speakers ask a new acquaintance their name. Hearing (as opposed to Deaf) speakers say “What is your name?” And they get to see their formulation in writing all the time – in dialogue introducing a new character in a novel, or on a job application. But Deaf or hard-of-hearing people who speak American Sign Language (ASL) don’t have that luxury. They must learn one set of grammatical rules for signing, and another for reading and writing English.

    sign_languageSome people assume ASL is simply English conveyed in gestures, but that is certainly not the case. There are the grammatical differences noted above, and also the notion of signs as opposed to gestures. I’ve experienced at least one hearing person refer to a sign as a “gesture,” and knew from taking ASL classes that members of the Deaf and the hard-of-hearing community would not appreciate this phrasing. A sign, like a word, has a fixed form and meaning: its visual representation does not change from speaker to speaker, and it has a definition as precise as that of a spoken or written word. Hearing people’s gestures, on the other hand, are often made up on the spot and only carry meaning during that particular conversation.

    ASL speakers face not only the challenge of being required to learn two languages if they want to be able to convey thoughts through writing or to read a favorite storybook. Crucial information is always being conveyed auditorily – from train announcements to sirens, it can be hard to get a full read on one’s environment without the sense of hearing – and Deaf people must navigate the world without that help. They may face misinformed hearing people in daily life as well, who attach a stigma to Deafness and do not want to understand Deaf people’s language or lived experiences. Deaf Culture, a sign I will never forget from my two semesters of ASL in college due to its obvious importance to my Deaf professor, refers to the way Deaf people interact with each other: jokes that hearing people may not understand; books and movies that speak to the challenges of Deaf life; describing people using solely physical characteristics, in a way that may seem blunt to some hearing folks. It’s a culture Deaf people are rightly proud of and that they dedicate much time and effort into preserving and helping evolve.

    My above-mentioned ASL professor, who is Deaf, taught the entire two semesters I took with her without speaking a single English word. Immersion has always been the best way to go about language learning in my experience, and my classmates and I knew we needed to pick up signs and grammar as quickly as in any other foreign language class to succeed. But we were also required to attend Deaf cultural events for class: church services, movie nights, themed meetups. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people gathered at these events and signed with rapid fluidity, allowing us students to glimpse church or a movie through a quite novel cultural and linguistic lens. We learned about Gallaudet College, the only all-Deaf university in the country, of which our instructor was a proud alum. She described the college, slowly, during our classes: Washington, D.C., a beautiful campus, students and professors who really understood. One day towards the end of the semester, our professor revealed that she actually did speak English, to one person: her mother. “Because I love her,” she signed to us, “and because she can’t sign.” Clearly, it takes a very powerful love to draw a Deaf person out of their Culture enough to speak what is truly a foreign language for someone else’s convenience. Deaf Culture, like ASL itself, is strong, rich, and varied: a home for a beautiful language and those who speak it, understanding each other in a world that often refuses to understand them.

    Linguistics Research: Patterns and ‘Mini-Languages’

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    Linguistics Research: Patterns and ‘Mini-Languages’

    Readers of this blog will have seen my post about deciding to study linguistics as an undergraduate. The takeaway from that course of study, for me, was an appreciation of the complexity of languages and their tendency to change over time, as well as a basic understanding of areas of linguistic study like sociolinguistics, syntax, and phonetics and phonology. But what is it like to continue studying linguistics as a graduate student, to the point of conducting original research to investigate specific questions about language? Dr. Anna Greenwood recently obtained her Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and spoke with me about her research.

    a-group-of-peoples-generate-a-network-100232926Her studies took place, Dr. Greenwood says, “at the interface of phonetics and phonology.” For the uninitiated, phonetics refers to how people perceive and produce speech sounds, like vowels and consonants, while phonology deals with how these sounds are then organized within languages to form larger units, such as words. Languages are “highly organized” – so how do speech sounds affect a language’s organizational structure? To narrow in on Dr. Greenwood’s research – what kinds of sounds can occur at the end of a word?

    There are “voiced” and “voiceless” consonants across languages. Which category these sounds fall into is determined by whether your vocal cords vibrate (voiced), or not (voiceless), when they are produced. To hear how voicing can change a sound, take “s” and “z” for example – if you produce a long “sssss” sound, then add voicing, you will hear “zzzzz” instead. Dr. Greenwood noticed that in languages where words can end with consonant sounds, they generally tend to end those words with voiceless consonants. Why? Is it “easier” to learn the more frequent pattern of voicelessness at the end of words, or is it simply that the voiceless consonant patterns are easier to perceive? Dr. Greenwood believed it was the latter – that these particular infrequent patterns are just as easy to learn as the frequent ones – and set about creating “mini artificial languages” to test this hypothesis. Her languages included words following the more cross-linguistically frequent pattern of voiceless consonants at the end (“poss,” as an example), as well as ones following the less frequent pattern of word-final voiced consonants (“pozz”). Using undergraduate students at her university as subjects, she “had speaker[s] record the words of both languages in two different ways — one which was slow and hyperarticulated, like how we speak in formal settings, and one which was faster, more slurred, more resemblant of how we speak to our friends.” She found, “consistently, that my participants had basically no problem learning the infrequent patterns when they were taught the language in the more formal speech.”

    So – her results suggest that specifically for the patterns Dr. Greenwood was studying, there is no “innate problem” in learning infrequent sound patterns – just that more common sound patterns are easier to hear. Could these findings help explain commonalities among languages across the world? More research is needed, Dr. Greenwood says, but her studies have opened the door for investigation. Fascinating new discoveries such as hers are coming out every day – and at LSI we are always ready to learn more about language. Many thanks to Dr. Greenwood for taking the time to share her findings with us.

    Multilingual Link Roundup

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    Multilingual Link Roundup

    If you love language, take a look at the following articles. We at LSI enjoyed these stories, which are from varied perspectives on many aspects of language. From personal essay to a report on gendered hurricane names, these articles should whet your linguistic appetite – and inspire you to learn more!

    An in-depth look at the decline of the Hawaiian language, and those who are working to help revive it by educating the next generation in language immersion schools:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/tomorrows_test/2016/06/how_the_ka_papahana_kaiapuni_immersion_schools_saved_the_hawaiian_language.html

     A beautifully written personal essay about languages as windows into other cultures:

    http://the-toast.net/2016/05/31/language-learning-decolonisation/

    A language-related Onion article for good measure:

    http://www.theonion.com/article/underfunded-schools-forced-to-cut-past-tense-from–2336

     And finally, an article we wish was from the Onion about how hurricanes’ names affect people’s perception of their severity:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/06/02/female-named-hurricanes-kill-more-than-male-because-people-dont-respect-them-study-finds/

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    The wonder of code switching

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    The wonder of code switching

    I was standing at the bus stop, tired after a long day and ready to go home. A woman and her young daughter were also waiting there, and I was letting their Haitian Creole wash over me as I stared into space. Suddenly, though, the mother said “a strawberry smoothie, once a day,” in English. This was a bit jarring and snapped me back to attention and on to remembering learning about code switching, something covered in sociolinguistics courses I had taken in college.

    ConsiderThere is still much to be learned about bilingualism – whether bilingual babies and children are learning two or more languages simultaneously and separately; whether they really master one first, then the other; whether the grammar from one language serves as scaffolding for a second, third, fourth. But an observable phenomenon occurs with many bilingual speakers in conversation, once those languages have been learned: code switching. This refers to switching languages in the middle of speaking – often in the middle of a sentence, or just inserting one word from Language 2 into a sentence spoken in Language 1. As someone who had to study hard to approximate fluent French, I am always mesmerized by truly bilingual people who can switch between languages so fluidly.

    Whether and how one code-switches depends on the relationship between the speaker and her listener, the subject matter at hand, and probably other mechanisms that bilingual people have internalized but maybe couldn’t even articulate if asked. Code switching is common when the speakers are very familiar with each other. It’s seen with family members or friends speaking casually, perhaps with Dominican-Americans dropping an English word that may more precisely convey some American cultural signifier or concept into an otherwise Spanish sentence.

    What was the Creole-speaking woman at the bus stop saying about her strawberry smoothie? I’ll never know. But her easy shifting reminded me to appreciate all our beautiful codes, and especially those who can switch between them to create a novel and quite personal code of their own.

    When Language Leaves Us

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    When Language Leaves Us

    Have you ever had a word at the tip of your tongue, but just couldn’t say it? You know what you want to say but just can’t conjure up the right combination of sounds. Imagine if that happened with almost every word you tried to say. For people living with aphasia, this is the unfortunate reality.

    epilepsy-623346_1920Aphasia is a language disorder found most commonly in people who have suffered a stroke or, to a lesser extent, a traumatic brain injury. Most often, a stroke that occurs in the left hemisphere of the brain causes aphasia; the left side of the brain controls most aspects of language in most people. The above-mentioned loss of words, clinically referred to as anomia, occurs in all types of aphasia, but there are variations on the disorder. Some people can speak fluently if with some nonsense words mixed in, but not understand language while others can understand but not produce language. Aphasia can affect spoken and written language.

    It is important to note that aphasia is a loss of language, not intelligence, which is what can be the most frustrating aspect for those living with it: the mind comprehends what is going on, including an awareness of the aphasia itself, but still the patient struggles with language.

    June is National Aphasia Awareness Month; if you hadn’t heard of it before, the American Stroke Association has plenty of information here.

    In past years, stroke survivors, speech-language pathologists, and supporters have gathered at the Massachusetts State House to spread awareness of their cause; there are approximately 80,000 new cases of aphasia diagnosed per year, and yet many have never heard of it.

    Learning about language disorders may move us to advocate for those who have them, and at the very least should foster a deeper appreciation of the ease with words many of us may take for granted. Keep aphasia survivors and their loved ones in mind the next time you can’t find a word; that moment will pass for you but for others it never will, and there but for fortune…

    Seven Ways to Design Better Global Marketing Brochures

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    Seven Ways to Design Better Global Marketing Brochures

    Design Concept. Design Drawn on Dark Wall. Design in Multicolor Doodle Design. Design Concept. Modern Illustration in Doodle Design Style of Design. Design Business Concept.

    I have listed things to avoid when you design a brochure that will be translated in a previous post. Today I want to show you things that we commonly see on client source files and our advice for those of you who design global marketing brochures or product sheets.

    When your designed piece follows some of the best practices that follow, you can expect that your translation cost will be less. In addition, you can expect the design quality of your translated material to be identical to your source file.

    What follows are best practices you should take into account when designing globally distributed design materials! For example, when you design product sheets in InDesign:

    1. Plan using paragraph and character styles in a smart way. This is a recommended practice in graphic design in general, but this will affect production cost when materials are translated. Think about hierarchies of styles, create descriptive names for each style, and design in a logical way. It will help us to follow your styles and/or create new styles that work together with styles you have set up.
    2. Thread text frames where it makes sense. When we see files where a designer linked all text frames for body text, we immediately know that we can use translation tools more effectively. A file with separated individual text frames requires more production hours. This means added cost to your translation project.
    3. Make images flow with text. This is called anchoring objects as well. Rather than placing small objects separately from text paste objects into text so that those objects travel as text reflows. Let’s say you have a product manual with some button graphics within the text boxes. If you don’t anchor them to the specific text, the translation company will need to anchor each one of them. Again, this will affect your translation cost.
    4. Allow extra spaces everywhere. When a page is designed tightly, there is a chance that we have to reduce the font size and/or leading dramatically or make fonts condensed to fit translated text. Depending on a language, we might need to go down even 1.5-point from the 10-point font, and 8.5-point size does look smaller than the source. This is especially important when translating a file from English into Spanish.
    5. Be flexible on fonts being chosen for translated materials. Make sure to provide a whole package of InDesign files including fonts. A translation company will try to use the fonts provided when possible or they will look for similar looking fonts depending on the language. Some languages look quite different from English. It is almost impossible to retain the same feel with English designed piece.
    6. Prefer tabs over spaces. Don’t hit the space key multiple times! We see this happen not only in InDesign but also in Word files. If you would like to receive a clean looking translated file, just use tabs! Alignment looks sharp and beautiful with tabs.
    7. Don’t forget to use master pages for multiple paged documents. It saves design time greatly when some pages have similar design elements regardless of translation. This is another tool that helps final output layout quality be high.

     

    Perhaps your file was clean with all styles and masters set perfectly when your brochure was designed initially. Probably there have been quite a lot of revision rounds since, and multiple people have worked on the file. It is then very important that you follow the best practices that I have described above before you submit your document for translating. A good translation company will follow your design specification. In other words, we won’t mess up your design with translation!

    Five Essential Tips for Successful Translation Projects!

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    You Don’t Know the Language? Five Essential Tips for Successful Translation Projects!

    desktop translator illustration. Flat modern style vector design

    You are a Global Marketing Manager or Project Manager and asking yourself, “I need to translate these product sheets into three languages. I don’t know the languages. How do I start this project?”

    With close to 50 years of translation business experience, we can provide you with some essential tips for a successful translation project.

    • Make sure that your target audiences and languages match.
      Let’s say you are thinking of translating marketing collateral from English to Spanish. Are you targeting Spanish-speaking people in the US, Columbia, or Spain? Moreover, if it is for the US market, what about numbering decimal format? Should they be US style (e.g. 0.1, 1,000) or European and Latin American style (e.g. 0,1, 1 000 or 1.000)?If you are targeting Chinese-speaking people, is the country you are targeting Taiwan, Hong Kong, or China?
    • Choose a translation company with solid experience in the language service market with excellent customer service.
      Maybe you are requesting a quote from a few translation companies. Carefully select the one that you think offers the best support for your concerns. Translation management is not a simple task. You want to choose a company that will partner with you throughout your project answering questions and providing you the language expertise you are looking for. A good partner will help you achieve your foreign language goals. You must trust that the company you choose will be experts in translating projects for the languages you are looking for. They also need to be subject matter experts in the topic you are translating. And, most importantly, the translator should be a native speaker of the language in the country you are translating for. Engaging with the right company will make all the difference when it comes to getting the best translation for your money and effort. There must be a deep level of trust as you don’t know the language!
    • Ask as many questions you may have to an Account Manager at the translation company before the project starts.
      If you don’t know how your translation projects will be handled, take the time to speak with the account manager and ask as many questions as needed until you are confident in your choice. For example, you can discuss:

      • What file format should be submitted and what formats can the final files be formatted into?
      • Describe the differences between quality and speed?
      • Formatting quality requirements: print or presentation ready versus rough formatting?
      • Language requirements: what languages are you translating from and into?
      • Does the translation company provide DTP* services?
        * If your materials contain images with callouts (embedded text in images), make sure you provide the source files (Illustrator or Photoshop) for those and provide them to the company at the job start. Recreating a chart costs more than placing translated text into an already-created chart.
    • Verify your source files are complete before providing them for translation.
      So often, the delay of project turnaround is related to incomplete source files and additional changes to source files after the project has started. If you want to avoid additional costs to the project, make sure your source files are final in the source language. This includes all images and charts.

    If you only have a PDF file as a source file, make sure to read this tip!
    It is always best to provide the original source file. If the source file is only in PDF format you can expect a higher translation cost. Just converting the PDF file into an unformatted word file doesn’t work either. A converted Word file translation costs twice or even triple as much when compared to a newly created Word file. A clean and not converted Word file or InDesign file is always the best source file format for the best translation costs and quality of translation and formatting. Frequently, when converting a file from PDF into Word you will lose formatting and even words. Remember that what you are providing as the source file is what the translator will be looking at. If you provide an incomplete, poorly formatted source file, you will also get an incomplete, poorly formatted translated file back. Spend extra time in making sure you are providing the best available source file you have.

    • A well-prepared job start will lead you to a satisfactory project finish.
      No one wants to deal with issues or difficulties. Be sure to spend time on the job requirements and conditions that I stated above before starting a project and you will assure smooth project handling. Even though you don’t know the language, you will know how to avoid extra costs, turnaround delays, and/or complications. You probably have a schedule you need to meet. Any delays or incomplete items will only add time to your deadline and open the door to translation mistakes being made. So my advice is you take the time before you submit the project so that you can both meet your deadline and get the quality translation you expect.

    I hope these tips are helpful. Remember that choosing the best partner will save you time, money and effort. However, it will still be up to you to perform good due diligence, as you know what and for whom this translation is for. Good luck managing your translation projects!

    Language and the Plastic Brain

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    Language and the Plastic Brain

    President Obama

    You may have heard about the Obama family’s recent trip to Cuba, where between his diplomatic duties, the President managed to squeeze in time talking with ordinary citizens. And if you’ve seen the above photograph, you’ll know that in order to communicate with the Spanish-speaking people there, he needed an interpreter – and who better than his daughter Malia?

    It’s a well-documented phenomenon that the POTUS can attest to. The younger a person is when they are exposed to a particular language, the more easily they will learn it. The time period (called a “critical window”) for language acquisition is during the first few years of life though of course language learning can occur across the lifespan. But from the moment they are born children begin filtering and synthesizing the language-related sounds around them, and their young brains are particularly adept at doing this. It’s related to infant brains’ particularly high neuroplasticity, or the flexibility of the brain in creating new information pathways as it learns. Synaptic pruning, like the pruning of an unruly bush in your yard, is the brain’s way of getting rid of pathways it doesn’t use. Newborns’ brains are just beginning to prune themselves, leaving room for a staggering amount of new connections to be made when, say, they hear a new language.

    As the brain continues aging its plasticity decreases. If like many people in the U.S., you only begin taking French in middle school, you’ll know firsthand how hard it is to pronounce a single new word, let alone think fluently in French. Many preschools are beginning to offer full immersion classes, often in Spanish, to take advantage of the young students’ critical period for learning any language. And of course, this period applies for signed as well as spoken language; for more information on Nicaraguan Sign Language, developed by deaf children in a single generation in the 1980s, look here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/07/2/l_072_04.html .

    The human brain is capable of so many amazing feats that producing and comprehending spoken, signed, and written languages as it does on a daily basis can sometimes be brushed aside. But when it’s necessary to use a foreign language to communicate it becomes obvious how intricate and difficult a task that is. Here’s hoping next time you visit a Spanish-speaking country, someone like Malia Obama is nearby to help!

    Why Study Linguistics?

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    Why Study Linguistics?

    This question is projected onto the front wall of my phonetics classroom. I look at it. “Why?” Why would my professor ask us this? Shouldn’t we know? Won’t she drive any doubt out of our heads with the lecture she’s about to deliver, full of those pop science-y morsels about who says “pop” and who says “soda” that we can repeat to our friends later, feeling smug? Maybe part of me hoped or even knew that there could be more to studying the elements of language than this, but I’d never really thought about it.

    Various aspects of the answer come through years of study, true, but the most important element introduced in that phonetics class is borne out every day on the streets of New York, watching movies and television, talking with friends: language is always changing, and trying to staunch the flow of new vocabulary and phrasing will get you nowhere. Unsurprisingly, new terms tend to come from the mouths of young people, especially young women.

    The very professor from my phonetics class, Lisa Davidson of NYU, was recently interviewed about a particular quality of young women’s speech that is becoming more common by the day. This is “vocal fry,” a phenomenon occurring when a speaker’s vocal folds fully close then quickly open, creating a gravelly sound very different from when the vocal folds move smoothly between being partly open and partly closed, which happens during typical speech. As with every change new generations make to language, vocal fry is being derided by older speakers, from public radio hosts to anonymous bloggers, with increasing regularity.

    Davidson puts to rest the idea that vocal fry is inherently “bad” to do while speaking, noting, “We expect our children to dress differently than we do, and to have different hairstyles. We might decry it, sort of, but you know, fashion styles change. Why wouldn’t everything else [including language] change too? It’s just yet another way of making ourselves different than the generation that came before us.” (https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/nyu-stories/lisa-davidson-on-vocal-fry.html).

    Studying linguistics taught me precision and how to diagram complex sentences – but internalizing the fact that language is constantly in flux was the most important thing I learned in my years of study. I can only hope this attitude will stick as I grow older and the changes become more and more removed from the ones of my youth.

    Consider

    Rush translations

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    Rush Translations

    We understand that the demand for speed in translation jobs is very high. To satisfy clients with such needs, we can make that happen. From account managers, project managers, translators, to graphic specialists, all work to complete the job on time. Teamwork counts. Our project managers are very experienced and committed to handling such jobs every day.

    When speed is crucial, sometimes other factors (such as layout) become less of a priority.  What follows are tips for clients submitting a rush job. These tips can help both clients (less cost) and us (faster process).

    • Be sure to tell your account manager the level of translation quality and layout you require from the very beginning. Perhaps the file needs to be printed professionally or posted on a website where both content and format matter.
    • If the files contain a table of contents and index, let us know if they should be translated and formatted or if they can be skipped (for example, if a client only needs the translation for analysis purposes).
    • If files contain images and diagrams, let us know if they must be translated.
    • Let us know if you have a translation reviewer at your company or would like to add editorial services when quality is very important.

    We will be happy to assist you when you need an urgent translation.

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    The Old Chicken and Egg Conundrum

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    The Old Chicken and Egg Conundrum

    For years linguists have discussed the question of whether language affects our thoughts and behavior. Does a Spanish speaker think differently than a Japanese speaker? In “How Language Can Affect the Way We Think” by Jessica Gross (2013), the answer may be “yes.” For example, in the 1950s, researchers studied the language and thoughts of Zuñi speakers (Native Americans indigenous to New Mexico and Arizona), who don’t have separate words for orange and yellow in their language. Sure enough, it was difficult for speakers of Zuñi to tell the two colors apart when asked in the study. At the other end of the spectrum, Russian speakers, who grow up with two completely different words for “dark blue” and “light blue,” were better at differentiating between the two colors than English speakers in a 2007 research project.

    Language differences go deeper than just colors, however. In an article in the Wall Street Journal by Lera Boroditsky, the issue of language and blame is discussed. While English speakers tend to say a person “broke a vase,” for example, Spanish and Japanese speakers would say that the “vase broke itself.” In a Stanford University study, researcher Caitlin Fausey discovered that after watching a video of people accidentally breaking eggs, spilling drinks, etc. and subsequently taking a surprise memory test, English speakers were more likely to remember who caused the accidental event than the Spanish or Japanese speakers.

    A third example can be seen among the aboriginal community of Pormpuraaw, Australia, where indigenous languages use “north,” “south,” “east,” and “west” instead of words like “left” and “right.”  For instance, instead of saying “there is a bug on one’s left leg,” a speaker of Pormpuraaw would say “there is a bug on one’s southwest leg.” Boroditsky decided to study the effects of this linguistic difference and asked the Pormpuraawans to arrange a set of pictures by time of occurrence. While English speakers would do this from left to right, and Hebrew speakers from right to left (Hebrew is written from right to left), the Pormpuraawans arranged the pictures from east to west. Therefore, when facing south, the pictures were placed from left to right, but when facing north, from right to left.

    While research is still being conducted on the relationship among thought, behavior, and language, it seems that language plays at least some role in our thought patterns.

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    The Almost Right Word

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    The Almost Right Word

    “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter — it’s the difference between a lightning bug and the lightning.”   –Mark Twain

    As Mark Twain so wisely states, choosing the right word is important. That’s why, in the translation business, it is considered good practice to always translate into your native language. Even if one is completely fluent in a second language, ideas and concepts may be phrased slightly differently by native speakers, making sentences sound stilted, awkward, or just plain wrong if a non-native speaker writes them. Some mistakes may cause native speakers a great deal of amusement. Take these examples below (source: linguagreca.com):

    In a Norwegian cocktail lounge:  Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

    It doesn’t make sense to English speakers, because “to have children” has the connotation of giving birth to children, which is most likely not what the Norwegians meant.

    In a Nairobi restaurant:  Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.

    Again, we know what the translator is trying to say. But in this case, the sentence sounds like the manager is even ruder than the waitresses.

    At a Budapest zoo: Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.

    While this sentence is grammatically correct, the way it is written causes native speakers to think the guard wants to be fed.

    Although most translators would not make such amusing mistakes, these examples highlight the importance of linguists working into their native language. Almost right isn’t right at all.

    Living Language

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    Living Language

    If you are socializing with a younger crowd, you may hear phrases like That’s totes adorbs! or I’m so jelly. While I admit to becoming slightly bothered when people say totes instead of totally, adorbs instead of adorable and jelly for jealous, every generation, yours and mine included, has made changes to the language, making it the English we consider “normal” today.  Language is always evolving, always adapting to the needs and norms of the culture around it. Eventually, something being totes adorbs will sound old-fashioned, being replaced by new words and phrases by the generations to come.

    Various linguistic processes have resulted in language changes. One such process is called “rebracketing,” which means that a word is broken down into different parts. For example, the word apron used to be napron, a change that was the result of confusing a napron with an apron. The opposite occurred with the word newt; this type of amphibian used to be an ewt, but eventually changed into a newt. Other changes took place through the shortening of common words. Goodbye was originally God-be-with-you, while pub comes from public house. And metathesis, or the rearranging of sounds, transformed words like brid to bird and revelent to relevant. The fact that English is a language that is alive and well means it will always be changing – like all languages used by people in their daily lives.

    So You Want to Be a Translator

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    So You Want to Be a Translator…

    hamletMany people think that translating from one language to another will be an easy and fun way to make a living. This is even true of people who think of translation as a profession, and especially for people who have learned another language in the course of their lives. But even this situation is not always true: some people think they can just study a language for a year or two and be able to translate from it (presumably into their native language). Reading sites for professional translators, you can occasionally come across questions like: 1. Which language is in most demand that I should study to become a translator? 2. Which of the two languages, Arabic or Spanish, would get me the most work as a translator? I’m thinking of learning one of them. 3. I studied Spanish in school, but I think I can earn more money if I learn Portuguese. Is the market for Portuguese translators better than for Spanish?

    You may think that funny. Of course you should already know another language to even think about becoming a translator. But not everyone does. Some think they can learn what they believe to be the basics of another language very quickly, and then translate anything from one language to another. But how well does a person need to know a second language to translate from it to their native language – or to translate into it?

    Two different issues: 1. To translate from a language (known as a source language), how well do you need to know it? 2. To translate into a language (the target language), how well do you need to know that? Almost all good, experienced, professional translators will answer the second question quickly and easily: you should only translate into a target language that is your native language, a language you have learned from early childhood, have studied throughout your schooling years, and have always thought and written in it naturally. The first question is more difficult to answer, given different people’s varied of life and educational experiences, but a good rule of thumb may be: a) you should have spent at least a year in the country where your source language is spoken, b) you should have studied it at least 5-10 years, and c) you should feel comfortable reading books and newspapers in it – without having recourse to a dictionary.

    Then, why do so many trained translators advertise their skills as, for example, English<>Spanish (which means they can go both directions)? Usually because they believe they can get more work if they say they can do both directions. But in fact, they should only translate into their native language, because that is the one they know best and have the confidence to do well. It becomes painfully clear very quickly that a translation done by someone not a native speaker is not natural. (Certainly, not all native speakers can translate into their native language, but that doesn’t negate the need for only translating into your native language.)

    Besides needing to know the culture and the language of your second, or source language, you also need to be very familiar with the subject matter you want to specialize in. You can’t translate legal or medical texts if you don’t know those areas. When you see a description in Spanish of a business that is owned by one person, do you know the correct terminology to describe it in English? It’s not a “one owner business” in English, it’s a “sole proprietorship.” In most cases, looking it up in Google won’t give you the right answer, although sometimes you get a choice, and then the trick is to know which of the choices is correct in the particular context. If you aren’t familiar with the terminology used in the subject area in that language, you’re sunk! You can always take your pick, but it’s more than likely you’ll be wrong.

    Yes, doing translations is intriguing, but even knowing two languages well is not the only requirement to becoming a translator.

    Movies and Translation

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    Movies and Translation

    Have you heard of the film “American Bluff,” ”American Sting” or “American Dream”? No? What about “American Hustle”? In French, Portuguese, and Hebrew, the film is better known by the names above (albeit in the actual language). Translation can be a tricky business, and movie and TV show titles are no exception.  While some titles get translated word for word, some languages completely change the title to make it more culturally appealing, leading to greater success for the film or show. Some examples of this are “Two and a Half Men” being translated into German as “My Cool Uncle Charlie” (Mein cooler Onkel Charlie) and the film “Die Hard” as Die Slowly (Stirb langsam). In France, “The Matrix” is translated as “The Young People Who Traverse Dimensions While Wearing Sunglasses (Les jeunes gens qui traversent les dimensions en portant des lunettes de soleil) and in Spanish, “Weekend at Bernie’s” is “This Dead Person is Very Alive” (Este muerto está muy vivo). A little different!

    The interesting thing, however, is when translators of movie titles in other countries take the original English title and transform it into “simpler” English, which causes some confusion when English native speakers discuss those films with non-native English speakers. “Silver Linings Playbook,” for example, is known as “Happiness Therapy” in France, while “Miss Congeniality” debuted as “Miss Undercover” in Germany and “Miss Detective” in Italy. My favorite movie title translation is the Hebrew translation of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” To make it more immediately appealing and successful locally, the translators changed the title to “It’s Raining Falafal.” Even in Hollywood translation is all about culture!

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    Advice from a Translation Industry Project Manager

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    Advice from a Translation Industry Project Manager

    Key and LockProject managers in the translation industry come across all kinds of documents. From Japanese contracts to Dutch reports to Spanish marketing pamphlets, we see it all.

    In order to understand the life of a project manager, it is necessary to know how translation works. A typical translator can translate between 1,500-2,000 words a day. Therefore, if your project is 20,000 words, it could take at least ten days for one translator to complete. If you need the project sooner, there is the option of dividing the work between two translators, but then you run the risk of having slightly different translation styles and registers throughout the document. This is where editing, or having the translated work reviewed by a second linguist, comes in to play. In order to ensure that the document is polished and completely mistake-free, it is always recommended to have the document edited. Translators are only human, after all, and having a second linguist review the work ensures accuracy.

    As previously stated, every project is unique. For example, some projects are more technical than others. These types of documents may require more time, as translators will need to research the specific terminology used in the field. Other projects have certain text that should remain in the source language, while still others require specific formatting and graphics work. It is important that any instructions for the project are very clear, as these guidelines will pass from the client to the project manager to the translator. The clearer the instructions, the more confident you can be that your project will be completed exactly to your standards.

    In summary, it is the goal of a project manager to have the translations completed as exact to the meaning as possible.  With clear instructions, as well as by understanding the translation process, you can be sure to receive a high-quality translated project.

    Journey to the West: The Story of the Translator Xuanzang

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    Journey to the West: The Story of the Translator Xuanzang

    One of the four classics of Chinese literature is the historical romance known in English as the Journey to the West was inspired by one of history’s greatest feats of translation. This ancient story of a monk named Xuanzang, who went on a 17-year long journey from north China to India, is still very popular in China.

    Xuanzang lived in China during the Tang dynasty (early 7th century), an era when the study of Buddhism was flourishing. From an early age he studied the Chinese classics and Buddhist writings that had been translated from Indian languages, such as Sanskrit and Pali. But while studying these translations, he suspected that many were inadequate, and decided that he needed to improve them. To do this, he would need access to the original texts which were not available in China. He had to journey to the West, to the Buddhist kingdoms of Central Asia and India to retrieve the source texts. So he left the comfort of Chang’an, the Imperial capital, and made his way west along the foothills of the Tian Shan mountain range, stopping for rest in oasis cities. But travel in those days was not safe; nevertheless, he eventually reached the Buddhist Kingdom of Turpan, where he met a king who helped him in his further travels to India. Eight years later he reached Nalanda, once the epicenter of Buddhist learning in India. There he studied Sanskrit  and copied nearly one thousand texts to bring back to China.

    He returned to the Imperial capital 17 years later with enough Sanskrit literature to occupy both him and a large group of students for the rest of their lives. The translations they produced still serve as the standards of the Chinese Buddhist canon.

    Certainly not every translator has the energy and determination of Xuanzang, but his story highlights some of the contributions translators make to knowledge and communication.

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    A Day in the Life of a Translator

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    A Day in the Life of a Translator

    What is it like to be a translator? Depends on the day! For me, when I receive a job, the first thing I do is look over the text to see what the topic is and how it is written. Is it factual and straight-forward? Is it a marketing text, with colorful words and phrases? Or is it a personal document? A translator needs to keep the voice of the author in mind when working on the text.

    After getting the general idea of the document, I get right to work. In some cases, the topic is very subject-specific, which can make things a little more complicated. For example, I recently completed a translation on 15th century fabric in Burgundy, France—I can’t say I’ve ever come across that topic before! Therefore, before translating any further, I read many articles on silks, velvets and various weaving methods of the time, which gave me a much better understanding of the topic at hand. Researching is often necessary as a translator, even if one is an expert in the field.

    Regardless of the topic, I have a certain routine when it comes to translating. I’m sure every translator is slightly different, but mine goes something like this:

    • I go through the text the first time. When I reach a word or a sentence for which I can’t find the “perfect” English term, I highlight it in red to return to later.
    • Having completed my first draft of the text, I then return to those tricky red sentences. Finding a good translation for these is like trying to solve a puzzle—it’s a challenge, but you feel an immense sense of accomplishment when you know you’ve found the perfect way to phrase something in your native language.
    • After the entire text has been translated, I then go through my translation a second time, comparing it with the source document word by word to make sure I haven’t missed any small detail.
    • Finally, I put the source document away. I read my rendition of the text a third time, making sure it sounds 100% perfect in English, the target language.

    And that’s it. My translation process is complete…until the next job!

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    Vocabulary versus Meaning

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    Vocabulary versus Meaning

    While having a vast vocabulary is important for any translator or interpreter, simply knowing the dictionary meanings of words in a foreign language is not enough. In fact, in any language, there are many cultural layers behind certain words and phrases that linguists need to know.

    I learned this the hard way when living in German-speaking Austria. As English speakers, we often say “how are you?” as a continuation of our “hello” greeting. We then expect the person to answer with an automatic “Good, how are you?” German speakers, however, don’t do this. Not knowing this cultural norm, I simply translated our common English greeting of “Hello, how are you?” to the German “Hallo, wie geht’s?”when talking to people abroad. After receiving slightly strange looks from German speakers, I would then be provided with twenty-minute long answers involving that person’s stomach issues, skin rashes, fights with estranged siblings, you name it. I quickly learned that the German version of “how are you” is a little different from the English.

    Another example is the phrase “Bis spӓter,” which translates to the English phrase “See you later.” But not exactly. In Austria, after meeting up with a German-speaking friend and getting ready to leave, I cheerfully told him “Bis spӓter!” He gave me a very strange look and said in German, “No, I won’t see you later.” After being a little confused about why he didn’t want to see me ever again, I realized that the German “See you later” can only apply to later that day, and not to the general, anytime-in-the-future way we mean it in English.

    These subtle differences in meaning can make all the difference in translating and interpreting. While the above examples are very basic and low-level, they represent the fact that cultural norms play a role in how one should translate or interpret certain words and phrases. It is therefore very important to be aware of the culture of the language.

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    Different Words, Same Object

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    Different Words, Same Object

    If a British person asked someone to put something in the “boot” in the U.S., they may not be understood. The same might happen if an Argentinian asked for a “papa” instead of a “patata” in Spain, or an Austrian asked for a “Semmel” instead of a “Brӧtchen” in Germany. Depending on the country, the vocabulary, such as these words for “trunk,” “potato,” and “dinner roll,” can differ greatly. But how did these differences begin?translation memory

    To answer this question for the English language, we need to travel back to Great Britain in the 1600s, before the pilgrims set foot on American soil. The Brits themselves may be dismayed to hear this, but, back then, they actually sounded more like American English speakers do today. They threw away “trash” instead of “rubbish” and looked at the beautiful leaves in the “fall” instead of “autumn.” When the settlers came to America, however, their vocabulary remained much the same, while, back over in Great Britain, the language slowly began to change, meaning that words like “fall” and “trash” went out of style. The new colonists didn’t get the memo, however, and a few vocabulary differences were born.

    Other differences were more deliberate. After the Revolutionary War, the Americans weren’t feeling too happy with their British counterparts. And what better way to show their new independence than to start spelling words differently? When Noah Webster published his famous dictionary in 1828, he therefore opted for a lesser known spelling of some words, such as “humor” instead of “humour,” “fiber” instead of “fibre,” etc. to show that the new Americans were different from the British (http://www.livescience.com/33844-british-american-word-spelling.html).

    Today, whether you say “pants” or “trousers” or “papa” or “patata,” it is important that your translation uses the vocabulary words that your target audience will recognize. For example, it would be a mistake to use the British word “lorry” in a U.S. translation, as many American English speakers would not know this word for “truck.” The same is true for many languages of the world, making it all the more important to use a native speaker as a translator.

    Are You Designing a Brochure that will be Translated?

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    Are You Designing a Brochure that will be Translated?

    Are you planning to design an English brochure that will be translated into other languages? Here are some tips before you start designing it. The most important thing is to have flexibility in design. Simple is better!

    Let’s say if you have a single line of a catch phrase in a large font. When it is translated, it may become three lines of text, depending on the language. Some European languages are two or three times longer than English. In contrast, Chinese and Korean can be 50% or even shorter in length.

    THINGS TO AVOID:

    • Justified text – This is a real pain to work on. For longer languages, we condense the font, set less tracking, and so on. For shorter languages, we space letters out more or increase font size. We make all possible adjustments for it to look good, but often it may lose the feel that the English design has. Worse, it can look clumsy.
    • Coloring some words within a sentence – To emphasize some words, we sometimes want to make them a different color. However, this may not be a wise choice on a translation. Other languages have very different grammar from English, what you aimed for visually in your English design may disappear in the translated material, or it may not look good.
    • Use multiple fonts and font weights – Only use two fronts: a serif and a sans serif one. Add variations to them by bolding, italicizing, and underlining. Also, understand that the fonts you use for the English materials may not work for other languages. Possibly some letters won’t appear correctly or accent marks would be gone. For many European languages, the Std and Pro fonts work beautifully, so try them first.

    Tell your language provider if you have a highly designed marketing piece to be translated and you are concerned for how it will look in another language. Consult them before the project starts about fonts to be used, font size, and any other design issues that may arise.

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    Don’t have a Cow! Time to Hit the Hay! It’s not Over ‘til the Fat Lady Sings!

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    Don’t have a Cow!  Time to Hit the Hay! It’s not Over ‘til the Fat Lady Sings!

    Don’t have a cow!  Time to hit the hay! It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings! As native English speakers, we don’t think twice when we hear these phrases. But can you imagine being new to America and having your friend tell you that it’s time to hit the hay? What did the hay ever do to you? Or being at a baseball game, with your team  losing, ready to give up, when your US-born friend looks at you and insists that it’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings? Where is this fat lady, and why is she singing? As for having a cow, when my teenage English students in Salzburg tried to guess what this idiom could mean, they thought it meant having a fat girlfriend. Lovely.

    While every language has idioms, these set phrases with figurative meanings can pose problems for non-native speakers.   I’ve seen firsthand how these phrases can throw you for a loop (another odd phrase!).  Some examples I’ve come across include:

    Non-native speaker: Katie, my new roommate told me she wants to move in this weekend, but she isn’t feeling well. She said she is going to play with her ears. Does that mean there is something wrong with her ears?

    After cracking up, I explained that the phrase is “to play it by ear” and its meaning. To this day, however, we still say “to play with your ears.” Has a nice ring to it.

    Non-native speaker: I texted John to see if he wanted to go to the football game with me today. He said he can’t because he has to go to his parents, but he’ll take a rain check. I know he is a very nice polite guy, but is he really going to check the weather for me? I can do that myself.

    While such stories may be amusing when they take place among friends, idioms often pose a problem for translators. As a German translator, I need to be able to recognize the foreign idioms and know their meaning, making sure not to translate them word for word and having the Germans laugh at me!  Germans, for example, kill two flies with one flyswatter (two birds with one stone), give up the spoon (die), and, when they are happy, hang out on Cloud 7 (while us Americans are up on Cloud 9). Makes me wonder who’s on Cloud 8…

    Where to Break Lines in Japanese Text

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    Where to Break Lines in Japanese Text

    If you lay out Japanese text for proposals, presentations, advertisements, or brochures (and if you are not a native speaker), it is important to do so following Japanese language customs.

    3D Businessman handshakingThere are rules for breaking lines in Japanese. Especially relevant is the Kinsoku Rule, which Wikipedia explains on page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_breaking_rules_in_East_Asian_languages

    In some cases these rules can be bent a bit. If you want to adjust the line breaks yourself, you will need some expertise in Web coding. Generally, the Web system automatically sets up the text in a readable format.

    However, for important sales or marketing materials, to avoid any mistakes, it is better to check with a Japanese native. Perhaps in your Tokyo office there may be someone who can check it for you. If you cannot find anyone, ask your language provider to proofread and edit your materials to make sure they are free of mistakes.

    Once in a while we receive such job orders from our clients. Our Japanese native editors make corrections and adjustments to line breaks, as well as other mistakes such as repetitions of words when people “cut and paste a translation” without knowing the language. Native proofreading is essential to preserving your image of  high quality.

    MT as Good as Human Translation?

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    MT as Good as Human Translation?

    A client recently told our Development Manager that machine translation is as good as human translation. Was he way off base or did he just not express himself correctly?

    Let’s have a look at some examples using Linguistic Systems’ own STS system (www.linguist.com/services-sts.htm). The following table shows examples of MT using the STS system as well as comparison human translations that were done independently. As a point of reference, the STS system is a high quality MT system, consistently outscoring other systems using the industry-standard BLEU score (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BLEU).

    Language Source Text Machine Translation Human Translation
    Spanish El historiador Juan Luis Montero ha asegurado en un estudio científico que la “Torre de Babel” era de 60 metros de altura y no de 90 como se pensaba hasta ahora, en una hipótesis que se incluye en la primera exposición que se hace en España sobre uno de los más famosos edificios de toda la historia. The historian Juan Luis Montero has ensured in a scientific study that the “Tower of Babel” was 60 meters in height, not 90 as it was thought up until now, in a scenario that is included in the first exposure that is done in Spain on one of the most famous buildings of the whole story. Historian Juan Luis Montero has confirmed in a research study that the Tower of Babel was 60 meters tall, not 90 meters as people had thought until now. His theory is included in Spain’s first ever exhibition on one of the most famous buildings in history.
    Japanese かかる課題を解決すべく、本発明の地盤改良気泡材は、起泡剤の希釈水に増粘剤を添加して、液を発泡させることにより強力な膜を持つ気泡を製造してなるものである。起泡剤としてアルキルサルフェート系界面活性剤を用いる。増粘剤として水溶性セルロースエーテルを使用する。 In order to solve the problem of the, present invention improvement of the foaming material, the foaming agent of dilution by adding a thickening agent to water, liquid by producing bubbles having a tough film. As the foaming agent アルキルサルフェート -based surfactant is used. Water-soluble cellulose ether as a thickening agent is used. To solve the problem, adding a thickener to the diluted water of a foaming agent, the ground improvement foam material of the present invention makes bubbles that have a strong film through the foaming of the liquid.  An alkyl sulfate surfactant is used as the foaming agent.  Water soluble cellulose ether is used as a thickener.
    German Niemand weiß, was der Große Bruder genau tut. Die Vermutung liegt aber sehr, sehr nah, dass der Große Bruder es selbst umso genauer weiß. Es geht um Adobe, ein US-amerikanisches Softwareunternehmen, das mit Flash Player eines der am meisten verbreiteten Programme zum Abspielen von Multimediadateien zur Verfügung stellt. So gut wie unbekannt ist, dass Flash im Computer-Betriebssystem des Benutzers Infodateien, so genannte Super-Cookies versteckt, die Daten über Surfgewohnheiten speichern und an Adobe-Server weitersenden. Noch völlig unklar ist, was diese, bis zu 25 Megabyte großen Super-Cookies, sonst noch so von der Festplatten der PCs weiter geben. Nobody knows what the big brother does. But the presumption is very, very close, that the Big Brother is even more exact white. It’s about Adobe, an American software company, with a Flash Player of the most popular programs for playing multimedia files. As good as unknown that Flash in the user’s Computer operating system, so-called Infodateien Cookies hidden Super-store data on web surfing habits and Adobe-Server transferring. Is very unclear is what this up to 25 megabytes big Super-Cookies, else the harddisks of PCs continue to exist. Nobody knows for sure what, exactly, Big Brother is doing. One suspects, however, that Big Brother himself knows precisely what he is doing. Case in point is Adobe, a US software company whose Flash Player is one of the most widely used programs to play back multimedia files. Little known is the fact that Flash hides information files inside the user’s operating system, so-called Super Cookies, which store information about the user’s online surfing habits and forward that information to the Adobe servers. It remains unclear, however, what else these up to 25 megabyte-sized Super Cookies may be forwarding from the PC hard drives.

    The human translation in each case is clearly “better,” however what does that even mean?

    From a linguistic, grammatical and stylistic point of view the human translation is nicer and makes English speakers “happier” than the error-filled and stylistically-challenged machine translation. It is a translation that can be published.

    However, if a client only needs to pay a fraction of the human translation cost for the MT, and they are simply looking for information, not to publish, then from their point of view, it may really be as good as a human translation. But look at the German above. Can you really determine what exactly is happening with the Super-Cookies just by reading the MT? Not really. The human is much more understandable. Of course, instead of paying for a full human translation, you can also upgrade the MT by adding a post-editing step, in which a human translation clears up any ambiguities without necessarily fixing all grammatical and stylistic issues.

    It’s a lot to think about. If you’re in doubt about what you need, speak with your Account Manager at your Language Service Provider and ask about options.

    What is foreign brand name analysis and why you may need it.

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    What is foreign brand name analysis and why you may need it.

    qualificastionsImagine your company is about to adopt a new name for one of its products. It hires an advertising agency to develop that name and an entire marketing campaign. This is not going to be cheap. Of course the agency knows the US market thoroughly, and is probably worth its price. It will have an experienced strategy for developing a name and will know key points to analyze for US English, but it is more than likely it will not know how to do an analysis for foreign markets

    Foreign brand name analysis is a way to discover if there may be a problem using a name in another language. If you plan to sell your product outside the US (as well as within the US), you will definitely need to commission research into how the name is likely to be received abroad. You (or your ad agency) may be tempted to try to save money on this stage: don’t!

    It goes without saying that if you plan to sell your product in Germany, you will want to have an analysis for German. But you may be tempted to do only one analysis for Spanish, and there are many, many varieties of Spanish. At one time, our company was asked to do a name analysis for Spanish, but luckily it was targeted at four different countries: Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela. It was discovered that it was just fine for three of the Spanish variants, but for Mexico the name would have been a disaster because it was likely to be associated with the festival of the dead. The project saved that company from a very costly mistake, and was well worth the extra few dollars.

    Everyone knows about the embarrassing error of the Nova automobile, which is true for any version of Spanish. But the really interesting stories are to be found in names that were not chosen because the companies trying to use them found out before committing to them.

    Mixed Nuts

    Translators

     

     

    Mixed Nuts

    Have you ever looked at what’s in a bag of mixed nuts? You have? OK, have you ever thought how a bag of mixed nuts is like the translation industry?

    Fifty percent are peanuts. These aren’t even nuts – they’re legumes. Just like the 50% of people who claim to be translators, but aren’t. They might look like a nut (speak a couple of languages or more), but they’re not translators. Count on your language service provider (LSP), like Linguistic Systems, to weed them out and protect you from them.

    TranslatorsAt the other end of the scale are the expensive nuts, the pecans, almonds and brazil nuts. These are really good nuts, but they’re very expensive if you can find them. And if you can find one, you have to fight everyone else in your family for them. Like a really good, experienced, expensive translator who is usually booked up and can’t take your project.

    This leaves the almonds and cashews. These are the people you can count on. They’re mostly available or can squeeze you in. They’re affordable and they provide good quality. They are the staple of the industry and LSPs specialize in finding them, testing them to see what they’re good at and matching the right one to your project.

    What about high-quality machine translation? Have you ever found a macadamia nut in a bag of mixed nuts? I didn’t think so.

    Which Form of Arabic Do You Need?

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    Which Form of Arabic Do You Need?

    Arabic, like several other languages, is not the same throughout the Middle East. When you need a document translated into Arabic, if you are unfamiliar with the regional variations in this language, it may be difficult for you to choose which form or dialect to request. The various forms of Arabic are: Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, colloquial Arabic (variations include dialects for: Egypt and the Sudan; Arabian Peninsula; Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine; Iraq; and Morocco, Algeria, and western Libya).

    Linquistic Systems, Inc. Arabic TranslationsClassical Arabic:Classical Arabic is the formal, written Arabic of the Koran, and has historically been the language used in courts, bureaucracy, and literature and scholarship.

    Modern Standard Arabic (MSA):MSA is the modern counterpart of Classical Arabic and is the official language of 22 Arab countries, where it is used in both oral and written form on all formal occasions. The main difference between MSA and Classical Arabic is that MSA contains the vocabulary of modern discourse, while Classical Arabic is used for older, more formal expression.

    Colloquial Arabic:Colloquial Arabic is the spoken form of the language. It has many local variants; the main regional dialects are:

    Egyptian Arabic – the most widely spoken and understood second dialect

    Sudanese Arabic – spoken in the Sudan

    Levantine Arabic – Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and western Jordan

    Gulf Arabic – the Gulf Coast, from Kuwait to Oman

    Najdi Arabic – the desert and oasis areas of central Saudi Arabia

    Yemeni Arabic – most common in Yemen

    Iraqi Arabic – Iraq

    Hijazi Arabic – in the area west of present-day Saudi Arabia (referred to as the Hejaz region)

    Maghreb Arabic – mainly in Algeria, Tunis, Morocco, and western Libya

    Hassaniiya – in Mauritania

    So, which form of Arabic should you order for your translation? MSA is used in most formal situations, including documents, the Internet, and public media. It is also used in scientific and scholarly journals and legal and medical information. The main difficulty arises in dealing with marketing and advertising copy. There, while MSA can certainly be used, sometimes a better choice would be the local dialect. Your translation provider will be the best source to advise you which to choose.

    How much is MT Being Used Anyhow?

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    How much is MT Being Used Anyhow?

    In a recent newsletter, Jost Zetzsche of the International Writers’ Group (www.internationalwriters.com) provided some interesting statistics about the use of machine translLinguistic Systems, Inc.  Machine Translationation (MT) by professional translators. He obtained these numbers from David Canek of MemSource (www.memsource.com), a provider of translation technology tools.  MemSource makes MT available to translators from within its suite of tools and can track how many translators make use of this functionality.

    Despite all the outcry against MT among translators around the world, a full 46.2% of translators who use MemSource also use the MT function. Of those, 98% used the very public Google Translate or Microsoft Bing, who keep and reuse all data submitted to them. Only 2% of translators use customized and secure MT engines such as AsiaOnline, KantanMT and Linguistic Systems’ own Select Translation Service (www.linguist.com/services-sts.htm).

    This brings up a couple of interesting questions for clients: (1) Am I paying for full human translation and getting post-edited MT instead? and (2) If my data is being shared with Google and Microsoft, how secure is it really?

    Clients need to be very clear with their translation partners about what they are paying for and about how their data should be handled. In general,  post-edited MT may be acceptable  from a quality perspective depending on the editing  thoroughness, but clients deserve to know exactly what  is happening. Perhaps more importantly, clients also deserve to know that their information is being handled in an acceptably secure fashion and not floating around the Internet for anyone to  see and use.

    Right now this situation is as transparent as a brick wall. Your valued comments are invited.

    Back Translations, their rationale and value

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Back Translations, their rationale and value

    For medical and pharmaceutical clients, back translations are necessary facts of life; they are absolute requirements for most clinical research documents that must be translated into other languages. But for experienced professional translators and editors who work in this area, back translations seem a wrongheaded way to approach accuracy and faithfulness to the source document.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Optional Back TranslationWhy would governmental agencies require a back translation of all clinical trial documents as a matter of course? In a cogently argued article in ICT (International Clinical Trials, summer, 2008, pp.16 ff.), Simon Andriesen points out that, 1. everyone involved needs to be informed about all aspects of the trial, 2. the results of the research will need to be published, 3. documents must be written in clear, unambiguous language, 4. many trials are performed across national boundaries, and 5. consequently, the research must be multilingual in design for accurate comparative cross-country evaluation. To accomplish this, factors that need to be considered include evaluation of the source questions as well as the target translation. For example, when a patient in India or China is asked to evaluate the level of discomfort (from 1-10) of a procedure and rates it a 2 (slight discomfort) because they are accustomed to living with a certain level of pain, is that really comparable to a 2 given by a patient in France or Germany, someone who is not accustomed to living with pain? The people engaged in design of the research need to ensure that answers are comparable across national and linguistic boundaries. How can the source language and translations of a question help accomplish this?

    Translators and linguistic editors are not concerned with evaluating research design nor for comparability of results across linguistic boundaries. They are concerned with linguistic accuracy, naturalness, and proper form, which are really very different from the concerns of a medical researcher or government agency. And for translators, their arguments against back translations are perfectly valid: a good translation, along with good editing, is much to be preferred as valid linguistic procedures over back translation. This is especially true if both the translation and back translation are rushed to meet a tight deadline, and the people evaluating the back translation do not really know what they should be looking for. For example, if a back translator uses the word “brave,” but the original English had “courageous,” the client should not be focused on this as an error in translation: it’s not, the meaning is exactly the same. Another example would be judging it a mistranslation if a back translation uses “participates in” for “takes part in.” Minor variations like these do not indicate translation errors, they simply reveal the many correct, possible choices in a language.

    Rather than criticizing a back translation for changed word order or slight, seeming differences in word choice from the source, which translators understand is the correct way to go about conversion from one language to another, Andriesen argues that people who evaluate forward and back translations should be looking at comprehensiveness (inclusion of all points in the source document) and comparability across languages. True, this demands a great deal of time and trouble, but it is the true rationale behind requiring back translations. It is usually the case that the linguistic aspects of a clinical trial are given short shrift, and not enough time and effort are spent on how translations and back translations can aid the research process, provided they are performed correctly.

    Andriesen concludes his excellent article with:

    “If back translations are merely done to be kept on file or to satisfy ISO auditors, the efforts and cost are a total waste. When taken seriously and done in a professional way, a back translation effectively can identify the shortcomings of a translation – although one may argue whether it is cost-effective. A final edit stage, with a detailed commentary or a double forward translation, will probably provide the same level of confidence.”

    Interpreting: Ordering the right service

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    Interpreting: Ordering the right service

    What do you ask for when you need someone who can speak another language for an individual client deposition or medical appointment? – for a conference? – for a patent lawsuit in court?

    When they need language services like these, many people contact our office requesting a translator. Some even qualify that by asking for a “translator on site.” But translations are written documents, and the people who do them are “translators.” And it is also possible to request that a translator be provided at a specific company site to do a written translation. All oral work, however, is called “interpretation.”

    There are several different kinds of interpretation, depending on the mode and purpose, and most interpreters are qualified for only some of these types. The most demanding mode is simultaneous interpreting, usually reserved for large conferences that may require several different language pairs (e.g., English/French, English/Spanish, English/Portuguese) and use equipment (headphones, etc.) and booths to isolate each interpreter and avoid interference from other language pairs. The interpreter speaks at the same time as the speaker in the source language does, but is usually a sentence behind the speaker. He/she must hear, register, and remember what the speaker is saying, while at the same time interpreting into the target language the content of the speech a few seconds earlier. The audience can listen to the interpreter via specific headphones geared to that language pair. It helps to have the speech written out beforehand, but if there are rapid exchanges of information in two languages, the interpreter must think very quickly, assimilate the information in one language, and interpret it into another. This requires very specialized skills and training, and the number of interpreters who can do this is very limited. Most simultaneous interpreters work a full day or several days.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Interpreting ServicesAlso demanding is certified court interpreting, which often requires the simultaneous skill, although sometimes consecutive interpreting is sufficient. Consecutive is the most common mode and is used for depositions and medical appointments as well as for court. The attorney or doctor speaks first, and the interpreter listens carefully to what is said in the source language, and then interprets it immediately afterwards into the target language. People do not speak at the same time, which makes it somewhat less stressful, but the interpreter must be familiar with the terminology of the subject to be interpreted, as well as both source and target languages. Most consecutive interpreters work by the hour, with a two or three-hour minimum.

    Escort interpreting is yet another mode. Here the interpreter must walk around a facility or place with the people he/she is required to interpret for. Mobile equipment (microphones and speakers) are required, and the interpreter may have to function in either a consecutive or simultaneous way, depending on the situation.

    In addition to these types of interpreting, sometimes clients require a whisper interpreter. This mode is often used at meetings where interpreting for only one or two guests is required. The interpreter sits next to them and whispers her/his interpretation into their ear. No equipment is needed.

    Finally, many medical facilities (and others) use telephone interpreters. These are on-call interpreters, prepared to provide consecutive interpreting over the phone in their language pair for specific subjects. They normally work only a few minutes at a time, as long as the phone call or medical appointment takes, but can be available for somewhat longer periods if necessary.

    The type of interpreting you need depends on the given purpose or event. It is always helpful, however, to provide written materials or background information to help the interpreter prepare for your event. No matter how competent and appropriate the language professional is, the written documents will enable the interpreter to prepare in advance of the event and ensure the most suitable interpretation for your needs.

    Selecting a Translation Vendor

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Selecting a Translation Vendor

    Magic Triangle Checked 2 ENAs is true for any project, selecting the right tool, the right resource, is vital for the successful completion of the project. To be sure, the translation industry is awash with hundreds of thousands of individual translators and translation agencies working in every corner of the globe, all vying for a piece of that multi-million dollar pie in a rapidly expanding market driven by continued globalization. Today, translation of product literature and web content is no longer merely a tool to market and sell product abroad; for many industries, like the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, new safety regulations imposed by local governments require that all product labeling, instructions, cautions and warnings are provided in the native language of the target market to avoid injury or death by incorrect use of a device or drug.

    When choosing a translation vendor, the ultimate purpose and target audience of the translation determines what level of sophistication a buyer should require from the vendor. If a translation error could potentially cause injury or death, then a certified full-service translation agency should handle the project, an agency that has the resources to translate, revise, edit, review and proof a translation in a full-service workflow model. On the other end of the spectrum, if the purpose of a translation is ‘for information only’ and translation errors carry little or no risk, the buyer could opt for individual freelance translators or a small startup agency that might offer a more cost-effective solution (although not necessarily so). The buyer should keep in mind, however, that translation requires a joint effort between the buyer and the TSP when it comes to job specifications and the exchange of information. If a buyer’s translation needs will be ongoing rather than sporadic, establishing a good working relationship with a single provider who can handle projects of various sizes and levels of sophistication might be advantageous in the long run.

    These are questions to be asked of a potential TSP:

    • Which languages do you handle?
    • How long have you been in operation?
    • What are your qualifications/how do you qualify your translators? (Note: Being proficient in a source and a target language is not enough to be a good translator; number of years of translation experience, subject-matter familiarity, text-type competence, overall level of education, continued residence in a country where the target language is spoken, and expertise with the required software tools are important considerations when qualifying translation resources.)
    • What is your typical translation work flow (i.e. translation, review, revision, proofing)?
    • Who will manage my project (in an agency)?
    • Can you provide me with sample translations/will you translate a small sample for me?
    • What extra-value services can you provide (i.e. layout/desk-top publishing, creation of glossaries or translation memories, certifications/notarizations, if required)?
    •  Do you have the required software programs/tools for my project (i.e. InDesign for layout work)?
    • How are files transferred to and from your facility (i.e. email, HighTail, uploads to a secured site)?
    • What data security or confidentiality agreements do you provide (if required)?

    Translator Qualifications

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    Translator Qualifications

    What percentage of people who speak more than one language are actually qualified to work as professional translators? That’s a difficult question to answer. However, as Vendor Manager at Linguistic Systems, I can tell you how many people who “think” they can work as professional translators are actually qualified.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translator QualificationsLinguistic Systems receives on average over 300 applications per month from people offering us their translation services. This is a combination of unsolicited applications through our website and applications in response to targeted recruiting campaigns (for example, a targeted search for medical translators from English to selected languages).

    Out of these 300 applicants, only about 70 meet our basic requirements of a university degree (or equivalent) and 2 years of professional experience. These applicants are then sent a sample to translate.

    Out of these 70, an average of 9 new translators per month pass the test and are invited to join our translator pool.

    What does this mean?

    Well, for one, it means that not every bilingual or multilingual person can work as a translator. Either, they don’t have the aptitude or targeted education.

    Could it also mean that Linguistic Systems (and many other legitimate translation agencies) are too stringent in their requirements? Perhaps, but as a client, isn’t that what you want?!?

    Client or Service Provider – Who Owns the Translation Memory?

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Client or Service Provider – Who Owns the Translation Memory?

    Who owns the translation memory? This is a question that has dogged the language services industry since the introduction of translation memory tools decades ago. And both sides can quite logically make a claim to ownership.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation MemoryThe service provider can claim that it is their work and investment in the translation memory tool in the first place that gives them ownership.

    The client can claim that they own the source and target texts and that, since the translation memory contains both, they can reasonably claim ownership.

    Oh, and there is a third side to the question, too. What about the translator who has also invested in a translation memory tool? Doesn’t he or she have a claim also?

    Clearly, there is nothing very clear about this at all.

    The definitive solution is to ensure that this question, and all other questions, is unambiguously addressed in any agreement among the parties involved, including any costs to be paid by one party to another, before the job starts.

    Maybe it is pretty clear, after all…

    Website Localization

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    Website Localization

    localizationWhat is website localization? It is much more than the simple translation of text. It is the procedure of altering an existing website to the local language and culture in the target market. It is the method of adapting a website into a different linguistic and cultural framework. This revision process must reflect specific language and cultural preferences in the content, images and overall design and requirements of the website, but keeping the consistency of the website. Culturally adapted web sites reduce the amount of required understading efforts from visitors of the site to process information, making navigation easier and attitudes toward the web site more favorable. The adaptation of the website must additionally take into consideration the stated purpose of the new website with a focus on the targeted audience/market in the new location. Website localization aims to customize a website so that it seems ” accepted “, to its visitors despite cultural differences between the designer and the audience. Two factors are involved—programming expertise and linguistic/cultural knowledge.

    The prosperity of website localization is the result of the reputation of computer and Internet users. People all over the world treat the Internet as their main location for information and services. These people do not speak the same language. As a result, website localization has become one of the primary tools for business global expansion.

    Due to website communication across multiple cultures for multiple needs, the Internet has given way to non professional translation practices. Because website localization involves mixed strategies, organizations tend to maintain a global image while using website localization to appeal to local users. The challenge of website localization has become even more important as web sites increasingly have the potential to both supplement and replace presence in foreign markets. As web design becomes more fitting with national culture, it will foster online consumer purchasing. Creators take into account the “language, education level, belief and value systems, and traditions and habits” of the target culture in order to optimize results.

    What is a rush job and why: Factors to consider when ordering translation

    Linguistic Systems Translation

     

     

    What is a rush job and why: Factors to consider when ordering translation.

    fast turnaround speedometerWhen people order translation they usually have a specific date they need to have it done. But they rarely consider how long a good translator needs to do it properly. One rule of thumb is that most translators can complete about 3,000 words a day. “What,” you may say, “3,000 words should not take 8 hours!”

    Ask any translator: it does. Translation is not just a matter of translating words or sentences, often a translator needs to do some research to find the right term, and that can take a while. More important for the person ordering a translation is the fact that you definitely do not want a translator to deliver his or her first pass at your material. Nor do you want them to read it over immediately after their first try. For best results it’s always wise to allow several hours (ideally, at least a day) to elapse before re-reading a translation. So, you may have an important letter to translate, and the letter is less than 2,000 words, but the translation agency says the soonest they can delivery your translated letter is 2-3 days from when you place the order. They are allowing time to find the right translator, as well as time for the translator to re-read the translation.

    But you want the translation back the same day, or the next one at the latest. You may even need to deliver it quickly. Most agencies will consider any job that needs to be delivered within 24 hours a rush job. They will charge extra for such jobs because 1) the project manager will need to put aside everything else to expedite your letter, and 2) the translator who accepts it will also need to put aside everything else. The translator may be able to complete a first pass in 4 hours if it does not require any research, but they will not be able to re-read it in that time. Even at the cost of putting aside all other work, the soonest you can expect your translation would be the next day – if you want decent quality. If quality is not important, yes, you can probably get it in 4-6 hours.

    And that is for a very small job! What about when you need to have 10,000 or 50,000 words translated? Another rule of thumb is that a decent, full-time translator needs a week to translate 10,000 words. For 50,000 words, you need to allow 5 weeks. If you must have your 50,000-word translation in 2 weeks, most agencies will bend over backwards to accommodate you. What they will need to do is assign your job to several translators and an editor. The editor will assure consistency of terminology and quality, but an editor will require several days to look over the completed translation. Of course, it is possible to deliver your translation when you need it, and the agency will do everything to ensure that, but you should be aware of what is considered a rush job and why that is true.

    Language Needs for Clinical Trials

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Language Needs for Clinical Trials

    blog clinical trialsIf you conduct clinical trials, you know that you must often make documents available in many languages – and afterwards you need to have the results translated back into English! This is time-consuming, expensive, and can even prove to be something of a nightmare for a pharmaceutical company accustomed to dealing with medical/scientific issues, but not language nuances.

    So you need to depend on experienced professionals to do the language work for you. In addition to agencies that are specialized in clinical trials, you should look for ones that have excellent project management and can provide sophisticated translation memory technology across your clinical trials projects.

    Specialized experience enables you to receive language translations by professionals who know the exact right word to use in their native language for the medical term. Thus the terminology should be correct.

    For project management, you want to look for both a logical, complete system for doing the work AND experienced, long-term managers who know what to look out for and will be able to deliver your documents when you need them. Especially in later stages of clinical trials, time is often of the essence.

    Translation memory that can be used across a project allows for consistency of translation, no matter who the translator is.

    Ideally, all translations should be edited by a second language professional, but for clinical trials work, the editing stage is absolutely essential. You should not accept translations that have not been edited by a second language professional, no matter how critical delivery time is. You cannot skip the editing stage – proofreading is not enough.

    Linguistic Systems provides all of these for your translation requirements in:

    • Regulatory documents
    • Clinical protocols and summaries
    • Investigator materials
    • Patient information
    • Informed consent forms
    • Patient questionnaires
    • Case reports
    • Patient outcomes and adverse events
    • Drug labels and inserts

    Overcoming Obstacles to Translation Quality

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    Overcoming Obstacles to Translation Quality

    qualityWhen you entrust a language service provider with the translation quality  of a document, you may feel powerless once the document leaves your hands and undergoes the translation process. This can be especially daunting for a customer who has never worked with a translation provider and doesn’t know what to do to help ensure a high-quality deliverable. Below, I offer a few tips that will help you regain control by taking an active part in the translation process.

    Preparing the Source Text for Translation

    Customers ordering translation services for large engagements on a regular basis might include source text optimization as part of their process. This step involves checking the source text for any errors and ambiguities that could hinder a smooth translation process. The translator, a native speaker of the language that the source text is being translated into (the target language), might not pick up on ambiguities as readily as a native speaker of the source text. For example, a sign on the door of a beachfront bar that reads “We don’t serve shirtless surfers” could be interpreted in two different ways. One meaning implies that drinks or food will not be served to surfers not wearing shirts, and the second, somewhat gruesome meaning suggests that one will not find shirtless surfers on the menu. As far-fetched as the second meaning may seem, the example serves to illustrate that in some cases, there may be more than one interpretation of a source segment. Be sure to check your source text for possible errors and ambiguities that could lead to mistranslations.

    Although not directly related to language quality, inconsistent formatting can negatively influence the reader’s first impression of the translated text. We all know the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but in reality, almost everyone judges a book by its cover to some degree. Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools will output the translation based on the source text input so any inconsistent leading or kerning in the source will be duplicated in the translated text. If you want the translation to not only read well, but also to look great, you can help by supplying a well-formatted source document.

    Selecting a Translation Partner

    Selecting a translation provider is one of the key decisions that you will make during the translation process. During the selection process, focus on choosing a company that has experience translating the subject matter in question. If the document is legal in nature, you will want ensure that the provider you select specializes in legal translations. You can ask for references and information on the types of projects completed. If the subject matter is a sub-specialty of the main subject, make sure to highlight this to your translation team so that the best suited resources can be allocated to the task.

    Another criterion for selecting a translation partner is the reliability of the supplier’s translation process. Most agencies will include quality assurance steps so that no activity goes unchecked. Usually, a second linguist will proofread the translation for any errors, and if formatting is required, it will also undergo a format check. You should find out what QA checks are carried out to guarantee the highest possible quality. Selecting a translation partner that you feel comfortable with and trust is just as important. This should be someone who will guide you through the process and will help you find a solution that’s best for you when obstacles arise.

    Supplying the Necessary Supporting Documentation

    Your translation contact might ask you for reference material when you submit a request. In the context of language translation, reference material would be any documentation that provides additional information about the text to be translated. Consider a recent request to translate the word “red”. This may seem simple enough, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. In some languages, adjective endings will differ depending on the noun that they modify. For example, in Polish, “red” could be translated as “czerwony”, “czerwona” or “czerwone”, depending on the gender of the noun that it modifies. A customer might copy and paste individual words translated out of context into a larger body of text. This is why it is so important to let the translator know how these words will be used in the compiled document. If a part of a document is sent for translation, the entire document needs to be supplied for reference so that the translation team can see how a particular segment fits into the whole. The same rule applies to software strings which are usually supplied out of context, drawings or diagrams belonging to an instruction manual, etc. If you are not sure what reference material would be relevant, ask your translation provider for input.

    Allocating the Appropriate Turnaround Time and Budget

    As a general rule, a translator can translate approximately 2,000 words per day. This number will increase or decrease depending on the subject matter, the complexity of the text, and the target language. An editor will be able to edit approximately 1,000 words per hour, depending on the translation quality and the factors mentioned above. These numbers represent the ideal situation, but many translators will also be working on other projects, and the resources best suited for your request might not be available right away. For this reason, you should give your translation partner as much advance notice as possible for larger requests so that the appropriate resources can be lined up ahead of time. In addition, sufficient turnaround time, determined based on complexity, volume and your internal schedule, needs to be given to ensure a high-quality deliverable. Rush requests cannot be avoided in today’s fast-paced global market, but they should be kept to a minimum as they place undue strain on everyone involved, including your internal teams, and can make it difficult to achieve top quality.

    A team of in-country translators specializing in your field will be able to produce a higher-quality translation than a team of translators residing outside of the target country without the necessary subject-matter expertise. High quality and expertise come at a price so if quality is of utmost importance make sure that a sufficient budget has been allocated and that your translation contact knows your priorities. When setting a budget, consider the costs of an incorrect translation that can result in re-printing costs and missed sales.

    Machine Translation, Post-editing, and Human Translation: Business Uses and Pitfalls

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     Machine Translation, Post-editing, and Human Translation Business Uses and Pitfalls

    We are all familiar with various jokes about Machine Translation (MT) and how one very good sentence may be followed by a nonsensical one.  While the nonsense is amusing,  anyone reading MT should also be warned against depending on the accuracy of seemingly good sentences. One of the main functions of a human post-editor is to validate statement that are sufficiently correct, not just correct those that have significant flaws.  Correcting the most offensive errors in terminology, grammar, and syntax are important, but the primary need is to ensure that the translation conveys the correct meaning of the source.

    A human translator is generally consistent in strengths and weaknesses, but MT is random and that creates a danger.  The reader should never assume Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translation Post Editingthat the types of errors are consistent or one good sentence near the beginning means you will find an overall good quality level.  MT is a minefield of random errors, and the most dangerous ones are those that are hidden in statements that seem correct, until examination by a post-editor reveals that the correct meaning is exactly the opposite of what appears in the MT! This phenomenon is actually more common today than years ago when MT was based on a dictionary plus grammar rules instead of the modern statistical approach.  The latter draws on a very large database of sentences and phrases and the computer seeks the best match to the input source text. But suppose the best fit contains a “not” that isn’t in the source? Unfortunately this is reality and the reader must always be vigilant. It is also the reason why  a post-editor must have an excellent knowledge of the source languages and check every target segment against its corresponding source.  Cleaning up the target text so it reads reasonably well without checking against the source is not true post-editing.  Such practice is particularly misleading if the post-editor applies technical expertise to correcting target terminology yet leaves the wrong meaning intact because there was no check against the source.  The most important quality of a translation is its faithfulness to the meaning of the source text, and this emphasis is particularly important for MT where meaning is so easily lost in a jumble of partially comprehensible sentences. By any definition, computers have not reached a capability that can challenge human intelligence.

    For applications that require greater faithfulness to the source text, human translation from scratch is the better choice. Done well, the human translation will have more appropriate language that expresses nuances likely missing in the post-edited MT.   Good style that generally surpasses MT post-editing also yields less ambiguity and easier reading.   A full edit of the human translation is advisable where accuracy is paramount.  For business purposes, the human translation is the best choice for distributed translations and marketing material.

    This still leaves the potential for significant savings when the basic need can be adequately satisfied with post-editing.  For non-critical information, particularly internal information, perhaps with a short life, Machine Translation with a tailored amount of post-editing should be sufficient and provide a practical solution for a large volume and limited budget.

    To summarize:

    1. Be very wary of MT that has not been reviewed against the source text.  A sentence that is comprehensible may actually be seriously flawed in meaning.
    2. Post-editing, done correctly, can capture the correct meaning and save significant cost in money and time.
    3. Translations prepared for wide distribution should be performed with human translation, not with post-edited MT.

    Machine Translation: Facts and Myths

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    Machine Translation: Facts and Myths

    Ask people about Machine Translation (MT), and surprisingly, you will get a whole palette of opinions, from derision to declaring MT the ultimate solution for all cross language communication problems.  Nowadays, few people, right or wrong, do not have some opinion about it..

    So, what is the reality? Is MT useful? And if it is, under what circumstances should we use it?

    * * *

    Historically, the first translation by a computer was demonstrated on January 7, 1954, by Georgetown University and IBM. The system had a dictionary of 250 words and translated more than 60 predefined sentences from Romanized Russian. Its abilities were so limited that some people called this event a hoax and didn’t consider it a real MT system. Nonetheless, it provided a great inspiration, and indeed people expected that within a few years translation problem would be resolved forever.

    Since then, the excitement about prospects for MT has persisted with the same hope of reaching acceptable results within just a few years. Unfortunately, the situation hasn’t significantly changed, and we are still “just a few more years” away.

    The problem is in the very nature of the translation process. Here’s how a highly experienced translator describes her work: “Translating is not a simple one-to-one exercise (though beginners often wish/hope it were like that). True translating is understanding the meaning of the sentence in one language and then expressing that same meaning in the second language in the best words for that language.” With all the progress of technology, computers still do not “understand” what they’re doing. The real human language is too versatile, nuanced, and ambiguous for any “super-smart” algorithm.

    Modern computers are very powerful; they perform billions of operations per second and use gigabytes of memory, but at best they can provide acceptable translation of only the simplest declarative sentences. Nevertheless MT translations are still just plain funny. A famous anecdote describes the MT rendering of a biblical saying “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak as “The vodka is strong, but the meat is rotten.” Over the years, that particular story has been debunked as myth. But here’s a fact confirmed by Vernon Walters who worked for President Eisenhower; they used a CIA computer program to translate the sentence “Out of sight, out of mind” to Russian and back to English. The result was: “Invisible idiot”.

    * * *

    Ludicrous yes, but it doesn’t mean that machine translation is futile. The fact is that despite its flaws, MT is quite popular and Google Translate is one of the most visited sites on the Web. Indeed, it’s free, fast and easy to use, but not without plenty of faults..

    Google has the entire Internet to train its MT engines and it no longer translates “Microsoft” as a “small tender company”. But one should be very careful and not expect that even the best MT gives anything more than a gist of the source text.  Usually, it’s good enough to recognize the topic of an email or the domain of a website; but before purchasing a product from a foreign country, be ready for the fact that the translation of its technical data might be misleading. And never base your decision to buy foreign drugs based on machine translated instructions if you stay clear of causing harm. That’s especially important if you are translating not into your language, but into a language you are not familiar with.  Even checking with a reverse translation is no assurance that you won’t offend somebody. In my own experience, the word ‘communication’ was translated as ‘intercourse’ without any idea of its second meaning that spoiled the intended message. And never use MT for publishing in a foreign language; otherwise you might result in something like this:

     Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translation Facts & Myths

    Nevertheless, it’s a great advantage to be able to translate a sentence, an email, or a web page almost instantly and for free, but what if you need to translate a larger document? What if your organization needs translation for thousands of pages written in various foreign languages, some of them unknown? Suddenly, the translation is not free at all and far from being easily available.

    In addition, public ‘free’ translation services use every word we translate .  As always, “free cheese can only be found in a mousetrap”. Another caveat for companies often dealing with proprietary documents is to avoid translation providers that don’t specifically assure data security.

    * * *

    Let’ summarize the facts.

    Of utmost importance is procuring translation of proprietary or other sensitive material only from a translation vendor who can assure sufficient data security.

    If you have a large ongoing bilingual project, a good vendor will be able to use your stored bilingual data to customize for you a special MT engine that will produce a much higher than average MT translation quality within the domain of your project.

    Even using a customized MT engine, always keep in mind that MT yields only a gist of the source text. It shouldn’t be used for making any important decisions. However, MT can be very effective in identifying the important documents and immediately scrapping the  irrelevant ones. And never assume that an MT sentence is correct because it appears well composed. That can be a terrible trap; it always needs human verification.

    When MT confirms that you have in hand a document with desirable data, you should improve the translation. Depending on the final purpose, you should ask your translation vendor to edit the MT result in order to improve its readability and comprehension thus making it usable for managerial decisions. That process is called post-editing. The amount of post-editing can be varied according to the importance of the document. Only when sufficient qualified human post-editing is applied can the translation be considered reliable.

    Even the post-ending quality might be insufficient in the most important cases, e.g., documents to be published or submitted to a customer or government authority. Then, you should order clean human translation that does not involve MT at all because the MT biases the translator’s thoughts.

    Companies that are searching for information and are knowledgeable in the available range of translation services have a great advantage in recognizing they can save huge amounts of cost and time by applying MT to quickly eliminate irrelevant material and post-edit relevant document for a fraction of the full human translation cost. Only the truly important documents should be translated with the highest translation level, and then they have achieved the goal of cost and time optimization for the best possible results.

    * * *

    Price and Quality

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    Price and Quality

    Inquiries have shown that buyers and sellers frequently disagree on what quality means. The lack of agreement on what translation quality is and how it can be calculated creates incompatible expectations and contradiction. The lack of agreement also makes it difficult for both sides to agree on what the payment should be.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Price and QualityAnd however, buyers and sellers establish important business decisions on the belief that paying more or less for translation affects linguistic quality – regardless of their responsibilities. Can we really say there is a connection between quality and price?

    The price/quality relationship refers to the perception by most consumers that a relatively high price is a sign of good quality. The belief in this relationship is most important with complex products/services that are hard to test, and experiential products that cannot be tested until used (such as most services). The greater the uncertainty surrounding product/services, the more consumers depend on the price/quality suggestion and the greater premium they are prepared to pay. The classic example is the pricing of Twinkies, a snack cake which was viewed as low quality after the price was lowered. Excessive reliance on the price/quality relationship by clients/consumers may lead to an increase in prices on all products and services, even those of low quality, which causes the price/quality relationship to no longer apply.

    What about the price-quality effect? Buyers are less sensitive to price the more that higher prices signal higher quality. Products/services for which this effect is particularly relevant include: image products, exclusive products, and products with minimal cues for quality.

    If not, how should buyers and suppliers behave differently going forward?  Please post your answer to this question.

    Guidelines for Customers Electing a Client Review Step

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    Guidelines for Customers Electing a Client Review Step

    Client review, when carefully planned out, can add value to the finished product. Some customers will always include client review in the translation workflow to ensure that the translation is an accurate rendition of the source text, focusing on highly technical and complex aspects of the original as well as the company’s preferred terminology and style. While a translation agency will select translators with experience in the pertinent subject matter, those resources might not possess the same in-depth knowledge of the company’s product as an internal resource intimately familiar with the product’s technical aspects and the company’s goals and objectives. Other customers might choose to include a client review step for high-visibility documents destined for publication. Whatever the reason may be, here are a few important questions to consider when planning for this process step:

    Will client review be carried out?

    If a client review is planned, the translation agency must be informed of this additional step. Do not be alarmed if your contact asks whether a client review step is required. This does not mean that the agency will only use their best resources on assignments requiring client review and will not be diligent with other projects. A translation provider will ask this question for planning purposes so that he/she can decide on the best way to integrate this step into the translation process. For example, your project manager might send you an intermediate file to review so that changes can be incorporated directly into the file prior to formatting. If review is performed on a formatted document, the agency might charge extra for this task. Changes specified at this stage usually need to be implemented manually, a high-risk activity requiring extra time and additional QA. Scanned, handwritten comments are the most difficult to read and interpret so do not be surprised if the agency sends instructions for the reviewer to follow when making corrections.

    Do I need to provide the translation agency with any additional information?

    Are glossaries (either monolingual or bilingual), translation memories (TMs), terminology databases (TDs), style guides, or translations of the previous version of the source text available? If so, they will need to be provided to the translation agency for reference so that the key terminology can be applied to the current project. If the source text contains little or no context (example: software strings exported as Text or Excel files), the accompanying documentation and help files will provide the translation team with important supporting information that will enable them to translate the text accurately. This will reduce client review time and will enable the reviewer to focus on other aspects of the task.

    Who will review the translation?

    The next door neighbor who studied German for a few years in college will not be the best choice for translation review. The ideal candidate is a native speaker of the target language who is proficient in the source language, with experience in the subject matter and in-depth knowledge of the product. Ideally, this is someone from within the company familiar with the company’s objectives. Usually, client review is not the primary activity for employees who perform this task so plenty of advance notice should be given. If no qualified resource within the company is available, you may decide to hire a contractor to perform the review. Similar selection criteria will apply in this case.

    What instructions should the reviewer follow?

    Make sure to communicate to your reviewer any pertinent instructions provided to you by the translation agency. Your translation contact might send an intermediate file for review to ensure that all changes are implemented prior to formatting. Make sure you understand how the reviewer should enter his/her changes as this could depend on the type of translation software that the file is exported from. It is also very important that the reviewer have on hand the same reference material that you provided to the translation team. Otherwise, the reviewer might incorporate changes that contradict the reference material. Whenever possible, the same reviewer should be asked to evaluate future translations in a given language. It is very difficult for a translation team to be consistent with client review changes when different reviewers might suggest different translations for the same term or phrase.

    An important aspect of a translation that might rear its ugly head during translation review is linguistic style. Whether we say “Have a nice trip” or “Enjoy your trip”, the meaning is the same. It is important to bear in mind that, as this example illustrates, the same concept can be communicated in different ways. Assuming that the reviewer is experienced in the subject matter and might not possess the linguistic background of a translator, it might be best to instruct him/her to limit stylistic changes and to instead focus on the technical aspect of the translation. Don’t despair if the reviewed translation is drowning in a sea of red ink. Most of these changes might very well fall under the category of style. Not adding much value to the finished product and potentially delaying the review process, these types of changes can be avoided by outlining the reviewer’s responsibilities in advance.

    Has the source text undergone all necessary input and approvals?

    If the source text has not undergone the necessary approvals, the reviewer might suggest source text changes in addition to revising the translation. Such changes are impossible for the translation agency to evaluate since the agency’s role is to translate the source text, not to rewrite it. Your contact will inform you if these types of changes are present, and you will need to decide whether to implement them. This will delay the process due to the additional back-and-forth with the translation agency. Even if the source text is frozen and has undergone all the necessary approvals, the reviewer may still introduce changes that alter the meaning of the original. It is advisable to anticipate this, and to instruct the translation agency ahead of time to reject or flag such changes.

    Will you be sending the reviewed text back to the translation agency for evaluation?

    As explained above, a reviewer may sometimes implement changes that will alter the meaning of the source text that you should be aware of. Reviewers also sometimes introduce errors so it’s always a good idea to send the reviewed file back to the translation agency. If a tight deadline does not allow for an evaluation of client review changes, you should still send the final, corrected document to the translation agency for reference on future projects.

    Tips For Translators Applying to an Agency

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    Tips  For Translators  Applying to an Agency

    What does an agency look for in translators?  Agencies look for translation experience, educational background, and rates that are within their budget.  An aspiring translator’s resume or CV must contain these three elements up front. It’s always possible to put your rates in your email, but it must be easily seen. We don’t need to read all about your enthusiasm, your willingness to please, your cooperative attitude, and adding these to a resume is perceived as “fluff” or will give the impression that you are not experienced. Your resume should outline your translation experience up front, including your specializations or areas that you have done translations in and are thoroughly familiar with the keywords in that subject. Your specializations should not include areas you would like to work in but haven’t up until now.

    After providing details of your translation experience, you should have your educational background. You should include all academic degrees you have received, the university you studied at, its location, and the subject of your degree. You should not include secondary school education as it is not relevant. Special graduate courses are important. We do not need to know other languages you may be acquainted with but can’t translate into or from. We do not need to know your own estimate of your competence. We only need to see the language pairs you are competent to translate into or from.

    Also important, at the top of your resume should appear your language pair(s), including your native language as the first target language. Strangely, many aspiring translators forget to include this, expecting the agency representative to be a mind reader or to guess at it from other information.

    You may also want to include your other types of employment, especially if it is relevant to any of your translation specialties, but this should come after your translation experience and education. Your hobbies should only be included insofar as they are relevant to translation work.

    Always useful is the various types of software you use (including the version you have) and how proficient you are in using it. The more difficult it is to find this information in your first email to an agency, the less likely the agency representative will consider you. It is in your interest to provide all this information in your initial contact. If you do, you will probably get a response.

    A note to translators already in our database: please don’t forget to let us know if any of your information has changed (email, phone, software, specializations) so that we won’t lose contact with you.

    translate

    Complete or Finished and the Dreaded Client Review

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    Complete or Finished and the Dreaded Client Review

    Some may argue that there is little difference between the meaning of complete and finished. But consider this (from a joke circling through cyberspace of late): When you marry the right woman, you are complete; when you marry the wrong woman, you are finished; when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are completely finished!

    Language fun at its best: The joke works because the word finished may be applied to express different, in fact opposite meanings: Finished (complete) as the successful end to a task, the reaching of a goal; and finished (done in) as the unfortunate outcome of endeavors that have led to a state of resignation, of giving up.Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Client Reviews

    Can this joke be translated into other languages? Most likely not. We cannot assume that the use of finished as meaning done in works in other languages, and thus the joke may be untranslatable.

    Fortunately, the translation of jokes is seldom requested (unless you find yourself at a cocktail party having to explain to a foreigner why everyone is laughing). And yet, translators struggle daily with challenges presented by language-specific subtleties and usage conventions, such as a play on words or an idiom. The translator must select just the right term or phrase to convey the intended meaning, having to make a million astute and intelligent word choices. The emphasis here is on choices! Usually, there is more than one way to skin a cat…

    …wait, do they skin cats in other languages?

    Enter the (sometimes) dreaded client review.

    For sure, a client review of translations is an important quality control step that ensures translations meet client expectations and are suited for the intended purpose. Ideally, a client review step is scheduled as an integral part of the translation workflow, so that client preferences regarding terminology and style can be accommodated before the finished product is delivered.

    A client review becomes problematic, however, when the reviewer makes gratuitous changes and essentially rewrites the translation. The problem is not the rewriting itself – the text belongs to the client and the client should fully adapt it to his/her purpose. The problem is the implied quality assessment of the translation. Somebody might ask: Was the translation really all that bad to warrant so many client edits?

    Well, no. This is all about writing styles. This is about language arts, not math, and one+one seldom equals two. This is about the craft of writing, about word choice and selection and style and flair. It’s about the way the cat was skinned…

    When Every Job Is a Rush

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    When Every Job Is a Rush

    Sure, we live in a fast-paced world. The push for instant gratification, instant results, instant service, instant everything has us dancing like crazy puppets on a string. A notable exception is instant coffee: We generally prefer the slow brew to keep us sufficiently revved up to deal with all the other instants in our lives.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Rush TranslationInstant service in translations can be accommodated by machine translation. Indeed, there is high demand for this service and it’s perfectly suited for gisting purposes, that is, finding out what a foreign-language text might be all about. It’s easy and quick, just as we like it: Submit a file, click a button, and out comes a translation – or at least something that looks like a translation but is likely riddled with errors.

    This sets the stage for fast-turnaround translation demands, however. A client may ask: Why can’t I get a human translation by, say, tomorrow? I have this very tight deadline! What’s the problem?

    Here’s the problem: In order to produce a competent translation that conveys the source text accurately, with the correct terminology and style for the intended audience, at least the following process steps are necessary:

    • Pre-translation processing/source text analysis: Review of the source text by the translation service provider (TSP) to determine possible technical challenges and translator requirements.
    • Search for appropriate translators and revisers based on language pair and subject matter.
    • Assignment and handoff of project to translators.
    • Translation work performed by translators. Rule-of-thumb output for a single translator is 1500 to 2000 words per day.
    • Review of returned translations for completeness by the TSP’s project manager.
    • Assignment and handoff of project to revisers.
    • Review/revision work performed by revisers (“second pair of eyes”). Note: There is no meaningful quality assurance step in translations other than having a translation reviewed/revised by a second translator with competency in both language pair and subject matter.
    • Review of revised translations for completeness by the TSP’s project manager.
    • Delivery of final texts to the client (if no client review or text layout/formatting steps are required).

    Piece of cake, ain’t it? Well, no! While language professionals might be willing to pull the occasional all-nighter (drinking plenty of slow-brewed coffee), asking them to accommodate rush turnarounds every single day might tempt even the most diligent and conscientious professionals to cut corners and forego much needed quality assurance steps. The result: Poor quality translations and client complaints.

    Let’s face it: Instant translations are like instant coffee. Once you take the first sip you wonder how you could ever fall for it.

     

    Brand-Name Analysis: Well worth the Expense

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    Brand-Name Analysis: Well worth the Expense

    Back in the 90s, during the .com boom, when startups were looking for an immediate international presence in the new global marketplace, language service providers were flooded with requests for brand-name analysis. The need for brand-name analysis took center stage in the marketing world after such embarrassing marketing flops as trying to sell the Chevy Nova in Latin America (no va in Spanish means doesn’t go/ doesn’t work).

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Brand Name AnalysisNowadays, in a struggling world economy, requests for this service seem to have slowed somewhat, yet brand-name analysis remains a vital and important service offering. The process starts with a client questionnaire that gathers information about the intended product and its target market and audience. In addition to the obvious questions about language and locale, clients have to let analysts know for what type of organization or service the brand-name is intended, who the target audience is, and whether or not gender and age of the target audience play a role. The completed client questionnaire together with the proposed brand-name(s) is then sent to analysts in the target countries.

    It is important that analysts live and work in the target countries to be able to assess a proposed brand-name’s impact and subtle connotations. There are regional differences in language use: A brand-name that works well in Madrid might sound archaic in Mexico City, much like Brits advertise “flats” in the London Times while Bostonians list “apartments” in the Boston Globe.

    Therefore, it is well worth the up-front cost and investment to have a name analyzed by trained analysts in each target country long before artists and designers go to work creating attractive logos, brochures and web content around that name. Spending any capital, even emotional and intellectual capital, on a brand-name before a brand-name analysis is carried out may lead to grave disappointments, if not wasted marketing funds.

    Project and Business Continuity Planning

    Project and Business Continuity Planning

    Project and business continuity planning is important for any type of business, including the document translation industry. Clients entrust to a Language Service Provider (LSP) documents to be translated by a certain Linguistic Systems, Inc. Document Translation Plandate, often an extremely time-sensitive date, such as meeting a submission deadline for a clinical trial or a court case. When accepting the translation assignment, the LSP negotiates and then commits to a delivery date, yet many things can go wrong all along the translation workflow.

     

    Planning for project and business continuity is as critical for LSPs as it is for any other type of business. Events that can cause interruptions in the translation work flow should be identified and scored as to their potential impact and probability of occurrence. Once such risk assessment has been carried out, risk mitigation plans can be formulated. Critical risks that an LSP should assess are these:

    Human Resources

    Who handles the project internally? What do we do if that resource becomes unavailable?

    Who handles the project externally (translators, editors, reviewers)? What do we do if one or all of those resources become unavailable?

    Technical Resources

    How are documents transmitted? What do we do if the transmission system fails and becomes unavailable?

    Where are documents stored while they are in progress and long-term? What do we do if the storage system fails and becomes unavailable?

    Risk assessment and mitigation does not provide a magic bullet to eliminate all risk. As in every-day life, there is always some risk that has to be accepted as residual risk. Being proactive about risk assessment, however, allows the LSP to prepare for interruptions to the normal work flow and have in place adequate proxy/backup systems that can ensure the successful and timely completion of projects.

     

    Machine Translation: The Market for Accessibility

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    Machine Translation: The Market for Accessibility

    It’s been said that more information is generated today in a single year than was generated in the last 5000 years combined! Information is everywhere and we expect it to be instantly accessible and Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translationavailable in every corner of the globe. The demand for rapid, high-volume turnaround in language translation has been increasing steadily as corporations attempt to maintain a global presence in their markets. Translations are needed not only for the traditional outward-facing media, such as corporate websites and marketing brochures, but also for internal communications, such as company newsletters, shareholder reports, and employee benefit packages.

    Let’s face it, though: The traditional model for professional language translation is focused on high-quality output and does not lend itself for rapid turn-around. The traditional model relies on highly skilled human translators and editors who go through a series of workflow and quality assurance steps to produce high-quality translations.

    Competing priorities struggle for attention, then. Traditional service providers champion high-quality translations while buyers of translation services are under pressure to publish time-sensitive content on a global stage, practically in real time.

    Making the case for machine translation:

    Machine translation delivers instant results. Large volumes of text can be converted into foreign language material in a matter of minutes. Depending on the source text and the sophistication of the machine translation engine, the output may be good enough for “gisting” purposes, but still not good enough for publication. The following two steps, however, can dramatically increase the quality of machine translation output:

    • Training the machine translation engine with existing source and target text corpora in a given language pair and subject matter.
    • Carrying out a human post-edit on the raw machine output.

    The need for rapid turn-around translations is here to stay. As long as all stake holders in the process are clear about their expectations and goals, it should not be too difficult to understand and accommodate priorities of quality versus speed and accessibility.

    Translations and Sufficiency

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    Translations and Sufficiency

    In a recent discussion about quality in translations, a client commented that a translation he received was somehow insufficient. The client did not say the translation was wrong or incorrect, just insufficient.

    But what, exactly, does insufficient mean? In the absence of obvious mistranslations or omissions, why would a translation be deemed insufficient?

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Incorrect TranslationsThe problem is the very nature of language arts. Language is not a math equation, and 1+1 seldom equals 2. Every piece of writing is subject not only to the rules of grammar and syntax, but readers react to subtle nuances of style and expression that can make a piece of writing come alive. Professional language translation writers in every genre understand this and spend years perfecting their craft to meet the challenge.

    But what about translators? If we understand a translator to be the foreign-language stand-in for the original author, can we reasonably expect a translator to produce a piece of writing of the same quality and with the same nuances of style and expression that were achieved by the original author?

    Ideally yes, but let’s keep in mind that translators are typically paid cents per translated word and often work under very tight turn-around deadlines. Being an accomplished word smith, however, is serious business, is true art, and cannot be accomplished by rushing through writing assignments based on the number of words. For example, Shakespeare’s Hamlet in French needs to be so much more than a bunch of French words strung together without spelling mistakes, lest the play be deemed insufficient by French theater goers.

    Therefore, if we want Hamlet in French, clients and translation service providers have to be mindful of the linguistic challenges involved in creating high-quality pieces of writing, be they in their original language or in translation. When only the very best will do, the job specification for a translation should allow for a monolingual review and adaptation of the target text for the intended purpose and locale, a service typically charged for by the hour rather than by the number of words. True, this extra step adds to the cost of the translation, but high-end clients may find it worth the additional cost to ensure that the translation is of the same linguistic quality as the original piece of writing, and thus sufficient, even excellent.

    Bulk Translations: Here to Stay

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    Bulk Translations: Here to Stay

    Oh yes, it’s out there: The request for high volume, low-cost translations at super-fast turnaround times, a nightmare for translation professionals who have been trained to strive for quality in translations. To a language professional, quality in translation means accuracy of meaning, appropriateness of style, even adaptation of the target text for the intended market and locale. Ideally, a target text should be just as poignant and fluent to readers in the target language as the original text is to readers in the source language.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Bulk TranslationsHowever, linguistic quality as understood by language professionals may not always be the top priority of those requesting translations. Take the bulk translation market: Buyers in this market are looking for high-volume translations often needed for information only, for ‘gisting’ purposes, such as translations of foreign-language documents into English in preparation for litigation in US courts.

    Here’s the dilemma: Language professionals do not like this market because it inherently undervalues quality and tends to drive down rates. And yet – where there’s a need, there must be a way! Simply ignoring the demand of this market or constantly complaining about it does no good. The need is here to stay, and ever growing. The translation industry must learn how to accommodate the bulk market, must define and understand it as an entirely separate entity with distinct quality and costing parameters that have little to do with the traditional translation service model geared towards high quality translations. Providers must design service offerings that meet bulk-market customer needs while still maintaining adequate remuneration for language professionals and preserving quality, but only to the degree specified for the particular assignment. Such service models must take advantage of the latest technology, including machine translation and multi-party translation systems, where possible. Most importantly, the translation industry must facilitate a better understanding between all stakeholders in this process. It must educate bulk-market customers about what can be reasonably expected and accomplished in terms of translation speed versus quality given the limitations of human capacity combined with current technology.

    The Right Tool: Selecting a Translation Vendor

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    The Right Tool: Selecting a Translation Vendor

    As is true for any type of project, selecting the right tool, the right resource, is vital for the successful completion of a project. The same is true for translations. The industry is awash with thousands of individual translators and translation agencies in every corner of the globe, all aspiring to get a piece of that multi-million dollar industry driven by continued globalization. Today, foreign-language product literature and web content is no longer merely a tool to market and sell product abroad; for many industries, like the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, new safety regulations Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Vendor Selectionimposed by foreign governments require that all product labeling, such as instructions for use, be provided in the local language to avoid injury or death by incorrect use of a device or drug.

    Before choosing a translation vendor, first determine the purpose and target audience of your translation. These two parameters determine what level of sophistication you should require from your translation vendor. For example, if a translation error could potentially cause injury or death, then you want a certified full-service translation agency to handle your project, an agency that has the resources to translate, revise, edit, review and proof your translation in a full-service workflow model. On the other hand, if you need a text to be translated merely for ‘gisting’ purposes, for information only, then perhaps a single freelance translator or a small startup agency might offer you a more cost-effective solution (although not necessarily so). Keep in mind, however, that quality in translation requires a joint effort between the buyer and the translation vendor when it comes to adequate job specification. If your translation needs will be ongoing rather than sporadic, establishing a good working relationship with a single provider who can handle projects of various sizes and levels of sophistication might be advantageous to you in the long run.

    Fast, Faster, Fastest

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    Fast, Faster, Fastest

    Research has shown that many buyers of translation services value fast turn-around times over translation quality and price. Buyers may be under pressure to produce simultaneous releases of product and marketing material in multiple languages, or they may need volumes of into-English translations practically overnight as support material for litigation in US courts. Translation service providers are thus put under enormous pressure to Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Turnaround Timeaccommodate client requests for speed while still trying to maintain translation quality and competitive pricing models.

    The good news is that technology can and does help. The industry benefits greatly from ever more sophisticated off-the-shelf and proprietary translation workflow systems that can greatly facilitate and speed up the processes for order taking and project assignment, even the actual translation work. In this race to the bottom (achieve shortest turn-around times), the biggest obstacle to speed is human capacity, that is, even the most experienced and savvy translator can only translate so many words per day (rule-of-thumb is 1500 to max 2000 words/day). Therefore, collaborative, multi-party systems are being developed that allow many translators to work on the same project at the same time.

    The obvious challenge in such a setup is achieving consistency of terminology and style. To meet this challenge, systems offer ways to be prepped with terminology databases and translation memories. They also allow all parties, including editors and reviewers, to participate “live” and in real time in the project. For example, if translator A is the first to translate a certain term, the system will automatically suggest that term to translator B who can then either accept or suggest a better term to translator A. Meanwhile, an editor or client reviewer can see the suggestion and make the final determination about what term should be used. The system thus allows a continuous feedback loop between all parties on the project, ideally creating a high-quality final product that has little need to undergo any additional – and very time-consuming – quality checks and revisions.

     

    Translation Security Risks: Free Machine Translation Services

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    Translation Security Risks: Free Machine Translation Services

    Should you worry about data security risks posed by do-it-yourself machine translation services? You bet! If you submit source text to readily-available translation tools such as Google Translate and Reverso, your data will be out there “forever” and used to train the machine translation engines of these providers. The trade is aLinguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Security fair one: You submit your data, they offer a free service. Everybody benefits. No problem.

    True, unless your data is security sensitive and proprietary. While you may not worry about the content of a letter to your new heart-throb in Spain, the e-discovery material your law firm just acquired to build a case for arbitration is quite another matter.

    The good news is that some translation service providers now offer very inexpensive do-it-yourself MT ordering systems with the appropriate security controls in place. These systems allow you to shoot large volumes of text through the pipeline and get the translations returned to you almost immediately. While the MT output of such systems may yet be crude and inexact, it is often good enough for “gisting” purposes, so that you can analyze and sort the material for relevancy before ordering expensive human translation or human MT post-editing.

    A note of caution: Before you select a machine translation service from a provider, ask your provider to explain the data security controls that are in place every step of the way, following the data flow from your desk to the MT engine and back to your desk. Providers may also be able to customize the security controls according to your needs, for example, by making sure that the data stays within certain national borders, or specifically excludes certain countries.

    Translations for Clinical Trials

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    Translations for Clinical Trials

    You’ve spent millions of dollars on R&D, time-to-market deadlines are slipping, shareholders are breathing down your neck – finally, the moment arrives: Yes, we are ready for clinical trials!

    Clinical trials where? Oh! …….. Do they speak English over there? ……. Well, no!  Clinical Trials Translation is important.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation for Clinical TrialsIf the above predicament sounds familiar, it is no surprise. For a variety of reasons – less bureaucracy, good working relationships with foreign teaching hospitals, ideal climate or demographics for a particular study – many US companies conduct clinical trials abroad. When planning such trials, they are suddenly faced with the need to have product literature and instructions translated into a foreign language. At that moment, those brilliant scientists and engineers who typically run these projects find themselves at a loss, having to set in motion a process within that “fringe” domain of language arts where nothing is binary, but everything seems fluid, subjective, and open to interpretation (after all, it was that poetry-reading, guitar-strumming, long-haired crowd that studied foreign languages back in college).

    So what, if anything, can guide a weary scientist in the search for competent professional language translation?

    Standards, adequate job specifications, and a process approach to translations! Yes, even the fringe domain can be governed by standards and sound quality control processes. Although language remains a rather “inexact science”, subject to variations in word choice, tone and linguistic style, standards and international guidelines for translation services have done much in recent years to improve the overall quality of translations and to make the business partnership between the arts and the sciences a happier one. More and more translation service providers (TSPs) have undertaken the effort to become ISO 9001 certified; more and more TSPs are pursuing certification to industry-specific standards such as EN 15038 (developed in Europe specifically for TSPs) and CAN/CGSB-131.10 (its Canadian counterpart). In the US, of note is the Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation (ASTM F 2575), released by the American Society for Testing and Materials in 2006 under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee F15 on Consumer Products.

    While standards establish specific requirements (“shalls”) for the translation industry, the ASTM F 2575 guidelines focus on consumer education, attempting to lift the shroud surrounding translation work. The guidelines offer a list of terms and definitions used in the industry (let’s all speak the same language), outline the process steps involved in a typical translation workflow, and formulate for the buyer the questions to be asked when selecting a vendor and specifying a translation job.

    As the ASTM guide contends: “Quality in translation cannot be defined on the premise that there is only one correct, high-quality translation for any given source text. [ ] Quality is defined as the degree to which the characteristics of a translation fulfill the requirements of the agreed-upon specifications.”

    “Agreed-upon specifications?” That sounds rather vague. Are we back to the fringe stuff here?

    Not exactly. Translation work is hard work. It is complex and arduous work. Indeed, every translation project is unique and should be understood as a joint effort between the buyer and the TSP. But unless you have some knowledge about translations and the translation industry, you may find yourself ill prepared to formulate adequate job specifications for your translation project. All too often, time and money are wasted because crucial information about a project was not passed on to those working on the project.

    What type of information is needed, then?

    Information in these 3 categories is needed: The nature of the source material, the intent of the target material, the administrative aspects of the job. Below are sample questions that may guide you in defining your project even before contacting a TSP.

     

    Source Material – List of Sample Questions:

    • What is the language of the source text (including locale, i.e. British English versus American English)?
    • What is the origin of the source text (when authored, by whom)?
    • What is the subject area of the source text (i.e. medical, legal, financial)?
    • What word processing or layout program was used to create the source text (i.e. MS Word)?
    • Was the source text created following a particular style guide or template (if so, are style guide and template available for the translations)?
    • Does the source text include graphics or special text elements that need translation (i.e. callouts, side bars, insets)?
    • Is the source text a revision of a previously translated text (if so, are previous translations available as reference material for translators in order to match word choice and style)?
    • Do glossaries or an electronic translation memory exist (i.e. within a translation program, such as Trados)?
    • Is there any other reference material available that could guide the translator in word choice and linguistic style (for example, product brochures, instructions, training videos, web content)?

    Target Material – List of Sample Questions:

    • Into what language(s) should the text be translated (including locale, i.e. Continental Spanish versus Spanish for Latin America)?
    • What is the purpose of the translation (i.e. for publication, to satisfy a legal requirement, for information only)?
    • Who is the target audience (the end user) of the translation, and what is their reading level?
    • Does the translation require layout/desktop publishing work (i.e. to create print-ready copy for publication)?
    • Are there any special instructions to translators (i.e. text, names or locales to stay in the source language)?

    Administrative Aspects – List of Sample Questions:

    • What are the project’s start and due dates (fixed or flexible)?
    • What are the budget constraints?
    • Who will manage the project and be the contact for translator questions, if any?
    • Are changes to the project anticipated (for example, the source text is still undergoing revisions)?
    • Are client review activities envisioned and who will carry them out (i.e. third-party affiliates, client’s foreign country offices)?
    • Are back translations necessary (a regulatory requirement for some industries)?
    • What are the needs for data protection and confidentiality?
    • Are added-value services required (creation of glossary, translation memory, notarization or certification)?

    For further reading – click here

     

    ISO and eDiscovery Translation

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    ISO and eDiscovery Translation

    In a recent article by Chris Knox and Scott Dawson, published on www.iediscovery.com, the authors discuss a lack of standards for the processing of electronically stored information (ESI) for litigation purposes. Of interest is the authors’ conclusion that the industry could benefit greatly by adopting the processes outlined in the international standards ISO 9001 and ISO 27001. To quote from the article:

    “ISO 9001 has been held up as a standard that is a useful example of the type of standard the e-discovery industry can hope to develop. We believe that ISO 9001 is in fact not just an example, but a workable, real-world solution that provides a solid foundation for the e-discovery industry today.”

    “The ISO 27000 standard is designed to identify and manage risks posed to business information by data theft or accidental loss. It provides guidelines for putting a secure infrastructure in place and implementing a risk management process and corporate policy to minimize data loss. This is the one existing ISO standard e-discovery vendors can and should actively consider adopting in addition to the ISO 9001. “

    LSI, as a market leader in document translation services, is proud to hold certifications to both of these standards!

    Additional Information

     

    Mitigating Data Security Risks in Translation

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    Mitigating Data Security Risks in Translation

    In their role as translation services company, language providers handle a wide variety of material, from simple business cards to sensitive legal briefs and medical case histories. Although language companies know that they must treat all client material as confidential, a customized translation workflow can be applied to the handling of material that carries significant data security risks. Assessing these risks up front and defining special project handling instructions with your provider are vital steps in keeping sensitive material secure during the translation process. Risk mitigation controls may be applied to the way files are transmitted between the client, the service provider and individual translators; to the material itself (file content); to the type of translators and their geographic locale; as well as to file storage/deletion requirements. Keep in mind that handling options and translation workflows can be as unique and as specialized as your project requires. Ask your provider to help you define the best options available to you.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Data Translation SecurityFile Transmission Options

    Rather than using standard email, your provider may suggest that files be transmitted using a secure transmission method such as encrypted email, YouSendIt, downloading/uploading files from secure servers, or even mailing physical media such as CDs.

    Important: Make sure that whatever transmission method you select can be followed through the entire translation workflow, that is, moving files from you >  to the provider >  to individual translators > then back to you.

    If, on the other hand, you are uncomfortable with sending anything around, you may want to explore the option of having translators come to your place of business, or to a locale of your choosing, such as a secure data center that makes office space and equipment available to you for the duration of the project. Such on-site setups are often used for legal review work, content analysis and the translation of highly sensitive e-discovery material. Your provider may be able to assist you in finding such a place.

    File Content Options

    If you have the staff and the time, you may want to remove confidential information from your files before submitting them for translation (for example, remove patient names from medical case histories and substitute them with first initials or place holders). Alternatively, you may request the translation service provider to remove such information for you, before files are submitted to individual translators for translation. Full patient names could then be re-inserted after the text has been translated.

    Selection of Human Resources

    Translation service providers assign translators to your project based on language- and subject-matter expertise. However, the nature of your material may require that only individuals with certain backgrounds may handle the files, for example, US-citizens only. Make sure you specify such special requirements before project start.

    Special human resource requirements may also be based on geographic locale. Depending on the origin and nature of your material, access may need to be limited to translators residing in certain locales, or specifically exclude those residing in certain locales, such as in countries on a government watch list for political unrest.

    File Storage/Retention Options

    Make sure you discuss your file storage/deletion requirements with your service provider before project start. Most providers have a defined data retention policy, such as 7 years, unless otherwise specified. “Otherwise specified” may mean deletion of all files immediately after completion of the project. Files may also be encrypted for storage, protected by passwords only known to you and/or to a network administrator.

    Important: Make sure that any file storage/deletion requirement you specify can be carried out through the entire translation workflow, that is, at the provider, at individual translators who may be working remotely for the provider, and at electronic backup sites or tapes used by the provider.

     

     

    Post-editing for eDiscovery

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    Post-editing for eDiscovery

    Post-editing is a term applied to editing of machine translation (MT). It is especially useful for eDiscovery work in which the volume is large and time is of the essence. The advantages of using machine translation on such volume are its speed and corresponding low cost. Lawyers and legal personnel usually need to read through thousands of pages to see what is relevant to the case at hand, and when such material is in a foreign language, it must be translated. But lawyers do not need to waste their time on the documents that are not responsive. So if reviewers who are native to the foreign language are not available, MT is adequate for a first pass.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Human Post-EditingVarious levels of post-editing are possible: the post-editing can aim for a completely accurate translation in all respects, or a lower level post-edit can be performed to capture meaning and correct terminology in a short time, without spending additional time on perfect grammar and syntax.  The low level post-editing may be all that is needed at this stage of eDiscovery. While such post-edited machine translation cannot be submitted to a court, it has proven to be the most cost-effective means of obtaining meaning for accurately determining relevancy.

    Despite the inaccuracies of machine translation, with post-editing, only a relatively few documents will need full human translation, ensuring substantial savings of time and money. For best results, the key component is choosing post-editors who know the equivalent accurate terminology in both the foreign and English languages.  For more detailed information about this type of editing and its application to eDiscovery work, access the eDiscovery Translation page at www.linguist.com.

    EDRM Remains Vital to E-Discovery

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    EDRM and ediscovery

    Originally thought EDRM would be a one-year exercise; but here we are almost nine years later!

    The 9th annual Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) kickoff meeting wrapped up this week in Saint Paul, Minn. The purpose was to set the agenda and direction for the year. There were approximately 60 in attendance for this two-day event, with over half being fresh faces to the group. Sixty percent of the attendees were vendors and the remaining from law firms or corporations.  Read More

    Language and Translation

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    I’ve been always interested in languages. I grew up in an environment where a single language was considered a superior one. Over time,  life made me trilingual, but I still envy people who speak many languages, especially if I don’t know one of those.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Language TranslationSuddenly, I was brought into the world of languages and translating industry by my latest  career move. Almost invisible for the wide public this world is going through a revolution. And the Internet is a substantial driver of it.

    Eliminating language as a barrier to knowledge and communication is one of the latest great challenges

    Here are a few interesting and important facts:

    Professional language translation is both slow and expensive. Depending on the sphere of translation and the language pairs being translated, professional translation can cost as much as US$0.50 per word for a language such as Japanese. For European languages, costs typically range between US$0.08 to US$0.20 per word. For many publishers, this translation expense is too high and cannot be justified. Human translators typically translate at around 2,000-3,000 words per day.

    An alternative is rapid translation of time sensitive content using machine translation. Being first to market with new information can be a significant competitive advantage. However, the quality of machine translation still leaves a lot to desire.

    Some companies most certainly understand the benefits and potential of its automated translation technology and is now trying to regain a level of control over it.

    Do you have anything  to say about languages and translations?  Please comment below.

    Data Security in Translation

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    Data Security in Translation

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Data SecuritySo you need your patent application, your clinical trial questionnaire, or your e-discovery material translated. Well, unless you’re in the enviable position of having highly qualified linguists sitting in the cubicles right next door, chances are you will need to engage the services of a translation services company. But who are these people? Can they be trusted with your confidential information? Who will have access? And where, exactly, will your information travel before it is returned to you in Spanish, Chinese or Russian?

    So here’s the scoop: Chances are your material will travel lots, and lots of people will have access to it, unless you work out with the translation company the specific data security handling requirements for your material. Look for a translation company that is experienced and savvy when it comes to data security, ideally one that has implemented a comprehensive information security management system and is certified to the international security standard ISO 27001/BS 7799. Such a company will be able to help you formulate the best security handling options for your translation project, focusing on four key areas where data vulnerabilities can be mitigated: material content, method of transmission, translators and their location, and data storage and backup.

    If you have had data security problems with translations, please comment below.

    eDiscovery and Translation

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    eDiscovery and Translation

    The Problem:

    A mountain of foreign-language material! We need it in English and we need it fast! eDiscovery Translations are expensive and take time! What do we do?

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. E-Discovery TranslationPossible Solutions:

    • Use of foreign-language reviewers: Reviewers (in the source language) review the material before it is translated and identify pertinent and relevant information. Only pertinent and relevant information is translated.
    • Use of machine translation (MT): MT offers a fast and inexpensive way to translate large volumes of text. Caution: Depending on the language pair and subject matter, even the best MT engines may achieve only 40% translation accuracy. Also, if confidentiality is important, DO NOT use readily available MT engines, such as Google Translate. While use of these engines is free, they typically retain your data and use it to train and improve their output.
    • Use of machine translation (MT) + post-editors: A light or full human post-edit performed on a machine-translated text will improve accuracy, as the translator identifies and corrects mistakes made by the MT engine. MT + post-editing is typically faster and cheaper than a full human translation (HT).
    • Use of machine translation (MT) + reviewers: Reviewers (in target language) review the machine-translated text and try to identify pertinent and relevant information. Only pertinent and relevant information is either post-edited or fully translated by a human translator. Caution: The machine-translated text may be only 40% accurate, and reviewers might miss pertinent and relevant information.

    Machine Translation: What to Consider

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    Machine Translation: What to Consider

    LSI is a translation service company that sells machine translation (MT), typically into English, either as pass-through raw machine output or with one of 2 levels of human post-editing (light and full post-editing). MT is often requested for “gisting” purposes, when a client wants a quick and inexpensive way to find out about the nature and content of foreign-language documents. MT is typically processed in bulk, so that relevant content can be highlighted and extracted from a large volume of foreign-language material, as for a legal e-discovery project.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translation Post EditingThe quality of machine translation output varies greatly depending on the type and quality of the source text that is fed into the MT engine. Factors such as source language (European, Asian, or other), subject matter, writing style, and the technical quality of the source text affect the output.

    Raw MT output can be improved by training/customizing the MT engine with previously translated text in a given subject matter and/or writing style, which the software then uses to match similar text it encounters. The benefit of using a trained MT engine must be weighed against the time and cost that is involved in training the engine.

     

    MT Post-Editing

    Raw MT output can receive a light or a full human post-edit in order to improve the MT output by making the text more accurate and readable. However, MT post-editing is not geared towards creating a translation of top linguistic quality for publication. Only a full human translation with revision/editing is expected to achieve that result.

    Light MT Post-Editing

    The objective of a light MT post-edit is to create a translation in which essential words are translated correctly, so that the reader can capture the general meaning of the source text. The post-editor is not expected to improve on the syntax or writing style, and the text may remain awkward to read. A light post-edit should take about 1/3 of the time of a full human translation, thereby shortening turnaround time and cost.

    Full MT Post-Editing

    The objective of a full MT post-edit is to create a translation that is as correct, unambiguous and easy-to-read as possible, with relatively good syntax. The post-editor is not expected to improve on the writing style or create a publishable text. A full post-edit should take about 2/3 of the time of a full human translation, thereby still shortening turnaround time and cost.

    Try It Out!

    If you are considering MT for your translation needs, simply provide us with a sample of your source text. We will run it through our MT engines as a test, so you can get an idea about the quality of the MT output for your material.

     

     

    Quality Translation Processes

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    Quality Translation Processes

    How can professional language service companies (LSCs) ensure technically flawless and competent translations in order to achieve high customer satisfaction?

    By establishing and maintaining transparent and easily verifiable processes in a translation quality management system. At a minimum, such a system should establish and constantly monitor the following core translation processes and resources: (1) Project inquiry, feasibility, job specifications, and quotation acceptance in writing with Terms & Conditions, (2) Competence of human resources/translators, (3) Adequacy of technical resources, (4) Translation project management, (5) Verification of fulfilling job specifications and (6) Delivery.

     

    Gala Event Wrap Up Discussion: The World of Professional Translation Services

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    How does the “business of language” translate to you?

    I just returned from the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) 2013 conference in Miami. The Florida city – whose Spanish-speaking population outnumbers English-speaking residents – was particularly relevant to the group assembled inside the hotel because it represented exactly the opportunities – and the challenges – that we were discussing.

    This year’s theme, the Language of Business, spoke to the urgency of being able to communicate in today’s world of more than 6,700 languages. Particularly for businesses, the ability to bridge language and dialect barriers – even within their own geographic locations – can be a terrific competitive advantage, and a strategic benefit for governments as well.

    Professional language translation companies such as LSI are those bridges. We utilize technology, people, and a combination of language and document translation services to adapt communications and content to a region’s language, culture, and customs. Our localization industry is what David Orban (CEO, Dotsub and futurist) referred to in his keynote address as “the bedrock of globalization.”

    Granted, the industry-specific GALA conference was focused on how localization businesses like ours address emerging technologies, innovation, and the challenges of our industry. But how does the “business of language” translate to you as a customer?

    Certainly, large, multinational organizations such as SAP, Adobe, and Amway invest heavily in supporting their international efforts with localization to adjust content intelligently for regions, dialects, and colloquialisms.

    Regardless of your business size, though, or whether your organization is focused on business-to-business or business-to-consumer, if you are selling to populations that speak different languages, your ability to produce content that translates relevantly to your target audiences is critical. Miami is a good example, where businesses must communicate effectively to both Spanish- and English-speaking customers.

    Technology naturally expands a business’ reach beyond the local economy. The Internet is a prime model of a technology that removes geographic barriers. Mobile solutions extend Internet (and thus content) accessibility from even the remotest areas of the globe – including Africa, the second largest mobile market in the world. But with only 27 percent of the today’s Internet in English, localization and professional translation services become more important than ever.

    Translation Memory — A Primer

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    Translation Memory – A Primer

    What Is It? What Can It Do for Me?

    Translation memory is a set of software tools that function as a database to store translated material. Individual memory items, known as segments, are stored with source and corresponding segments aligned in this database. A segment can be a sentence, a bullet point, a title, etc.

    When a segment is translated, the source and target texts are stored “next” to each other in the database. When a segment is repeated in a future related document or update of the same document, the segment does not need to be retranslated. It can be used as is by the translator or modified only slightly, depending on the context of the surrounding paragraph. A stored segment that is an approximate rather than exact match to a source segment in a new text being translated is known as a “fuzzy” match (for example: “The house is blue.” and “The house is red.”) is presented to the translator to make minor changes to obtain the desired translation.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation MemoryOver time, individual translation memories can become very large and significantly reduce translation costs and turnaround times. Where a new segment would be charged at 100% of the agreed-upon rate, a fuzzy match might be charged at 75% of the full rate and a repeated segment 30%. Additionally, the memory contributes to better consistency because re-using segments will guide new translation and create consistency.

    Translation memories can be customized by client, by subject matter or both. For example, a translation memory can be created for Client ABC-Marketing, Client ABC-Technical Docs, etc. They can also be set up in a hierarchal way so that one translation memory is used preferentially before another.

    Glossaries can also be linked to translation memories to add another translation aid for the translator to ensure that specific client or subject terminology is properly used in a translation.

    A further way to create a translation memory is through the process of “alignment”. If you have a corpus of previously translated document pairs, the alignment feature can be used to match source and translated sentences and other segments, thereby building a translation memory. This is a combined automated and human process, therefore there will be a charge for this. However, the savings achieved in the translation process may make this step worth the effort and cost, particularly if there will be future translations of similar material.

    Only files that are editable can be used in a translation memory – no scanned PDFs or images. In addition to Microsoft Office files, most translation memory tools also support files produced by other authoring tools like FrameMaker, InDesign, etc.

    A Pricing Example

    Let’s assume that you have a 100,000 word set of documents that needs to be translated from English to another language. The table below shows a possible price comparison:

    No Translation Memory Cost at $.030 per word With Translation Memory Cost at Base Rate of $0.30 per Word
    100,000 words $30,000 50,000 new words $15,000
    25000 fuzzy matches $5,625
    25000 repeats $2,250
    TOTAL $30,000 TOTAL $22,875

     

    In reality, there will likely be more repeats and less fuzzy matches, however, this example shows how quickly the savings can add up. In this case, the saving is $7,125 (23.75%).  If the number of words was 1 million, the saving would have been over $70,000.

    Evaluation of translation options

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    Evaluation of translation options

    There are many document translation service options a buyer has when considering translating their document from the source language into the target language (e.g. Japanese into English).  The different levels demonstrated below vary by price and text comprehensibility.  They range from under $1.00 a file (Machine Translation-MT) to over $100.00 a page (Human Translation with Editing).  Understanding the differences might save you a lot of money and give you the desired comprehensibility you are seeking without exceeding your translation budget.  Looking at a sample of each of these levels before placing   an order will help you decide.

    These translation options are:

    • Machine Translation (MT) – translation performed by computer software;
    • Light Post Editing (LPE) – limited human editing of machine translated documents that gives priority to correct terminology and accuracy of meaning;
    • Full Post Editing (FPE) – deep human editing of machine translated documents that includes syntax and other composition qualities;
    • Human Translation (HT) – full human translation (no MT or post-editing) of the original document with appropriate fluency, idiomatic expression, and writing style (Can be certified for court);
    • Human Translation with Editing – fully edited human translation to verify accuracy of all translation aspects and to ensure appropriate style for the intended audience while retaining faithfulness to the message of the source text. (Can be certified for court or published).

    Understanding your options will help you make a more informed decision. Translation for information serves various purposes, and you can stay within a tight budget by not exceeding the needed level.

     

    Inaugural Blog Post

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    Inaugural Blog Post From President & CEO, Martin Roberts

    Bienvenue! And welcome to Linguistic Systems’ first blog post.  I’m Martin Roberts, president and CEO of Linguistic Systems, Inc. (LSI). Our mission, with this blog, is to bring you useful translation and interpreting news, tips to maximize the value of your funds spent on translation, and the latest news from LSI.

    I’m proud to lead this company that provides important professional translation services to corporations/institutions and individuals throughout the world. LSI was founded in 1967 when the standard tools were typewriters, white-out, and carbon paper. Having experienced the translation industry from its infancy to where it is today, I have to say, globalization has generated tremendous growth but it seems the surge is still in an early stage as communications continue to proliferate.

    innovationIn response, we are using the most advanced technologies to bring greater value to our clients. For instance, last month we unveiled our patent pending Select Translation Service. This system provides online access to five levels of quality for information purposes. Specifically, the system is an online, web-based application for translating foreign language documents into English according to the user-defined priorities of accuracy, speed, and cost. Immediate turnarounds with significant cost-savings are available.

    Globalization  (including website globalization) continues to drive and expand our services in new directions. More corporations are opening headquarters in the Asia Pacific region, particularly China, and timely translation services are essential to keep pace with the changing demands of local markets. Today, lawyers, medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and the like are in need of translation to conduct day-to-day business that involves consumers and regulators.  Download a copy of our STS data sheet.

    I look forward to your feedback on this inaugural blog post and sharing more LSI news with you! In each posting we will share with you our thoughts on  new language trends, innovations, or challenges.  If you have any colleagues or friends who might benefit from our blog postings about new developments, feel free to let us know and we will add them to our distribution list.

    We are always striving for continuous improvement at LSI. If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions for future newsletter topics I’d love to hear from you with comments to this or other blog posts.

    Regards,

    Marty Roberts

    Hymns and tones: Melodic Intonation Therapy

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    Hymns and tones: Melodic Intonation Therapy

    People with aphasia, a condition discussed in a previous blog post here, experience the loss of language in both spoken and written form. There is one somewhat controversial but fascinating course of treatment for people with aphasia (PWA): Melodic intonation therapy (MIT). As early as 1745, a case of a 33-year-old Swedish farmer piqued his community’s interest: this man was paralyzed on the right side of his body, and could only say “yes.” But during church services, he could sing the words of familiar hymns. Olaf Dalin, a contemporary physician, commemorated this phenomenon in writing, and in 1904 a neurologist named Charles Mills found again that some PWA can sing before they can speak.

    downloadMills suggested a primitive form of melodic intonation therapy in the form of singing songs with patients, which he found to help with patients’ emotional well-being, but which did not necessarily help with their speech.

    In 1945, speech-language pathologist Ollie Backus suggested presenting words and phrases PWA wanted to learn in a rhythmical fashion: the beginning of contemporary melodic intonation therapy. This iteration did not involve singing hymns, but rather drilling patients by showing and having them repeat useful words and phrases in varying tones and to a specific rhythm. Formal studies of the therapy began in 1972; in 1974, 6 individuals out of a group of 8 in one study made improvements in speech with MIT. These results should be interpreted with caution, as they only come from a single study and confounding variables may have affected the results. The idea of melody helping patients learn to speak again is certainly an appealing one, however.

    A popular hypothesis for explaining the positive effects of MIT on aphasia patients is that while language is generally controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain (at least in right-handed individuals), it is commonly believed that musical knowledge and processing happens in the right hemisphere. Could using the other side of the brain help compensate for the left side’s weaknesses? The jury is still out. But the next time you sing along to your favorite song, know that it may have a permanent spot in your brain, whether there is a loss of language or not.

    3 Tips for Navigating the World of Foreign Language Data

    relativity-logo-rgb-150This blog is presented with the permission of kCura, the makers of Relativity. We thank them for allowing us to share this blog with you.

    John Del Piero – Discovia | Review & Production, e-Discovery

    3 Tips for Navigating the World of Foreign Language Data

    Rarely does a review project shape up exactly the way we predict. Litigation support teams need agility and flexibility to be prepared for everything e-discovery can and will throw their way.

    Growing data volumes are an obvious contributor to this reality, but so is today’s international landscape. Globalization means more foreign language documents are finding their way into company data stores, and that results in added complications during e-discovery for both litigation and investigations.

    If you’re starting to see that foreign language data is becoming a bigger part of everyday e-discovery, here’s how to get ahead of the complexity.

    1. Think multilingually.

    It is important to always be prepared for foreign language data that may appear in your collections. Odds are good that your business—or your client’s business—involves some dealings in another country, whether via product sales, outsourced services, or recruiting efforts. Modern business means foreign language documents are always a possibility, if not likely.

    For example, our team recently kicked off a relatively small internal investigation involving five custodians. After initial strategizing with the client, we knew we might need to handle foreign language data. Even though we didn’t know what languages or volumes to expect, we were fortunate to have prepared the right technological workflows, including tapping a specialized translation plugin for our review workspace, in advance. It turned out that this small investigation became a big one, and more than 10 million documents involving English, Russian, and several Middle Eastern languages were collected when all was said and done.

    Bonus Tip: You can also use early case assessment workflows to perform analytics on your case and identify which foreign languages are used in which documents.

    2. Hone in on foreign language insights with the right technology.

    The days of setting aside individual documents with foreign language content during a manual, linear review so they can be attended to separately by native speakers are more or less behind us. Case teams can now take advantage of text analytics to identify those documents at the very start of the review. The benefit here is that, while still requiring a separate workflow, these documents can undergo a first-pass review simultaneously alongside the English documents—instead of being flagged and funneled into a separate process as reviewers churn through the entire data set manually.

    Working with foreign languages in your e-discovery software also means identifying the right stop words—common terms that the system will ignore, such as “the” or “it”—for searching and analytics, so be sure to have a proper understanding of those dictionaries from the start. You can also get creative during searching by looking into slang or other regional terms that could be present in your data set.

    Creating a unique analytics index for each language is a good way to ensure you’re making the most of your system’s conceptual analysis of the data. Additionally, work closely with foreign language experts to identify any foreign names or terms that could but should not be translated, such as “Deutsche Telekom,” and dig into foreign keyword search criteria that may uncover the most important files by helping to create clusters—conceptually related groups of documents that can be automatically organized by the system.

    Bonus Tip: Taking note of some special considerations for use on foreign languages, leverage email threading and other analytics features on this data for better organization with minimal human input.

    3. Know you have options for translation.

    All of those technology options mean that a slow linear review by native speakers is no longer necessary—at least not to the full extent it once was. However, once you’ve identified potentially relevant materials via these workflows, you still need to get the data into the hands of the experts on your project. You can’t build a convincing case strategy based on second-hand reports of the stories the documents are telling—at some point you’ll need accurate document translation to provide evidence.

    Fortunately, even translation is a different animal when you have the right technology and workflows in place. Machine translation is a very low cost option, but you must be careful. It can provide a gist meaning, but is unreliable for the true meaning of any sentence. While convenient and fast, machine translation may produce misleading information—and some of it may be simply incomprehensible. For reliable accuracy, consider human revision of the machine’s results.

    For instance, on that same case of 10 million documents, our team ended up with more than 70,000 files that required translation—and the task seemed daunting. Working closely with Linguistic Systems, a Relativity developer partner, we were able to identify a collaborative, hybrid workflow that utilized post-editing of the machine translation to split the difference between the cost-effectiveness of machine translation and the refined accuracy of human translation. In the end, it cost 65 percent less than we anticipated for a manual translation—and we gathered all the insight we needed, easily within the time allowed.

    Bonus Tip: Specialized tools that can be added directly to your review workspace support translation workflows in real time, so you don’t have to move data around. Discovia worked with the Relativity Developer Partner, Linguistic Systems, Inc., who does this translation work through their proprietary LSI Translation Plug-in, an application in the Relativity Ecosystem.

    When it comes down to it, tackling foreign language data is yet another example of how modern e-discovery requires a healthy balance of technology, expertise, and collaboration. How do you ensure you’re sticking the landing on feats like these? Let us know in the comments.

    John Del Piero is vice president of global e-discovery solutions at Discovia, where he helps foster effective partnerships with law firms and corporations tackling complex litigation and investigations. He joined Discovia in 2010.

    Signs and Culture: The World of American Sign Language

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    Signs and Culture: The World of American Sign Language

    “Your name is what?”

    This is not how most English speakers ask a new acquaintance their name. Hearing (as opposed to Deaf) speakers say “What is your name?” And they get to see their formulation in writing all the time – in dialogue introducing a new character in a novel, or on a job application. But Deaf or hard-of-hearing people who speak American Sign Language (ASL) don’t have that luxury. They must learn one set of grammatical rules for signing, and another for reading and writing English.

    sign_languageSome people assume ASL is simply English conveyed in gestures, but that is certainly not the case. There are the grammatical differences noted above, and also the notion of signs as opposed to gestures. I’ve experienced at least one hearing person refer to a sign as a “gesture,” and knew from taking ASL classes that members of the Deaf and the hard-of-hearing community would not appreciate this phrasing. A sign, like a word, has a fixed form and meaning: its visual representation does not change from speaker to speaker, and it has a definition as precise as that of a spoken or written word. Hearing people’s gestures, on the other hand, are often made up on the spot and only carry meaning during that particular conversation.

    ASL speakers face not only the challenge of being required to learn two languages if they want to be able to convey thoughts through writing or to read a favorite storybook. Crucial information is always being conveyed auditorily – from train announcements to sirens, it can be hard to get a full read on one’s environment without the sense of hearing – and Deaf people must navigate the world without that help. They may face misinformed hearing people in daily life as well, who attach a stigma to Deafness and do not want to understand Deaf people’s language or lived experiences. Deaf Culture, a sign I will never forget from my two semesters of ASL in college due to its obvious importance to my Deaf professor, refers to the way Deaf people interact with each other: jokes that hearing people may not understand; books and movies that speak to the challenges of Deaf life; describing people using solely physical characteristics, in a way that may seem blunt to some hearing folks. It’s a culture Deaf people are rightly proud of and that they dedicate much time and effort into preserving and helping evolve.

    My above-mentioned ASL professor, who is Deaf, taught the entire two semesters I took with her without speaking a single English word. Immersion has always been the best way to go about language learning in my experience, and my classmates and I knew we needed to pick up signs and grammar as quickly as in any other foreign language class to succeed. But we were also required to attend Deaf cultural events for class: church services, movie nights, themed meetups. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people gathered at these events and signed with rapid fluidity, allowing us students to glimpse church or a movie through a quite novel cultural and linguistic lens. We learned about Gallaudet College, the only all-Deaf university in the country, of which our instructor was a proud alum. She described the college, slowly, during our classes: Washington, D.C., a beautiful campus, students and professors who really understood. One day towards the end of the semester, our professor revealed that she actually did speak English, to one person: her mother. “Because I love her,” she signed to us, “and because she can’t sign.” Clearly, it takes a very powerful love to draw a Deaf person out of their Culture enough to speak what is truly a foreign language for someone else’s convenience. Deaf Culture, like ASL itself, is strong, rich, and varied: a home for a beautiful language and those who speak it, understanding each other in a world that often refuses to understand them.

    Linguistics Research: Patterns and ‘Mini-Languages’

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    Linguistics Research: Patterns and ‘Mini-Languages’

    Readers of this blog will have seen my post about deciding to study linguistics as an undergraduate. The takeaway from that course of study, for me, was an appreciation of the complexity of languages and their tendency to change over time, as well as a basic understanding of areas of linguistic study like sociolinguistics, syntax, and phonetics and phonology. But what is it like to continue studying linguistics as a graduate student, to the point of conducting original research to investigate specific questions about language? Dr. Anna Greenwood recently obtained her Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and spoke with me about her research.

    a-group-of-peoples-generate-a-network-100232926Her studies took place, Dr. Greenwood says, “at the interface of phonetics and phonology.” For the uninitiated, phonetics refers to how people perceive and produce speech sounds, like vowels and consonants, while phonology deals with how these sounds are then organized within languages to form larger units, such as words. Languages are “highly organized” – so how do speech sounds affect a language’s organizational structure? To narrow in on Dr. Greenwood’s research – what kinds of sounds can occur at the end of a word?

    There are “voiced” and “voiceless” consonants across languages. Which category these sounds fall into is determined by whether your vocal cords vibrate (voiced), or not (voiceless), when they are produced. To hear how voicing can change a sound, take “s” and “z” for example – if you produce a long “sssss” sound, then add voicing, you will hear “zzzzz” instead. Dr. Greenwood noticed that in languages where words can end with consonant sounds, they generally tend to end those words with voiceless consonants. Why? Is it “easier” to learn the more frequent pattern of voicelessness at the end of words, or is it simply that the voiceless consonant patterns are easier to perceive? Dr. Greenwood believed it was the latter – that these particular infrequent patterns are just as easy to learn as the frequent ones – and set about creating “mini artificial languages” to test this hypothesis. Her languages included words following the more cross-linguistically frequent pattern of voiceless consonants at the end (“poss,” as an example), as well as ones following the less frequent pattern of word-final voiced consonants (“pozz”). Using undergraduate students at her university as subjects, she “had speaker[s] record the words of both languages in two different ways — one which was slow and hyperarticulated, like how we speak in formal settings, and one which was faster, more slurred, more resemblant of how we speak to our friends.” She found, “consistently, that my participants had basically no problem learning the infrequent patterns when they were taught the language in the more formal speech.”

    So – her results suggest that specifically for the patterns Dr. Greenwood was studying, there is no “innate problem” in learning infrequent sound patterns – just that more common sound patterns are easier to hear. Could these findings help explain commonalities among languages across the world? More research is needed, Dr. Greenwood says, but her studies have opened the door for investigation. Fascinating new discoveries such as hers are coming out every day – and at LSI we are always ready to learn more about language. Many thanks to Dr. Greenwood for taking the time to share her findings with us.

    Multilingual Link Roundup

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    Multilingual Link Roundup

    If you love language, take a look at the following articles. We at LSI enjoyed these stories, which are from varied perspectives on many aspects of language. From personal essay to a report on gendered hurricane names, these articles should whet your linguistic appetite – and inspire you to learn more!

    An in-depth look at the decline of the Hawaiian language, and those who are working to help revive it by educating the next generation in language immersion schools:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/tomorrows_test/2016/06/how_the_ka_papahana_kaiapuni_immersion_schools_saved_the_hawaiian_language.html

     A beautifully written personal essay about languages as windows into other cultures:

    http://the-toast.net/2016/05/31/language-learning-decolonisation/

    A language-related Onion article for good measure:

    http://www.theonion.com/article/underfunded-schools-forced-to-cut-past-tense-from–2336

     And finally, an article we wish was from the Onion about how hurricanes’ names affect people’s perception of their severity:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/06/02/female-named-hurricanes-kill-more-than-male-because-people-dont-respect-them-study-finds/

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    The wonder of code switching

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    The wonder of code switching

    I was standing at the bus stop, tired after a long day and ready to go home. A woman and her young daughter were also waiting there, and I was letting their Haitian Creole wash over me as I stared into space. Suddenly, though, the mother said “a strawberry smoothie, once a day,” in English. This was a bit jarring and snapped me back to attention and on to remembering learning about code switching, something covered in sociolinguistics courses I had taken in college.

    ConsiderThere is still much to be learned about bilingualism – whether bilingual babies and children are learning two or more languages simultaneously and separately; whether they really master one first, then the other; whether the grammar from one language serves as scaffolding for a second, third, fourth. But an observable phenomenon occurs with many bilingual speakers in conversation, once those languages have been learned: code switching. This refers to switching languages in the middle of speaking – often in the middle of a sentence, or just inserting one word from Language 2 into a sentence spoken in Language 1. As someone who had to study hard to approximate fluent French, I am always mesmerized by truly bilingual people who can switch between languages so fluidly.

    Whether and how one code-switches depends on the relationship between the speaker and her listener, the subject matter at hand, and probably other mechanisms that bilingual people have internalized but maybe couldn’t even articulate if asked. Code switching is common when the speakers are very familiar with each other. It’s seen with family members or friends speaking casually, perhaps with Dominican-Americans dropping an English word that may more precisely convey some American cultural signifier or concept into an otherwise Spanish sentence.

    What was the Creole-speaking woman at the bus stop saying about her strawberry smoothie? I’ll never know. But her easy shifting reminded me to appreciate all our beautiful codes, and especially those who can switch between them to create a novel and quite personal code of their own.

    When Language Leaves Us

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    When Language Leaves Us

    Have you ever had a word at the tip of your tongue, but just couldn’t say it? You know what you want to say but just can’t conjure up the right combination of sounds. Imagine if that happened with almost every word you tried to say. For people living with aphasia, this is the unfortunate reality.

    epilepsy-623346_1920Aphasia is a language disorder found most commonly in people who have suffered a stroke or, to a lesser extent, a traumatic brain injury. Most often, a stroke that occurs in the left hemisphere of the brain causes aphasia; the left side of the brain controls most aspects of language in most people. The above-mentioned loss of words, clinically referred to as anomia, occurs in all types of aphasia, but there are variations on the disorder. Some people can speak fluently if with some nonsense words mixed in, but not understand language while others can understand but not produce language. Aphasia can affect spoken and written language.

    It is important to note that aphasia is a loss of language, not intelligence, which is what can be the most frustrating aspect for those living with it: the mind comprehends what is going on, including an awareness of the aphasia itself, but still the patient struggles with language.

    June is National Aphasia Awareness Month; if you hadn’t heard of it before, the American Stroke Association has plenty of information here.

    In past years, stroke survivors, speech-language pathologists, and supporters have gathered at the Massachusetts State House to spread awareness of their cause; there are approximately 80,000 new cases of aphasia diagnosed per year, and yet many have never heard of it.

    Learning about language disorders may move us to advocate for those who have them, and at the very least should foster a deeper appreciation of the ease with words many of us may take for granted. Keep aphasia survivors and their loved ones in mind the next time you can’t find a word; that moment will pass for you but for others it never will, and there but for fortune…

    Seven Ways to Design Better Global Marketing Brochures

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    Seven Ways to Design Better Global Marketing Brochures

    Design Concept. Design Drawn on Dark Wall. Design in Multicolor Doodle Design. Design Concept. Modern Illustration in Doodle Design Style of Design. Design Business Concept.

    I have listed things to avoid when you design a brochure that will be translated in a previous post. Today I want to show you things that we commonly see on client source files and our advice for those of you who design global marketing brochures or product sheets.

    When your designed piece follows some of the best practices that follow, you can expect that your translation cost will be less. In addition, you can expect the design quality of your translated material to be identical to your source file.

    What follows are best practices you should take into account when designing globally distributed design materials! For example, when you design product sheets in InDesign:

    1. Plan using paragraph and character styles in a smart way. This is a recommended practice in graphic design in general, but this will affect production cost when materials are translated. Think about hierarchies of styles, create descriptive names for each style, and design in a logical way. It will help us to follow your styles and/or create new styles that work together with styles you have set up.
    2. Thread text frames where it makes sense. When we see files where a designer linked all text frames for body text, we immediately know that we can use translation tools more effectively. A file with separated individual text frames requires more production hours. This means added cost to your translation project.
    3. Make images flow with text. This is called anchoring objects as well. Rather than placing small objects separately from text paste objects into text so that those objects travel as text reflows. Let’s say you have a product manual with some button graphics within the text boxes. If you don’t anchor them to the specific text, the translation company will need to anchor each one of them. Again, this will affect your translation cost.
    4. Allow extra spaces everywhere. When a page is designed tightly, there is a chance that we have to reduce the font size and/or leading dramatically or make fonts condensed to fit translated text. Depending on a language, we might need to go down even 1.5-point from the 10-point font, and 8.5-point size does look smaller than the source. This is especially important when translating a file from English into Spanish.
    5. Be flexible on fonts being chosen for translated materials. Make sure to provide a whole package of InDesign files including fonts. A translation company will try to use the fonts provided when possible or they will look for similar looking fonts depending on the language. Some languages look quite different from English. It is almost impossible to retain the same feel with English designed piece.
    6. Prefer tabs over spaces. Don’t hit the space key multiple times! We see this happen not only in InDesign but also in Word files. If you would like to receive a clean looking translated file, just use tabs! Alignment looks sharp and beautiful with tabs.
    7. Don’t forget to use master pages for multiple paged documents. It saves design time greatly when some pages have similar design elements regardless of translation. This is another tool that helps final output layout quality be high.

     

    Perhaps your file was clean with all styles and masters set perfectly when your brochure was designed initially. Probably there have been quite a lot of revision rounds since, and multiple people have worked on the file. It is then very important that you follow the best practices that I have described above before you submit your document for translating. A good translation company will follow your design specification. In other words, we won’t mess up your design with translation!

    Five Essential Tips for Successful Translation Projects!

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    You Don’t Know the Language? Five Essential Tips for Successful Translation Projects!

    desktop translator illustration. Flat modern style vector design

    You are a Global Marketing Manager or Project Manager and asking yourself, “I need to translate these product sheets into three languages. I don’t know the languages. How do I start this project?”

    With close to 50 years of translation business experience, we can provide you with some essential tips for a successful translation project.

    • Make sure that your target audiences and languages match.
      Let’s say you are thinking of translating marketing collateral from English to Spanish. Are you targeting Spanish-speaking people in the US, Columbia, or Spain? Moreover, if it is for the US market, what about numbering decimal format? Should they be US style (e.g. 0.1, 1,000) or European and Latin American style (e.g. 0,1, 1 000 or 1.000)?If you are targeting Chinese-speaking people, is the country you are targeting Taiwan, Hong Kong, or China?
    • Choose a translation company with solid experience in the language service market with excellent customer service.
      Maybe you are requesting a quote from a few translation companies. Carefully select the one that you think offers the best support for your concerns. Translation management is not a simple task. You want to choose a company that will partner with you throughout your project answering questions and providing you the language expertise you are looking for. A good partner will help you achieve your foreign language goals. You must trust that the company you choose will be experts in translating projects for the languages you are looking for. They also need to be subject matter experts in the topic you are translating. And, most importantly, the translator should be a native speaker of the language in the country you are translating for. Engaging with the right company will make all the difference when it comes to getting the best translation for your money and effort. There must be a deep level of trust as you don’t know the language!
    • Ask as many questions you may have to an Account Manager at the translation company before the project starts.
      If you don’t know how your translation projects will be handled, take the time to speak with the account manager and ask as many questions as needed until you are confident in your choice. For example, you can discuss:

      • What file format should be submitted and what formats can the final files be formatted into?
      • Describe the differences between quality and speed?
      • Formatting quality requirements: print or presentation ready versus rough formatting?
      • Language requirements: what languages are you translating from and into?
      • Does the translation company provide DTP* services?
        * If your materials contain images with callouts (embedded text in images), make sure you provide the source files (Illustrator or Photoshop) for those and provide them to the company at the job start. Recreating a chart costs more than placing translated text into an already-created chart.
    • Verify your source files are complete before providing them for translation.
      So often, the delay of project turnaround is related to incomplete source files and additional changes to source files after the project has started. If you want to avoid additional costs to the project, make sure your source files are final in the source language. This includes all images and charts.

    If you only have a PDF file as a source file, make sure to read this tip!
    It is always best to provide the original source file. If the source file is only in PDF format you can expect a higher translation cost. Just converting the PDF file into an unformatted word file doesn’t work either. A converted Word file translation costs twice or even triple as much when compared to a newly created Word file. A clean and not converted Word file or InDesign file is always the best source file format for the best translation costs and quality of translation and formatting. Frequently, when converting a file from PDF into Word you will lose formatting and even words. Remember that what you are providing as the source file is what the translator will be looking at. If you provide an incomplete, poorly formatted source file, you will also get an incomplete, poorly formatted translated file back. Spend extra time in making sure you are providing the best available source file you have.

    • A well-prepared job start will lead you to a satisfactory project finish.
      No one wants to deal with issues or difficulties. Be sure to spend time on the job requirements and conditions that I stated above before starting a project and you will assure smooth project handling. Even though you don’t know the language, you will know how to avoid extra costs, turnaround delays, and/or complications. You probably have a schedule you need to meet. Any delays or incomplete items will only add time to your deadline and open the door to translation mistakes being made. So my advice is you take the time before you submit the project so that you can both meet your deadline and get the quality translation you expect.

    I hope these tips are helpful. Remember that choosing the best partner will save you time, money and effort. However, it will still be up to you to perform good due diligence, as you know what and for whom this translation is for. Good luck managing your translation projects!

    Language and the Plastic Brain

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    Language and the Plastic Brain

    President Obama

    You may have heard about the Obama family’s recent trip to Cuba, where between his diplomatic duties, the President managed to squeeze in time talking with ordinary citizens. And if you’ve seen the above photograph, you’ll know that in order to communicate with the Spanish-speaking people there, he needed an interpreter – and who better than his daughter Malia?

    It’s a well-documented phenomenon that the POTUS can attest to. The younger a person is when they are exposed to a particular language, the more easily they will learn it. The time period (called a “critical window”) for language acquisition is during the first few years of life though of course language learning can occur across the lifespan. But from the moment they are born children begin filtering and synthesizing the language-related sounds around them, and their young brains are particularly adept at doing this. It’s related to infant brains’ particularly high neuroplasticity, or the flexibility of the brain in creating new information pathways as it learns. Synaptic pruning, like the pruning of an unruly bush in your yard, is the brain’s way of getting rid of pathways it doesn’t use. Newborns’ brains are just beginning to prune themselves, leaving room for a staggering amount of new connections to be made when, say, they hear a new language.

    As the brain continues aging its plasticity decreases. If like many people in the U.S., you only begin taking French in middle school, you’ll know firsthand how hard it is to pronounce a single new word, let alone think fluently in French. Many preschools are beginning to offer full immersion classes, often in Spanish, to take advantage of the young students’ critical period for learning any language. And of course, this period applies for signed as well as spoken language; for more information on Nicaraguan Sign Language, developed by deaf children in a single generation in the 1980s, look here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/07/2/l_072_04.html .

    The human brain is capable of so many amazing feats that producing and comprehending spoken, signed, and written languages as it does on a daily basis can sometimes be brushed aside. But when it’s necessary to use a foreign language to communicate it becomes obvious how intricate and difficult a task that is. Here’s hoping next time you visit a Spanish-speaking country, someone like Malia Obama is nearby to help!

    Why Study Linguistics?

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    Why Study Linguistics?

    This question is projected onto the front wall of my phonetics classroom. I look at it. “Why?” Why would my professor ask us this? Shouldn’t we know? Won’t she drive any doubt out of our heads with the lecture she’s about to deliver, full of those pop science-y morsels about who says “pop” and who says “soda” that we can repeat to our friends later, feeling smug? Maybe part of me hoped or even knew that there could be more to studying the elements of language than this, but I’d never really thought about it.

    Various aspects of the answer come through years of study, true, but the most important element introduced in that phonetics class is borne out every day on the streets of New York, watching movies and television, talking with friends: language is always changing, and trying to staunch the flow of new vocabulary and phrasing will get you nowhere. Unsurprisingly, new terms tend to come from the mouths of young people, especially young women.

    The very professor from my phonetics class, Lisa Davidson of NYU, was recently interviewed about a particular quality of young women’s speech that is becoming more common by the day. This is “vocal fry,” a phenomenon occurring when a speaker’s vocal folds fully close then quickly open, creating a gravelly sound very different from when the vocal folds move smoothly between being partly open and partly closed, which happens during typical speech. As with every change new generations make to language, vocal fry is being derided by older speakers, from public radio hosts to anonymous bloggers, with increasing regularity.

    Davidson puts to rest the idea that vocal fry is inherently “bad” to do while speaking, noting, “We expect our children to dress differently than we do, and to have different hairstyles. We might decry it, sort of, but you know, fashion styles change. Why wouldn’t everything else [including language] change too? It’s just yet another way of making ourselves different than the generation that came before us.” (https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/nyu-stories/lisa-davidson-on-vocal-fry.html).

    Studying linguistics taught me precision and how to diagram complex sentences – but internalizing the fact that language is constantly in flux was the most important thing I learned in my years of study. I can only hope this attitude will stick as I grow older and the changes become more and more removed from the ones of my youth.

    Consider

    Rush translations

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    Rush Translations

    We understand that the demand for speed in translation jobs is very high. To satisfy clients with such needs, we can make that happen. From account managers, project managers, translators, to graphic specialists, all work to complete the job on time. Teamwork counts. Our project managers are very experienced and committed to handling such jobs every day.

    When speed is crucial, sometimes other factors (such as layout) become less of a priority.  What follows are tips for clients submitting a rush job. These tips can help both clients (less cost) and us (faster process).

    • Be sure to tell your account manager the level of translation quality and layout you require from the very beginning. Perhaps the file needs to be printed professionally or posted on a website where both content and format matter.
    • If the files contain a table of contents and index, let us know if they should be translated and formatted or if they can be skipped (for example, if a client only needs the translation for analysis purposes).
    • If files contain images and diagrams, let us know if they must be translated.
    • Let us know if you have a translation reviewer at your company or would like to add editorial services when quality is very important.

    We will be happy to assist you when you need an urgent translation.

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    The Old Chicken and Egg Conundrum

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    The Old Chicken and Egg Conundrum

    For years linguists have discussed the question of whether language affects our thoughts and behavior. Does a Spanish speaker think differently than a Japanese speaker? In “How Language Can Affect the Way We Think” by Jessica Gross (2013), the answer may be “yes.” For example, in the 1950s, researchers studied the language and thoughts of Zuñi speakers (Native Americans indigenous to New Mexico and Arizona), who don’t have separate words for orange and yellow in their language. Sure enough, it was difficult for speakers of Zuñi to tell the two colors apart when asked in the study. At the other end of the spectrum, Russian speakers, who grow up with two completely different words for “dark blue” and “light blue,” were better at differentiating between the two colors than English speakers in a 2007 research project.

    Language differences go deeper than just colors, however. In an article in the Wall Street Journal by Lera Boroditsky, the issue of language and blame is discussed. While English speakers tend to say a person “broke a vase,” for example, Spanish and Japanese speakers would say that the “vase broke itself.” In a Stanford University study, researcher Caitlin Fausey discovered that after watching a video of people accidentally breaking eggs, spilling drinks, etc. and subsequently taking a surprise memory test, English speakers were more likely to remember who caused the accidental event than the Spanish or Japanese speakers.

    A third example can be seen among the aboriginal community of Pormpuraaw, Australia, where indigenous languages use “north,” “south,” “east,” and “west” instead of words like “left” and “right.”  For instance, instead of saying “there is a bug on one’s left leg,” a speaker of Pormpuraaw would say “there is a bug on one’s southwest leg.” Boroditsky decided to study the effects of this linguistic difference and asked the Pormpuraawans to arrange a set of pictures by time of occurrence. While English speakers would do this from left to right, and Hebrew speakers from right to left (Hebrew is written from right to left), the Pormpuraawans arranged the pictures from east to west. Therefore, when facing south, the pictures were placed from left to right, but when facing north, from right to left.

    While research is still being conducted on the relationship among thought, behavior, and language, it seems that language plays at least some role in our thought patterns.

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    The Almost Right Word

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    The Almost Right Word

    “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter — it’s the difference between a lightning bug and the lightning.”   –Mark Twain

    As Mark Twain so wisely states, choosing the right word is important. That’s why, in the translation business, it is considered good practice to always translate into your native language. Even if one is completely fluent in a second language, ideas and concepts may be phrased slightly differently by native speakers, making sentences sound stilted, awkward, or just plain wrong if a non-native speaker writes them. Some mistakes may cause native speakers a great deal of amusement. Take these examples below (source: linguagreca.com):

    In a Norwegian cocktail lounge:  Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

    It doesn’t make sense to English speakers, because “to have children” has the connotation of giving birth to children, which is most likely not what the Norwegians meant.

    In a Nairobi restaurant:  Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.

    Again, we know what the translator is trying to say. But in this case, the sentence sounds like the manager is even ruder than the waitresses.

    At a Budapest zoo: Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.

    While this sentence is grammatically correct, the way it is written causes native speakers to think the guard wants to be fed.

    Although most translators would not make such amusing mistakes, these examples highlight the importance of linguists working into their native language. Almost right isn’t right at all.

    Living Language

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    Living Language

    If you are socializing with a younger crowd, you may hear phrases like That’s totes adorbs! or I’m so jelly. While I admit to becoming slightly bothered when people say totes instead of totally, adorbs instead of adorable and jelly for jealous, every generation, yours and mine included, has made changes to the language, making it the English we consider “normal” today.  Language is always evolving, always adapting to the needs and norms of the culture around it. Eventually, something being totes adorbs will sound old-fashioned, being replaced by new words and phrases by the generations to come.

    Various linguistic processes have resulted in language changes. One such process is called “rebracketing,” which means that a word is broken down into different parts. For example, the word apron used to be napron, a change that was the result of confusing a napron with an apron. The opposite occurred with the word newt; this type of amphibian used to be an ewt, but eventually changed into a newt. Other changes took place through the shortening of common words. Goodbye was originally God-be-with-you, while pub comes from public house. And metathesis, or the rearranging of sounds, transformed words like brid to bird and revelent to relevant. The fact that English is a language that is alive and well means it will always be changing – like all languages used by people in their daily lives.

    So You Want to Be a Translator

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    So You Want to Be a Translator…

    hamletMany people think that translating from one language to another will be an easy and fun way to make a living. This is even true of people who think of translation as a profession, and especially for people who have learned another language in the course of their lives. But even this situation is not always true: some people think they can just study a language for a year or two and be able to translate from it (presumably into their native language). Reading sites for professional translators, you can occasionally come across questions like: 1. Which language is in most demand that I should study to become a translator? 2. Which of the two languages, Arabic or Spanish, would get me the most work as a translator? I’m thinking of learning one of them. 3. I studied Spanish in school, but I think I can earn more money if I learn Portuguese. Is the market for Portuguese translators better than for Spanish?

    You may think that funny. Of course you should already know another language to even think about becoming a translator. But not everyone does. Some think they can learn what they believe to be the basics of another language very quickly, and then translate anything from one language to another. But how well does a person need to know a second language to translate from it to their native language – or to translate into it?

    Two different issues: 1. To translate from a language (known as a source language), how well do you need to know it? 2. To translate into a language (the target language), how well do you need to know that? Almost all good, experienced, professional translators will answer the second question quickly and easily: you should only translate into a target language that is your native language, a language you have learned from early childhood, have studied throughout your schooling years, and have always thought and written in it naturally. The first question is more difficult to answer, given different people’s varied of life and educational experiences, but a good rule of thumb may be: a) you should have spent at least a year in the country where your source language is spoken, b) you should have studied it at least 5-10 years, and c) you should feel comfortable reading books and newspapers in it – without having recourse to a dictionary.

    Then, why do so many trained translators advertise their skills as, for example, English<>Spanish (which means they can go both directions)? Usually because they believe they can get more work if they say they can do both directions. But in fact, they should only translate into their native language, because that is the one they know best and have the confidence to do well. It becomes painfully clear very quickly that a translation done by someone not a native speaker is not natural. (Certainly, not all native speakers can translate into their native language, but that doesn’t negate the need for only translating into your native language.)

    Besides needing to know the culture and the language of your second, or source language, you also need to be very familiar with the subject matter you want to specialize in. You can’t translate legal or medical texts if you don’t know those areas. When you see a description in Spanish of a business that is owned by one person, do you know the correct terminology to describe it in English? It’s not a “one owner business” in English, it’s a “sole proprietorship.” In most cases, looking it up in Google won’t give you the right answer, although sometimes you get a choice, and then the trick is to know which of the choices is correct in the particular context. If you aren’t familiar with the terminology used in the subject area in that language, you’re sunk! You can always take your pick, but it’s more than likely you’ll be wrong.

    Yes, doing translations is intriguing, but even knowing two languages well is not the only requirement to becoming a translator.

    Movies and Translation

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    Movies and Translation

    Have you heard of the film “American Bluff,” ”American Sting” or “American Dream”? No? What about “American Hustle”? In French, Portuguese, and Hebrew, the film is better known by the names above (albeit in the actual language). Translation can be a tricky business, and movie and TV show titles are no exception.  While some titles get translated word for word, some languages completely change the title to make it more culturally appealing, leading to greater success for the film or show. Some examples of this are “Two and a Half Men” being translated into German as “My Cool Uncle Charlie” (Mein cooler Onkel Charlie) and the film “Die Hard” as Die Slowly (Stirb langsam). In France, “The Matrix” is translated as “The Young People Who Traverse Dimensions While Wearing Sunglasses (Les jeunes gens qui traversent les dimensions en portant des lunettes de soleil) and in Spanish, “Weekend at Bernie’s” is “This Dead Person is Very Alive” (Este muerto está muy vivo). A little different!

    The interesting thing, however, is when translators of movie titles in other countries take the original English title and transform it into “simpler” English, which causes some confusion when English native speakers discuss those films with non-native English speakers. “Silver Linings Playbook,” for example, is known as “Happiness Therapy” in France, while “Miss Congeniality” debuted as “Miss Undercover” in Germany and “Miss Detective” in Italy. My favorite movie title translation is the Hebrew translation of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” To make it more immediately appealing and successful locally, the translators changed the title to “It’s Raining Falafal.” Even in Hollywood translation is all about culture!

    Movies

    Advice from a Translation Industry Project Manager

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    Advice from a Translation Industry Project Manager

    Key and LockProject managers in the translation industry come across all kinds of documents. From Japanese contracts to Dutch reports to Spanish marketing pamphlets, we see it all.

    In order to understand the life of a project manager, it is necessary to know how translation works. A typical translator can translate between 1,500-2,000 words a day. Therefore, if your project is 20,000 words, it could take at least ten days for one translator to complete. If you need the project sooner, there is the option of dividing the work between two translators, but then you run the risk of having slightly different translation styles and registers throughout the document. This is where editing, or having the translated work reviewed by a second linguist, comes in to play. In order to ensure that the document is polished and completely mistake-free, it is always recommended to have the document edited. Translators are only human, after all, and having a second linguist review the work ensures accuracy.

    As previously stated, every project is unique. For example, some projects are more technical than others. These types of documents may require more time, as translators will need to research the specific terminology used in the field. Other projects have certain text that should remain in the source language, while still others require specific formatting and graphics work. It is important that any instructions for the project are very clear, as these guidelines will pass from the client to the project manager to the translator. The clearer the instructions, the more confident you can be that your project will be completed exactly to your standards.

    In summary, it is the goal of a project manager to have the translations completed as exact to the meaning as possible.  With clear instructions, as well as by understanding the translation process, you can be sure to receive a high-quality translated project.

    Journey to the West: The Story of the Translator Xuanzang

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    Journey to the West: The Story of the Translator Xuanzang

    One of the four classics of Chinese literature is the historical romance known in English as the Journey to the West was inspired by one of history’s greatest feats of translation. This ancient story of a monk named Xuanzang, who went on a 17-year long journey from north China to India, is still very popular in China.

    Xuanzang lived in China during the Tang dynasty (early 7th century), an era when the study of Buddhism was flourishing. From an early age he studied the Chinese classics and Buddhist writings that had been translated from Indian languages, such as Sanskrit and Pali. But while studying these translations, he suspected that many were inadequate, and decided that he needed to improve them. To do this, he would need access to the original texts which were not available in China. He had to journey to the West, to the Buddhist kingdoms of Central Asia and India to retrieve the source texts. So he left the comfort of Chang’an, the Imperial capital, and made his way west along the foothills of the Tian Shan mountain range, stopping for rest in oasis cities. But travel in those days was not safe; nevertheless, he eventually reached the Buddhist Kingdom of Turpan, where he met a king who helped him in his further travels to India. Eight years later he reached Nalanda, once the epicenter of Buddhist learning in India. There he studied Sanskrit  and copied nearly one thousand texts to bring back to China.

    He returned to the Imperial capital 17 years later with enough Sanskrit literature to occupy both him and a large group of students for the rest of their lives. The translations they produced still serve as the standards of the Chinese Buddhist canon.

    Certainly not every translator has the energy and determination of Xuanzang, but his story highlights some of the contributions translators make to knowledge and communication.

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    A Day in the Life of a Translator

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    A Day in the Life of a Translator

    What is it like to be a translator? Depends on the day! For me, when I receive a job, the first thing I do is look over the text to see what the topic is and how it is written. Is it factual and straight-forward? Is it a marketing text, with colorful words and phrases? Or is it a personal document? A translator needs to keep the voice of the author in mind when working on the text.

    After getting the general idea of the document, I get right to work. In some cases, the topic is very subject-specific, which can make things a little more complicated. For example, I recently completed a translation on 15th century fabric in Burgundy, France—I can’t say I’ve ever come across that topic before! Therefore, before translating any further, I read many articles on silks, velvets and various weaving methods of the time, which gave me a much better understanding of the topic at hand. Researching is often necessary as a translator, even if one is an expert in the field.

    Regardless of the topic, I have a certain routine when it comes to translating. I’m sure every translator is slightly different, but mine goes something like this:

    • I go through the text the first time. When I reach a word or a sentence for which I can’t find the “perfect” English term, I highlight it in red to return to later.
    • Having completed my first draft of the text, I then return to those tricky red sentences. Finding a good translation for these is like trying to solve a puzzle—it’s a challenge, but you feel an immense sense of accomplishment when you know you’ve found the perfect way to phrase something in your native language.
    • After the entire text has been translated, I then go through my translation a second time, comparing it with the source document word by word to make sure I haven’t missed any small detail.
    • Finally, I put the source document away. I read my rendition of the text a third time, making sure it sounds 100% perfect in English, the target language.

    And that’s it. My translation process is complete…until the next job!

    3d human with red stop sign

    Vocabulary versus Meaning

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    Vocabulary versus Meaning

    While having a vast vocabulary is important for any translator or interpreter, simply knowing the dictionary meanings of words in a foreign language is not enough. In fact, in any language, there are many cultural layers behind certain words and phrases that linguists need to know.

    I learned this the hard way when living in German-speaking Austria. As English speakers, we often say “how are you?” as a continuation of our “hello” greeting. We then expect the person to answer with an automatic “Good, how are you?” German speakers, however, don’t do this. Not knowing this cultural norm, I simply translated our common English greeting of “Hello, how are you?” to the German “Hallo, wie geht’s?”when talking to people abroad. After receiving slightly strange looks from German speakers, I would then be provided with twenty-minute long answers involving that person’s stomach issues, skin rashes, fights with estranged siblings, you name it. I quickly learned that the German version of “how are you” is a little different from the English.

    Another example is the phrase “Bis spӓter,” which translates to the English phrase “See you later.” But not exactly. In Austria, after meeting up with a German-speaking friend and getting ready to leave, I cheerfully told him “Bis spӓter!” He gave me a very strange look and said in German, “No, I won’t see you later.” After being a little confused about why he didn’t want to see me ever again, I realized that the German “See you later” can only apply to later that day, and not to the general, anytime-in-the-future way we mean it in English.

    These subtle differences in meaning can make all the difference in translating and interpreting. While the above examples are very basic and low-level, they represent the fact that cultural norms play a role in how one should translate or interpret certain words and phrases. It is therefore very important to be aware of the culture of the language.

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    Different Words, Same Object

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    Different Words, Same Object

    If a British person asked someone to put something in the “boot” in the U.S., they may not be understood. The same might happen if an Argentinian asked for a “papa” instead of a “patata” in Spain, or an Austrian asked for a “Semmel” instead of a “Brӧtchen” in Germany. Depending on the country, the vocabulary, such as these words for “trunk,” “potato,” and “dinner roll,” can differ greatly. But how did these differences begin?translation memory

    To answer this question for the English language, we need to travel back to Great Britain in the 1600s, before the pilgrims set foot on American soil. The Brits themselves may be dismayed to hear this, but, back then, they actually sounded more like American English speakers do today. They threw away “trash” instead of “rubbish” and looked at the beautiful leaves in the “fall” instead of “autumn.” When the settlers came to America, however, their vocabulary remained much the same, while, back over in Great Britain, the language slowly began to change, meaning that words like “fall” and “trash” went out of style. The new colonists didn’t get the memo, however, and a few vocabulary differences were born.

    Other differences were more deliberate. After the Revolutionary War, the Americans weren’t feeling too happy with their British counterparts. And what better way to show their new independence than to start spelling words differently? When Noah Webster published his famous dictionary in 1828, he therefore opted for a lesser known spelling of some words, such as “humor” instead of “humour,” “fiber” instead of “fibre,” etc. to show that the new Americans were different from the British (http://www.livescience.com/33844-british-american-word-spelling.html).

    Today, whether you say “pants” or “trousers” or “papa” or “patata,” it is important that your translation uses the vocabulary words that your target audience will recognize. For example, it would be a mistake to use the British word “lorry” in a U.S. translation, as many American English speakers would not know this word for “truck.” The same is true for many languages of the world, making it all the more important to use a native speaker as a translator.

    Are You Designing a Brochure that will be Translated?

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    Are You Designing a Brochure that will be Translated?

    Are you planning to design an English brochure that will be translated into other languages? Here are some tips before you start designing it. The most important thing is to have flexibility in design. Simple is better!

    Let’s say if you have a single line of a catch phrase in a large font. When it is translated, it may become three lines of text, depending on the language. Some European languages are two or three times longer than English. In contrast, Chinese and Korean can be 50% or even shorter in length.

    THINGS TO AVOID:

    • Justified text – This is a real pain to work on. For longer languages, we condense the font, set less tracking, and so on. For shorter languages, we space letters out more or increase font size. We make all possible adjustments for it to look good, but often it may lose the feel that the English design has. Worse, it can look clumsy.
    • Coloring some words within a sentence – To emphasize some words, we sometimes want to make them a different color. However, this may not be a wise choice on a translation. Other languages have very different grammar from English, what you aimed for visually in your English design may disappear in the translated material, or it may not look good.
    • Use multiple fonts and font weights – Only use two fronts: a serif and a sans serif one. Add variations to them by bolding, italicizing, and underlining. Also, understand that the fonts you use for the English materials may not work for other languages. Possibly some letters won’t appear correctly or accent marks would be gone. For many European languages, the Std and Pro fonts work beautifully, so try them first.

    Tell your language provider if you have a highly designed marketing piece to be translated and you are concerned for how it will look in another language. Consult them before the project starts about fonts to be used, font size, and any other design issues that may arise.

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    Don’t have a Cow! Time to Hit the Hay! It’s not Over ‘til the Fat Lady Sings!

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    Don’t have a Cow!  Time to Hit the Hay! It’s not Over ‘til the Fat Lady Sings!

    Don’t have a cow!  Time to hit the hay! It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings! As native English speakers, we don’t think twice when we hear these phrases. But can you imagine being new to America and having your friend tell you that it’s time to hit the hay? What did the hay ever do to you? Or being at a baseball game, with your team  losing, ready to give up, when your US-born friend looks at you and insists that it’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings? Where is this fat lady, and why is she singing? As for having a cow, when my teenage English students in Salzburg tried to guess what this idiom could mean, they thought it meant having a fat girlfriend. Lovely.

    While every language has idioms, these set phrases with figurative meanings can pose problems for non-native speakers.   I’ve seen firsthand how these phrases can throw you for a loop (another odd phrase!).  Some examples I’ve come across include:

    Non-native speaker: Katie, my new roommate told me she wants to move in this weekend, but she isn’t feeling well. She said she is going to play with her ears. Does that mean there is something wrong with her ears?

    After cracking up, I explained that the phrase is “to play it by ear” and its meaning. To this day, however, we still say “to play with your ears.” Has a nice ring to it.

    Non-native speaker: I texted John to see if he wanted to go to the football game with me today. He said he can’t because he has to go to his parents, but he’ll take a rain check. I know he is a very nice polite guy, but is he really going to check the weather for me? I can do that myself.

    While such stories may be amusing when they take place among friends, idioms often pose a problem for translators. As a German translator, I need to be able to recognize the foreign idioms and know their meaning, making sure not to translate them word for word and having the Germans laugh at me!  Germans, for example, kill two flies with one flyswatter (two birds with one stone), give up the spoon (die), and, when they are happy, hang out on Cloud 7 (while us Americans are up on Cloud 9). Makes me wonder who’s on Cloud 8…

    Where to Break Lines in Japanese Text

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    Where to Break Lines in Japanese Text

    If you lay out Japanese text for proposals, presentations, advertisements, or brochures (and if you are not a native speaker), it is important to do so following Japanese language customs.

    3D Businessman handshakingThere are rules for breaking lines in Japanese. Especially relevant is the Kinsoku Rule, which Wikipedia explains on page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_breaking_rules_in_East_Asian_languages

    In some cases these rules can be bent a bit. If you want to adjust the line breaks yourself, you will need some expertise in Web coding. Generally, the Web system automatically sets up the text in a readable format.

    However, for important sales or marketing materials, to avoid any mistakes, it is better to check with a Japanese native. Perhaps in your Tokyo office there may be someone who can check it for you. If you cannot find anyone, ask your language provider to proofread and edit your materials to make sure they are free of mistakes.

    Once in a while we receive such job orders from our clients. Our Japanese native editors make corrections and adjustments to line breaks, as well as other mistakes such as repetitions of words when people “cut and paste a translation” without knowing the language. Native proofreading is essential to preserving your image of  high quality.

    MT as Good as Human Translation?

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    MT as Good as Human Translation?

    A client recently told our Development Manager that machine translation is as good as human translation. Was he way off base or did he just not express himself correctly?

    Let’s have a look at some examples using Linguistic Systems’ own STS system (www.linguist.com/services-sts.htm). The following table shows examples of MT using the STS system as well as comparison human translations that were done independently. As a point of reference, the STS system is a high quality MT system, consistently outscoring other systems using the industry-standard BLEU score (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BLEU).

    Language Source Text Machine Translation Human Translation
    Spanish El historiador Juan Luis Montero ha asegurado en un estudio científico que la “Torre de Babel” era de 60 metros de altura y no de 90 como se pensaba hasta ahora, en una hipótesis que se incluye en la primera exposición que se hace en España sobre uno de los más famosos edificios de toda la historia. The historian Juan Luis Montero has ensured in a scientific study that the “Tower of Babel” was 60 meters in height, not 90 as it was thought up until now, in a scenario that is included in the first exposure that is done in Spain on one of the most famous buildings of the whole story. Historian Juan Luis Montero has confirmed in a research study that the Tower of Babel was 60 meters tall, not 90 meters as people had thought until now. His theory is included in Spain’s first ever exhibition on one of the most famous buildings in history.
    Japanese かかる課題を解決すべく、本発明の地盤改良気泡材は、起泡剤の希釈水に増粘剤を添加して、液を発泡させることにより強力な膜を持つ気泡を製造してなるものである。起泡剤としてアルキルサルフェート系界面活性剤を用いる。増粘剤として水溶性セルロースエーテルを使用する。 In order to solve the problem of the, present invention improvement of the foaming material, the foaming agent of dilution by adding a thickening agent to water, liquid by producing bubbles having a tough film. As the foaming agent アルキルサルフェート -based surfactant is used. Water-soluble cellulose ether as a thickening agent is used. To solve the problem, adding a thickener to the diluted water of a foaming agent, the ground improvement foam material of the present invention makes bubbles that have a strong film through the foaming of the liquid.  An alkyl sulfate surfactant is used as the foaming agent.  Water soluble cellulose ether is used as a thickener.
    German Niemand weiß, was der Große Bruder genau tut. Die Vermutung liegt aber sehr, sehr nah, dass der Große Bruder es selbst umso genauer weiß. Es geht um Adobe, ein US-amerikanisches Softwareunternehmen, das mit Flash Player eines der am meisten verbreiteten Programme zum Abspielen von Multimediadateien zur Verfügung stellt. So gut wie unbekannt ist, dass Flash im Computer-Betriebssystem des Benutzers Infodateien, so genannte Super-Cookies versteckt, die Daten über Surfgewohnheiten speichern und an Adobe-Server weitersenden. Noch völlig unklar ist, was diese, bis zu 25 Megabyte großen Super-Cookies, sonst noch so von der Festplatten der PCs weiter geben. Nobody knows what the big brother does. But the presumption is very, very close, that the Big Brother is even more exact white. It’s about Adobe, an American software company, with a Flash Player of the most popular programs for playing multimedia files. As good as unknown that Flash in the user’s Computer operating system, so-called Infodateien Cookies hidden Super-store data on web surfing habits and Adobe-Server transferring. Is very unclear is what this up to 25 megabytes big Super-Cookies, else the harddisks of PCs continue to exist. Nobody knows for sure what, exactly, Big Brother is doing. One suspects, however, that Big Brother himself knows precisely what he is doing. Case in point is Adobe, a US software company whose Flash Player is one of the most widely used programs to play back multimedia files. Little known is the fact that Flash hides information files inside the user’s operating system, so-called Super Cookies, which store information about the user’s online surfing habits and forward that information to the Adobe servers. It remains unclear, however, what else these up to 25 megabyte-sized Super Cookies may be forwarding from the PC hard drives.

    The human translation in each case is clearly “better,” however what does that even mean?

    From a linguistic, grammatical and stylistic point of view the human translation is nicer and makes English speakers “happier” than the error-filled and stylistically-challenged machine translation. It is a translation that can be published.

    However, if a client only needs to pay a fraction of the human translation cost for the MT, and they are simply looking for information, not to publish, then from their point of view, it may really be as good as a human translation. But look at the German above. Can you really determine what exactly is happening with the Super-Cookies just by reading the MT? Not really. The human is much more understandable. Of course, instead of paying for a full human translation, you can also upgrade the MT by adding a post-editing step, in which a human translation clears up any ambiguities without necessarily fixing all grammatical and stylistic issues.

    It’s a lot to think about. If you’re in doubt about what you need, speak with your Account Manager at your Language Service Provider and ask about options.

    What is foreign brand name analysis and why you may need it.

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    What is foreign brand name analysis and why you may need it.

    qualificastionsImagine your company is about to adopt a new name for one of its products. It hires an advertising agency to develop that name and an entire marketing campaign. This is not going to be cheap. Of course the agency knows the US market thoroughly, and is probably worth its price. It will have an experienced strategy for developing a name and will know key points to analyze for US English, but it is more than likely it will not know how to do an analysis for foreign markets

    Foreign brand name analysis is a way to discover if there may be a problem using a name in another language. If you plan to sell your product outside the US (as well as within the US), you will definitely need to commission research into how the name is likely to be received abroad. You (or your ad agency) may be tempted to try to save money on this stage: don’t!

    It goes without saying that if you plan to sell your product in Germany, you will want to have an analysis for German. But you may be tempted to do only one analysis for Spanish, and there are many, many varieties of Spanish. At one time, our company was asked to do a name analysis for Spanish, but luckily it was targeted at four different countries: Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela. It was discovered that it was just fine for three of the Spanish variants, but for Mexico the name would have been a disaster because it was likely to be associated with the festival of the dead. The project saved that company from a very costly mistake, and was well worth the extra few dollars.

    Everyone knows about the embarrassing error of the Nova automobile, which is true for any version of Spanish. But the really interesting stories are to be found in names that were not chosen because the companies trying to use them found out before committing to them.

    Mixed Nuts

    Translators

     

     

    Mixed Nuts

    Have you ever looked at what’s in a bag of mixed nuts? You have? OK, have you ever thought how a bag of mixed nuts is like the translation industry?

    Fifty percent are peanuts. These aren’t even nuts – they’re legumes. Just like the 50% of people who claim to be translators, but aren’t. They might look like a nut (speak a couple of languages or more), but they’re not translators. Count on your language service provider (LSP), like Linguistic Systems, to weed them out and protect you from them.

    TranslatorsAt the other end of the scale are the expensive nuts, the pecans, almonds and brazil nuts. These are really good nuts, but they’re very expensive if you can find them. And if you can find one, you have to fight everyone else in your family for them. Like a really good, experienced, expensive translator who is usually booked up and can’t take your project.

    This leaves the almonds and cashews. These are the people you can count on. They’re mostly available or can squeeze you in. They’re affordable and they provide good quality. They are the staple of the industry and LSPs specialize in finding them, testing them to see what they’re good at and matching the right one to your project.

    What about high-quality machine translation? Have you ever found a macadamia nut in a bag of mixed nuts? I didn’t think so.

    Which Form of Arabic Do You Need?

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    Which Form of Arabic Do You Need?

    Arabic, like several other languages, is not the same throughout the Middle East. When you need a document translated into Arabic, if you are unfamiliar with the regional variations in this language, it may be difficult for you to choose which form or dialect to request. The various forms of Arabic are: Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, colloquial Arabic (variations include dialects for: Egypt and the Sudan; Arabian Peninsula; Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine; Iraq; and Morocco, Algeria, and western Libya).

    Linquistic Systems, Inc. Arabic TranslationsClassical Arabic:Classical Arabic is the formal, written Arabic of the Koran, and has historically been the language used in courts, bureaucracy, and literature and scholarship.

    Modern Standard Arabic (MSA):MSA is the modern counterpart of Classical Arabic and is the official language of 22 Arab countries, where it is used in both oral and written form on all formal occasions. The main difference between MSA and Classical Arabic is that MSA contains the vocabulary of modern discourse, while Classical Arabic is used for older, more formal expression.

    Colloquial Arabic:Colloquial Arabic is the spoken form of the language. It has many local variants; the main regional dialects are:

    Egyptian Arabic – the most widely spoken and understood second dialect

    Sudanese Arabic – spoken in the Sudan

    Levantine Arabic – Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and western Jordan

    Gulf Arabic – the Gulf Coast, from Kuwait to Oman

    Najdi Arabic – the desert and oasis areas of central Saudi Arabia

    Yemeni Arabic – most common in Yemen

    Iraqi Arabic – Iraq

    Hijazi Arabic – in the area west of present-day Saudi Arabia (referred to as the Hejaz region)

    Maghreb Arabic – mainly in Algeria, Tunis, Morocco, and western Libya

    Hassaniiya – in Mauritania

    So, which form of Arabic should you order for your translation? MSA is used in most formal situations, including documents, the Internet, and public media. It is also used in scientific and scholarly journals and legal and medical information. The main difficulty arises in dealing with marketing and advertising copy. There, while MSA can certainly be used, sometimes a better choice would be the local dialect. Your translation provider will be the best source to advise you which to choose.

    How much is MT Being Used Anyhow?

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    How much is MT Being Used Anyhow?

    In a recent newsletter, Jost Zetzsche of the International Writers’ Group (www.internationalwriters.com) provided some interesting statistics about the use of machine translLinguistic Systems, Inc.  Machine Translationation (MT) by professional translators. He obtained these numbers from David Canek of MemSource (www.memsource.com), a provider of translation technology tools.  MemSource makes MT available to translators from within its suite of tools and can track how many translators make use of this functionality.

    Despite all the outcry against MT among translators around the world, a full 46.2% of translators who use MemSource also use the MT function. Of those, 98% used the very public Google Translate or Microsoft Bing, who keep and reuse all data submitted to them. Only 2% of translators use customized and secure MT engines such as AsiaOnline, KantanMT and Linguistic Systems’ own Select Translation Service (www.linguist.com/services-sts.htm).

    This brings up a couple of interesting questions for clients: (1) Am I paying for full human translation and getting post-edited MT instead? and (2) If my data is being shared with Google and Microsoft, how secure is it really?

    Clients need to be very clear with their translation partners about what they are paying for and about how their data should be handled. In general,  post-edited MT may be acceptable  from a quality perspective depending on the editing  thoroughness, but clients deserve to know exactly what  is happening. Perhaps more importantly, clients also deserve to know that their information is being handled in an acceptably secure fashion and not floating around the Internet for anyone to  see and use.

    Right now this situation is as transparent as a brick wall. Your valued comments are invited.

    Back Translations, their rationale and value

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Back Translations, their rationale and value

    For medical and pharmaceutical clients, back translations are necessary facts of life; they are absolute requirements for most clinical research documents that must be translated into other languages. But for experienced professional translators and editors who work in this area, back translations seem a wrongheaded way to approach accuracy and faithfulness to the source document.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Optional Back TranslationWhy would governmental agencies require a back translation of all clinical trial documents as a matter of course? In a cogently argued article in ICT (International Clinical Trials, summer, 2008, pp.16 ff.), Simon Andriesen points out that, 1. everyone involved needs to be informed about all aspects of the trial, 2. the results of the research will need to be published, 3. documents must be written in clear, unambiguous language, 4. many trials are performed across national boundaries, and 5. consequently, the research must be multilingual in design for accurate comparative cross-country evaluation. To accomplish this, factors that need to be considered include evaluation of the source questions as well as the target translation. For example, when a patient in India or China is asked to evaluate the level of discomfort (from 1-10) of a procedure and rates it a 2 (slight discomfort) because they are accustomed to living with a certain level of pain, is that really comparable to a 2 given by a patient in France or Germany, someone who is not accustomed to living with pain? The people engaged in design of the research need to ensure that answers are comparable across national and linguistic boundaries. How can the source language and translations of a question help accomplish this?

    Translators and linguistic editors are not concerned with evaluating research design nor for comparability of results across linguistic boundaries. They are concerned with linguistic accuracy, naturalness, and proper form, which are really very different from the concerns of a medical researcher or government agency. And for translators, their arguments against back translations are perfectly valid: a good translation, along with good editing, is much to be preferred as valid linguistic procedures over back translation. This is especially true if both the translation and back translation are rushed to meet a tight deadline, and the people evaluating the back translation do not really know what they should be looking for. For example, if a back translator uses the word “brave,” but the original English had “courageous,” the client should not be focused on this as an error in translation: it’s not, the meaning is exactly the same. Another example would be judging it a mistranslation if a back translation uses “participates in” for “takes part in.” Minor variations like these do not indicate translation errors, they simply reveal the many correct, possible choices in a language.

    Rather than criticizing a back translation for changed word order or slight, seeming differences in word choice from the source, which translators understand is the correct way to go about conversion from one language to another, Andriesen argues that people who evaluate forward and back translations should be looking at comprehensiveness (inclusion of all points in the source document) and comparability across languages. True, this demands a great deal of time and trouble, but it is the true rationale behind requiring back translations. It is usually the case that the linguistic aspects of a clinical trial are given short shrift, and not enough time and effort are spent on how translations and back translations can aid the research process, provided they are performed correctly.

    Andriesen concludes his excellent article with:

    “If back translations are merely done to be kept on file or to satisfy ISO auditors, the efforts and cost are a total waste. When taken seriously and done in a professional way, a back translation effectively can identify the shortcomings of a translation – although one may argue whether it is cost-effective. A final edit stage, with a detailed commentary or a double forward translation, will probably provide the same level of confidence.”

    Interpreting: Ordering the right service

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    Interpreting: Ordering the right service

    What do you ask for when you need someone who can speak another language for an individual client deposition or medical appointment? – for a conference? – for a patent lawsuit in court?

    When they need language services like these, many people contact our office requesting a translator. Some even qualify that by asking for a “translator on site.” But translations are written documents, and the people who do them are “translators.” And it is also possible to request that a translator be provided at a specific company site to do a written translation. All oral work, however, is called “interpretation.”

    There are several different kinds of interpretation, depending on the mode and purpose, and most interpreters are qualified for only some of these types. The most demanding mode is simultaneous interpreting, usually reserved for large conferences that may require several different language pairs (e.g., English/French, English/Spanish, English/Portuguese) and use equipment (headphones, etc.) and booths to isolate each interpreter and avoid interference from other language pairs. The interpreter speaks at the same time as the speaker in the source language does, but is usually a sentence behind the speaker. He/she must hear, register, and remember what the speaker is saying, while at the same time interpreting into the target language the content of the speech a few seconds earlier. The audience can listen to the interpreter via specific headphones geared to that language pair. It helps to have the speech written out beforehand, but if there are rapid exchanges of information in two languages, the interpreter must think very quickly, assimilate the information in one language, and interpret it into another. This requires very specialized skills and training, and the number of interpreters who can do this is very limited. Most simultaneous interpreters work a full day or several days.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Interpreting ServicesAlso demanding is certified court interpreting, which often requires the simultaneous skill, although sometimes consecutive interpreting is sufficient. Consecutive is the most common mode and is used for depositions and medical appointments as well as for court. The attorney or doctor speaks first, and the interpreter listens carefully to what is said in the source language, and then interprets it immediately afterwards into the target language. People do not speak at the same time, which makes it somewhat less stressful, but the interpreter must be familiar with the terminology of the subject to be interpreted, as well as both source and target languages. Most consecutive interpreters work by the hour, with a two or three-hour minimum.

    Escort interpreting is yet another mode. Here the interpreter must walk around a facility or place with the people he/she is required to interpret for. Mobile equipment (microphones and speakers) are required, and the interpreter may have to function in either a consecutive or simultaneous way, depending on the situation.

    In addition to these types of interpreting, sometimes clients require a whisper interpreter. This mode is often used at meetings where interpreting for only one or two guests is required. The interpreter sits next to them and whispers her/his interpretation into their ear. No equipment is needed.

    Finally, many medical facilities (and others) use telephone interpreters. These are on-call interpreters, prepared to provide consecutive interpreting over the phone in their language pair for specific subjects. They normally work only a few minutes at a time, as long as the phone call or medical appointment takes, but can be available for somewhat longer periods if necessary.

    The type of interpreting you need depends on the given purpose or event. It is always helpful, however, to provide written materials or background information to help the interpreter prepare for your event. No matter how competent and appropriate the language professional is, the written documents will enable the interpreter to prepare in advance of the event and ensure the most suitable interpretation for your needs.

    Selecting a Translation Vendor

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Selecting a Translation Vendor

    Magic Triangle Checked 2 ENAs is true for any project, selecting the right tool, the right resource, is vital for the successful completion of the project. To be sure, the translation industry is awash with hundreds of thousands of individual translators and translation agencies working in every corner of the globe, all vying for a piece of that multi-million dollar pie in a rapidly expanding market driven by continued globalization. Today, translation of product literature and web content is no longer merely a tool to market and sell product abroad; for many industries, like the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, new safety regulations imposed by local governments require that all product labeling, instructions, cautions and warnings are provided in the native language of the target market to avoid injury or death by incorrect use of a device or drug.

    When choosing a translation vendor, the ultimate purpose and target audience of the translation determines what level of sophistication a buyer should require from the vendor. If a translation error could potentially cause injury or death, then a certified full-service translation agency should handle the project, an agency that has the resources to translate, revise, edit, review and proof a translation in a full-service workflow model. On the other end of the spectrum, if the purpose of a translation is ‘for information only’ and translation errors carry little or no risk, the buyer could opt for individual freelance translators or a small startup agency that might offer a more cost-effective solution (although not necessarily so). The buyer should keep in mind, however, that translation requires a joint effort between the buyer and the TSP when it comes to job specifications and the exchange of information. If a buyer’s translation needs will be ongoing rather than sporadic, establishing a good working relationship with a single provider who can handle projects of various sizes and levels of sophistication might be advantageous in the long run.

    These are questions to be asked of a potential TSP:

    • Which languages do you handle?
    • How long have you been in operation?
    • What are your qualifications/how do you qualify your translators? (Note: Being proficient in a source and a target language is not enough to be a good translator; number of years of translation experience, subject-matter familiarity, text-type competence, overall level of education, continued residence in a country where the target language is spoken, and expertise with the required software tools are important considerations when qualifying translation resources.)
    • What is your typical translation work flow (i.e. translation, review, revision, proofing)?
    • Who will manage my project (in an agency)?
    • Can you provide me with sample translations/will you translate a small sample for me?
    • What extra-value services can you provide (i.e. layout/desk-top publishing, creation of glossaries or translation memories, certifications/notarizations, if required)?
    •  Do you have the required software programs/tools for my project (i.e. InDesign for layout work)?
    • How are files transferred to and from your facility (i.e. email, HighTail, uploads to a secured site)?
    • What data security or confidentiality agreements do you provide (if required)?

    Translator Qualifications

    linguistic systems, inc.

     

     

    Translator Qualifications

    What percentage of people who speak more than one language are actually qualified to work as professional translators? That’s a difficult question to answer. However, as Vendor Manager at Linguistic Systems, I can tell you how many people who “think” they can work as professional translators are actually qualified.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translator QualificationsLinguistic Systems receives on average over 300 applications per month from people offering us their translation services. This is a combination of unsolicited applications through our website and applications in response to targeted recruiting campaigns (for example, a targeted search for medical translators from English to selected languages).

    Out of these 300 applicants, only about 70 meet our basic requirements of a university degree (or equivalent) and 2 years of professional experience. These applicants are then sent a sample to translate.

    Out of these 70, an average of 9 new translators per month pass the test and are invited to join our translator pool.

    What does this mean?

    Well, for one, it means that not every bilingual or multilingual person can work as a translator. Either, they don’t have the aptitude or targeted education.

    Could it also mean that Linguistic Systems (and many other legitimate translation agencies) are too stringent in their requirements? Perhaps, but as a client, isn’t that what you want?!?

    Client or Service Provider – Who Owns the Translation Memory?

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Client or Service Provider – Who Owns the Translation Memory?

    Who owns the translation memory? This is a question that has dogged the language services industry since the introduction of translation memory tools decades ago. And both sides can quite logically make a claim to ownership.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation MemoryThe service provider can claim that it is their work and investment in the translation memory tool in the first place that gives them ownership.

    The client can claim that they own the source and target texts and that, since the translation memory contains both, they can reasonably claim ownership.

    Oh, and there is a third side to the question, too. What about the translator who has also invested in a translation memory tool? Doesn’t he or she have a claim also?

    Clearly, there is nothing very clear about this at all.

    The definitive solution is to ensure that this question, and all other questions, is unambiguously addressed in any agreement among the parties involved, including any costs to be paid by one party to another, before the job starts.

    Maybe it is pretty clear, after all…

    Website Localization

    linguistic systems, inc.

     

     

    Website Localization

    localizationWhat is website localization? It is much more than the simple translation of text. It is the procedure of altering an existing website to the local language and culture in the target market. It is the method of adapting a website into a different linguistic and cultural framework. This revision process must reflect specific language and cultural preferences in the content, images and overall design and requirements of the website, but keeping the consistency of the website. Culturally adapted web sites reduce the amount of required understading efforts from visitors of the site to process information, making navigation easier and attitudes toward the web site more favorable. The adaptation of the website must additionally take into consideration the stated purpose of the new website with a focus on the targeted audience/market in the new location. Website localization aims to customize a website so that it seems ” accepted “, to its visitors despite cultural differences between the designer and the audience. Two factors are involved—programming expertise and linguistic/cultural knowledge.

    The prosperity of website localization is the result of the reputation of computer and Internet users. People all over the world treat the Internet as their main location for information and services. These people do not speak the same language. As a result, website localization has become one of the primary tools for business global expansion.

    Due to website communication across multiple cultures for multiple needs, the Internet has given way to non professional translation practices. Because website localization involves mixed strategies, organizations tend to maintain a global image while using website localization to appeal to local users. The challenge of website localization has become even more important as web sites increasingly have the potential to both supplement and replace presence in foreign markets. As web design becomes more fitting with national culture, it will foster online consumer purchasing. Creators take into account the “language, education level, belief and value systems, and traditions and habits” of the target culture in order to optimize results.

    What is a rush job and why: Factors to consider when ordering translation

    Linguistic Systems Translation

     

     

    What is a rush job and why: Factors to consider when ordering translation.

    fast turnaround speedometerWhen people order translation they usually have a specific date they need to have it done. But they rarely consider how long a good translator needs to do it properly. One rule of thumb is that most translators can complete about 3,000 words a day. “What,” you may say, “3,000 words should not take 8 hours!”

    Ask any translator: it does. Translation is not just a matter of translating words or sentences, often a translator needs to do some research to find the right term, and that can take a while. More important for the person ordering a translation is the fact that you definitely do not want a translator to deliver his or her first pass at your material. Nor do you want them to read it over immediately after their first try. For best results it’s always wise to allow several hours (ideally, at least a day) to elapse before re-reading a translation. So, you may have an important letter to translate, and the letter is less than 2,000 words, but the translation agency says the soonest they can delivery your translated letter is 2-3 days from when you place the order. They are allowing time to find the right translator, as well as time for the translator to re-read the translation.

    But you want the translation back the same day, or the next one at the latest. You may even need to deliver it quickly. Most agencies will consider any job that needs to be delivered within 24 hours a rush job. They will charge extra for such jobs because 1) the project manager will need to put aside everything else to expedite your letter, and 2) the translator who accepts it will also need to put aside everything else. The translator may be able to complete a first pass in 4 hours if it does not require any research, but they will not be able to re-read it in that time. Even at the cost of putting aside all other work, the soonest you can expect your translation would be the next day – if you want decent quality. If quality is not important, yes, you can probably get it in 4-6 hours.

    And that is for a very small job! What about when you need to have 10,000 or 50,000 words translated? Another rule of thumb is that a decent, full-time translator needs a week to translate 10,000 words. For 50,000 words, you need to allow 5 weeks. If you must have your 50,000-word translation in 2 weeks, most agencies will bend over backwards to accommodate you. What they will need to do is assign your job to several translators and an editor. The editor will assure consistency of terminology and quality, but an editor will require several days to look over the completed translation. Of course, it is possible to deliver your translation when you need it, and the agency will do everything to ensure that, but you should be aware of what is considered a rush job and why that is true.

    Language Needs for Clinical Trials

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Language Needs for Clinical Trials

    blog clinical trialsIf you conduct clinical trials, you know that you must often make documents available in many languages – and afterwards you need to have the results translated back into English! This is time-consuming, expensive, and can even prove to be something of a nightmare for a pharmaceutical company accustomed to dealing with medical/scientific issues, but not language nuances.

    So you need to depend on experienced professionals to do the language work for you. In addition to agencies that are specialized in clinical trials, you should look for ones that have excellent project management and can provide sophisticated translation memory technology across your clinical trials projects.

    Specialized experience enables you to receive language translations by professionals who know the exact right word to use in their native language for the medical term. Thus the terminology should be correct.

    For project management, you want to look for both a logical, complete system for doing the work AND experienced, long-term managers who know what to look out for and will be able to deliver your documents when you need them. Especially in later stages of clinical trials, time is often of the essence.

    Translation memory that can be used across a project allows for consistency of translation, no matter who the translator is.

    Ideally, all translations should be edited by a second language professional, but for clinical trials work, the editing stage is absolutely essential. You should not accept translations that have not been edited by a second language professional, no matter how critical delivery time is. You cannot skip the editing stage – proofreading is not enough.

    Linguistic Systems provides all of these for your translation requirements in:

    • Regulatory documents
    • Clinical protocols and summaries
    • Investigator materials
    • Patient information
    • Informed consent forms
    • Patient questionnaires
    • Case reports
    • Patient outcomes and adverse events
    • Drug labels and inserts

    Overcoming Obstacles to Translation Quality

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    Overcoming Obstacles to Translation Quality

    qualityWhen you entrust a language service provider with the translation quality  of a document, you may feel powerless once the document leaves your hands and undergoes the translation process. This can be especially daunting for a customer who has never worked with a translation provider and doesn’t know what to do to help ensure a high-quality deliverable. Below, I offer a few tips that will help you regain control by taking an active part in the translation process.

    Preparing the Source Text for Translation

    Customers ordering translation services for large engagements on a regular basis might include source text optimization as part of their process. This step involves checking the source text for any errors and ambiguities that could hinder a smooth translation process. The translator, a native speaker of the language that the source text is being translated into (the target language), might not pick up on ambiguities as readily as a native speaker of the source text. For example, a sign on the door of a beachfront bar that reads “We don’t serve shirtless surfers” could be interpreted in two different ways. One meaning implies that drinks or food will not be served to surfers not wearing shirts, and the second, somewhat gruesome meaning suggests that one will not find shirtless surfers on the menu. As far-fetched as the second meaning may seem, the example serves to illustrate that in some cases, there may be more than one interpretation of a source segment. Be sure to check your source text for possible errors and ambiguities that could lead to mistranslations.

    Although not directly related to language quality, inconsistent formatting can negatively influence the reader’s first impression of the translated text. We all know the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but in reality, almost everyone judges a book by its cover to some degree. Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools will output the translation based on the source text input so any inconsistent leading or kerning in the source will be duplicated in the translated text. If you want the translation to not only read well, but also to look great, you can help by supplying a well-formatted source document.

    Selecting a Translation Partner

    Selecting a translation provider is one of the key decisions that you will make during the translation process. During the selection process, focus on choosing a company that has experience translating the subject matter in question. If the document is legal in nature, you will want ensure that the provider you select specializes in legal translations. You can ask for references and information on the types of projects completed. If the subject matter is a sub-specialty of the main subject, make sure to highlight this to your translation team so that the best suited resources can be allocated to the task.

    Another criterion for selecting a translation partner is the reliability of the supplier’s translation process. Most agencies will include quality assurance steps so that no activity goes unchecked. Usually, a second linguist will proofread the translation for any errors, and if formatting is required, it will also undergo a format check. You should find out what QA checks are carried out to guarantee the highest possible quality. Selecting a translation partner that you feel comfortable with and trust is just as important. This should be someone who will guide you through the process and will help you find a solution that’s best for you when obstacles arise.

    Supplying the Necessary Supporting Documentation

    Your translation contact might ask you for reference material when you submit a request. In the context of language translation, reference material would be any documentation that provides additional information about the text to be translated. Consider a recent request to translate the word “red”. This may seem simple enough, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. In some languages, adjective endings will differ depending on the noun that they modify. For example, in Polish, “red” could be translated as “czerwony”, “czerwona” or “czerwone”, depending on the gender of the noun that it modifies. A customer might copy and paste individual words translated out of context into a larger body of text. This is why it is so important to let the translator know how these words will be used in the compiled document. If a part of a document is sent for translation, the entire document needs to be supplied for reference so that the translation team can see how a particular segment fits into the whole. The same rule applies to software strings which are usually supplied out of context, drawings or diagrams belonging to an instruction manual, etc. If you are not sure what reference material would be relevant, ask your translation provider for input.

    Allocating the Appropriate Turnaround Time and Budget

    As a general rule, a translator can translate approximately 2,000 words per day. This number will increase or decrease depending on the subject matter, the complexity of the text, and the target language. An editor will be able to edit approximately 1,000 words per hour, depending on the translation quality and the factors mentioned above. These numbers represent the ideal situation, but many translators will also be working on other projects, and the resources best suited for your request might not be available right away. For this reason, you should give your translation partner as much advance notice as possible for larger requests so that the appropriate resources can be lined up ahead of time. In addition, sufficient turnaround time, determined based on complexity, volume and your internal schedule, needs to be given to ensure a high-quality deliverable. Rush requests cannot be avoided in today’s fast-paced global market, but they should be kept to a minimum as they place undue strain on everyone involved, including your internal teams, and can make it difficult to achieve top quality.

    A team of in-country translators specializing in your field will be able to produce a higher-quality translation than a team of translators residing outside of the target country without the necessary subject-matter expertise. High quality and expertise come at a price so if quality is of utmost importance make sure that a sufficient budget has been allocated and that your translation contact knows your priorities. When setting a budget, consider the costs of an incorrect translation that can result in re-printing costs and missed sales.

    Machine Translation, Post-editing, and Human Translation: Business Uses and Pitfalls

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     Machine Translation, Post-editing, and Human Translation Business Uses and Pitfalls

    We are all familiar with various jokes about Machine Translation (MT) and how one very good sentence may be followed by a nonsensical one.  While the nonsense is amusing,  anyone reading MT should also be warned against depending on the accuracy of seemingly good sentences. One of the main functions of a human post-editor is to validate statement that are sufficiently correct, not just correct those that have significant flaws.  Correcting the most offensive errors in terminology, grammar, and syntax are important, but the primary need is to ensure that the translation conveys the correct meaning of the source.

    A human translator is generally consistent in strengths and weaknesses, but MT is random and that creates a danger.  The reader should never assume Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translation Post Editingthat the types of errors are consistent or one good sentence near the beginning means you will find an overall good quality level.  MT is a minefield of random errors, and the most dangerous ones are those that are hidden in statements that seem correct, until examination by a post-editor reveals that the correct meaning is exactly the opposite of what appears in the MT! This phenomenon is actually more common today than years ago when MT was based on a dictionary plus grammar rules instead of the modern statistical approach.  The latter draws on a very large database of sentences and phrases and the computer seeks the best match to the input source text. But suppose the best fit contains a “not” that isn’t in the source? Unfortunately this is reality and the reader must always be vigilant. It is also the reason why  a post-editor must have an excellent knowledge of the source languages and check every target segment against its corresponding source.  Cleaning up the target text so it reads reasonably well without checking against the source is not true post-editing.  Such practice is particularly misleading if the post-editor applies technical expertise to correcting target terminology yet leaves the wrong meaning intact because there was no check against the source.  The most important quality of a translation is its faithfulness to the meaning of the source text, and this emphasis is particularly important for MT where meaning is so easily lost in a jumble of partially comprehensible sentences. By any definition, computers have not reached a capability that can challenge human intelligence.

    For applications that require greater faithfulness to the source text, human translation from scratch is the better choice. Done well, the human translation will have more appropriate language that expresses nuances likely missing in the post-edited MT.   Good style that generally surpasses MT post-editing also yields less ambiguity and easier reading.   A full edit of the human translation is advisable where accuracy is paramount.  For business purposes, the human translation is the best choice for distributed translations and marketing material.

    This still leaves the potential for significant savings when the basic need can be adequately satisfied with post-editing.  For non-critical information, particularly internal information, perhaps with a short life, Machine Translation with a tailored amount of post-editing should be sufficient and provide a practical solution for a large volume and limited budget.

    To summarize:

    1. Be very wary of MT that has not been reviewed against the source text.  A sentence that is comprehensible may actually be seriously flawed in meaning.
    2. Post-editing, done correctly, can capture the correct meaning and save significant cost in money and time.
    3. Translations prepared for wide distribution should be performed with human translation, not with post-edited MT.

    Machine Translation: Facts and Myths

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    Machine Translation: Facts and Myths

    Ask people about Machine Translation (MT), and surprisingly, you will get a whole palette of opinions, from derision to declaring MT the ultimate solution for all cross language communication problems.  Nowadays, few people, right or wrong, do not have some opinion about it..

    So, what is the reality? Is MT useful? And if it is, under what circumstances should we use it?

    * * *

    Historically, the first translation by a computer was demonstrated on January 7, 1954, by Georgetown University and IBM. The system had a dictionary of 250 words and translated more than 60 predefined sentences from Romanized Russian. Its abilities were so limited that some people called this event a hoax and didn’t consider it a real MT system. Nonetheless, it provided a great inspiration, and indeed people expected that within a few years translation problem would be resolved forever.

    Since then, the excitement about prospects for MT has persisted with the same hope of reaching acceptable results within just a few years. Unfortunately, the situation hasn’t significantly changed, and we are still “just a few more years” away.

    The problem is in the very nature of the translation process. Here’s how a highly experienced translator describes her work: “Translating is not a simple one-to-one exercise (though beginners often wish/hope it were like that). True translating is understanding the meaning of the sentence in one language and then expressing that same meaning in the second language in the best words for that language.” With all the progress of technology, computers still do not “understand” what they’re doing. The real human language is too versatile, nuanced, and ambiguous for any “super-smart” algorithm.

    Modern computers are very powerful; they perform billions of operations per second and use gigabytes of memory, but at best they can provide acceptable translation of only the simplest declarative sentences. Nevertheless MT translations are still just plain funny. A famous anecdote describes the MT rendering of a biblical saying “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak as “The vodka is strong, but the meat is rotten.” Over the years, that particular story has been debunked as myth. But here’s a fact confirmed by Vernon Walters who worked for President Eisenhower; they used a CIA computer program to translate the sentence “Out of sight, out of mind” to Russian and back to English. The result was: “Invisible idiot”.

    * * *

    Ludicrous yes, but it doesn’t mean that machine translation is futile. The fact is that despite its flaws, MT is quite popular and Google Translate is one of the most visited sites on the Web. Indeed, it’s free, fast and easy to use, but not without plenty of faults..

    Google has the entire Internet to train its MT engines and it no longer translates “Microsoft” as a “small tender company”. But one should be very careful and not expect that even the best MT gives anything more than a gist of the source text.  Usually, it’s good enough to recognize the topic of an email or the domain of a website; but before purchasing a product from a foreign country, be ready for the fact that the translation of its technical data might be misleading. And never base your decision to buy foreign drugs based on machine translated instructions if you stay clear of causing harm. That’s especially important if you are translating not into your language, but into a language you are not familiar with.  Even checking with a reverse translation is no assurance that you won’t offend somebody. In my own experience, the word ‘communication’ was translated as ‘intercourse’ without any idea of its second meaning that spoiled the intended message. And never use MT for publishing in a foreign language; otherwise you might result in something like this:

     Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translation Facts & Myths

    Nevertheless, it’s a great advantage to be able to translate a sentence, an email, or a web page almost instantly and for free, but what if you need to translate a larger document? What if your organization needs translation for thousands of pages written in various foreign languages, some of them unknown? Suddenly, the translation is not free at all and far from being easily available.

    In addition, public ‘free’ translation services use every word we translate .  As always, “free cheese can only be found in a mousetrap”. Another caveat for companies often dealing with proprietary documents is to avoid translation providers that don’t specifically assure data security.

    * * *

    Let’ summarize the facts.

    Of utmost importance is procuring translation of proprietary or other sensitive material only from a translation vendor who can assure sufficient data security.

    If you have a large ongoing bilingual project, a good vendor will be able to use your stored bilingual data to customize for you a special MT engine that will produce a much higher than average MT translation quality within the domain of your project.

    Even using a customized MT engine, always keep in mind that MT yields only a gist of the source text. It shouldn’t be used for making any important decisions. However, MT can be very effective in identifying the important documents and immediately scrapping the  irrelevant ones. And never assume that an MT sentence is correct because it appears well composed. That can be a terrible trap; it always needs human verification.

    When MT confirms that you have in hand a document with desirable data, you should improve the translation. Depending on the final purpose, you should ask your translation vendor to edit the MT result in order to improve its readability and comprehension thus making it usable for managerial decisions. That process is called post-editing. The amount of post-editing can be varied according to the importance of the document. Only when sufficient qualified human post-editing is applied can the translation be considered reliable.

    Even the post-ending quality might be insufficient in the most important cases, e.g., documents to be published or submitted to a customer or government authority. Then, you should order clean human translation that does not involve MT at all because the MT biases the translator’s thoughts.

    Companies that are searching for information and are knowledgeable in the available range of translation services have a great advantage in recognizing they can save huge amounts of cost and time by applying MT to quickly eliminate irrelevant material and post-edit relevant document for a fraction of the full human translation cost. Only the truly important documents should be translated with the highest translation level, and then they have achieved the goal of cost and time optimization for the best possible results.

    * * *

    Price and Quality

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    Price and Quality

    Inquiries have shown that buyers and sellers frequently disagree on what quality means. The lack of agreement on what translation quality is and how it can be calculated creates incompatible expectations and contradiction. The lack of agreement also makes it difficult for both sides to agree on what the payment should be.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Price and QualityAnd however, buyers and sellers establish important business decisions on the belief that paying more or less for translation affects linguistic quality – regardless of their responsibilities. Can we really say there is a connection between quality and price?

    The price/quality relationship refers to the perception by most consumers that a relatively high price is a sign of good quality. The belief in this relationship is most important with complex products/services that are hard to test, and experiential products that cannot be tested until used (such as most services). The greater the uncertainty surrounding product/services, the more consumers depend on the price/quality suggestion and the greater premium they are prepared to pay. The classic example is the pricing of Twinkies, a snack cake which was viewed as low quality after the price was lowered. Excessive reliance on the price/quality relationship by clients/consumers may lead to an increase in prices on all products and services, even those of low quality, which causes the price/quality relationship to no longer apply.

    What about the price-quality effect? Buyers are less sensitive to price the more that higher prices signal higher quality. Products/services for which this effect is particularly relevant include: image products, exclusive products, and products with minimal cues for quality.

    If not, how should buyers and suppliers behave differently going forward?  Please post your answer to this question.

    Guidelines for Customers Electing a Client Review Step

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    Guidelines for Customers Electing a Client Review Step

    Client review, when carefully planned out, can add value to the finished product. Some customers will always include client review in the translation workflow to ensure that the translation is an accurate rendition of the source text, focusing on highly technical and complex aspects of the original as well as the company’s preferred terminology and style. While a translation agency will select translators with experience in the pertinent subject matter, those resources might not possess the same in-depth knowledge of the company’s product as an internal resource intimately familiar with the product’s technical aspects and the company’s goals and objectives. Other customers might choose to include a client review step for high-visibility documents destined for publication. Whatever the reason may be, here are a few important questions to consider when planning for this process step:

    Will client review be carried out?

    If a client review is planned, the translation agency must be informed of this additional step. Do not be alarmed if your contact asks whether a client review step is required. This does not mean that the agency will only use their best resources on assignments requiring client review and will not be diligent with other projects. A translation provider will ask this question for planning purposes so that he/she can decide on the best way to integrate this step into the translation process. For example, your project manager might send you an intermediate file to review so that changes can be incorporated directly into the file prior to formatting. If review is performed on a formatted document, the agency might charge extra for this task. Changes specified at this stage usually need to be implemented manually, a high-risk activity requiring extra time and additional QA. Scanned, handwritten comments are the most difficult to read and interpret so do not be surprised if the agency sends instructions for the reviewer to follow when making corrections.

    Do I need to provide the translation agency with any additional information?

    Are glossaries (either monolingual or bilingual), translation memories (TMs), terminology databases (TDs), style guides, or translations of the previous version of the source text available? If so, they will need to be provided to the translation agency for reference so that the key terminology can be applied to the current project. If the source text contains little or no context (example: software strings exported as Text or Excel files), the accompanying documentation and help files will provide the translation team with important supporting information that will enable them to translate the text accurately. This will reduce client review time and will enable the reviewer to focus on other aspects of the task.

    Who will review the translation?

    The next door neighbor who studied German for a few years in college will not be the best choice for translation review. The ideal candidate is a native speaker of the target language who is proficient in the source language, with experience in the subject matter and in-depth knowledge of the product. Ideally, this is someone from within the company familiar with the company’s objectives. Usually, client review is not the primary activity for employees who perform this task so plenty of advance notice should be given. If no qualified resource within the company is available, you may decide to hire a contractor to perform the review. Similar selection criteria will apply in this case.

    What instructions should the reviewer follow?

    Make sure to communicate to your reviewer any pertinent instructions provided to you by the translation agency. Your translation contact might send an intermediate file for review to ensure that all changes are implemented prior to formatting. Make sure you understand how the reviewer should enter his/her changes as this could depend on the type of translation software that the file is exported from. It is also very important that the reviewer have on hand the same reference material that you provided to the translation team. Otherwise, the reviewer might incorporate changes that contradict the reference material. Whenever possible, the same reviewer should be asked to evaluate future translations in a given language. It is very difficult for a translation team to be consistent with client review changes when different reviewers might suggest different translations for the same term or phrase.

    An important aspect of a translation that might rear its ugly head during translation review is linguistic style. Whether we say “Have a nice trip” or “Enjoy your trip”, the meaning is the same. It is important to bear in mind that, as this example illustrates, the same concept can be communicated in different ways. Assuming that the reviewer is experienced in the subject matter and might not possess the linguistic background of a translator, it might be best to instruct him/her to limit stylistic changes and to instead focus on the technical aspect of the translation. Don’t despair if the reviewed translation is drowning in a sea of red ink. Most of these changes might very well fall under the category of style. Not adding much value to the finished product and potentially delaying the review process, these types of changes can be avoided by outlining the reviewer’s responsibilities in advance.

    Has the source text undergone all necessary input and approvals?

    If the source text has not undergone the necessary approvals, the reviewer might suggest source text changes in addition to revising the translation. Such changes are impossible for the translation agency to evaluate since the agency’s role is to translate the source text, not to rewrite it. Your contact will inform you if these types of changes are present, and you will need to decide whether to implement them. This will delay the process due to the additional back-and-forth with the translation agency. Even if the source text is frozen and has undergone all the necessary approvals, the reviewer may still introduce changes that alter the meaning of the original. It is advisable to anticipate this, and to instruct the translation agency ahead of time to reject or flag such changes.

    Will you be sending the reviewed text back to the translation agency for evaluation?

    As explained above, a reviewer may sometimes implement changes that will alter the meaning of the source text that you should be aware of. Reviewers also sometimes introduce errors so it’s always a good idea to send the reviewed file back to the translation agency. If a tight deadline does not allow for an evaluation of client review changes, you should still send the final, corrected document to the translation agency for reference on future projects.

    Tips For Translators Applying to an Agency

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    Tips  For Translators  Applying to an Agency

    What does an agency look for in translators?  Agencies look for translation experience, educational background, and rates that are within their budget.  An aspiring translator’s resume or CV must contain these three elements up front. It’s always possible to put your rates in your email, but it must be easily seen. We don’t need to read all about your enthusiasm, your willingness to please, your cooperative attitude, and adding these to a resume is perceived as “fluff” or will give the impression that you are not experienced. Your resume should outline your translation experience up front, including your specializations or areas that you have done translations in and are thoroughly familiar with the keywords in that subject. Your specializations should not include areas you would like to work in but haven’t up until now.

    After providing details of your translation experience, you should have your educational background. You should include all academic degrees you have received, the university you studied at, its location, and the subject of your degree. You should not include secondary school education as it is not relevant. Special graduate courses are important. We do not need to know other languages you may be acquainted with but can’t translate into or from. We do not need to know your own estimate of your competence. We only need to see the language pairs you are competent to translate into or from.

    Also important, at the top of your resume should appear your language pair(s), including your native language as the first target language. Strangely, many aspiring translators forget to include this, expecting the agency representative to be a mind reader or to guess at it from other information.

    You may also want to include your other types of employment, especially if it is relevant to any of your translation specialties, but this should come after your translation experience and education. Your hobbies should only be included insofar as they are relevant to translation work.

    Always useful is the various types of software you use (including the version you have) and how proficient you are in using it. The more difficult it is to find this information in your first email to an agency, the less likely the agency representative will consider you. It is in your interest to provide all this information in your initial contact. If you do, you will probably get a response.

    A note to translators already in our database: please don’t forget to let us know if any of your information has changed (email, phone, software, specializations) so that we won’t lose contact with you.

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    Complete or Finished and the Dreaded Client Review

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    Complete or Finished and the Dreaded Client Review

    Some may argue that there is little difference between the meaning of complete and finished. But consider this (from a joke circling through cyberspace of late): When you marry the right woman, you are complete; when you marry the wrong woman, you are finished; when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are completely finished!

    Language fun at its best: The joke works because the word finished may be applied to express different, in fact opposite meanings: Finished (complete) as the successful end to a task, the reaching of a goal; and finished (done in) as the unfortunate outcome of endeavors that have led to a state of resignation, of giving up.Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Client Reviews

    Can this joke be translated into other languages? Most likely not. We cannot assume that the use of finished as meaning done in works in other languages, and thus the joke may be untranslatable.

    Fortunately, the translation of jokes is seldom requested (unless you find yourself at a cocktail party having to explain to a foreigner why everyone is laughing). And yet, translators struggle daily with challenges presented by language-specific subtleties and usage conventions, such as a play on words or an idiom. The translator must select just the right term or phrase to convey the intended meaning, having to make a million astute and intelligent word choices. The emphasis here is on choices! Usually, there is more than one way to skin a cat…

    …wait, do they skin cats in other languages?

    Enter the (sometimes) dreaded client review.

    For sure, a client review of translations is an important quality control step that ensures translations meet client expectations and are suited for the intended purpose. Ideally, a client review step is scheduled as an integral part of the translation workflow, so that client preferences regarding terminology and style can be accommodated before the finished product is delivered.

    A client review becomes problematic, however, when the reviewer makes gratuitous changes and essentially rewrites the translation. The problem is not the rewriting itself – the text belongs to the client and the client should fully adapt it to his/her purpose. The problem is the implied quality assessment of the translation. Somebody might ask: Was the translation really all that bad to warrant so many client edits?

    Well, no. This is all about writing styles. This is about language arts, not math, and one+one seldom equals two. This is about the craft of writing, about word choice and selection and style and flair. It’s about the way the cat was skinned…

    When Every Job Is a Rush

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    When Every Job Is a Rush

    Sure, we live in a fast-paced world. The push for instant gratification, instant results, instant service, instant everything has us dancing like crazy puppets on a string. A notable exception is instant coffee: We generally prefer the slow brew to keep us sufficiently revved up to deal with all the other instants in our lives.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Rush TranslationInstant service in translations can be accommodated by machine translation. Indeed, there is high demand for this service and it’s perfectly suited for gisting purposes, that is, finding out what a foreign-language text might be all about. It’s easy and quick, just as we like it: Submit a file, click a button, and out comes a translation – or at least something that looks like a translation but is likely riddled with errors.

    This sets the stage for fast-turnaround translation demands, however. A client may ask: Why can’t I get a human translation by, say, tomorrow? I have this very tight deadline! What’s the problem?

    Here’s the problem: In order to produce a competent translation that conveys the source text accurately, with the correct terminology and style for the intended audience, at least the following process steps are necessary:

    • Pre-translation processing/source text analysis: Review of the source text by the translation service provider (TSP) to determine possible technical challenges and translator requirements.
    • Search for appropriate translators and revisers based on language pair and subject matter.
    • Assignment and handoff of project to translators.
    • Translation work performed by translators. Rule-of-thumb output for a single translator is 1500 to 2000 words per day.
    • Review of returned translations for completeness by the TSP’s project manager.
    • Assignment and handoff of project to revisers.
    • Review/revision work performed by revisers (“second pair of eyes”). Note: There is no meaningful quality assurance step in translations other than having a translation reviewed/revised by a second translator with competency in both language pair and subject matter.
    • Review of revised translations for completeness by the TSP’s project manager.
    • Delivery of final texts to the client (if no client review or text layout/formatting steps are required).

    Piece of cake, ain’t it? Well, no! While language professionals might be willing to pull the occasional all-nighter (drinking plenty of slow-brewed coffee), asking them to accommodate rush turnarounds every single day might tempt even the most diligent and conscientious professionals to cut corners and forego much needed quality assurance steps. The result: Poor quality translations and client complaints.

    Let’s face it: Instant translations are like instant coffee. Once you take the first sip you wonder how you could ever fall for it.

     

    Brand-Name Analysis: Well worth the Expense

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    Brand-Name Analysis: Well worth the Expense

    Back in the 90s, during the .com boom, when startups were looking for an immediate international presence in the new global marketplace, language service providers were flooded with requests for brand-name analysis. The need for brand-name analysis took center stage in the marketing world after such embarrassing marketing flops as trying to sell the Chevy Nova in Latin America (no va in Spanish means doesn’t go/ doesn’t work).

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Brand Name AnalysisNowadays, in a struggling world economy, requests for this service seem to have slowed somewhat, yet brand-name analysis remains a vital and important service offering. The process starts with a client questionnaire that gathers information about the intended product and its target market and audience. In addition to the obvious questions about language and locale, clients have to let analysts know for what type of organization or service the brand-name is intended, who the target audience is, and whether or not gender and age of the target audience play a role. The completed client questionnaire together with the proposed brand-name(s) is then sent to analysts in the target countries.

    It is important that analysts live and work in the target countries to be able to assess a proposed brand-name’s impact and subtle connotations. There are regional differences in language use: A brand-name that works well in Madrid might sound archaic in Mexico City, much like Brits advertise “flats” in the London Times while Bostonians list “apartments” in the Boston Globe.

    Therefore, it is well worth the up-front cost and investment to have a name analyzed by trained analysts in each target country long before artists and designers go to work creating attractive logos, brochures and web content around that name. Spending any capital, even emotional and intellectual capital, on a brand-name before a brand-name analysis is carried out may lead to grave disappointments, if not wasted marketing funds.

    Project and Business Continuity Planning

    Project and Business Continuity Planning

    Project and business continuity planning is important for any type of business, including the document translation industry. Clients entrust to a Language Service Provider (LSP) documents to be translated by a certain Linguistic Systems, Inc. Document Translation Plandate, often an extremely time-sensitive date, such as meeting a submission deadline for a clinical trial or a court case. When accepting the translation assignment, the LSP negotiates and then commits to a delivery date, yet many things can go wrong all along the translation workflow.

     

    Planning for project and business continuity is as critical for LSPs as it is for any other type of business. Events that can cause interruptions in the translation work flow should be identified and scored as to their potential impact and probability of occurrence. Once such risk assessment has been carried out, risk mitigation plans can be formulated. Critical risks that an LSP should assess are these:

    Human Resources

    Who handles the project internally? What do we do if that resource becomes unavailable?

    Who handles the project externally (translators, editors, reviewers)? What do we do if one or all of those resources become unavailable?

    Technical Resources

    How are documents transmitted? What do we do if the transmission system fails and becomes unavailable?

    Where are documents stored while they are in progress and long-term? What do we do if the storage system fails and becomes unavailable?

    Risk assessment and mitigation does not provide a magic bullet to eliminate all risk. As in every-day life, there is always some risk that has to be accepted as residual risk. Being proactive about risk assessment, however, allows the LSP to prepare for interruptions to the normal work flow and have in place adequate proxy/backup systems that can ensure the successful and timely completion of projects.

     

    Machine Translation: The Market for Accessibility

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    Machine Translation: The Market for Accessibility

    It’s been said that more information is generated today in a single year than was generated in the last 5000 years combined! Information is everywhere and we expect it to be instantly accessible and Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translationavailable in every corner of the globe. The demand for rapid, high-volume turnaround in language translation has been increasing steadily as corporations attempt to maintain a global presence in their markets. Translations are needed not only for the traditional outward-facing media, such as corporate websites and marketing brochures, but also for internal communications, such as company newsletters, shareholder reports, and employee benefit packages.

    Let’s face it, though: The traditional model for professional language translation is focused on high-quality output and does not lend itself for rapid turn-around. The traditional model relies on highly skilled human translators and editors who go through a series of workflow and quality assurance steps to produce high-quality translations.

    Competing priorities struggle for attention, then. Traditional service providers champion high-quality translations while buyers of translation services are under pressure to publish time-sensitive content on a global stage, practically in real time.

    Making the case for machine translation:

    Machine translation delivers instant results. Large volumes of text can be converted into foreign language material in a matter of minutes. Depending on the source text and the sophistication of the machine translation engine, the output may be good enough for “gisting” purposes, but still not good enough for publication. The following two steps, however, can dramatically increase the quality of machine translation output:

    • Training the machine translation engine with existing source and target text corpora in a given language pair and subject matter.
    • Carrying out a human post-edit on the raw machine output.

    The need for rapid turn-around translations is here to stay. As long as all stake holders in the process are clear about their expectations and goals, it should not be too difficult to understand and accommodate priorities of quality versus speed and accessibility.

    Translations and Sufficiency

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    Translations and Sufficiency

    In a recent discussion about quality in translations, a client commented that a translation he received was somehow insufficient. The client did not say the translation was wrong or incorrect, just insufficient.

    But what, exactly, does insufficient mean? In the absence of obvious mistranslations or omissions, why would a translation be deemed insufficient?

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Incorrect TranslationsThe problem is the very nature of language arts. Language is not a math equation, and 1+1 seldom equals 2. Every piece of writing is subject not only to the rules of grammar and syntax, but readers react to subtle nuances of style and expression that can make a piece of writing come alive. Professional language translation writers in every genre understand this and spend years perfecting their craft to meet the challenge.

    But what about translators? If we understand a translator to be the foreign-language stand-in for the original author, can we reasonably expect a translator to produce a piece of writing of the same quality and with the same nuances of style and expression that were achieved by the original author?

    Ideally yes, but let’s keep in mind that translators are typically paid cents per translated word and often work under very tight turn-around deadlines. Being an accomplished word smith, however, is serious business, is true art, and cannot be accomplished by rushing through writing assignments based on the number of words. For example, Shakespeare’s Hamlet in French needs to be so much more than a bunch of French words strung together without spelling mistakes, lest the play be deemed insufficient by French theater goers.

    Therefore, if we want Hamlet in French, clients and translation service providers have to be mindful of the linguistic challenges involved in creating high-quality pieces of writing, be they in their original language or in translation. When only the very best will do, the job specification for a translation should allow for a monolingual review and adaptation of the target text for the intended purpose and locale, a service typically charged for by the hour rather than by the number of words. True, this extra step adds to the cost of the translation, but high-end clients may find it worth the additional cost to ensure that the translation is of the same linguistic quality as the original piece of writing, and thus sufficient, even excellent.

    Bulk Translations: Here to Stay

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    Bulk Translations: Here to Stay

    Oh yes, it’s out there: The request for high volume, low-cost translations at super-fast turnaround times, a nightmare for translation professionals who have been trained to strive for quality in translations. To a language professional, quality in translation means accuracy of meaning, appropriateness of style, even adaptation of the target text for the intended market and locale. Ideally, a target text should be just as poignant and fluent to readers in the target language as the original text is to readers in the source language.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Bulk TranslationsHowever, linguistic quality as understood by language professionals may not always be the top priority of those requesting translations. Take the bulk translation market: Buyers in this market are looking for high-volume translations often needed for information only, for ‘gisting’ purposes, such as translations of foreign-language documents into English in preparation for litigation in US courts.

    Here’s the dilemma: Language professionals do not like this market because it inherently undervalues quality and tends to drive down rates. And yet – where there’s a need, there must be a way! Simply ignoring the demand of this market or constantly complaining about it does no good. The need is here to stay, and ever growing. The translation industry must learn how to accommodate the bulk market, must define and understand it as an entirely separate entity with distinct quality and costing parameters that have little to do with the traditional translation service model geared towards high quality translations. Providers must design service offerings that meet bulk-market customer needs while still maintaining adequate remuneration for language professionals and preserving quality, but only to the degree specified for the particular assignment. Such service models must take advantage of the latest technology, including machine translation and multi-party translation systems, where possible. Most importantly, the translation industry must facilitate a better understanding between all stakeholders in this process. It must educate bulk-market customers about what can be reasonably expected and accomplished in terms of translation speed versus quality given the limitations of human capacity combined with current technology.

    The Right Tool: Selecting a Translation Vendor

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    The Right Tool: Selecting a Translation Vendor

    As is true for any type of project, selecting the right tool, the right resource, is vital for the successful completion of a project. The same is true for translations. The industry is awash with thousands of individual translators and translation agencies in every corner of the globe, all aspiring to get a piece of that multi-million dollar industry driven by continued globalization. Today, foreign-language product literature and web content is no longer merely a tool to market and sell product abroad; for many industries, like the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, new safety regulations Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Vendor Selectionimposed by foreign governments require that all product labeling, such as instructions for use, be provided in the local language to avoid injury or death by incorrect use of a device or drug.

    Before choosing a translation vendor, first determine the purpose and target audience of your translation. These two parameters determine what level of sophistication you should require from your translation vendor. For example, if a translation error could potentially cause injury or death, then you want a certified full-service translation agency to handle your project, an agency that has the resources to translate, revise, edit, review and proof your translation in a full-service workflow model. On the other hand, if you need a text to be translated merely for ‘gisting’ purposes, for information only, then perhaps a single freelance translator or a small startup agency might offer you a more cost-effective solution (although not necessarily so). Keep in mind, however, that quality in translation requires a joint effort between the buyer and the translation vendor when it comes to adequate job specification. If your translation needs will be ongoing rather than sporadic, establishing a good working relationship with a single provider who can handle projects of various sizes and levels of sophistication might be advantageous to you in the long run.

    Fast, Faster, Fastest

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    Fast, Faster, Fastest

    Research has shown that many buyers of translation services value fast turn-around times over translation quality and price. Buyers may be under pressure to produce simultaneous releases of product and marketing material in multiple languages, or they may need volumes of into-English translations practically overnight as support material for litigation in US courts. Translation service providers are thus put under enormous pressure to Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Turnaround Timeaccommodate client requests for speed while still trying to maintain translation quality and competitive pricing models.

    The good news is that technology can and does help. The industry benefits greatly from ever more sophisticated off-the-shelf and proprietary translation workflow systems that can greatly facilitate and speed up the processes for order taking and project assignment, even the actual translation work. In this race to the bottom (achieve shortest turn-around times), the biggest obstacle to speed is human capacity, that is, even the most experienced and savvy translator can only translate so many words per day (rule-of-thumb is 1500 to max 2000 words/day). Therefore, collaborative, multi-party systems are being developed that allow many translators to work on the same project at the same time.

    The obvious challenge in such a setup is achieving consistency of terminology and style. To meet this challenge, systems offer ways to be prepped with terminology databases and translation memories. They also allow all parties, including editors and reviewers, to participate “live” and in real time in the project. For example, if translator A is the first to translate a certain term, the system will automatically suggest that term to translator B who can then either accept or suggest a better term to translator A. Meanwhile, an editor or client reviewer can see the suggestion and make the final determination about what term should be used. The system thus allows a continuous feedback loop between all parties on the project, ideally creating a high-quality final product that has little need to undergo any additional – and very time-consuming – quality checks and revisions.

     

    Translation Security Risks: Free Machine Translation Services

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    Translation Security Risks: Free Machine Translation Services

    Should you worry about data security risks posed by do-it-yourself machine translation services? You bet! If you submit source text to readily-available translation tools such as Google Translate and Reverso, your data will be out there “forever” and used to train the machine translation engines of these providers. The trade is aLinguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Security fair one: You submit your data, they offer a free service. Everybody benefits. No problem.

    True, unless your data is security sensitive and proprietary. While you may not worry about the content of a letter to your new heart-throb in Spain, the e-discovery material your law firm just acquired to build a case for arbitration is quite another matter.

    The good news is that some translation service providers now offer very inexpensive do-it-yourself MT ordering systems with the appropriate security controls in place. These systems allow you to shoot large volumes of text through the pipeline and get the translations returned to you almost immediately. While the MT output of such systems may yet be crude and inexact, it is often good enough for “gisting” purposes, so that you can analyze and sort the material for relevancy before ordering expensive human translation or human MT post-editing.

    A note of caution: Before you select a machine translation service from a provider, ask your provider to explain the data security controls that are in place every step of the way, following the data flow from your desk to the MT engine and back to your desk. Providers may also be able to customize the security controls according to your needs, for example, by making sure that the data stays within certain national borders, or specifically excludes certain countries.

    Translations for Clinical Trials

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    Translations for Clinical Trials

    You’ve spent millions of dollars on R&D, time-to-market deadlines are slipping, shareholders are breathing down your neck – finally, the moment arrives: Yes, we are ready for clinical trials!

    Clinical trials where? Oh! …….. Do they speak English over there? ……. Well, no!  Clinical Trials Translation is important.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation for Clinical TrialsIf the above predicament sounds familiar, it is no surprise. For a variety of reasons – less bureaucracy, good working relationships with foreign teaching hospitals, ideal climate or demographics for a particular study – many US companies conduct clinical trials abroad. When planning such trials, they are suddenly faced with the need to have product literature and instructions translated into a foreign language. At that moment, those brilliant scientists and engineers who typically run these projects find themselves at a loss, having to set in motion a process within that “fringe” domain of language arts where nothing is binary, but everything seems fluid, subjective, and open to interpretation (after all, it was that poetry-reading, guitar-strumming, long-haired crowd that studied foreign languages back in college).

    So what, if anything, can guide a weary scientist in the search for competent professional language translation?

    Standards, adequate job specifications, and a process approach to translations! Yes, even the fringe domain can be governed by standards and sound quality control processes. Although language remains a rather “inexact science”, subject to variations in word choice, tone and linguistic style, standards and international guidelines for translation services have done much in recent years to improve the overall quality of translations and to make the business partnership between the arts and the sciences a happier one. More and more translation service providers (TSPs) have undertaken the effort to become ISO 9001 certified; more and more TSPs are pursuing certification to industry-specific standards such as EN 15038 (developed in Europe specifically for TSPs) and CAN/CGSB-131.10 (its Canadian counterpart). In the US, of note is the Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation (ASTM F 2575), released by the American Society for Testing and Materials in 2006 under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee F15 on Consumer Products.

    While standards establish specific requirements (“shalls”) for the translation industry, the ASTM F 2575 guidelines focus on consumer education, attempting to lift the shroud surrounding translation work. The guidelines offer a list of terms and definitions used in the industry (let’s all speak the same language), outline the process steps involved in a typical translation workflow, and formulate for the buyer the questions to be asked when selecting a vendor and specifying a translation job.

    As the ASTM guide contends: “Quality in translation cannot be defined on the premise that there is only one correct, high-quality translation for any given source text. [ ] Quality is defined as the degree to which the characteristics of a translation fulfill the requirements of the agreed-upon specifications.”

    “Agreed-upon specifications?” That sounds rather vague. Are we back to the fringe stuff here?

    Not exactly. Translation work is hard work. It is complex and arduous work. Indeed, every translation project is unique and should be understood as a joint effort between the buyer and the TSP. But unless you have some knowledge about translations and the translation industry, you may find yourself ill prepared to formulate adequate job specifications for your translation project. All too often, time and money are wasted because crucial information about a project was not passed on to those working on the project.

    What type of information is needed, then?

    Information in these 3 categories is needed: The nature of the source material, the intent of the target material, the administrative aspects of the job. Below are sample questions that may guide you in defining your project even before contacting a TSP.

     

    Source Material – List of Sample Questions:

    • What is the language of the source text (including locale, i.e. British English versus American English)?
    • What is the origin of the source text (when authored, by whom)?
    • What is the subject area of the source text (i.e. medical, legal, financial)?
    • What word processing or layout program was used to create the source text (i.e. MS Word)?
    • Was the source text created following a particular style guide or template (if so, are style guide and template available for the translations)?
    • Does the source text include graphics or special text elements that need translation (i.e. callouts, side bars, insets)?
    • Is the source text a revision of a previously translated text (if so, are previous translations available as reference material for translators in order to match word choice and style)?
    • Do glossaries or an electronic translation memory exist (i.e. within a translation program, such as Trados)?
    • Is there any other reference material available that could guide the translator in word choice and linguistic style (for example, product brochures, instructions, training videos, web content)?

    Target Material – List of Sample Questions:

    • Into what language(s) should the text be translated (including locale, i.e. Continental Spanish versus Spanish for Latin America)?
    • What is the purpose of the translation (i.e. for publication, to satisfy a legal requirement, for information only)?
    • Who is the target audience (the end user) of the translation, and what is their reading level?
    • Does the translation require layout/desktop publishing work (i.e. to create print-ready copy for publication)?
    • Are there any special instructions to translators (i.e. text, names or locales to stay in the source language)?

    Administrative Aspects – List of Sample Questions:

    • What are the project’s start and due dates (fixed or flexible)?
    • What are the budget constraints?
    • Who will manage the project and be the contact for translator questions, if any?
    • Are changes to the project anticipated (for example, the source text is still undergoing revisions)?
    • Are client review activities envisioned and who will carry them out (i.e. third-party affiliates, client’s foreign country offices)?
    • Are back translations necessary (a regulatory requirement for some industries)?
    • What are the needs for data protection and confidentiality?
    • Are added-value services required (creation of glossary, translation memory, notarization or certification)?

    For further reading – click here

     

    ISO and eDiscovery Translation

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    ISO and eDiscovery Translation

    In a recent article by Chris Knox and Scott Dawson, published on www.iediscovery.com, the authors discuss a lack of standards for the processing of electronically stored information (ESI) for litigation purposes. Of interest is the authors’ conclusion that the industry could benefit greatly by adopting the processes outlined in the international standards ISO 9001 and ISO 27001. To quote from the article:

    “ISO 9001 has been held up as a standard that is a useful example of the type of standard the e-discovery industry can hope to develop. We believe that ISO 9001 is in fact not just an example, but a workable, real-world solution that provides a solid foundation for the e-discovery industry today.”

    “The ISO 27000 standard is designed to identify and manage risks posed to business information by data theft or accidental loss. It provides guidelines for putting a secure infrastructure in place and implementing a risk management process and corporate policy to minimize data loss. This is the one existing ISO standard e-discovery vendors can and should actively consider adopting in addition to the ISO 9001. “

    LSI, as a market leader in document translation services, is proud to hold certifications to both of these standards!

    Additional Information

     

    Mitigating Data Security Risks in Translation

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    Mitigating Data Security Risks in Translation

    In their role as translation services company, language providers handle a wide variety of material, from simple business cards to sensitive legal briefs and medical case histories. Although language companies know that they must treat all client material as confidential, a customized translation workflow can be applied to the handling of material that carries significant data security risks. Assessing these risks up front and defining special project handling instructions with your provider are vital steps in keeping sensitive material secure during the translation process. Risk mitigation controls may be applied to the way files are transmitted between the client, the service provider and individual translators; to the material itself (file content); to the type of translators and their geographic locale; as well as to file storage/deletion requirements. Keep in mind that handling options and translation workflows can be as unique and as specialized as your project requires. Ask your provider to help you define the best options available to you.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Data Translation SecurityFile Transmission Options

    Rather than using standard email, your provider may suggest that files be transmitted using a secure transmission method such as encrypted email, YouSendIt, downloading/uploading files from secure servers, or even mailing physical media such as CDs.

    Important: Make sure that whatever transmission method you select can be followed through the entire translation workflow, that is, moving files from you >  to the provider >  to individual translators > then back to you.

    If, on the other hand, you are uncomfortable with sending anything around, you may want to explore the option of having translators come to your place of business, or to a locale of your choosing, such as a secure data center that makes office space and equipment available to you for the duration of the project. Such on-site setups are often used for legal review work, content analysis and the translation of highly sensitive e-discovery material. Your provider may be able to assist you in finding such a place.

    File Content Options

    If you have the staff and the time, you may want to remove confidential information from your files before submitting them for translation (for example, remove patient names from medical case histories and substitute them with first initials or place holders). Alternatively, you may request the translation service provider to remove such information for you, before files are submitted to individual translators for translation. Full patient names could then be re-inserted after the text has been translated.

    Selection of Human Resources

    Translation service providers assign translators to your project based on language- and subject-matter expertise. However, the nature of your material may require that only individuals with certain backgrounds may handle the files, for example, US-citizens only. Make sure you specify such special requirements before project start.

    Special human resource requirements may also be based on geographic locale. Depending on the origin and nature of your material, access may need to be limited to translators residing in certain locales, or specifically exclude those residing in certain locales, such as in countries on a government watch list for political unrest.

    File Storage/Retention Options

    Make sure you discuss your file storage/deletion requirements with your service provider before project start. Most providers have a defined data retention policy, such as 7 years, unless otherwise specified. “Otherwise specified” may mean deletion of all files immediately after completion of the project. Files may also be encrypted for storage, protected by passwords only known to you and/or to a network administrator.

    Important: Make sure that any file storage/deletion requirement you specify can be carried out through the entire translation workflow, that is, at the provider, at individual translators who may be working remotely for the provider, and at electronic backup sites or tapes used by the provider.

     

     

    Post-editing for eDiscovery

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    Post-editing for eDiscovery

    Post-editing is a term applied to editing of machine translation (MT). It is especially useful for eDiscovery work in which the volume is large and time is of the essence. The advantages of using machine translation on such volume are its speed and corresponding low cost. Lawyers and legal personnel usually need to read through thousands of pages to see what is relevant to the case at hand, and when such material is in a foreign language, it must be translated. But lawyers do not need to waste their time on the documents that are not responsive. So if reviewers who are native to the foreign language are not available, MT is adequate for a first pass.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Human Post-EditingVarious levels of post-editing are possible: the post-editing can aim for a completely accurate translation in all respects, or a lower level post-edit can be performed to capture meaning and correct terminology in a short time, without spending additional time on perfect grammar and syntax.  The low level post-editing may be all that is needed at this stage of eDiscovery. While such post-edited machine translation cannot be submitted to a court, it has proven to be the most cost-effective means of obtaining meaning for accurately determining relevancy.

    Despite the inaccuracies of machine translation, with post-editing, only a relatively few documents will need full human translation, ensuring substantial savings of time and money. For best results, the key component is choosing post-editors who know the equivalent accurate terminology in both the foreign and English languages.  For more detailed information about this type of editing and its application to eDiscovery work, access the eDiscovery Translation page at www.linguist.com.

    EDRM Remains Vital to E-Discovery

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    EDRM and ediscovery

    Originally thought EDRM would be a one-year exercise; but here we are almost nine years later!

    The 9th annual Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) kickoff meeting wrapped up this week in Saint Paul, Minn. The purpose was to set the agenda and direction for the year. There were approximately 60 in attendance for this two-day event, with over half being fresh faces to the group. Sixty percent of the attendees were vendors and the remaining from law firms or corporations.  Read More

    Language and Translation

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    I’ve been always interested in languages. I grew up in an environment where a single language was considered a superior one. Over time,  life made me trilingual, but I still envy people who speak many languages, especially if I don’t know one of those.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Language TranslationSuddenly, I was brought into the world of languages and translating industry by my latest  career move. Almost invisible for the wide public this world is going through a revolution. And the Internet is a substantial driver of it.

    Eliminating language as a barrier to knowledge and communication is one of the latest great challenges

    Here are a few interesting and important facts:

    Professional language translation is both slow and expensive. Depending on the sphere of translation and the language pairs being translated, professional translation can cost as much as US$0.50 per word for a language such as Japanese. For European languages, costs typically range between US$0.08 to US$0.20 per word. For many publishers, this translation expense is too high and cannot be justified. Human translators typically translate at around 2,000-3,000 words per day.

    An alternative is rapid translation of time sensitive content using machine translation. Being first to market with new information can be a significant competitive advantage. However, the quality of machine translation still leaves a lot to desire.

    Some companies most certainly understand the benefits and potential of its automated translation technology and is now trying to regain a level of control over it.

    Do you have anything  to say about languages and translations?  Please comment below.

    Data Security in Translation

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    Data Security in Translation

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Data SecuritySo you need your patent application, your clinical trial questionnaire, or your e-discovery material translated. Well, unless you’re in the enviable position of having highly qualified linguists sitting in the cubicles right next door, chances are you will need to engage the services of a translation services company. But who are these people? Can they be trusted with your confidential information? Who will have access? And where, exactly, will your information travel before it is returned to you in Spanish, Chinese or Russian?

    So here’s the scoop: Chances are your material will travel lots, and lots of people will have access to it, unless you work out with the translation company the specific data security handling requirements for your material. Look for a translation company that is experienced and savvy when it comes to data security, ideally one that has implemented a comprehensive information security management system and is certified to the international security standard ISO 27001/BS 7799. Such a company will be able to help you formulate the best security handling options for your translation project, focusing on four key areas where data vulnerabilities can be mitigated: material content, method of transmission, translators and their location, and data storage and backup.

    If you have had data security problems with translations, please comment below.

    eDiscovery and Translation

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    eDiscovery and Translation

    The Problem:

    A mountain of foreign-language material! We need it in English and we need it fast! eDiscovery Translations are expensive and take time! What do we do?

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. E-Discovery TranslationPossible Solutions:

    • Use of foreign-language reviewers: Reviewers (in the source language) review the material before it is translated and identify pertinent and relevant information. Only pertinent and relevant information is translated.
    • Use of machine translation (MT): MT offers a fast and inexpensive way to translate large volumes of text. Caution: Depending on the language pair and subject matter, even the best MT engines may achieve only 40% translation accuracy. Also, if confidentiality is important, DO NOT use readily available MT engines, such as Google Translate. While use of these engines is free, they typically retain your data and use it to train and improve their output.
    • Use of machine translation (MT) + post-editors: A light or full human post-edit performed on a machine-translated text will improve accuracy, as the translator identifies and corrects mistakes made by the MT engine. MT + post-editing is typically faster and cheaper than a full human translation (HT).
    • Use of machine translation (MT) + reviewers: Reviewers (in target language) review the machine-translated text and try to identify pertinent and relevant information. Only pertinent and relevant information is either post-edited or fully translated by a human translator. Caution: The machine-translated text may be only 40% accurate, and reviewers might miss pertinent and relevant information.

    Machine Translation: What to Consider

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    Machine Translation: What to Consider

    LSI is a translation service company that sells machine translation (MT), typically into English, either as pass-through raw machine output or with one of 2 levels of human post-editing (light and full post-editing). MT is often requested for “gisting” purposes, when a client wants a quick and inexpensive way to find out about the nature and content of foreign-language documents. MT is typically processed in bulk, so that relevant content can be highlighted and extracted from a large volume of foreign-language material, as for a legal e-discovery project.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translation Post EditingThe quality of machine translation output varies greatly depending on the type and quality of the source text that is fed into the MT engine. Factors such as source language (European, Asian, or other), subject matter, writing style, and the technical quality of the source text affect the output.

    Raw MT output can be improved by training/customizing the MT engine with previously translated text in a given subject matter and/or writing style, which the software then uses to match similar text it encounters. The benefit of using a trained MT engine must be weighed against the time and cost that is involved in training the engine.

     

    MT Post-Editing

    Raw MT output can receive a light or a full human post-edit in order to improve the MT output by making the text more accurate and readable. However, MT post-editing is not geared towards creating a translation of top linguistic quality for publication. Only a full human translation with revision/editing is expected to achieve that result.

    Light MT Post-Editing

    The objective of a light MT post-edit is to create a translation in which essential words are translated correctly, so that the reader can capture the general meaning of the source text. The post-editor is not expected to improve on the syntax or writing style, and the text may remain awkward to read. A light post-edit should take about 1/3 of the time of a full human translation, thereby shortening turnaround time and cost.

    Full MT Post-Editing

    The objective of a full MT post-edit is to create a translation that is as correct, unambiguous and easy-to-read as possible, with relatively good syntax. The post-editor is not expected to improve on the writing style or create a publishable text. A full post-edit should take about 2/3 of the time of a full human translation, thereby still shortening turnaround time and cost.

    Try It Out!

    If you are considering MT for your translation needs, simply provide us with a sample of your source text. We will run it through our MT engines as a test, so you can get an idea about the quality of the MT output for your material.

     

     

    Quality Translation Processes

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    Quality Translation Processes

    How can professional language service companies (LSCs) ensure technically flawless and competent translations in order to achieve high customer satisfaction?

    By establishing and maintaining transparent and easily verifiable processes in a translation quality management system. At a minimum, such a system should establish and constantly monitor the following core translation processes and resources: (1) Project inquiry, feasibility, job specifications, and quotation acceptance in writing with Terms & Conditions, (2) Competence of human resources/translators, (3) Adequacy of technical resources, (4) Translation project management, (5) Verification of fulfilling job specifications and (6) Delivery.

     

    Gala Event Wrap Up Discussion: The World of Professional Translation Services

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    How does the “business of language” translate to you?

    I just returned from the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) 2013 conference in Miami. The Florida city – whose Spanish-speaking population outnumbers English-speaking residents – was particularly relevant to the group assembled inside the hotel because it represented exactly the opportunities – and the challenges – that we were discussing.

    This year’s theme, the Language of Business, spoke to the urgency of being able to communicate in today’s world of more than 6,700 languages. Particularly for businesses, the ability to bridge language and dialect barriers – even within their own geographic locations – can be a terrific competitive advantage, and a strategic benefit for governments as well.

    Professional language translation companies such as LSI are those bridges. We utilize technology, people, and a combination of language and document translation services to adapt communications and content to a region’s language, culture, and customs. Our localization industry is what David Orban (CEO, Dotsub and futurist) referred to in his keynote address as “the bedrock of globalization.”

    Granted, the industry-specific GALA conference was focused on how localization businesses like ours address emerging technologies, innovation, and the challenges of our industry. But how does the “business of language” translate to you as a customer?

    Certainly, large, multinational organizations such as SAP, Adobe, and Amway invest heavily in supporting their international efforts with localization to adjust content intelligently for regions, dialects, and colloquialisms.

    Regardless of your business size, though, or whether your organization is focused on business-to-business or business-to-consumer, if you are selling to populations that speak different languages, your ability to produce content that translates relevantly to your target audiences is critical. Miami is a good example, where businesses must communicate effectively to both Spanish- and English-speaking customers.

    Technology naturally expands a business’ reach beyond the local economy. The Internet is a prime model of a technology that removes geographic barriers. Mobile solutions extend Internet (and thus content) accessibility from even the remotest areas of the globe – including Africa, the second largest mobile market in the world. But with only 27 percent of the today’s Internet in English, localization and professional translation services become more important than ever.

    Translation Memory — A Primer

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    Translation Memory – A Primer

    What Is It? What Can It Do for Me?

    Translation memory is a set of software tools that function as a database to store translated material. Individual memory items, known as segments, are stored with source and corresponding segments aligned in this database. A segment can be a sentence, a bullet point, a title, etc.

    When a segment is translated, the source and target texts are stored “next” to each other in the database. When a segment is repeated in a future related document or update of the same document, the segment does not need to be retranslated. It can be used as is by the translator or modified only slightly, depending on the context of the surrounding paragraph. A stored segment that is an approximate rather than exact match to a source segment in a new text being translated is known as a “fuzzy” match (for example: “The house is blue.” and “The house is red.”) is presented to the translator to make minor changes to obtain the desired translation.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation MemoryOver time, individual translation memories can become very large and significantly reduce translation costs and turnaround times. Where a new segment would be charged at 100% of the agreed-upon rate, a fuzzy match might be charged at 75% of the full rate and a repeated segment 30%. Additionally, the memory contributes to better consistency because re-using segments will guide new translation and create consistency.

    Translation memories can be customized by client, by subject matter or both. For example, a translation memory can be created for Client ABC-Marketing, Client ABC-Technical Docs, etc. They can also be set up in a hierarchal way so that one translation memory is used preferentially before another.

    Glossaries can also be linked to translation memories to add another translation aid for the translator to ensure that specific client or subject terminology is properly used in a translation.

    A further way to create a translation memory is through the process of “alignment”. If you have a corpus of previously translated document pairs, the alignment feature can be used to match source and translated sentences and other segments, thereby building a translation memory. This is a combined automated and human process, therefore there will be a charge for this. However, the savings achieved in the translation process may make this step worth the effort and cost, particularly if there will be future translations of similar material.

    Only files that are editable can be used in a translation memory – no scanned PDFs or images. In addition to Microsoft Office files, most translation memory tools also support files produced by other authoring tools like FrameMaker, InDesign, etc.

    A Pricing Example

    Let’s assume that you have a 100,000 word set of documents that needs to be translated from English to another language. The table below shows a possible price comparison:

    No Translation Memory Cost at $.030 per word With Translation Memory Cost at Base Rate of $0.30 per Word
    100,000 words $30,000 50,000 new words $15,000
    25000 fuzzy matches $5,625
    25000 repeats $2,250
    TOTAL $30,000 TOTAL $22,875

     

    In reality, there will likely be more repeats and less fuzzy matches, however, this example shows how quickly the savings can add up. In this case, the saving is $7,125 (23.75%).  If the number of words was 1 million, the saving would have been over $70,000.

    Evaluation of translation options

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    Evaluation of translation options

    There are many document translation service options a buyer has when considering translating their document from the source language into the target language (e.g. Japanese into English).  The different levels demonstrated below vary by price and text comprehensibility.  They range from under $1.00 a file (Machine Translation-MT) to over $100.00 a page (Human Translation with Editing).  Understanding the differences might save you a lot of money and give you the desired comprehensibility you are seeking without exceeding your translation budget.  Looking at a sample of each of these levels before placing   an order will help you decide.

    These translation options are:

    • Machine Translation (MT) – translation performed by computer software;
    • Light Post Editing (LPE) – limited human editing of machine translated documents that gives priority to correct terminology and accuracy of meaning;
    • Full Post Editing (FPE) – deep human editing of machine translated documents that includes syntax and other composition qualities;
    • Human Translation (HT) – full human translation (no MT or post-editing) of the original document with appropriate fluency, idiomatic expression, and writing style (Can be certified for court);
    • Human Translation with Editing – fully edited human translation to verify accuracy of all translation aspects and to ensure appropriate style for the intended audience while retaining faithfulness to the message of the source text. (Can be certified for court or published).

    Understanding your options will help you make a more informed decision. Translation for information serves various purposes, and you can stay within a tight budget by not exceeding the needed level.

     

    Inaugural Blog Post

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    Inaugural Blog Post From President & CEO, Martin Roberts

    Bienvenue! And welcome to Linguistic Systems’ first blog post.  I’m Martin Roberts, president and CEO of Linguistic Systems, Inc. (LSI). Our mission, with this blog, is to bring you useful translation and interpreting news, tips to maximize the value of your funds spent on translation, and the latest news from LSI.

    I’m proud to lead this company that provides important professional translation services to corporations/institutions and individuals throughout the world. LSI was founded in 1967 when the standard tools were typewriters, white-out, and carbon paper. Having experienced the translation industry from its infancy to where it is today, I have to say, globalization has generated tremendous growth but it seems the surge is still in an early stage as communications continue to proliferate.

    innovationIn response, we are using the most advanced technologies to bring greater value to our clients. For instance, last month we unveiled our patent pending Select Translation Service. This system provides online access to five levels of quality for information purposes. Specifically, the system is an online, web-based application for translating foreign language documents into English according to the user-defined priorities of accuracy, speed, and cost. Immediate turnarounds with significant cost-savings are available.

    Globalization  (including website globalization) continues to drive and expand our services in new directions. More corporations are opening headquarters in the Asia Pacific region, particularly China, and timely translation services are essential to keep pace with the changing demands of local markets. Today, lawyers, medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and the like are in need of translation to conduct day-to-day business that involves consumers and regulators.  Download a copy of our STS data sheet.

    I look forward to your feedback on this inaugural blog post and sharing more LSI news with you! In each posting we will share with you our thoughts on  new language trends, innovations, or challenges.  If you have any colleagues or friends who might benefit from our blog postings about new developments, feel free to let us know and we will add them to our distribution list.

    We are always striving for continuous improvement at LSI. If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions for future newsletter topics I’d love to hear from you with comments to this or other blog posts.

    Regards,

    Marty Roberts

    Hymns and tones: Melodic Intonation Therapy

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    Hymns and tones: Melodic Intonation Therapy

    People with aphasia, a condition discussed in a previous blog post here, experience the loss of language in both spoken and written form. There is one somewhat controversial but fascinating course of treatment for people with aphasia (PWA): Melodic intonation therapy (MIT). As early as 1745, a case of a 33-year-old Swedish farmer piqued his community’s interest: this man was paralyzed on the right side of his body, and could only say “yes.” But during church services, he could sing the words of familiar hymns. Olaf Dalin, a contemporary physician, commemorated this phenomenon in writing, and in 1904 a neurologist named Charles Mills found again that some PWA can sing before they can speak.

    downloadMills suggested a primitive form of melodic intonation therapy in the form of singing songs with patients, which he found to help with patients’ emotional well-being, but which did not necessarily help with their speech.

    In 1945, speech-language pathologist Ollie Backus suggested presenting words and phrases PWA wanted to learn in a rhythmical fashion: the beginning of contemporary melodic intonation therapy. This iteration did not involve singing hymns, but rather drilling patients by showing and having them repeat useful words and phrases in varying tones and to a specific rhythm. Formal studies of the therapy began in 1972; in 1974, 6 individuals out of a group of 8 in one study made improvements in speech with MIT. These results should be interpreted with caution, as they only come from a single study and confounding variables may have affected the results. The idea of melody helping patients learn to speak again is certainly an appealing one, however.

    A popular hypothesis for explaining the positive effects of MIT on aphasia patients is that while language is generally controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain (at least in right-handed individuals), it is commonly believed that musical knowledge and processing happens in the right hemisphere. Could using the other side of the brain help compensate for the left side’s weaknesses? The jury is still out. But the next time you sing along to your favorite song, know that it may have a permanent spot in your brain, whether there is a loss of language or not.

    3 Tips for Navigating the World of Foreign Language Data

    relativity-logo-rgb-150This blog is presented with the permission of kCura, the makers of Relativity. We thank them for allowing us to share this blog with you.

    John Del Piero – Discovia | Review & Production, e-Discovery

    3 Tips for Navigating the World of Foreign Language Data

    Rarely does a review project shape up exactly the way we predict. Litigation support teams need agility and flexibility to be prepared for everything e-discovery can and will throw their way.

    Growing data volumes are an obvious contributor to this reality, but so is today’s international landscape. Globalization means more foreign language documents are finding their way into company data stores, and that results in added complications during e-discovery for both litigation and investigations.

    If you’re starting to see that foreign language data is becoming a bigger part of everyday e-discovery, here’s how to get ahead of the complexity.

    1. Think multilingually.

    It is important to always be prepared for foreign language data that may appear in your collections. Odds are good that your business—or your client’s business—involves some dealings in another country, whether via product sales, outsourced services, or recruiting efforts. Modern business means foreign language documents are always a possibility, if not likely.

    For example, our team recently kicked off a relatively small internal investigation involving five custodians. After initial strategizing with the client, we knew we might need to handle foreign language data. Even though we didn’t know what languages or volumes to expect, we were fortunate to have prepared the right technological workflows, including tapping a specialized translation plugin for our review workspace, in advance. It turned out that this small investigation became a big one, and more than 10 million documents involving English, Russian, and several Middle Eastern languages were collected when all was said and done.

    Bonus Tip: You can also use early case assessment workflows to perform analytics on your case and identify which foreign languages are used in which documents.

    2. Hone in on foreign language insights with the right technology.

    The days of setting aside individual documents with foreign language content during a manual, linear review so they can be attended to separately by native speakers are more or less behind us. Case teams can now take advantage of text analytics to identify those documents at the very start of the review. The benefit here is that, while still requiring a separate workflow, these documents can undergo a first-pass review simultaneously alongside the English documents—instead of being flagged and funneled into a separate process as reviewers churn through the entire data set manually.

    Working with foreign languages in your e-discovery software also means identifying the right stop words—common terms that the system will ignore, such as “the” or “it”—for searching and analytics, so be sure to have a proper understanding of those dictionaries from the start. You can also get creative during searching by looking into slang or other regional terms that could be present in your data set.

    Creating a unique analytics index for each language is a good way to ensure you’re making the most of your system’s conceptual analysis of the data. Additionally, work closely with foreign language experts to identify any foreign names or terms that could but should not be translated, such as “Deutsche Telekom,” and dig into foreign keyword search criteria that may uncover the most important files by helping to create clusters—conceptually related groups of documents that can be automatically organized by the system.

    Bonus Tip: Taking note of some special considerations for use on foreign languages, leverage email threading and other analytics features on this data for better organization with minimal human input.

    3. Know you have options for translation.

    All of those technology options mean that a slow linear review by native speakers is no longer necessary—at least not to the full extent it once was. However, once you’ve identified potentially relevant materials via these workflows, you still need to get the data into the hands of the experts on your project. You can’t build a convincing case strategy based on second-hand reports of the stories the documents are telling—at some point you’ll need accurate document translation to provide evidence.

    Fortunately, even translation is a different animal when you have the right technology and workflows in place. Machine translation is a very low cost option, but you must be careful. It can provide a gist meaning, but is unreliable for the true meaning of any sentence. While convenient and fast, machine translation may produce misleading information—and some of it may be simply incomprehensible. For reliable accuracy, consider human revision of the machine’s results.

    For instance, on that same case of 10 million documents, our team ended up with more than 70,000 files that required translation—and the task seemed daunting. Working closely with Linguistic Systems, a Relativity developer partner, we were able to identify a collaborative, hybrid workflow that utilized post-editing of the machine translation to split the difference between the cost-effectiveness of machine translation and the refined accuracy of human translation. In the end, it cost 65 percent less than we anticipated for a manual translation—and we gathered all the insight we needed, easily within the time allowed.

    Bonus Tip: Specialized tools that can be added directly to your review workspace support translation workflows in real time, so you don’t have to move data around. Discovia worked with the Relativity Developer Partner, Linguistic Systems, Inc., who does this translation work through their proprietary LSI Translation Plug-in, an application in the Relativity Ecosystem.

    When it comes down to it, tackling foreign language data is yet another example of how modern e-discovery requires a healthy balance of technology, expertise, and collaboration. How do you ensure you’re sticking the landing on feats like these? Let us know in the comments.

    John Del Piero is vice president of global e-discovery solutions at Discovia, where he helps foster effective partnerships with law firms and corporations tackling complex litigation and investigations. He joined Discovia in 2010.

    Signs and Culture: The World of American Sign Language

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    Signs and Culture: The World of American Sign Language

    “Your name is what?”

    This is not how most English speakers ask a new acquaintance their name. Hearing (as opposed to Deaf) speakers say “What is your name?” And they get to see their formulation in writing all the time – in dialogue introducing a new character in a novel, or on a job application. But Deaf or hard-of-hearing people who speak American Sign Language (ASL) don’t have that luxury. They must learn one set of grammatical rules for signing, and another for reading and writing English.

    sign_languageSome people assume ASL is simply English conveyed in gestures, but that is certainly not the case. There are the grammatical differences noted above, and also the notion of signs as opposed to gestures. I’ve experienced at least one hearing person refer to a sign as a “gesture,” and knew from taking ASL classes that members of the Deaf and the hard-of-hearing community would not appreciate this phrasing. A sign, like a word, has a fixed form and meaning: its visual representation does not change from speaker to speaker, and it has a definition as precise as that of a spoken or written word. Hearing people’s gestures, on the other hand, are often made up on the spot and only carry meaning during that particular conversation.

    ASL speakers face not only the challenge of being required to learn two languages if they want to be able to convey thoughts through writing or to read a favorite storybook. Crucial information is always being conveyed auditorily – from train announcements to sirens, it can be hard to get a full read on one’s environment without the sense of hearing – and Deaf people must navigate the world without that help. They may face misinformed hearing people in daily life as well, who attach a stigma to Deafness and do not want to understand Deaf people’s language or lived experiences. Deaf Culture, a sign I will never forget from my two semesters of ASL in college due to its obvious importance to my Deaf professor, refers to the way Deaf people interact with each other: jokes that hearing people may not understand; books and movies that speak to the challenges of Deaf life; describing people using solely physical characteristics, in a way that may seem blunt to some hearing folks. It’s a culture Deaf people are rightly proud of and that they dedicate much time and effort into preserving and helping evolve.

    My above-mentioned ASL professor, who is Deaf, taught the entire two semesters I took with her without speaking a single English word. Immersion has always been the best way to go about language learning in my experience, and my classmates and I knew we needed to pick up signs and grammar as quickly as in any other foreign language class to succeed. But we were also required to attend Deaf cultural events for class: church services, movie nights, themed meetups. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people gathered at these events and signed with rapid fluidity, allowing us students to glimpse church or a movie through a quite novel cultural and linguistic lens. We learned about Gallaudet College, the only all-Deaf university in the country, of which our instructor was a proud alum. She described the college, slowly, during our classes: Washington, D.C., a beautiful campus, students and professors who really understood. One day towards the end of the semester, our professor revealed that she actually did speak English, to one person: her mother. “Because I love her,” she signed to us, “and because she can’t sign.” Clearly, it takes a very powerful love to draw a Deaf person out of their Culture enough to speak what is truly a foreign language for someone else’s convenience. Deaf Culture, like ASL itself, is strong, rich, and varied: a home for a beautiful language and those who speak it, understanding each other in a world that often refuses to understand them.

    Linguistics Research: Patterns and ‘Mini-Languages’

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    Linguistics Research: Patterns and ‘Mini-Languages’

    Readers of this blog will have seen my post about deciding to study linguistics as an undergraduate. The takeaway from that course of study, for me, was an appreciation of the complexity of languages and their tendency to change over time, as well as a basic understanding of areas of linguistic study like sociolinguistics, syntax, and phonetics and phonology. But what is it like to continue studying linguistics as a graduate student, to the point of conducting original research to investigate specific questions about language? Dr. Anna Greenwood recently obtained her Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and spoke with me about her research.

    a-group-of-peoples-generate-a-network-100232926Her studies took place, Dr. Greenwood says, “at the interface of phonetics and phonology.” For the uninitiated, phonetics refers to how people perceive and produce speech sounds, like vowels and consonants, while phonology deals with how these sounds are then organized within languages to form larger units, such as words. Languages are “highly organized” – so how do speech sounds affect a language’s organizational structure? To narrow in on Dr. Greenwood’s research – what kinds of sounds can occur at the end of a word?

    There are “voiced” and “voiceless” consonants across languages. Which category these sounds fall into is determined by whether your vocal cords vibrate (voiced), or not (voiceless), when they are produced. To hear how voicing can change a sound, take “s” and “z” for example – if you produce a long “sssss” sound, then add voicing, you will hear “zzzzz” instead. Dr. Greenwood noticed that in languages where words can end with consonant sounds, they generally tend to end those words with voiceless consonants. Why? Is it “easier” to learn the more frequent pattern of voicelessness at the end of words, or is it simply that the voiceless consonant patterns are easier to perceive? Dr. Greenwood believed it was the latter – that these particular infrequent patterns are just as easy to learn as the frequent ones – and set about creating “mini artificial languages” to test this hypothesis. Her languages included words following the more cross-linguistically frequent pattern of voiceless consonants at the end (“poss,” as an example), as well as ones following the less frequent pattern of word-final voiced consonants (“pozz”). Using undergraduate students at her university as subjects, she “had speaker[s] record the words of both languages in two different ways — one which was slow and hyperarticulated, like how we speak in formal settings, and one which was faster, more slurred, more resemblant of how we speak to our friends.” She found, “consistently, that my participants had basically no problem learning the infrequent patterns when they were taught the language in the more formal speech.”

    So – her results suggest that specifically for the patterns Dr. Greenwood was studying, there is no “innate problem” in learning infrequent sound patterns – just that more common sound patterns are easier to hear. Could these findings help explain commonalities among languages across the world? More research is needed, Dr. Greenwood says, but her studies have opened the door for investigation. Fascinating new discoveries such as hers are coming out every day – and at LSI we are always ready to learn more about language. Many thanks to Dr. Greenwood for taking the time to share her findings with us.

    Multilingual Link Roundup

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    Multilingual Link Roundup

    If you love language, take a look at the following articles. We at LSI enjoyed these stories, which are from varied perspectives on many aspects of language. From personal essay to a report on gendered hurricane names, these articles should whet your linguistic appetite – and inspire you to learn more!

    An in-depth look at the decline of the Hawaiian language, and those who are working to help revive it by educating the next generation in language immersion schools:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/tomorrows_test/2016/06/how_the_ka_papahana_kaiapuni_immersion_schools_saved_the_hawaiian_language.html

     A beautifully written personal essay about languages as windows into other cultures:

    http://the-toast.net/2016/05/31/language-learning-decolonisation/

    A language-related Onion article for good measure:

    http://www.theonion.com/article/underfunded-schools-forced-to-cut-past-tense-from–2336

     And finally, an article we wish was from the Onion about how hurricanes’ names affect people’s perception of their severity:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/06/02/female-named-hurricanes-kill-more-than-male-because-people-dont-respect-them-study-finds/

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    The wonder of code switching

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    The wonder of code switching

    I was standing at the bus stop, tired after a long day and ready to go home. A woman and her young daughter were also waiting there, and I was letting their Haitian Creole wash over me as I stared into space. Suddenly, though, the mother said “a strawberry smoothie, once a day,” in English. This was a bit jarring and snapped me back to attention and on to remembering learning about code switching, something covered in sociolinguistics courses I had taken in college.

    ConsiderThere is still much to be learned about bilingualism – whether bilingual babies and children are learning two or more languages simultaneously and separately; whether they really master one first, then the other; whether the grammar from one language serves as scaffolding for a second, third, fourth. But an observable phenomenon occurs with many bilingual speakers in conversation, once those languages have been learned: code switching. This refers to switching languages in the middle of speaking – often in the middle of a sentence, or just inserting one word from Language 2 into a sentence spoken in Language 1. As someone who had to study hard to approximate fluent French, I am always mesmerized by truly bilingual people who can switch between languages so fluidly.

    Whether and how one code-switches depends on the relationship between the speaker and her listener, the subject matter at hand, and probably other mechanisms that bilingual people have internalized but maybe couldn’t even articulate if asked. Code switching is common when the speakers are very familiar with each other. It’s seen with family members or friends speaking casually, perhaps with Dominican-Americans dropping an English word that may more precisely convey some American cultural signifier or concept into an otherwise Spanish sentence.

    What was the Creole-speaking woman at the bus stop saying about her strawberry smoothie? I’ll never know. But her easy shifting reminded me to appreciate all our beautiful codes, and especially those who can switch between them to create a novel and quite personal code of their own.

    When Language Leaves Us

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    When Language Leaves Us

    Have you ever had a word at the tip of your tongue, but just couldn’t say it? You know what you want to say but just can’t conjure up the right combination of sounds. Imagine if that happened with almost every word you tried to say. For people living with aphasia, this is the unfortunate reality.

    epilepsy-623346_1920Aphasia is a language disorder found most commonly in people who have suffered a stroke or, to a lesser extent, a traumatic brain injury. Most often, a stroke that occurs in the left hemisphere of the brain causes aphasia; the left side of the brain controls most aspects of language in most people. The above-mentioned loss of words, clinically referred to as anomia, occurs in all types of aphasia, but there are variations on the disorder. Some people can speak fluently if with some nonsense words mixed in, but not understand language while others can understand but not produce language. Aphasia can affect spoken and written language.

    It is important to note that aphasia is a loss of language, not intelligence, which is what can be the most frustrating aspect for those living with it: the mind comprehends what is going on, including an awareness of the aphasia itself, but still the patient struggles with language.

    June is National Aphasia Awareness Month; if you hadn’t heard of it before, the American Stroke Association has plenty of information here.

    In past years, stroke survivors, speech-language pathologists, and supporters have gathered at the Massachusetts State House to spread awareness of their cause; there are approximately 80,000 new cases of aphasia diagnosed per year, and yet many have never heard of it.

    Learning about language disorders may move us to advocate for those who have them, and at the very least should foster a deeper appreciation of the ease with words many of us may take for granted. Keep aphasia survivors and their loved ones in mind the next time you can’t find a word; that moment will pass for you but for others it never will, and there but for fortune…

    Seven Ways to Design Better Global Marketing Brochures

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    Seven Ways to Design Better Global Marketing Brochures

    Design Concept. Design Drawn on Dark Wall. Design in Multicolor Doodle Design. Design Concept. Modern Illustration in Doodle Design Style of Design. Design Business Concept.

    I have listed things to avoid when you design a brochure that will be translated in a previous post. Today I want to show you things that we commonly see on client source files and our advice for those of you who design global marketing brochures or product sheets.

    When your designed piece follows some of the best practices that follow, you can expect that your translation cost will be less. In addition, you can expect the design quality of your translated material to be identical to your source file.

    What follows are best practices you should take into account when designing globally distributed design materials! For example, when you design product sheets in InDesign:

    1. Plan using paragraph and character styles in a smart way. This is a recommended practice in graphic design in general, but this will affect production cost when materials are translated. Think about hierarchies of styles, create descriptive names for each style, and design in a logical way. It will help us to follow your styles and/or create new styles that work together with styles you have set up.
    2. Thread text frames where it makes sense. When we see files where a designer linked all text frames for body text, we immediately know that we can use translation tools more effectively. A file with separated individual text frames requires more production hours. This means added cost to your translation project.
    3. Make images flow with text. This is called anchoring objects as well. Rather than placing small objects separately from text paste objects into text so that those objects travel as text reflows. Let’s say you have a product manual with some button graphics within the text boxes. If you don’t anchor them to the specific text, the translation company will need to anchor each one of them. Again, this will affect your translation cost.
    4. Allow extra spaces everywhere. When a page is designed tightly, there is a chance that we have to reduce the font size and/or leading dramatically or make fonts condensed to fit translated text. Depending on a language, we might need to go down even 1.5-point from the 10-point font, and 8.5-point size does look smaller than the source. This is especially important when translating a file from English into Spanish.
    5. Be flexible on fonts being chosen for translated materials. Make sure to provide a whole package of InDesign files including fonts. A translation company will try to use the fonts provided when possible or they will look for similar looking fonts depending on the language. Some languages look quite different from English. It is almost impossible to retain the same feel with English designed piece.
    6. Prefer tabs over spaces. Don’t hit the space key multiple times! We see this happen not only in InDesign but also in Word files. If you would like to receive a clean looking translated file, just use tabs! Alignment looks sharp and beautiful with tabs.
    7. Don’t forget to use master pages for multiple paged documents. It saves design time greatly when some pages have similar design elements regardless of translation. This is another tool that helps final output layout quality be high.

     

    Perhaps your file was clean with all styles and masters set perfectly when your brochure was designed initially. Probably there have been quite a lot of revision rounds since, and multiple people have worked on the file. It is then very important that you follow the best practices that I have described above before you submit your document for translating. A good translation company will follow your design specification. In other words, we won’t mess up your design with translation!

    Five Essential Tips for Successful Translation Projects!

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    You Don’t Know the Language? Five Essential Tips for Successful Translation Projects!

    desktop translator illustration. Flat modern style vector design

    You are a Global Marketing Manager or Project Manager and asking yourself, “I need to translate these product sheets into three languages. I don’t know the languages. How do I start this project?”

    With close to 50 years of translation business experience, we can provide you with some essential tips for a successful translation project.

    • Make sure that your target audiences and languages match.
      Let’s say you are thinking of translating marketing collateral from English to Spanish. Are you targeting Spanish-speaking people in the US, Columbia, or Spain? Moreover, if it is for the US market, what about numbering decimal format? Should they be US style (e.g. 0.1, 1,000) or European and Latin American style (e.g. 0,1, 1 000 or 1.000)?If you are targeting Chinese-speaking people, is the country you are targeting Taiwan, Hong Kong, or China?
    • Choose a translation company with solid experience in the language service market with excellent customer service.
      Maybe you are requesting a quote from a few translation companies. Carefully select the one that you think offers the best support for your concerns. Translation management is not a simple task. You want to choose a company that will partner with you throughout your project answering questions and providing you the language expertise you are looking for. A good partner will help you achieve your foreign language goals. You must trust that the company you choose will be experts in translating projects for the languages you are looking for. They also need to be subject matter experts in the topic you are translating. And, most importantly, the translator should be a native speaker of the language in the country you are translating for. Engaging with the right company will make all the difference when it comes to getting the best translation for your money and effort. There must be a deep level of trust as you don’t know the language!
    • Ask as many questions you may have to an Account Manager at the translation company before the project starts.
      If you don’t know how your translation projects will be handled, take the time to speak with the account manager and ask as many questions as needed until you are confident in your choice. For example, you can discuss:

      • What file format should be submitted and what formats can the final files be formatted into?
      • Describe the differences between quality and speed?
      • Formatting quality requirements: print or presentation ready versus rough formatting?
      • Language requirements: what languages are you translating from and into?
      • Does the translation company provide DTP* services?
        * If your materials contain images with callouts (embedded text in images), make sure you provide the source files (Illustrator or Photoshop) for those and provide them to the company at the job start. Recreating a chart costs more than placing translated text into an already-created chart.
    • Verify your source files are complete before providing them for translation.
      So often, the delay of project turnaround is related to incomplete source files and additional changes to source files after the project has started. If you want to avoid additional costs to the project, make sure your source files are final in the source language. This includes all images and charts.

    If you only have a PDF file as a source file, make sure to read this tip!
    It is always best to provide the original source file. If the source file is only in PDF format you can expect a higher translation cost. Just converting the PDF file into an unformatted word file doesn’t work either. A converted Word file translation costs twice or even triple as much when compared to a newly created Word file. A clean and not converted Word file or InDesign file is always the best source file format for the best translation costs and quality of translation and formatting. Frequently, when converting a file from PDF into Word you will lose formatting and even words. Remember that what you are providing as the source file is what the translator will be looking at. If you provide an incomplete, poorly formatted source file, you will also get an incomplete, poorly formatted translated file back. Spend extra time in making sure you are providing the best available source file you have.

    • A well-prepared job start will lead you to a satisfactory project finish.
      No one wants to deal with issues or difficulties. Be sure to spend time on the job requirements and conditions that I stated above before starting a project and you will assure smooth project handling. Even though you don’t know the language, you will know how to avoid extra costs, turnaround delays, and/or complications. You probably have a schedule you need to meet. Any delays or incomplete items will only add time to your deadline and open the door to translation mistakes being made. So my advice is you take the time before you submit the project so that you can both meet your deadline and get the quality translation you expect.

    I hope these tips are helpful. Remember that choosing the best partner will save you time, money and effort. However, it will still be up to you to perform good due diligence, as you know what and for whom this translation is for. Good luck managing your translation projects!

    Language and the Plastic Brain

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    Language and the Plastic Brain

    President Obama

    You may have heard about the Obama family’s recent trip to Cuba, where between his diplomatic duties, the President managed to squeeze in time talking with ordinary citizens. And if you’ve seen the above photograph, you’ll know that in order to communicate with the Spanish-speaking people there, he needed an interpreter – and who better than his daughter Malia?

    It’s a well-documented phenomenon that the POTUS can attest to. The younger a person is when they are exposed to a particular language, the more easily they will learn it. The time period (called a “critical window”) for language acquisition is during the first few years of life though of course language learning can occur across the lifespan. But from the moment they are born children begin filtering and synthesizing the language-related sounds around them, and their young brains are particularly adept at doing this. It’s related to infant brains’ particularly high neuroplasticity, or the flexibility of the brain in creating new information pathways as it learns. Synaptic pruning, like the pruning of an unruly bush in your yard, is the brain’s way of getting rid of pathways it doesn’t use. Newborns’ brains are just beginning to prune themselves, leaving room for a staggering amount of new connections to be made when, say, they hear a new language.

    As the brain continues aging its plasticity decreases. If like many people in the U.S., you only begin taking French in middle school, you’ll know firsthand how hard it is to pronounce a single new word, let alone think fluently in French. Many preschools are beginning to offer full immersion classes, often in Spanish, to take advantage of the young students’ critical period for learning any language. And of course, this period applies for signed as well as spoken language; for more information on Nicaraguan Sign Language, developed by deaf children in a single generation in the 1980s, look here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/07/2/l_072_04.html .

    The human brain is capable of so many amazing feats that producing and comprehending spoken, signed, and written languages as it does on a daily basis can sometimes be brushed aside. But when it’s necessary to use a foreign language to communicate it becomes obvious how intricate and difficult a task that is. Here’s hoping next time you visit a Spanish-speaking country, someone like Malia Obama is nearby to help!

    Why Study Linguistics?

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    Why Study Linguistics?

    This question is projected onto the front wall of my phonetics classroom. I look at it. “Why?” Why would my professor ask us this? Shouldn’t we know? Won’t she drive any doubt out of our heads with the lecture she’s about to deliver, full of those pop science-y morsels about who says “pop” and who says “soda” that we can repeat to our friends later, feeling smug? Maybe part of me hoped or even knew that there could be more to studying the elements of language than this, but I’d never really thought about it.

    Various aspects of the answer come through years of study, true, but the most important element introduced in that phonetics class is borne out every day on the streets of New York, watching movies and television, talking with friends: language is always changing, and trying to staunch the flow of new vocabulary and phrasing will get you nowhere. Unsurprisingly, new terms tend to come from the mouths of young people, especially young women.

    The very professor from my phonetics class, Lisa Davidson of NYU, was recently interviewed about a particular quality of young women’s speech that is becoming more common by the day. This is “vocal fry,” a phenomenon occurring when a speaker’s vocal folds fully close then quickly open, creating a gravelly sound very different from when the vocal folds move smoothly between being partly open and partly closed, which happens during typical speech. As with every change new generations make to language, vocal fry is being derided by older speakers, from public radio hosts to anonymous bloggers, with increasing regularity.

    Davidson puts to rest the idea that vocal fry is inherently “bad” to do while speaking, noting, “We expect our children to dress differently than we do, and to have different hairstyles. We might decry it, sort of, but you know, fashion styles change. Why wouldn’t everything else [including language] change too? It’s just yet another way of making ourselves different than the generation that came before us.” (https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/nyu-stories/lisa-davidson-on-vocal-fry.html).

    Studying linguistics taught me precision and how to diagram complex sentences – but internalizing the fact that language is constantly in flux was the most important thing I learned in my years of study. I can only hope this attitude will stick as I grow older and the changes become more and more removed from the ones of my youth.

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    Rush translations

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    Rush Translations

    We understand that the demand for speed in translation jobs is very high. To satisfy clients with such needs, we can make that happen. From account managers, project managers, translators, to graphic specialists, all work to complete the job on time. Teamwork counts. Our project managers are very experienced and committed to handling such jobs every day.

    When speed is crucial, sometimes other factors (such as layout) become less of a priority.  What follows are tips for clients submitting a rush job. These tips can help both clients (less cost) and us (faster process).

    • Be sure to tell your account manager the level of translation quality and layout you require from the very beginning. Perhaps the file needs to be printed professionally or posted on a website where both content and format matter.
    • If the files contain a table of contents and index, let us know if they should be translated and formatted or if they can be skipped (for example, if a client only needs the translation for analysis purposes).
    • If files contain images and diagrams, let us know if they must be translated.
    • Let us know if you have a translation reviewer at your company or would like to add editorial services when quality is very important.

    We will be happy to assist you when you need an urgent translation.

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    The Old Chicken and Egg Conundrum

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    The Old Chicken and Egg Conundrum

    For years linguists have discussed the question of whether language affects our thoughts and behavior. Does a Spanish speaker think differently than a Japanese speaker? In “How Language Can Affect the Way We Think” by Jessica Gross (2013), the answer may be “yes.” For example, in the 1950s, researchers studied the language and thoughts of Zuñi speakers (Native Americans indigenous to New Mexico and Arizona), who don’t have separate words for orange and yellow in their language. Sure enough, it was difficult for speakers of Zuñi to tell the two colors apart when asked in the study. At the other end of the spectrum, Russian speakers, who grow up with two completely different words for “dark blue” and “light blue,” were better at differentiating between the two colors than English speakers in a 2007 research project.

    Language differences go deeper than just colors, however. In an article in the Wall Street Journal by Lera Boroditsky, the issue of language and blame is discussed. While English speakers tend to say a person “broke a vase,” for example, Spanish and Japanese speakers would say that the “vase broke itself.” In a Stanford University study, researcher Caitlin Fausey discovered that after watching a video of people accidentally breaking eggs, spilling drinks, etc. and subsequently taking a surprise memory test, English speakers were more likely to remember who caused the accidental event than the Spanish or Japanese speakers.

    A third example can be seen among the aboriginal community of Pormpuraaw, Australia, where indigenous languages use “north,” “south,” “east,” and “west” instead of words like “left” and “right.”  For instance, instead of saying “there is a bug on one’s left leg,” a speaker of Pormpuraaw would say “there is a bug on one’s southwest leg.” Boroditsky decided to study the effects of this linguistic difference and asked the Pormpuraawans to arrange a set of pictures by time of occurrence. While English speakers would do this from left to right, and Hebrew speakers from right to left (Hebrew is written from right to left), the Pormpuraawans arranged the pictures from east to west. Therefore, when facing south, the pictures were placed from left to right, but when facing north, from right to left.

    While research is still being conducted on the relationship among thought, behavior, and language, it seems that language plays at least some role in our thought patterns.

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    The Almost Right Word

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    The Almost Right Word

    “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter — it’s the difference between a lightning bug and the lightning.”   –Mark Twain

    As Mark Twain so wisely states, choosing the right word is important. That’s why, in the translation business, it is considered good practice to always translate into your native language. Even if one is completely fluent in a second language, ideas and concepts may be phrased slightly differently by native speakers, making sentences sound stilted, awkward, or just plain wrong if a non-native speaker writes them. Some mistakes may cause native speakers a great deal of amusement. Take these examples below (source: linguagreca.com):

    In a Norwegian cocktail lounge:  Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

    It doesn’t make sense to English speakers, because “to have children” has the connotation of giving birth to children, which is most likely not what the Norwegians meant.

    In a Nairobi restaurant:  Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.

    Again, we know what the translator is trying to say. But in this case, the sentence sounds like the manager is even ruder than the waitresses.

    At a Budapest zoo: Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.

    While this sentence is grammatically correct, the way it is written causes native speakers to think the guard wants to be fed.

    Although most translators would not make such amusing mistakes, these examples highlight the importance of linguists working into their native language. Almost right isn’t right at all.

    Living Language

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    Living Language

    If you are socializing with a younger crowd, you may hear phrases like That’s totes adorbs! or I’m so jelly. While I admit to becoming slightly bothered when people say totes instead of totally, adorbs instead of adorable and jelly for jealous, every generation, yours and mine included, has made changes to the language, making it the English we consider “normal” today.  Language is always evolving, always adapting to the needs and norms of the culture around it. Eventually, something being totes adorbs will sound old-fashioned, being replaced by new words and phrases by the generations to come.

    Various linguistic processes have resulted in language changes. One such process is called “rebracketing,” which means that a word is broken down into different parts. For example, the word apron used to be napron, a change that was the result of confusing a napron with an apron. The opposite occurred with the word newt; this type of amphibian used to be an ewt, but eventually changed into a newt. Other changes took place through the shortening of common words. Goodbye was originally God-be-with-you, while pub comes from public house. And metathesis, or the rearranging of sounds, transformed words like brid to bird and revelent to relevant. The fact that English is a language that is alive and well means it will always be changing – like all languages used by people in their daily lives.

    So You Want to Be a Translator

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    So You Want to Be a Translator…

    hamletMany people think that translating from one language to another will be an easy and fun way to make a living. This is even true of people who think of translation as a profession, and especially for people who have learned another language in the course of their lives. But even this situation is not always true: some people think they can just study a language for a year or two and be able to translate from it (presumably into their native language). Reading sites for professional translators, you can occasionally come across questions like: 1. Which language is in most demand that I should study to become a translator? 2. Which of the two languages, Arabic or Spanish, would get me the most work as a translator? I’m thinking of learning one of them. 3. I studied Spanish in school, but I think I can earn more money if I learn Portuguese. Is the market for Portuguese translators better than for Spanish?

    You may think that funny. Of course you should already know another language to even think about becoming a translator. But not everyone does. Some think they can learn what they believe to be the basics of another language very quickly, and then translate anything from one language to another. But how well does a person need to know a second language to translate from it to their native language – or to translate into it?

    Two different issues: 1. To translate from a language (known as a source language), how well do you need to know it? 2. To translate into a language (the target language), how well do you need to know that? Almost all good, experienced, professional translators will answer the second question quickly and easily: you should only translate into a target language that is your native language, a language you have learned from early childhood, have studied throughout your schooling years, and have always thought and written in it naturally. The first question is more difficult to answer, given different people’s varied of life and educational experiences, but a good rule of thumb may be: a) you should have spent at least a year in the country where your source language is spoken, b) you should have studied it at least 5-10 years, and c) you should feel comfortable reading books and newspapers in it – without having recourse to a dictionary.

    Then, why do so many trained translators advertise their skills as, for example, English<>Spanish (which means they can go both directions)? Usually because they believe they can get more work if they say they can do both directions. But in fact, they should only translate into their native language, because that is the one they know best and have the confidence to do well. It becomes painfully clear very quickly that a translation done by someone not a native speaker is not natural. (Certainly, not all native speakers can translate into their native language, but that doesn’t negate the need for only translating into your native language.)

    Besides needing to know the culture and the language of your second, or source language, you also need to be very familiar with the subject matter you want to specialize in. You can’t translate legal or medical texts if you don’t know those areas. When you see a description in Spanish of a business that is owned by one person, do you know the correct terminology to describe it in English? It’s not a “one owner business” in English, it’s a “sole proprietorship.” In most cases, looking it up in Google won’t give you the right answer, although sometimes you get a choice, and then the trick is to know which of the choices is correct in the particular context. If you aren’t familiar with the terminology used in the subject area in that language, you’re sunk! You can always take your pick, but it’s more than likely you’ll be wrong.

    Yes, doing translations is intriguing, but even knowing two languages well is not the only requirement to becoming a translator.

    Movies and Translation

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    Movies and Translation

    Have you heard of the film “American Bluff,” ”American Sting” or “American Dream”? No? What about “American Hustle”? In French, Portuguese, and Hebrew, the film is better known by the names above (albeit in the actual language). Translation can be a tricky business, and movie and TV show titles are no exception.  While some titles get translated word for word, some languages completely change the title to make it more culturally appealing, leading to greater success for the film or show. Some examples of this are “Two and a Half Men” being translated into German as “My Cool Uncle Charlie” (Mein cooler Onkel Charlie) and the film “Die Hard” as Die Slowly (Stirb langsam). In France, “The Matrix” is translated as “The Young People Who Traverse Dimensions While Wearing Sunglasses (Les jeunes gens qui traversent les dimensions en portant des lunettes de soleil) and in Spanish, “Weekend at Bernie’s” is “This Dead Person is Very Alive” (Este muerto está muy vivo). A little different!

    The interesting thing, however, is when translators of movie titles in other countries take the original English title and transform it into “simpler” English, which causes some confusion when English native speakers discuss those films with non-native English speakers. “Silver Linings Playbook,” for example, is known as “Happiness Therapy” in France, while “Miss Congeniality” debuted as “Miss Undercover” in Germany and “Miss Detective” in Italy. My favorite movie title translation is the Hebrew translation of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” To make it more immediately appealing and successful locally, the translators changed the title to “It’s Raining Falafal.” Even in Hollywood translation is all about culture!

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    Advice from a Translation Industry Project Manager

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    Advice from a Translation Industry Project Manager

    Key and LockProject managers in the translation industry come across all kinds of documents. From Japanese contracts to Dutch reports to Spanish marketing pamphlets, we see it all.

    In order to understand the life of a project manager, it is necessary to know how translation works. A typical translator can translate between 1,500-2,000 words a day. Therefore, if your project is 20,000 words, it could take at least ten days for one translator to complete. If you need the project sooner, there is the option of dividing the work between two translators, but then you run the risk of having slightly different translation styles and registers throughout the document. This is where editing, or having the translated work reviewed by a second linguist, comes in to play. In order to ensure that the document is polished and completely mistake-free, it is always recommended to have the document edited. Translators are only human, after all, and having a second linguist review the work ensures accuracy.

    As previously stated, every project is unique. For example, some projects are more technical than others. These types of documents may require more time, as translators will need to research the specific terminology used in the field. Other projects have certain text that should remain in the source language, while still others require specific formatting and graphics work. It is important that any instructions for the project are very clear, as these guidelines will pass from the client to the project manager to the translator. The clearer the instructions, the more confident you can be that your project will be completed exactly to your standards.

    In summary, it is the goal of a project manager to have the translations completed as exact to the meaning as possible.  With clear instructions, as well as by understanding the translation process, you can be sure to receive a high-quality translated project.

    Journey to the West: The Story of the Translator Xuanzang

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    Journey to the West: The Story of the Translator Xuanzang

    One of the four classics of Chinese literature is the historical romance known in English as the Journey to the West was inspired by one of history’s greatest feats of translation. This ancient story of a monk named Xuanzang, who went on a 17-year long journey from north China to India, is still very popular in China.

    Xuanzang lived in China during the Tang dynasty (early 7th century), an era when the study of Buddhism was flourishing. From an early age he studied the Chinese classics and Buddhist writings that had been translated from Indian languages, such as Sanskrit and Pali. But while studying these translations, he suspected that many were inadequate, and decided that he needed to improve them. To do this, he would need access to the original texts which were not available in China. He had to journey to the West, to the Buddhist kingdoms of Central Asia and India to retrieve the source texts. So he left the comfort of Chang’an, the Imperial capital, and made his way west along the foothills of the Tian Shan mountain range, stopping for rest in oasis cities. But travel in those days was not safe; nevertheless, he eventually reached the Buddhist Kingdom of Turpan, where he met a king who helped him in his further travels to India. Eight years later he reached Nalanda, once the epicenter of Buddhist learning in India. There he studied Sanskrit  and copied nearly one thousand texts to bring back to China.

    He returned to the Imperial capital 17 years later with enough Sanskrit literature to occupy both him and a large group of students for the rest of their lives. The translations they produced still serve as the standards of the Chinese Buddhist canon.

    Certainly not every translator has the energy and determination of Xuanzang, but his story highlights some of the contributions translators make to knowledge and communication.

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    A Day in the Life of a Translator

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    A Day in the Life of a Translator

    What is it like to be a translator? Depends on the day! For me, when I receive a job, the first thing I do is look over the text to see what the topic is and how it is written. Is it factual and straight-forward? Is it a marketing text, with colorful words and phrases? Or is it a personal document? A translator needs to keep the voice of the author in mind when working on the text.

    After getting the general idea of the document, I get right to work. In some cases, the topic is very subject-specific, which can make things a little more complicated. For example, I recently completed a translation on 15th century fabric in Burgundy, France—I can’t say I’ve ever come across that topic before! Therefore, before translating any further, I read many articles on silks, velvets and various weaving methods of the time, which gave me a much better understanding of the topic at hand. Researching is often necessary as a translator, even if one is an expert in the field.

    Regardless of the topic, I have a certain routine when it comes to translating. I’m sure every translator is slightly different, but mine goes something like this:

    • I go through the text the first time. When I reach a word or a sentence for which I can’t find the “perfect” English term, I highlight it in red to return to later.
    • Having completed my first draft of the text, I then return to those tricky red sentences. Finding a good translation for these is like trying to solve a puzzle—it’s a challenge, but you feel an immense sense of accomplishment when you know you’ve found the perfect way to phrase something in your native language.
    • After the entire text has been translated, I then go through my translation a second time, comparing it with the source document word by word to make sure I haven’t missed any small detail.
    • Finally, I put the source document away. I read my rendition of the text a third time, making sure it sounds 100% perfect in English, the target language.

    And that’s it. My translation process is complete…until the next job!

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    Vocabulary versus Meaning

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    Vocabulary versus Meaning

    While having a vast vocabulary is important for any translator or interpreter, simply knowing the dictionary meanings of words in a foreign language is not enough. In fact, in any language, there are many cultural layers behind certain words and phrases that linguists need to know.

    I learned this the hard way when living in German-speaking Austria. As English speakers, we often say “how are you?” as a continuation of our “hello” greeting. We then expect the person to answer with an automatic “Good, how are you?” German speakers, however, don’t do this. Not knowing this cultural norm, I simply translated our common English greeting of “Hello, how are you?” to the German “Hallo, wie geht’s?”when talking to people abroad. After receiving slightly strange looks from German speakers, I would then be provided with twenty-minute long answers involving that person’s stomach issues, skin rashes, fights with estranged siblings, you name it. I quickly learned that the German version of “how are you” is a little different from the English.

    Another example is the phrase “Bis spӓter,” which translates to the English phrase “See you later.” But not exactly. In Austria, after meeting up with a German-speaking friend and getting ready to leave, I cheerfully told him “Bis spӓter!” He gave me a very strange look and said in German, “No, I won’t see you later.” After being a little confused about why he didn’t want to see me ever again, I realized that the German “See you later” can only apply to later that day, and not to the general, anytime-in-the-future way we mean it in English.

    These subtle differences in meaning can make all the difference in translating and interpreting. While the above examples are very basic and low-level, they represent the fact that cultural norms play a role in how one should translate or interpret certain words and phrases. It is therefore very important to be aware of the culture of the language.

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    Different Words, Same Object

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    Different Words, Same Object

    If a British person asked someone to put something in the “boot” in the U.S., they may not be understood. The same might happen if an Argentinian asked for a “papa” instead of a “patata” in Spain, or an Austrian asked for a “Semmel” instead of a “Brӧtchen” in Germany. Depending on the country, the vocabulary, such as these words for “trunk,” “potato,” and “dinner roll,” can differ greatly. But how did these differences begin?translation memory

    To answer this question for the English language, we need to travel back to Great Britain in the 1600s, before the pilgrims set foot on American soil. The Brits themselves may be dismayed to hear this, but, back then, they actually sounded more like American English speakers do today. They threw away “trash” instead of “rubbish” and looked at the beautiful leaves in the “fall” instead of “autumn.” When the settlers came to America, however, their vocabulary remained much the same, while, back over in Great Britain, the language slowly began to change, meaning that words like “fall” and “trash” went out of style. The new colonists didn’t get the memo, however, and a few vocabulary differences were born.

    Other differences were more deliberate. After the Revolutionary War, the Americans weren’t feeling too happy with their British counterparts. And what better way to show their new independence than to start spelling words differently? When Noah Webster published his famous dictionary in 1828, he therefore opted for a lesser known spelling of some words, such as “humor” instead of “humour,” “fiber” instead of “fibre,” etc. to show that the new Americans were different from the British (http://www.livescience.com/33844-british-american-word-spelling.html).

    Today, whether you say “pants” or “trousers” or “papa” or “patata,” it is important that your translation uses the vocabulary words that your target audience will recognize. For example, it would be a mistake to use the British word “lorry” in a U.S. translation, as many American English speakers would not know this word for “truck.” The same is true for many languages of the world, making it all the more important to use a native speaker as a translator.

    Are You Designing a Brochure that will be Translated?

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    Are You Designing a Brochure that will be Translated?

    Are you planning to design an English brochure that will be translated into other languages? Here are some tips before you start designing it. The most important thing is to have flexibility in design. Simple is better!

    Let’s say if you have a single line of a catch phrase in a large font. When it is translated, it may become three lines of text, depending on the language. Some European languages are two or three times longer than English. In contrast, Chinese and Korean can be 50% or even shorter in length.

    THINGS TO AVOID:

    • Justified text – This is a real pain to work on. For longer languages, we condense the font, set less tracking, and so on. For shorter languages, we space letters out more or increase font size. We make all possible adjustments for it to look good, but often it may lose the feel that the English design has. Worse, it can look clumsy.
    • Coloring some words within a sentence – To emphasize some words, we sometimes want to make them a different color. However, this may not be a wise choice on a translation. Other languages have very different grammar from English, what you aimed for visually in your English design may disappear in the translated material, or it may not look good.
    • Use multiple fonts and font weights – Only use two fronts: a serif and a sans serif one. Add variations to them by bolding, italicizing, and underlining. Also, understand that the fonts you use for the English materials may not work for other languages. Possibly some letters won’t appear correctly or accent marks would be gone. For many European languages, the Std and Pro fonts work beautifully, so try them first.

    Tell your language provider if you have a highly designed marketing piece to be translated and you are concerned for how it will look in another language. Consult them before the project starts about fonts to be used, font size, and any other design issues that may arise.

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    Don’t have a Cow! Time to Hit the Hay! It’s not Over ‘til the Fat Lady Sings!

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    Don’t have a Cow!  Time to Hit the Hay! It’s not Over ‘til the Fat Lady Sings!

    Don’t have a cow!  Time to hit the hay! It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings! As native English speakers, we don’t think twice when we hear these phrases. But can you imagine being new to America and having your friend tell you that it’s time to hit the hay? What did the hay ever do to you? Or being at a baseball game, with your team  losing, ready to give up, when your US-born friend looks at you and insists that it’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings? Where is this fat lady, and why is she singing? As for having a cow, when my teenage English students in Salzburg tried to guess what this idiom could mean, they thought it meant having a fat girlfriend. Lovely.

    While every language has idioms, these set phrases with figurative meanings can pose problems for non-native speakers.   I’ve seen firsthand how these phrases can throw you for a loop (another odd phrase!).  Some examples I’ve come across include:

    Non-native speaker: Katie, my new roommate told me she wants to move in this weekend, but she isn’t feeling well. She said she is going to play with her ears. Does that mean there is something wrong with her ears?

    After cracking up, I explained that the phrase is “to play it by ear” and its meaning. To this day, however, we still say “to play with your ears.” Has a nice ring to it.

    Non-native speaker: I texted John to see if he wanted to go to the football game with me today. He said he can’t because he has to go to his parents, but he’ll take a rain check. I know he is a very nice polite guy, but is he really going to check the weather for me? I can do that myself.

    While such stories may be amusing when they take place among friends, idioms often pose a problem for translators. As a German translator, I need to be able to recognize the foreign idioms and know their meaning, making sure not to translate them word for word and having the Germans laugh at me!  Germans, for example, kill two flies with one flyswatter (two birds with one stone), give up the spoon (die), and, when they are happy, hang out on Cloud 7 (while us Americans are up on Cloud 9). Makes me wonder who’s on Cloud 8…

    Where to Break Lines in Japanese Text

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    Where to Break Lines in Japanese Text

    If you lay out Japanese text for proposals, presentations, advertisements, or brochures (and if you are not a native speaker), it is important to do so following Japanese language customs.

    3D Businessman handshakingThere are rules for breaking lines in Japanese. Especially relevant is the Kinsoku Rule, which Wikipedia explains on page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_breaking_rules_in_East_Asian_languages

    In some cases these rules can be bent a bit. If you want to adjust the line breaks yourself, you will need some expertise in Web coding. Generally, the Web system automatically sets up the text in a readable format.

    However, for important sales or marketing materials, to avoid any mistakes, it is better to check with a Japanese native. Perhaps in your Tokyo office there may be someone who can check it for you. If you cannot find anyone, ask your language provider to proofread and edit your materials to make sure they are free of mistakes.

    Once in a while we receive such job orders from our clients. Our Japanese native editors make corrections and adjustments to line breaks, as well as other mistakes such as repetitions of words when people “cut and paste a translation” without knowing the language. Native proofreading is essential to preserving your image of  high quality.

    MT as Good as Human Translation?

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    MT as Good as Human Translation?

    A client recently told our Development Manager that machine translation is as good as human translation. Was he way off base or did he just not express himself correctly?

    Let’s have a look at some examples using Linguistic Systems’ own STS system (www.linguist.com/services-sts.htm). The following table shows examples of MT using the STS system as well as comparison human translations that were done independently. As a point of reference, the STS system is a high quality MT system, consistently outscoring other systems using the industry-standard BLEU score (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BLEU).

    Language Source Text Machine Translation Human Translation
    Spanish El historiador Juan Luis Montero ha asegurado en un estudio científico que la “Torre de Babel” era de 60 metros de altura y no de 90 como se pensaba hasta ahora, en una hipótesis que se incluye en la primera exposición que se hace en España sobre uno de los más famosos edificios de toda la historia. The historian Juan Luis Montero has ensured in a scientific study that the “Tower of Babel” was 60 meters in height, not 90 as it was thought up until now, in a scenario that is included in the first exposure that is done in Spain on one of the most famous buildings of the whole story. Historian Juan Luis Montero has confirmed in a research study that the Tower of Babel was 60 meters tall, not 90 meters as people had thought until now. His theory is included in Spain’s first ever exhibition on one of the most famous buildings in history.
    Japanese かかる課題を解決すべく、本発明の地盤改良気泡材は、起泡剤の希釈水に増粘剤を添加して、液を発泡させることにより強力な膜を持つ気泡を製造してなるものである。起泡剤としてアルキルサルフェート系界面活性剤を用いる。増粘剤として水溶性セルロースエーテルを使用する。 In order to solve the problem of the, present invention improvement of the foaming material, the foaming agent of dilution by adding a thickening agent to water, liquid by producing bubbles having a tough film. As the foaming agent アルキルサルフェート -based surfactant is used. Water-soluble cellulose ether as a thickening agent is used. To solve the problem, adding a thickener to the diluted water of a foaming agent, the ground improvement foam material of the present invention makes bubbles that have a strong film through the foaming of the liquid.  An alkyl sulfate surfactant is used as the foaming agent.  Water soluble cellulose ether is used as a thickener.
    German Niemand weiß, was der Große Bruder genau tut. Die Vermutung liegt aber sehr, sehr nah, dass der Große Bruder es selbst umso genauer weiß. Es geht um Adobe, ein US-amerikanisches Softwareunternehmen, das mit Flash Player eines der am meisten verbreiteten Programme zum Abspielen von Multimediadateien zur Verfügung stellt. So gut wie unbekannt ist, dass Flash im Computer-Betriebssystem des Benutzers Infodateien, so genannte Super-Cookies versteckt, die Daten über Surfgewohnheiten speichern und an Adobe-Server weitersenden. Noch völlig unklar ist, was diese, bis zu 25 Megabyte großen Super-Cookies, sonst noch so von der Festplatten der PCs weiter geben. Nobody knows what the big brother does. But the presumption is very, very close, that the Big Brother is even more exact white. It’s about Adobe, an American software company, with a Flash Player of the most popular programs for playing multimedia files. As good as unknown that Flash in the user’s Computer operating system, so-called Infodateien Cookies hidden Super-store data on web surfing habits and Adobe-Server transferring. Is very unclear is what this up to 25 megabytes big Super-Cookies, else the harddisks of PCs continue to exist. Nobody knows for sure what, exactly, Big Brother is doing. One suspects, however, that Big Brother himself knows precisely what he is doing. Case in point is Adobe, a US software company whose Flash Player is one of the most widely used programs to play back multimedia files. Little known is the fact that Flash hides information files inside the user’s operating system, so-called Super Cookies, which store information about the user’s online surfing habits and forward that information to the Adobe servers. It remains unclear, however, what else these up to 25 megabyte-sized Super Cookies may be forwarding from the PC hard drives.

    The human translation in each case is clearly “better,” however what does that even mean?

    From a linguistic, grammatical and stylistic point of view the human translation is nicer and makes English speakers “happier” than the error-filled and stylistically-challenged machine translation. It is a translation that can be published.

    However, if a client only needs to pay a fraction of the human translation cost for the MT, and they are simply looking for information, not to publish, then from their point of view, it may really be as good as a human translation. But look at the German above. Can you really determine what exactly is happening with the Super-Cookies just by reading the MT? Not really. The human is much more understandable. Of course, instead of paying for a full human translation, you can also upgrade the MT by adding a post-editing step, in which a human translation clears up any ambiguities without necessarily fixing all grammatical and stylistic issues.

    It’s a lot to think about. If you’re in doubt about what you need, speak with your Account Manager at your Language Service Provider and ask about options.

    What is foreign brand name analysis and why you may need it.

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    What is foreign brand name analysis and why you may need it.

    qualificastionsImagine your company is about to adopt a new name for one of its products. It hires an advertising agency to develop that name and an entire marketing campaign. This is not going to be cheap. Of course the agency knows the US market thoroughly, and is probably worth its price. It will have an experienced strategy for developing a name and will know key points to analyze for US English, but it is more than likely it will not know how to do an analysis for foreign markets

    Foreign brand name analysis is a way to discover if there may be a problem using a name in another language. If you plan to sell your product outside the US (as well as within the US), you will definitely need to commission research into how the name is likely to be received abroad. You (or your ad agency) may be tempted to try to save money on this stage: don’t!

    It goes without saying that if you plan to sell your product in Germany, you will want to have an analysis for German. But you may be tempted to do only one analysis for Spanish, and there are many, many varieties of Spanish. At one time, our company was asked to do a name analysis for Spanish, but luckily it was targeted at four different countries: Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela. It was discovered that it was just fine for three of the Spanish variants, but for Mexico the name would have been a disaster because it was likely to be associated with the festival of the dead. The project saved that company from a very costly mistake, and was well worth the extra few dollars.

    Everyone knows about the embarrassing error of the Nova automobile, which is true for any version of Spanish. But the really interesting stories are to be found in names that were not chosen because the companies trying to use them found out before committing to them.

    Mixed Nuts

    Translators

     

     

    Mixed Nuts

    Have you ever looked at what’s in a bag of mixed nuts? You have? OK, have you ever thought how a bag of mixed nuts is like the translation industry?

    Fifty percent are peanuts. These aren’t even nuts – they’re legumes. Just like the 50% of people who claim to be translators, but aren’t. They might look like a nut (speak a couple of languages or more), but they’re not translators. Count on your language service provider (LSP), like Linguistic Systems, to weed them out and protect you from them.

    TranslatorsAt the other end of the scale are the expensive nuts, the pecans, almonds and brazil nuts. These are really good nuts, but they’re very expensive if you can find them. And if you can find one, you have to fight everyone else in your family for them. Like a really good, experienced, expensive translator who is usually booked up and can’t take your project.

    This leaves the almonds and cashews. These are the people you can count on. They’re mostly available or can squeeze you in. They’re affordable and they provide good quality. They are the staple of the industry and LSPs specialize in finding them, testing them to see what they’re good at and matching the right one to your project.

    What about high-quality machine translation? Have you ever found a macadamia nut in a bag of mixed nuts? I didn’t think so.

    Which Form of Arabic Do You Need?

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    Which Form of Arabic Do You Need?

    Arabic, like several other languages, is not the same throughout the Middle East. When you need a document translated into Arabic, if you are unfamiliar with the regional variations in this language, it may be difficult for you to choose which form or dialect to request. The various forms of Arabic are: Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, colloquial Arabic (variations include dialects for: Egypt and the Sudan; Arabian Peninsula; Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine; Iraq; and Morocco, Algeria, and western Libya).

    Linquistic Systems, Inc. Arabic TranslationsClassical Arabic:Classical Arabic is the formal, written Arabic of the Koran, and has historically been the language used in courts, bureaucracy, and literature and scholarship.

    Modern Standard Arabic (MSA):MSA is the modern counterpart of Classical Arabic and is the official language of 22 Arab countries, where it is used in both oral and written form on all formal occasions. The main difference between MSA and Classical Arabic is that MSA contains the vocabulary of modern discourse, while Classical Arabic is used for older, more formal expression.

    Colloquial Arabic:Colloquial Arabic is the spoken form of the language. It has many local variants; the main regional dialects are:

    Egyptian Arabic – the most widely spoken and understood second dialect

    Sudanese Arabic – spoken in the Sudan

    Levantine Arabic – Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and western Jordan

    Gulf Arabic – the Gulf Coast, from Kuwait to Oman

    Najdi Arabic – the desert and oasis areas of central Saudi Arabia

    Yemeni Arabic – most common in Yemen

    Iraqi Arabic – Iraq

    Hijazi Arabic – in the area west of present-day Saudi Arabia (referred to as the Hejaz region)

    Maghreb Arabic – mainly in Algeria, Tunis, Morocco, and western Libya

    Hassaniiya – in Mauritania

    So, which form of Arabic should you order for your translation? MSA is used in most formal situations, including documents, the Internet, and public media. It is also used in scientific and scholarly journals and legal and medical information. The main difficulty arises in dealing with marketing and advertising copy. There, while MSA can certainly be used, sometimes a better choice would be the local dialect. Your translation provider will be the best source to advise you which to choose.

    How much is MT Being Used Anyhow?

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    How much is MT Being Used Anyhow?

    In a recent newsletter, Jost Zetzsche of the International Writers’ Group (www.internationalwriters.com) provided some interesting statistics about the use of machine translLinguistic Systems, Inc.  Machine Translationation (MT) by professional translators. He obtained these numbers from David Canek of MemSource (www.memsource.com), a provider of translation technology tools.  MemSource makes MT available to translators from within its suite of tools and can track how many translators make use of this functionality.

    Despite all the outcry against MT among translators around the world, a full 46.2% of translators who use MemSource also use the MT function. Of those, 98% used the very public Google Translate or Microsoft Bing, who keep and reuse all data submitted to them. Only 2% of translators use customized and secure MT engines such as AsiaOnline, KantanMT and Linguistic Systems’ own Select Translation Service (www.linguist.com/services-sts.htm).

    This brings up a couple of interesting questions for clients: (1) Am I paying for full human translation and getting post-edited MT instead? and (2) If my data is being shared with Google and Microsoft, how secure is it really?

    Clients need to be very clear with their translation partners about what they are paying for and about how their data should be handled. In general,  post-edited MT may be acceptable  from a quality perspective depending on the editing  thoroughness, but clients deserve to know exactly what  is happening. Perhaps more importantly, clients also deserve to know that their information is being handled in an acceptably secure fashion and not floating around the Internet for anyone to  see and use.

    Right now this situation is as transparent as a brick wall. Your valued comments are invited.

    Back Translations, their rationale and value

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Back Translations, their rationale and value

    For medical and pharmaceutical clients, back translations are necessary facts of life; they are absolute requirements for most clinical research documents that must be translated into other languages. But for experienced professional translators and editors who work in this area, back translations seem a wrongheaded way to approach accuracy and faithfulness to the source document.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Optional Back TranslationWhy would governmental agencies require a back translation of all clinical trial documents as a matter of course? In a cogently argued article in ICT (International Clinical Trials, summer, 2008, pp.16 ff.), Simon Andriesen points out that, 1. everyone involved needs to be informed about all aspects of the trial, 2. the results of the research will need to be published, 3. documents must be written in clear, unambiguous language, 4. many trials are performed across national boundaries, and 5. consequently, the research must be multilingual in design for accurate comparative cross-country evaluation. To accomplish this, factors that need to be considered include evaluation of the source questions as well as the target translation. For example, when a patient in India or China is asked to evaluate the level of discomfort (from 1-10) of a procedure and rates it a 2 (slight discomfort) because they are accustomed to living with a certain level of pain, is that really comparable to a 2 given by a patient in France or Germany, someone who is not accustomed to living with pain? The people engaged in design of the research need to ensure that answers are comparable across national and linguistic boundaries. How can the source language and translations of a question help accomplish this?

    Translators and linguistic editors are not concerned with evaluating research design nor for comparability of results across linguistic boundaries. They are concerned with linguistic accuracy, naturalness, and proper form, which are really very different from the concerns of a medical researcher or government agency. And for translators, their arguments against back translations are perfectly valid: a good translation, along with good editing, is much to be preferred as valid linguistic procedures over back translation. This is especially true if both the translation and back translation are rushed to meet a tight deadline, and the people evaluating the back translation do not really know what they should be looking for. For example, if a back translator uses the word “brave,” but the original English had “courageous,” the client should not be focused on this as an error in translation: it’s not, the meaning is exactly the same. Another example would be judging it a mistranslation if a back translation uses “participates in” for “takes part in.” Minor variations like these do not indicate translation errors, they simply reveal the many correct, possible choices in a language.

    Rather than criticizing a back translation for changed word order or slight, seeming differences in word choice from the source, which translators understand is the correct way to go about conversion from one language to another, Andriesen argues that people who evaluate forward and back translations should be looking at comprehensiveness (inclusion of all points in the source document) and comparability across languages. True, this demands a great deal of time and trouble, but it is the true rationale behind requiring back translations. It is usually the case that the linguistic aspects of a clinical trial are given short shrift, and not enough time and effort are spent on how translations and back translations can aid the research process, provided they are performed correctly.

    Andriesen concludes his excellent article with:

    “If back translations are merely done to be kept on file or to satisfy ISO auditors, the efforts and cost are a total waste. When taken seriously and done in a professional way, a back translation effectively can identify the shortcomings of a translation – although one may argue whether it is cost-effective. A final edit stage, with a detailed commentary or a double forward translation, will probably provide the same level of confidence.”

    Interpreting: Ordering the right service

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    Interpreting: Ordering the right service

    What do you ask for when you need someone who can speak another language for an individual client deposition or medical appointment? – for a conference? – for a patent lawsuit in court?

    When they need language services like these, many people contact our office requesting a translator. Some even qualify that by asking for a “translator on site.” But translations are written documents, and the people who do them are “translators.” And it is also possible to request that a translator be provided at a specific company site to do a written translation. All oral work, however, is called “interpretation.”

    There are several different kinds of interpretation, depending on the mode and purpose, and most interpreters are qualified for only some of these types. The most demanding mode is simultaneous interpreting, usually reserved for large conferences that may require several different language pairs (e.g., English/French, English/Spanish, English/Portuguese) and use equipment (headphones, etc.) and booths to isolate each interpreter and avoid interference from other language pairs. The interpreter speaks at the same time as the speaker in the source language does, but is usually a sentence behind the speaker. He/she must hear, register, and remember what the speaker is saying, while at the same time interpreting into the target language the content of the speech a few seconds earlier. The audience can listen to the interpreter via specific headphones geared to that language pair. It helps to have the speech written out beforehand, but if there are rapid exchanges of information in two languages, the interpreter must think very quickly, assimilate the information in one language, and interpret it into another. This requires very specialized skills and training, and the number of interpreters who can do this is very limited. Most simultaneous interpreters work a full day or several days.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Interpreting ServicesAlso demanding is certified court interpreting, which often requires the simultaneous skill, although sometimes consecutive interpreting is sufficient. Consecutive is the most common mode and is used for depositions and medical appointments as well as for court. The attorney or doctor speaks first, and the interpreter listens carefully to what is said in the source language, and then interprets it immediately afterwards into the target language. People do not speak at the same time, which makes it somewhat less stressful, but the interpreter must be familiar with the terminology of the subject to be interpreted, as well as both source and target languages. Most consecutive interpreters work by the hour, with a two or three-hour minimum.

    Escort interpreting is yet another mode. Here the interpreter must walk around a facility or place with the people he/she is required to interpret for. Mobile equipment (microphones and speakers) are required, and the interpreter may have to function in either a consecutive or simultaneous way, depending on the situation.

    In addition to these types of interpreting, sometimes clients require a whisper interpreter. This mode is often used at meetings where interpreting for only one or two guests is required. The interpreter sits next to them and whispers her/his interpretation into their ear. No equipment is needed.

    Finally, many medical facilities (and others) use telephone interpreters. These are on-call interpreters, prepared to provide consecutive interpreting over the phone in their language pair for specific subjects. They normally work only a few minutes at a time, as long as the phone call or medical appointment takes, but can be available for somewhat longer periods if necessary.

    The type of interpreting you need depends on the given purpose or event. It is always helpful, however, to provide written materials or background information to help the interpreter prepare for your event. No matter how competent and appropriate the language professional is, the written documents will enable the interpreter to prepare in advance of the event and ensure the most suitable interpretation for your needs.

    Selecting a Translation Vendor

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Selecting a Translation Vendor

    Magic Triangle Checked 2 ENAs is true for any project, selecting the right tool, the right resource, is vital for the successful completion of the project. To be sure, the translation industry is awash with hundreds of thousands of individual translators and translation agencies working in every corner of the globe, all vying for a piece of that multi-million dollar pie in a rapidly expanding market driven by continued globalization. Today, translation of product literature and web content is no longer merely a tool to market and sell product abroad; for many industries, like the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, new safety regulations imposed by local governments require that all product labeling, instructions, cautions and warnings are provided in the native language of the target market to avoid injury or death by incorrect use of a device or drug.

    When choosing a translation vendor, the ultimate purpose and target audience of the translation determines what level of sophistication a buyer should require from the vendor. If a translation error could potentially cause injury or death, then a certified full-service translation agency should handle the project, an agency that has the resources to translate, revise, edit, review and proof a translation in a full-service workflow model. On the other end of the spectrum, if the purpose of a translation is ‘for information only’ and translation errors carry little or no risk, the buyer could opt for individual freelance translators or a small startup agency that might offer a more cost-effective solution (although not necessarily so). The buyer should keep in mind, however, that translation requires a joint effort between the buyer and the TSP when it comes to job specifications and the exchange of information. If a buyer’s translation needs will be ongoing rather than sporadic, establishing a good working relationship with a single provider who can handle projects of various sizes and levels of sophistication might be advantageous in the long run.

    These are questions to be asked of a potential TSP:

    • Which languages do you handle?
    • How long have you been in operation?
    • What are your qualifications/how do you qualify your translators? (Note: Being proficient in a source and a target language is not enough to be a good translator; number of years of translation experience, subject-matter familiarity, text-type competence, overall level of education, continued residence in a country where the target language is spoken, and expertise with the required software tools are important considerations when qualifying translation resources.)
    • What is your typical translation work flow (i.e. translation, review, revision, proofing)?
    • Who will manage my project (in an agency)?
    • Can you provide me with sample translations/will you translate a small sample for me?
    • What extra-value services can you provide (i.e. layout/desk-top publishing, creation of glossaries or translation memories, certifications/notarizations, if required)?
    •  Do you have the required software programs/tools for my project (i.e. InDesign for layout work)?
    • How are files transferred to and from your facility (i.e. email, HighTail, uploads to a secured site)?
    • What data security or confidentiality agreements do you provide (if required)?

    Translator Qualifications

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    Translator Qualifications

    What percentage of people who speak more than one language are actually qualified to work as professional translators? That’s a difficult question to answer. However, as Vendor Manager at Linguistic Systems, I can tell you how many people who “think” they can work as professional translators are actually qualified.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translator QualificationsLinguistic Systems receives on average over 300 applications per month from people offering us their translation services. This is a combination of unsolicited applications through our website and applications in response to targeted recruiting campaigns (for example, a targeted search for medical translators from English to selected languages).

    Out of these 300 applicants, only about 70 meet our basic requirements of a university degree (or equivalent) and 2 years of professional experience. These applicants are then sent a sample to translate.

    Out of these 70, an average of 9 new translators per month pass the test and are invited to join our translator pool.

    What does this mean?

    Well, for one, it means that not every bilingual or multilingual person can work as a translator. Either, they don’t have the aptitude or targeted education.

    Could it also mean that Linguistic Systems (and many other legitimate translation agencies) are too stringent in their requirements? Perhaps, but as a client, isn’t that what you want?!?

    Client or Service Provider – Who Owns the Translation Memory?

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Client or Service Provider – Who Owns the Translation Memory?

    Who owns the translation memory? This is a question that has dogged the language services industry since the introduction of translation memory tools decades ago. And both sides can quite logically make a claim to ownership.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation MemoryThe service provider can claim that it is their work and investment in the translation memory tool in the first place that gives them ownership.

    The client can claim that they own the source and target texts and that, since the translation memory contains both, they can reasonably claim ownership.

    Oh, and there is a third side to the question, too. What about the translator who has also invested in a translation memory tool? Doesn’t he or she have a claim also?

    Clearly, there is nothing very clear about this at all.

    The definitive solution is to ensure that this question, and all other questions, is unambiguously addressed in any agreement among the parties involved, including any costs to be paid by one party to another, before the job starts.

    Maybe it is pretty clear, after all…

    Website Localization

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    Website Localization

    localizationWhat is website localization? It is much more than the simple translation of text. It is the procedure of altering an existing website to the local language and culture in the target market. It is the method of adapting a website into a different linguistic and cultural framework. This revision process must reflect specific language and cultural preferences in the content, images and overall design and requirements of the website, but keeping the consistency of the website. Culturally adapted web sites reduce the amount of required understading efforts from visitors of the site to process information, making navigation easier and attitudes toward the web site more favorable. The adaptation of the website must additionally take into consideration the stated purpose of the new website with a focus on the targeted audience/market in the new location. Website localization aims to customize a website so that it seems ” accepted “, to its visitors despite cultural differences between the designer and the audience. Two factors are involved—programming expertise and linguistic/cultural knowledge.

    The prosperity of website localization is the result of the reputation of computer and Internet users. People all over the world treat the Internet as their main location for information and services. These people do not speak the same language. As a result, website localization has become one of the primary tools for business global expansion.

    Due to website communication across multiple cultures for multiple needs, the Internet has given way to non professional translation practices. Because website localization involves mixed strategies, organizations tend to maintain a global image while using website localization to appeal to local users. The challenge of website localization has become even more important as web sites increasingly have the potential to both supplement and replace presence in foreign markets. As web design becomes more fitting with national culture, it will foster online consumer purchasing. Creators take into account the “language, education level, belief and value systems, and traditions and habits” of the target culture in order to optimize results.

    What is a rush job and why: Factors to consider when ordering translation

    Linguistic Systems Translation

     

     

    What is a rush job and why: Factors to consider when ordering translation.

    fast turnaround speedometerWhen people order translation they usually have a specific date they need to have it done. But they rarely consider how long a good translator needs to do it properly. One rule of thumb is that most translators can complete about 3,000 words a day. “What,” you may say, “3,000 words should not take 8 hours!”

    Ask any translator: it does. Translation is not just a matter of translating words or sentences, often a translator needs to do some research to find the right term, and that can take a while. More important for the person ordering a translation is the fact that you definitely do not want a translator to deliver his or her first pass at your material. Nor do you want them to read it over immediately after their first try. For best results it’s always wise to allow several hours (ideally, at least a day) to elapse before re-reading a translation. So, you may have an important letter to translate, and the letter is less than 2,000 words, but the translation agency says the soonest they can delivery your translated letter is 2-3 days from when you place the order. They are allowing time to find the right translator, as well as time for the translator to re-read the translation.

    But you want the translation back the same day, or the next one at the latest. You may even need to deliver it quickly. Most agencies will consider any job that needs to be delivered within 24 hours a rush job. They will charge extra for such jobs because 1) the project manager will need to put aside everything else to expedite your letter, and 2) the translator who accepts it will also need to put aside everything else. The translator may be able to complete a first pass in 4 hours if it does not require any research, but they will not be able to re-read it in that time. Even at the cost of putting aside all other work, the soonest you can expect your translation would be the next day – if you want decent quality. If quality is not important, yes, you can probably get it in 4-6 hours.

    And that is for a very small job! What about when you need to have 10,000 or 50,000 words translated? Another rule of thumb is that a decent, full-time translator needs a week to translate 10,000 words. For 50,000 words, you need to allow 5 weeks. If you must have your 50,000-word translation in 2 weeks, most agencies will bend over backwards to accommodate you. What they will need to do is assign your job to several translators and an editor. The editor will assure consistency of terminology and quality, but an editor will require several days to look over the completed translation. Of course, it is possible to deliver your translation when you need it, and the agency will do everything to ensure that, but you should be aware of what is considered a rush job and why that is true.

    Language Needs for Clinical Trials

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Language Needs for Clinical Trials

    blog clinical trialsIf you conduct clinical trials, you know that you must often make documents available in many languages – and afterwards you need to have the results translated back into English! This is time-consuming, expensive, and can even prove to be something of a nightmare for a pharmaceutical company accustomed to dealing with medical/scientific issues, but not language nuances.

    So you need to depend on experienced professionals to do the language work for you. In addition to agencies that are specialized in clinical trials, you should look for ones that have excellent project management and can provide sophisticated translation memory technology across your clinical trials projects.

    Specialized experience enables you to receive language translations by professionals who know the exact right word to use in their native language for the medical term. Thus the terminology should be correct.

    For project management, you want to look for both a logical, complete system for doing the work AND experienced, long-term managers who know what to look out for and will be able to deliver your documents when you need them. Especially in later stages of clinical trials, time is often of the essence.

    Translation memory that can be used across a project allows for consistency of translation, no matter who the translator is.

    Ideally, all translations should be edited by a second language professional, but for clinical trials work, the editing stage is absolutely essential. You should not accept translations that have not been edited by a second language professional, no matter how critical delivery time is. You cannot skip the editing stage – proofreading is not enough.

    Linguistic Systems provides all of these for your translation requirements in:

    • Regulatory documents
    • Clinical protocols and summaries
    • Investigator materials
    • Patient information
    • Informed consent forms
    • Patient questionnaires
    • Case reports
    • Patient outcomes and adverse events
    • Drug labels and inserts

    Overcoming Obstacles to Translation Quality

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    Overcoming Obstacles to Translation Quality

    qualityWhen you entrust a language service provider with the translation quality  of a document, you may feel powerless once the document leaves your hands and undergoes the translation process. This can be especially daunting for a customer who has never worked with a translation provider and doesn’t know what to do to help ensure a high-quality deliverable. Below, I offer a few tips that will help you regain control by taking an active part in the translation process.

    Preparing the Source Text for Translation

    Customers ordering translation services for large engagements on a regular basis might include source text optimization as part of their process. This step involves checking the source text for any errors and ambiguities that could hinder a smooth translation process. The translator, a native speaker of the language that the source text is being translated into (the target language), might not pick up on ambiguities as readily as a native speaker of the source text. For example, a sign on the door of a beachfront bar that reads “We don’t serve shirtless surfers” could be interpreted in two different ways. One meaning implies that drinks or food will not be served to surfers not wearing shirts, and the second, somewhat gruesome meaning suggests that one will not find shirtless surfers on the menu. As far-fetched as the second meaning may seem, the example serves to illustrate that in some cases, there may be more than one interpretation of a source segment. Be sure to check your source text for possible errors and ambiguities that could lead to mistranslations.

    Although not directly related to language quality, inconsistent formatting can negatively influence the reader’s first impression of the translated text. We all know the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but in reality, almost everyone judges a book by its cover to some degree. Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools will output the translation based on the source text input so any inconsistent leading or kerning in the source will be duplicated in the translated text. If you want the translation to not only read well, but also to look great, you can help by supplying a well-formatted source document.

    Selecting a Translation Partner

    Selecting a translation provider is one of the key decisions that you will make during the translation process. During the selection process, focus on choosing a company that has experience translating the subject matter in question. If the document is legal in nature, you will want ensure that the provider you select specializes in legal translations. You can ask for references and information on the types of projects completed. If the subject matter is a sub-specialty of the main subject, make sure to highlight this to your translation team so that the best suited resources can be allocated to the task.

    Another criterion for selecting a translation partner is the reliability of the supplier’s translation process. Most agencies will include quality assurance steps so that no activity goes unchecked. Usually, a second linguist will proofread the translation for any errors, and if formatting is required, it will also undergo a format check. You should find out what QA checks are carried out to guarantee the highest possible quality. Selecting a translation partner that you feel comfortable with and trust is just as important. This should be someone who will guide you through the process and will help you find a solution that’s best for you when obstacles arise.

    Supplying the Necessary Supporting Documentation

    Your translation contact might ask you for reference material when you submit a request. In the context of language translation, reference material would be any documentation that provides additional information about the text to be translated. Consider a recent request to translate the word “red”. This may seem simple enough, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. In some languages, adjective endings will differ depending on the noun that they modify. For example, in Polish, “red” could be translated as “czerwony”, “czerwona” or “czerwone”, depending on the gender of the noun that it modifies. A customer might copy and paste individual words translated out of context into a larger body of text. This is why it is so important to let the translator know how these words will be used in the compiled document. If a part of a document is sent for translation, the entire document needs to be supplied for reference so that the translation team can see how a particular segment fits into the whole. The same rule applies to software strings which are usually supplied out of context, drawings or diagrams belonging to an instruction manual, etc. If you are not sure what reference material would be relevant, ask your translation provider for input.

    Allocating the Appropriate Turnaround Time and Budget

    As a general rule, a translator can translate approximately 2,000 words per day. This number will increase or decrease depending on the subject matter, the complexity of the text, and the target language. An editor will be able to edit approximately 1,000 words per hour, depending on the translation quality and the factors mentioned above. These numbers represent the ideal situation, but many translators will also be working on other projects, and the resources best suited for your request might not be available right away. For this reason, you should give your translation partner as much advance notice as possible for larger requests so that the appropriate resources can be lined up ahead of time. In addition, sufficient turnaround time, determined based on complexity, volume and your internal schedule, needs to be given to ensure a high-quality deliverable. Rush requests cannot be avoided in today’s fast-paced global market, but they should be kept to a minimum as they place undue strain on everyone involved, including your internal teams, and can make it difficult to achieve top quality.

    A team of in-country translators specializing in your field will be able to produce a higher-quality translation than a team of translators residing outside of the target country without the necessary subject-matter expertise. High quality and expertise come at a price so if quality is of utmost importance make sure that a sufficient budget has been allocated and that your translation contact knows your priorities. When setting a budget, consider the costs of an incorrect translation that can result in re-printing costs and missed sales.

    Machine Translation, Post-editing, and Human Translation: Business Uses and Pitfalls

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     Machine Translation, Post-editing, and Human Translation Business Uses and Pitfalls

    We are all familiar with various jokes about Machine Translation (MT) and how one very good sentence may be followed by a nonsensical one.  While the nonsense is amusing,  anyone reading MT should also be warned against depending on the accuracy of seemingly good sentences. One of the main functions of a human post-editor is to validate statement that are sufficiently correct, not just correct those that have significant flaws.  Correcting the most offensive errors in terminology, grammar, and syntax are important, but the primary need is to ensure that the translation conveys the correct meaning of the source.

    A human translator is generally consistent in strengths and weaknesses, but MT is random and that creates a danger.  The reader should never assume Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translation Post Editingthat the types of errors are consistent or one good sentence near the beginning means you will find an overall good quality level.  MT is a minefield of random errors, and the most dangerous ones are those that are hidden in statements that seem correct, until examination by a post-editor reveals that the correct meaning is exactly the opposite of what appears in the MT! This phenomenon is actually more common today than years ago when MT was based on a dictionary plus grammar rules instead of the modern statistical approach.  The latter draws on a very large database of sentences and phrases and the computer seeks the best match to the input source text. But suppose the best fit contains a “not” that isn’t in the source? Unfortunately this is reality and the reader must always be vigilant. It is also the reason why  a post-editor must have an excellent knowledge of the source languages and check every target segment against its corresponding source.  Cleaning up the target text so it reads reasonably well without checking against the source is not true post-editing.  Such practice is particularly misleading if the post-editor applies technical expertise to correcting target terminology yet leaves the wrong meaning intact because there was no check against the source.  The most important quality of a translation is its faithfulness to the meaning of the source text, and this emphasis is particularly important for MT where meaning is so easily lost in a jumble of partially comprehensible sentences. By any definition, computers have not reached a capability that can challenge human intelligence.

    For applications that require greater faithfulness to the source text, human translation from scratch is the better choice. Done well, the human translation will have more appropriate language that expresses nuances likely missing in the post-edited MT.   Good style that generally surpasses MT post-editing also yields less ambiguity and easier reading.   A full edit of the human translation is advisable where accuracy is paramount.  For business purposes, the human translation is the best choice for distributed translations and marketing material.

    This still leaves the potential for significant savings when the basic need can be adequately satisfied with post-editing.  For non-critical information, particularly internal information, perhaps with a short life, Machine Translation with a tailored amount of post-editing should be sufficient and provide a practical solution for a large volume and limited budget.

    To summarize:

    1. Be very wary of MT that has not been reviewed against the source text.  A sentence that is comprehensible may actually be seriously flawed in meaning.
    2. Post-editing, done correctly, can capture the correct meaning and save significant cost in money and time.
    3. Translations prepared for wide distribution should be performed with human translation, not with post-edited MT.

    Machine Translation: Facts and Myths

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    Machine Translation: Facts and Myths

    Ask people about Machine Translation (MT), and surprisingly, you will get a whole palette of opinions, from derision to declaring MT the ultimate solution for all cross language communication problems.  Nowadays, few people, right or wrong, do not have some opinion about it..

    So, what is the reality? Is MT useful? And if it is, under what circumstances should we use it?

    * * *

    Historically, the first translation by a computer was demonstrated on January 7, 1954, by Georgetown University and IBM. The system had a dictionary of 250 words and translated more than 60 predefined sentences from Romanized Russian. Its abilities were so limited that some people called this event a hoax and didn’t consider it a real MT system. Nonetheless, it provided a great inspiration, and indeed people expected that within a few years translation problem would be resolved forever.

    Since then, the excitement about prospects for MT has persisted with the same hope of reaching acceptable results within just a few years. Unfortunately, the situation hasn’t significantly changed, and we are still “just a few more years” away.

    The problem is in the very nature of the translation process. Here’s how a highly experienced translator describes her work: “Translating is not a simple one-to-one exercise (though beginners often wish/hope it were like that). True translating is understanding the meaning of the sentence in one language and then expressing that same meaning in the second language in the best words for that language.” With all the progress of technology, computers still do not “understand” what they’re doing. The real human language is too versatile, nuanced, and ambiguous for any “super-smart” algorithm.

    Modern computers are very powerful; they perform billions of operations per second and use gigabytes of memory, but at best they can provide acceptable translation of only the simplest declarative sentences. Nevertheless MT translations are still just plain funny. A famous anecdote describes the MT rendering of a biblical saying “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak as “The vodka is strong, but the meat is rotten.” Over the years, that particular story has been debunked as myth. But here’s a fact confirmed by Vernon Walters who worked for President Eisenhower; they used a CIA computer program to translate the sentence “Out of sight, out of mind” to Russian and back to English. The result was: “Invisible idiot”.

    * * *

    Ludicrous yes, but it doesn’t mean that machine translation is futile. The fact is that despite its flaws, MT is quite popular and Google Translate is one of the most visited sites on the Web. Indeed, it’s free, fast and easy to use, but not without plenty of faults..

    Google has the entire Internet to train its MT engines and it no longer translates “Microsoft” as a “small tender company”. But one should be very careful and not expect that even the best MT gives anything more than a gist of the source text.  Usually, it’s good enough to recognize the topic of an email or the domain of a website; but before purchasing a product from a foreign country, be ready for the fact that the translation of its technical data might be misleading. And never base your decision to buy foreign drugs based on machine translated instructions if you stay clear of causing harm. That’s especially important if you are translating not into your language, but into a language you are not familiar with.  Even checking with a reverse translation is no assurance that you won’t offend somebody. In my own experience, the word ‘communication’ was translated as ‘intercourse’ without any idea of its second meaning that spoiled the intended message. And never use MT for publishing in a foreign language; otherwise you might result in something like this:

     Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translation Facts & Myths

    Nevertheless, it’s a great advantage to be able to translate a sentence, an email, or a web page almost instantly and for free, but what if you need to translate a larger document? What if your organization needs translation for thousands of pages written in various foreign languages, some of them unknown? Suddenly, the translation is not free at all and far from being easily available.

    In addition, public ‘free’ translation services use every word we translate .  As always, “free cheese can only be found in a mousetrap”. Another caveat for companies often dealing with proprietary documents is to avoid translation providers that don’t specifically assure data security.

    * * *

    Let’ summarize the facts.

    Of utmost importance is procuring translation of proprietary or other sensitive material only from a translation vendor who can assure sufficient data security.

    If you have a large ongoing bilingual project, a good vendor will be able to use your stored bilingual data to customize for you a special MT engine that will produce a much higher than average MT translation quality within the domain of your project.

    Even using a customized MT engine, always keep in mind that MT yields only a gist of the source text. It shouldn’t be used for making any important decisions. However, MT can be very effective in identifying the important documents and immediately scrapping the  irrelevant ones. And never assume that an MT sentence is correct because it appears well composed. That can be a terrible trap; it always needs human verification.

    When MT confirms that you have in hand a document with desirable data, you should improve the translation. Depending on the final purpose, you should ask your translation vendor to edit the MT result in order to improve its readability and comprehension thus making it usable for managerial decisions. That process is called post-editing. The amount of post-editing can be varied according to the importance of the document. Only when sufficient qualified human post-editing is applied can the translation be considered reliable.

    Even the post-ending quality might be insufficient in the most important cases, e.g., documents to be published or submitted to a customer or government authority. Then, you should order clean human translation that does not involve MT at all because the MT biases the translator’s thoughts.

    Companies that are searching for information and are knowledgeable in the available range of translation services have a great advantage in recognizing they can save huge amounts of cost and time by applying MT to quickly eliminate irrelevant material and post-edit relevant document for a fraction of the full human translation cost. Only the truly important documents should be translated with the highest translation level, and then they have achieved the goal of cost and time optimization for the best possible results.

    * * *

    Price and Quality

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    Price and Quality

    Inquiries have shown that buyers and sellers frequently disagree on what quality means. The lack of agreement on what translation quality is and how it can be calculated creates incompatible expectations and contradiction. The lack of agreement also makes it difficult for both sides to agree on what the payment should be.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Price and QualityAnd however, buyers and sellers establish important business decisions on the belief that paying more or less for translation affects linguistic quality – regardless of their responsibilities. Can we really say there is a connection between quality and price?

    The price/quality relationship refers to the perception by most consumers that a relatively high price is a sign of good quality. The belief in this relationship is most important with complex products/services that are hard to test, and experiential products that cannot be tested until used (such as most services). The greater the uncertainty surrounding product/services, the more consumers depend on the price/quality suggestion and the greater premium they are prepared to pay. The classic example is the pricing of Twinkies, a snack cake which was viewed as low quality after the price was lowered. Excessive reliance on the price/quality relationship by clients/consumers may lead to an increase in prices on all products and services, even those of low quality, which causes the price/quality relationship to no longer apply.

    What about the price-quality effect? Buyers are less sensitive to price the more that higher prices signal higher quality. Products/services for which this effect is particularly relevant include: image products, exclusive products, and products with minimal cues for quality.

    If not, how should buyers and suppliers behave differently going forward?  Please post your answer to this question.

    Guidelines for Customers Electing a Client Review Step

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    Guidelines for Customers Electing a Client Review Step

    Client review, when carefully planned out, can add value to the finished product. Some customers will always include client review in the translation workflow to ensure that the translation is an accurate rendition of the source text, focusing on highly technical and complex aspects of the original as well as the company’s preferred terminology and style. While a translation agency will select translators with experience in the pertinent subject matter, those resources might not possess the same in-depth knowledge of the company’s product as an internal resource intimately familiar with the product’s technical aspects and the company’s goals and objectives. Other customers might choose to include a client review step for high-visibility documents destined for publication. Whatever the reason may be, here are a few important questions to consider when planning for this process step:

    Will client review be carried out?

    If a client review is planned, the translation agency must be informed of this additional step. Do not be alarmed if your contact asks whether a client review step is required. This does not mean that the agency will only use their best resources on assignments requiring client review and will not be diligent with other projects. A translation provider will ask this question for planning purposes so that he/she can decide on the best way to integrate this step into the translation process. For example, your project manager might send you an intermediate file to review so that changes can be incorporated directly into the file prior to formatting. If review is performed on a formatted document, the agency might charge extra for this task. Changes specified at this stage usually need to be implemented manually, a high-risk activity requiring extra time and additional QA. Scanned, handwritten comments are the most difficult to read and interpret so do not be surprised if the agency sends instructions for the reviewer to follow when making corrections.

    Do I need to provide the translation agency with any additional information?

    Are glossaries (either monolingual or bilingual), translation memories (TMs), terminology databases (TDs), style guides, or translations of the previous version of the source text available? If so, they will need to be provided to the translation agency for reference so that the key terminology can be applied to the current project. If the source text contains little or no context (example: software strings exported as Text or Excel files), the accompanying documentation and help files will provide the translation team with important supporting information that will enable them to translate the text accurately. This will reduce client review time and will enable the reviewer to focus on other aspects of the task.

    Who will review the translation?

    The next door neighbor who studied German for a few years in college will not be the best choice for translation review. The ideal candidate is a native speaker of the target language who is proficient in the source language, with experience in the subject matter and in-depth knowledge of the product. Ideally, this is someone from within the company familiar with the company’s objectives. Usually, client review is not the primary activity for employees who perform this task so plenty of advance notice should be given. If no qualified resource within the company is available, you may decide to hire a contractor to perform the review. Similar selection criteria will apply in this case.

    What instructions should the reviewer follow?

    Make sure to communicate to your reviewer any pertinent instructions provided to you by the translation agency. Your translation contact might send an intermediate file for review to ensure that all changes are implemented prior to formatting. Make sure you understand how the reviewer should enter his/her changes as this could depend on the type of translation software that the file is exported from. It is also very important that the reviewer have on hand the same reference material that you provided to the translation team. Otherwise, the reviewer might incorporate changes that contradict the reference material. Whenever possible, the same reviewer should be asked to evaluate future translations in a given language. It is very difficult for a translation team to be consistent with client review changes when different reviewers might suggest different translations for the same term or phrase.

    An important aspect of a translation that might rear its ugly head during translation review is linguistic style. Whether we say “Have a nice trip” or “Enjoy your trip”, the meaning is the same. It is important to bear in mind that, as this example illustrates, the same concept can be communicated in different ways. Assuming that the reviewer is experienced in the subject matter and might not possess the linguistic background of a translator, it might be best to instruct him/her to limit stylistic changes and to instead focus on the technical aspect of the translation. Don’t despair if the reviewed translation is drowning in a sea of red ink. Most of these changes might very well fall under the category of style. Not adding much value to the finished product and potentially delaying the review process, these types of changes can be avoided by outlining the reviewer’s responsibilities in advance.

    Has the source text undergone all necessary input and approvals?

    If the source text has not undergone the necessary approvals, the reviewer might suggest source text changes in addition to revising the translation. Such changes are impossible for the translation agency to evaluate since the agency’s role is to translate the source text, not to rewrite it. Your contact will inform you if these types of changes are present, and you will need to decide whether to implement them. This will delay the process due to the additional back-and-forth with the translation agency. Even if the source text is frozen and has undergone all the necessary approvals, the reviewer may still introduce changes that alter the meaning of the original. It is advisable to anticipate this, and to instruct the translation agency ahead of time to reject or flag such changes.

    Will you be sending the reviewed text back to the translation agency for evaluation?

    As explained above, a reviewer may sometimes implement changes that will alter the meaning of the source text that you should be aware of. Reviewers also sometimes introduce errors so it’s always a good idea to send the reviewed file back to the translation agency. If a tight deadline does not allow for an evaluation of client review changes, you should still send the final, corrected document to the translation agency for reference on future projects.

    Tips For Translators Applying to an Agency

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    Tips  For Translators  Applying to an Agency

    What does an agency look for in translators?  Agencies look for translation experience, educational background, and rates that are within their budget.  An aspiring translator’s resume or CV must contain these three elements up front. It’s always possible to put your rates in your email, but it must be easily seen. We don’t need to read all about your enthusiasm, your willingness to please, your cooperative attitude, and adding these to a resume is perceived as “fluff” or will give the impression that you are not experienced. Your resume should outline your translation experience up front, including your specializations or areas that you have done translations in and are thoroughly familiar with the keywords in that subject. Your specializations should not include areas you would like to work in but haven’t up until now.

    After providing details of your translation experience, you should have your educational background. You should include all academic degrees you have received, the university you studied at, its location, and the subject of your degree. You should not include secondary school education as it is not relevant. Special graduate courses are important. We do not need to know other languages you may be acquainted with but can’t translate into or from. We do not need to know your own estimate of your competence. We only need to see the language pairs you are competent to translate into or from.

    Also important, at the top of your resume should appear your language pair(s), including your native language as the first target language. Strangely, many aspiring translators forget to include this, expecting the agency representative to be a mind reader or to guess at it from other information.

    You may also want to include your other types of employment, especially if it is relevant to any of your translation specialties, but this should come after your translation experience and education. Your hobbies should only be included insofar as they are relevant to translation work.

    Always useful is the various types of software you use (including the version you have) and how proficient you are in using it. The more difficult it is to find this information in your first email to an agency, the less likely the agency representative will consider you. It is in your interest to provide all this information in your initial contact. If you do, you will probably get a response.

    A note to translators already in our database: please don’t forget to let us know if any of your information has changed (email, phone, software, specializations) so that we won’t lose contact with you.

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    Complete or Finished and the Dreaded Client Review

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    Complete or Finished and the Dreaded Client Review

    Some may argue that there is little difference between the meaning of complete and finished. But consider this (from a joke circling through cyberspace of late): When you marry the right woman, you are complete; when you marry the wrong woman, you are finished; when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are completely finished!

    Language fun at its best: The joke works because the word finished may be applied to express different, in fact opposite meanings: Finished (complete) as the successful end to a task, the reaching of a goal; and finished (done in) as the unfortunate outcome of endeavors that have led to a state of resignation, of giving up.Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Client Reviews

    Can this joke be translated into other languages? Most likely not. We cannot assume that the use of finished as meaning done in works in other languages, and thus the joke may be untranslatable.

    Fortunately, the translation of jokes is seldom requested (unless you find yourself at a cocktail party having to explain to a foreigner why everyone is laughing). And yet, translators struggle daily with challenges presented by language-specific subtleties and usage conventions, such as a play on words or an idiom. The translator must select just the right term or phrase to convey the intended meaning, having to make a million astute and intelligent word choices. The emphasis here is on choices! Usually, there is more than one way to skin a cat…

    …wait, do they skin cats in other languages?

    Enter the (sometimes) dreaded client review.

    For sure, a client review of translations is an important quality control step that ensures translations meet client expectations and are suited for the intended purpose. Ideally, a client review step is scheduled as an integral part of the translation workflow, so that client preferences regarding terminology and style can be accommodated before the finished product is delivered.

    A client review becomes problematic, however, when the reviewer makes gratuitous changes and essentially rewrites the translation. The problem is not the rewriting itself – the text belongs to the client and the client should fully adapt it to his/her purpose. The problem is the implied quality assessment of the translation. Somebody might ask: Was the translation really all that bad to warrant so many client edits?

    Well, no. This is all about writing styles. This is about language arts, not math, and one+one seldom equals two. This is about the craft of writing, about word choice and selection and style and flair. It’s about the way the cat was skinned…

    When Every Job Is a Rush

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    When Every Job Is a Rush

    Sure, we live in a fast-paced world. The push for instant gratification, instant results, instant service, instant everything has us dancing like crazy puppets on a string. A notable exception is instant coffee: We generally prefer the slow brew to keep us sufficiently revved up to deal with all the other instants in our lives.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Rush TranslationInstant service in translations can be accommodated by machine translation. Indeed, there is high demand for this service and it’s perfectly suited for gisting purposes, that is, finding out what a foreign-language text might be all about. It’s easy and quick, just as we like it: Submit a file, click a button, and out comes a translation – or at least something that looks like a translation but is likely riddled with errors.

    This sets the stage for fast-turnaround translation demands, however. A client may ask: Why can’t I get a human translation by, say, tomorrow? I have this very tight deadline! What’s the problem?

    Here’s the problem: In order to produce a competent translation that conveys the source text accurately, with the correct terminology and style for the intended audience, at least the following process steps are necessary:

    • Pre-translation processing/source text analysis: Review of the source text by the translation service provider (TSP) to determine possible technical challenges and translator requirements.
    • Search for appropriate translators and revisers based on language pair and subject matter.
    • Assignment and handoff of project to translators.
    • Translation work performed by translators. Rule-of-thumb output for a single translator is 1500 to 2000 words per day.
    • Review of returned translations for completeness by the TSP’s project manager.
    • Assignment and handoff of project to revisers.
    • Review/revision work performed by revisers (“second pair of eyes”). Note: There is no meaningful quality assurance step in translations other than having a translation reviewed/revised by a second translator with competency in both language pair and subject matter.
    • Review of revised translations for completeness by the TSP’s project manager.
    • Delivery of final texts to the client (if no client review or text layout/formatting steps are required).

    Piece of cake, ain’t it? Well, no! While language professionals might be willing to pull the occasional all-nighter (drinking plenty of slow-brewed coffee), asking them to accommodate rush turnarounds every single day might tempt even the most diligent and conscientious professionals to cut corners and forego much needed quality assurance steps. The result: Poor quality translations and client complaints.

    Let’s face it: Instant translations are like instant coffee. Once you take the first sip you wonder how you could ever fall for it.

     

    Brand-Name Analysis: Well worth the Expense

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    Brand-Name Analysis: Well worth the Expense

    Back in the 90s, during the .com boom, when startups were looking for an immediate international presence in the new global marketplace, language service providers were flooded with requests for brand-name analysis. The need for brand-name analysis took center stage in the marketing world after such embarrassing marketing flops as trying to sell the Chevy Nova in Latin America (no va in Spanish means doesn’t go/ doesn’t work).

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Brand Name AnalysisNowadays, in a struggling world economy, requests for this service seem to have slowed somewhat, yet brand-name analysis remains a vital and important service offering. The process starts with a client questionnaire that gathers information about the intended product and its target market and audience. In addition to the obvious questions about language and locale, clients have to let analysts know for what type of organization or service the brand-name is intended, who the target audience is, and whether or not gender and age of the target audience play a role. The completed client questionnaire together with the proposed brand-name(s) is then sent to analysts in the target countries.

    It is important that analysts live and work in the target countries to be able to assess a proposed brand-name’s impact and subtle connotations. There are regional differences in language use: A brand-name that works well in Madrid might sound archaic in Mexico City, much like Brits advertise “flats” in the London Times while Bostonians list “apartments” in the Boston Globe.

    Therefore, it is well worth the up-front cost and investment to have a name analyzed by trained analysts in each target country long before artists and designers go to work creating attractive logos, brochures and web content around that name. Spending any capital, even emotional and intellectual capital, on a brand-name before a brand-name analysis is carried out may lead to grave disappointments, if not wasted marketing funds.

    Project and Business Continuity Planning

    Project and Business Continuity Planning

    Project and business continuity planning is important for any type of business, including the document translation industry. Clients entrust to a Language Service Provider (LSP) documents to be translated by a certain Linguistic Systems, Inc. Document Translation Plandate, often an extremely time-sensitive date, such as meeting a submission deadline for a clinical trial or a court case. When accepting the translation assignment, the LSP negotiates and then commits to a delivery date, yet many things can go wrong all along the translation workflow.

     

    Planning for project and business continuity is as critical for LSPs as it is for any other type of business. Events that can cause interruptions in the translation work flow should be identified and scored as to their potential impact and probability of occurrence. Once such risk assessment has been carried out, risk mitigation plans can be formulated. Critical risks that an LSP should assess are these:

    Human Resources

    Who handles the project internally? What do we do if that resource becomes unavailable?

    Who handles the project externally (translators, editors, reviewers)? What do we do if one or all of those resources become unavailable?

    Technical Resources

    How are documents transmitted? What do we do if the transmission system fails and becomes unavailable?

    Where are documents stored while they are in progress and long-term? What do we do if the storage system fails and becomes unavailable?

    Risk assessment and mitigation does not provide a magic bullet to eliminate all risk. As in every-day life, there is always some risk that has to be accepted as residual risk. Being proactive about risk assessment, however, allows the LSP to prepare for interruptions to the normal work flow and have in place adequate proxy/backup systems that can ensure the successful and timely completion of projects.

     

    Machine Translation: The Market for Accessibility

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    Machine Translation: The Market for Accessibility

    It’s been said that more information is generated today in a single year than was generated in the last 5000 years combined! Information is everywhere and we expect it to be instantly accessible and Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translationavailable in every corner of the globe. The demand for rapid, high-volume turnaround in language translation has been increasing steadily as corporations attempt to maintain a global presence in their markets. Translations are needed not only for the traditional outward-facing media, such as corporate websites and marketing brochures, but also for internal communications, such as company newsletters, shareholder reports, and employee benefit packages.

    Let’s face it, though: The traditional model for professional language translation is focused on high-quality output and does not lend itself for rapid turn-around. The traditional model relies on highly skilled human translators and editors who go through a series of workflow and quality assurance steps to produce high-quality translations.

    Competing priorities struggle for attention, then. Traditional service providers champion high-quality translations while buyers of translation services are under pressure to publish time-sensitive content on a global stage, practically in real time.

    Making the case for machine translation:

    Machine translation delivers instant results. Large volumes of text can be converted into foreign language material in a matter of minutes. Depending on the source text and the sophistication of the machine translation engine, the output may be good enough for “gisting” purposes, but still not good enough for publication. The following two steps, however, can dramatically increase the quality of machine translation output:

    • Training the machine translation engine with existing source and target text corpora in a given language pair and subject matter.
    • Carrying out a human post-edit on the raw machine output.

    The need for rapid turn-around translations is here to stay. As long as all stake holders in the process are clear about their expectations and goals, it should not be too difficult to understand and accommodate priorities of quality versus speed and accessibility.

    Translations and Sufficiency

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    Translations and Sufficiency

    In a recent discussion about quality in translations, a client commented that a translation he received was somehow insufficient. The client did not say the translation was wrong or incorrect, just insufficient.

    But what, exactly, does insufficient mean? In the absence of obvious mistranslations or omissions, why would a translation be deemed insufficient?

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Incorrect TranslationsThe problem is the very nature of language arts. Language is not a math equation, and 1+1 seldom equals 2. Every piece of writing is subject not only to the rules of grammar and syntax, but readers react to subtle nuances of style and expression that can make a piece of writing come alive. Professional language translation writers in every genre understand this and spend years perfecting their craft to meet the challenge.

    But what about translators? If we understand a translator to be the foreign-language stand-in for the original author, can we reasonably expect a translator to produce a piece of writing of the same quality and with the same nuances of style and expression that were achieved by the original author?

    Ideally yes, but let’s keep in mind that translators are typically paid cents per translated word and often work under very tight turn-around deadlines. Being an accomplished word smith, however, is serious business, is true art, and cannot be accomplished by rushing through writing assignments based on the number of words. For example, Shakespeare’s Hamlet in French needs to be so much more than a bunch of French words strung together without spelling mistakes, lest the play be deemed insufficient by French theater goers.

    Therefore, if we want Hamlet in French, clients and translation service providers have to be mindful of the linguistic challenges involved in creating high-quality pieces of writing, be they in their original language or in translation. When only the very best will do, the job specification for a translation should allow for a monolingual review and adaptation of the target text for the intended purpose and locale, a service typically charged for by the hour rather than by the number of words. True, this extra step adds to the cost of the translation, but high-end clients may find it worth the additional cost to ensure that the translation is of the same linguistic quality as the original piece of writing, and thus sufficient, even excellent.

    Bulk Translations: Here to Stay

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    Bulk Translations: Here to Stay

    Oh yes, it’s out there: The request for high volume, low-cost translations at super-fast turnaround times, a nightmare for translation professionals who have been trained to strive for quality in translations. To a language professional, quality in translation means accuracy of meaning, appropriateness of style, even adaptation of the target text for the intended market and locale. Ideally, a target text should be just as poignant and fluent to readers in the target language as the original text is to readers in the source language.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Bulk TranslationsHowever, linguistic quality as understood by language professionals may not always be the top priority of those requesting translations. Take the bulk translation market: Buyers in this market are looking for high-volume translations often needed for information only, for ‘gisting’ purposes, such as translations of foreign-language documents into English in preparation for litigation in US courts.

    Here’s the dilemma: Language professionals do not like this market because it inherently undervalues quality and tends to drive down rates. And yet – where there’s a need, there must be a way! Simply ignoring the demand of this market or constantly complaining about it does no good. The need is here to stay, and ever growing. The translation industry must learn how to accommodate the bulk market, must define and understand it as an entirely separate entity with distinct quality and costing parameters that have little to do with the traditional translation service model geared towards high quality translations. Providers must design service offerings that meet bulk-market customer needs while still maintaining adequate remuneration for language professionals and preserving quality, but only to the degree specified for the particular assignment. Such service models must take advantage of the latest technology, including machine translation and multi-party translation systems, where possible. Most importantly, the translation industry must facilitate a better understanding between all stakeholders in this process. It must educate bulk-market customers about what can be reasonably expected and accomplished in terms of translation speed versus quality given the limitations of human capacity combined with current technology.

    The Right Tool: Selecting a Translation Vendor

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    The Right Tool: Selecting a Translation Vendor

    As is true for any type of project, selecting the right tool, the right resource, is vital for the successful completion of a project. The same is true for translations. The industry is awash with thousands of individual translators and translation agencies in every corner of the globe, all aspiring to get a piece of that multi-million dollar industry driven by continued globalization. Today, foreign-language product literature and web content is no longer merely a tool to market and sell product abroad; for many industries, like the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, new safety regulations Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Vendor Selectionimposed by foreign governments require that all product labeling, such as instructions for use, be provided in the local language to avoid injury or death by incorrect use of a device or drug.

    Before choosing a translation vendor, first determine the purpose and target audience of your translation. These two parameters determine what level of sophistication you should require from your translation vendor. For example, if a translation error could potentially cause injury or death, then you want a certified full-service translation agency to handle your project, an agency that has the resources to translate, revise, edit, review and proof your translation in a full-service workflow model. On the other hand, if you need a text to be translated merely for ‘gisting’ purposes, for information only, then perhaps a single freelance translator or a small startup agency might offer you a more cost-effective solution (although not necessarily so). Keep in mind, however, that quality in translation requires a joint effort between the buyer and the translation vendor when it comes to adequate job specification. If your translation needs will be ongoing rather than sporadic, establishing a good working relationship with a single provider who can handle projects of various sizes and levels of sophistication might be advantageous to you in the long run.

    Fast, Faster, Fastest

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    Fast, Faster, Fastest

    Research has shown that many buyers of translation services value fast turn-around times over translation quality and price. Buyers may be under pressure to produce simultaneous releases of product and marketing material in multiple languages, or they may need volumes of into-English translations practically overnight as support material for litigation in US courts. Translation service providers are thus put under enormous pressure to Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Turnaround Timeaccommodate client requests for speed while still trying to maintain translation quality and competitive pricing models.

    The good news is that technology can and does help. The industry benefits greatly from ever more sophisticated off-the-shelf and proprietary translation workflow systems that can greatly facilitate and speed up the processes for order taking and project assignment, even the actual translation work. In this race to the bottom (achieve shortest turn-around times), the biggest obstacle to speed is human capacity, that is, even the most experienced and savvy translator can only translate so many words per day (rule-of-thumb is 1500 to max 2000 words/day). Therefore, collaborative, multi-party systems are being developed that allow many translators to work on the same project at the same time.

    The obvious challenge in such a setup is achieving consistency of terminology and style. To meet this challenge, systems offer ways to be prepped with terminology databases and translation memories. They also allow all parties, including editors and reviewers, to participate “live” and in real time in the project. For example, if translator A is the first to translate a certain term, the system will automatically suggest that term to translator B who can then either accept or suggest a better term to translator A. Meanwhile, an editor or client reviewer can see the suggestion and make the final determination about what term should be used. The system thus allows a continuous feedback loop between all parties on the project, ideally creating a high-quality final product that has little need to undergo any additional – and very time-consuming – quality checks and revisions.

     

    Translation Security Risks: Free Machine Translation Services

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    Translation Security Risks: Free Machine Translation Services

    Should you worry about data security risks posed by do-it-yourself machine translation services? You bet! If you submit source text to readily-available translation tools such as Google Translate and Reverso, your data will be out there “forever” and used to train the machine translation engines of these providers. The trade is aLinguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Security fair one: You submit your data, they offer a free service. Everybody benefits. No problem.

    True, unless your data is security sensitive and proprietary. While you may not worry about the content of a letter to your new heart-throb in Spain, the e-discovery material your law firm just acquired to build a case for arbitration is quite another matter.

    The good news is that some translation service providers now offer very inexpensive do-it-yourself MT ordering systems with the appropriate security controls in place. These systems allow you to shoot large volumes of text through the pipeline and get the translations returned to you almost immediately. While the MT output of such systems may yet be crude and inexact, it is often good enough for “gisting” purposes, so that you can analyze and sort the material for relevancy before ordering expensive human translation or human MT post-editing.

    A note of caution: Before you select a machine translation service from a provider, ask your provider to explain the data security controls that are in place every step of the way, following the data flow from your desk to the MT engine and back to your desk. Providers may also be able to customize the security controls according to your needs, for example, by making sure that the data stays within certain national borders, or specifically excludes certain countries.

    Translations for Clinical Trials

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    Translations for Clinical Trials

    You’ve spent millions of dollars on R&D, time-to-market deadlines are slipping, shareholders are breathing down your neck – finally, the moment arrives: Yes, we are ready for clinical trials!

    Clinical trials where? Oh! …….. Do they speak English over there? ……. Well, no!  Clinical Trials Translation is important.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation for Clinical TrialsIf the above predicament sounds familiar, it is no surprise. For a variety of reasons – less bureaucracy, good working relationships with foreign teaching hospitals, ideal climate or demographics for a particular study – many US companies conduct clinical trials abroad. When planning such trials, they are suddenly faced with the need to have product literature and instructions translated into a foreign language. At that moment, those brilliant scientists and engineers who typically run these projects find themselves at a loss, having to set in motion a process within that “fringe” domain of language arts where nothing is binary, but everything seems fluid, subjective, and open to interpretation (after all, it was that poetry-reading, guitar-strumming, long-haired crowd that studied foreign languages back in college).

    So what, if anything, can guide a weary scientist in the search for competent professional language translation?

    Standards, adequate job specifications, and a process approach to translations! Yes, even the fringe domain can be governed by standards and sound quality control processes. Although language remains a rather “inexact science”, subject to variations in word choice, tone and linguistic style, standards and international guidelines for translation services have done much in recent years to improve the overall quality of translations and to make the business partnership between the arts and the sciences a happier one. More and more translation service providers (TSPs) have undertaken the effort to become ISO 9001 certified; more and more TSPs are pursuing certification to industry-specific standards such as EN 15038 (developed in Europe specifically for TSPs) and CAN/CGSB-131.10 (its Canadian counterpart). In the US, of note is the Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation (ASTM F 2575), released by the American Society for Testing and Materials in 2006 under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee F15 on Consumer Products.

    While standards establish specific requirements (“shalls”) for the translation industry, the ASTM F 2575 guidelines focus on consumer education, attempting to lift the shroud surrounding translation work. The guidelines offer a list of terms and definitions used in the industry (let’s all speak the same language), outline the process steps involved in a typical translation workflow, and formulate for the buyer the questions to be asked when selecting a vendor and specifying a translation job.

    As the ASTM guide contends: “Quality in translation cannot be defined on the premise that there is only one correct, high-quality translation for any given source text. [ ] Quality is defined as the degree to which the characteristics of a translation fulfill the requirements of the agreed-upon specifications.”

    “Agreed-upon specifications?” That sounds rather vague. Are we back to the fringe stuff here?

    Not exactly. Translation work is hard work. It is complex and arduous work. Indeed, every translation project is unique and should be understood as a joint effort between the buyer and the TSP. But unless you have some knowledge about translations and the translation industry, you may find yourself ill prepared to formulate adequate job specifications for your translation project. All too often, time and money are wasted because crucial information about a project was not passed on to those working on the project.

    What type of information is needed, then?

    Information in these 3 categories is needed: The nature of the source material, the intent of the target material, the administrative aspects of the job. Below are sample questions that may guide you in defining your project even before contacting a TSP.

     

    Source Material – List of Sample Questions:

    • What is the language of the source text (including locale, i.e. British English versus American English)?
    • What is the origin of the source text (when authored, by whom)?
    • What is the subject area of the source text (i.e. medical, legal, financial)?
    • What word processing or layout program was used to create the source text (i.e. MS Word)?
    • Was the source text created following a particular style guide or template (if so, are style guide and template available for the translations)?
    • Does the source text include graphics or special text elements that need translation (i.e. callouts, side bars, insets)?
    • Is the source text a revision of a previously translated text (if so, are previous translations available as reference material for translators in order to match word choice and style)?
    • Do glossaries or an electronic translation memory exist (i.e. within a translation program, such as Trados)?
    • Is there any other reference material available that could guide the translator in word choice and linguistic style (for example, product brochures, instructions, training videos, web content)?

    Target Material – List of Sample Questions:

    • Into what language(s) should the text be translated (including locale, i.e. Continental Spanish versus Spanish for Latin America)?
    • What is the purpose of the translation (i.e. for publication, to satisfy a legal requirement, for information only)?
    • Who is the target audience (the end user) of the translation, and what is their reading level?
    • Does the translation require layout/desktop publishing work (i.e. to create print-ready copy for publication)?
    • Are there any special instructions to translators (i.e. text, names or locales to stay in the source language)?

    Administrative Aspects – List of Sample Questions:

    • What are the project’s start and due dates (fixed or flexible)?
    • What are the budget constraints?
    • Who will manage the project and be the contact for translator questions, if any?
    • Are changes to the project anticipated (for example, the source text is still undergoing revisions)?
    • Are client review activities envisioned and who will carry them out (i.e. third-party affiliates, client’s foreign country offices)?
    • Are back translations necessary (a regulatory requirement for some industries)?
    • What are the needs for data protection and confidentiality?
    • Are added-value services required (creation of glossary, translation memory, notarization or certification)?

    For further reading – click here

     

    ISO and eDiscovery Translation

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    ISO and eDiscovery Translation

    In a recent article by Chris Knox and Scott Dawson, published on www.iediscovery.com, the authors discuss a lack of standards for the processing of electronically stored information (ESI) for litigation purposes. Of interest is the authors’ conclusion that the industry could benefit greatly by adopting the processes outlined in the international standards ISO 9001 and ISO 27001. To quote from the article:

    “ISO 9001 has been held up as a standard that is a useful example of the type of standard the e-discovery industry can hope to develop. We believe that ISO 9001 is in fact not just an example, but a workable, real-world solution that provides a solid foundation for the e-discovery industry today.”

    “The ISO 27000 standard is designed to identify and manage risks posed to business information by data theft or accidental loss. It provides guidelines for putting a secure infrastructure in place and implementing a risk management process and corporate policy to minimize data loss. This is the one existing ISO standard e-discovery vendors can and should actively consider adopting in addition to the ISO 9001. “

    LSI, as a market leader in document translation services, is proud to hold certifications to both of these standards!

    Additional Information

     

    Mitigating Data Security Risks in Translation

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    Mitigating Data Security Risks in Translation

    In their role as translation services company, language providers handle a wide variety of material, from simple business cards to sensitive legal briefs and medical case histories. Although language companies know that they must treat all client material as confidential, a customized translation workflow can be applied to the handling of material that carries significant data security risks. Assessing these risks up front and defining special project handling instructions with your provider are vital steps in keeping sensitive material secure during the translation process. Risk mitigation controls may be applied to the way files are transmitted between the client, the service provider and individual translators; to the material itself (file content); to the type of translators and their geographic locale; as well as to file storage/deletion requirements. Keep in mind that handling options and translation workflows can be as unique and as specialized as your project requires. Ask your provider to help you define the best options available to you.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Data Translation SecurityFile Transmission Options

    Rather than using standard email, your provider may suggest that files be transmitted using a secure transmission method such as encrypted email, YouSendIt, downloading/uploading files from secure servers, or even mailing physical media such as CDs.

    Important: Make sure that whatever transmission method you select can be followed through the entire translation workflow, that is, moving files from you >  to the provider >  to individual translators > then back to you.

    If, on the other hand, you are uncomfortable with sending anything around, you may want to explore the option of having translators come to your place of business, or to a locale of your choosing, such as a secure data center that makes office space and equipment available to you for the duration of the project. Such on-site setups are often used for legal review work, content analysis and the translation of highly sensitive e-discovery material. Your provider may be able to assist you in finding such a place.

    File Content Options

    If you have the staff and the time, you may want to remove confidential information from your files before submitting them for translation (for example, remove patient names from medical case histories and substitute them with first initials or place holders). Alternatively, you may request the translation service provider to remove such information for you, before files are submitted to individual translators for translation. Full patient names could then be re-inserted after the text has been translated.

    Selection of Human Resources

    Translation service providers assign translators to your project based on language- and subject-matter expertise. However, the nature of your material may require that only individuals with certain backgrounds may handle the files, for example, US-citizens only. Make sure you specify such special requirements before project start.

    Special human resource requirements may also be based on geographic locale. Depending on the origin and nature of your material, access may need to be limited to translators residing in certain locales, or specifically exclude those residing in certain locales, such as in countries on a government watch list for political unrest.

    File Storage/Retention Options

    Make sure you discuss your file storage/deletion requirements with your service provider before project start. Most providers have a defined data retention policy, such as 7 years, unless otherwise specified. “Otherwise specified” may mean deletion of all files immediately after completion of the project. Files may also be encrypted for storage, protected by passwords only known to you and/or to a network administrator.

    Important: Make sure that any file storage/deletion requirement you specify can be carried out through the entire translation workflow, that is, at the provider, at individual translators who may be working remotely for the provider, and at electronic backup sites or tapes used by the provider.

     

     

    Post-editing for eDiscovery

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    Post-editing for eDiscovery

    Post-editing is a term applied to editing of machine translation (MT). It is especially useful for eDiscovery work in which the volume is large and time is of the essence. The advantages of using machine translation on such volume are its speed and corresponding low cost. Lawyers and legal personnel usually need to read through thousands of pages to see what is relevant to the case at hand, and when such material is in a foreign language, it must be translated. But lawyers do not need to waste their time on the documents that are not responsive. So if reviewers who are native to the foreign language are not available, MT is adequate for a first pass.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Human Post-EditingVarious levels of post-editing are possible: the post-editing can aim for a completely accurate translation in all respects, or a lower level post-edit can be performed to capture meaning and correct terminology in a short time, without spending additional time on perfect grammar and syntax.  The low level post-editing may be all that is needed at this stage of eDiscovery. While such post-edited machine translation cannot be submitted to a court, it has proven to be the most cost-effective means of obtaining meaning for accurately determining relevancy.

    Despite the inaccuracies of machine translation, with post-editing, only a relatively few documents will need full human translation, ensuring substantial savings of time and money. For best results, the key component is choosing post-editors who know the equivalent accurate terminology in both the foreign and English languages.  For more detailed information about this type of editing and its application to eDiscovery work, access the eDiscovery Translation page at www.linguist.com.

    EDRM Remains Vital to E-Discovery

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    EDRM and ediscovery

    Originally thought EDRM would be a one-year exercise; but here we are almost nine years later!

    The 9th annual Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) kickoff meeting wrapped up this week in Saint Paul, Minn. The purpose was to set the agenda and direction for the year. There were approximately 60 in attendance for this two-day event, with over half being fresh faces to the group. Sixty percent of the attendees were vendors and the remaining from law firms or corporations.  Read More

    Language and Translation

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    I’ve been always interested in languages. I grew up in an environment where a single language was considered a superior one. Over time,  life made me trilingual, but I still envy people who speak many languages, especially if I don’t know one of those.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Language TranslationSuddenly, I was brought into the world of languages and translating industry by my latest  career move. Almost invisible for the wide public this world is going through a revolution. And the Internet is a substantial driver of it.

    Eliminating language as a barrier to knowledge and communication is one of the latest great challenges

    Here are a few interesting and important facts:

    Professional language translation is both slow and expensive. Depending on the sphere of translation and the language pairs being translated, professional translation can cost as much as US$0.50 per word for a language such as Japanese. For European languages, costs typically range between US$0.08 to US$0.20 per word. For many publishers, this translation expense is too high and cannot be justified. Human translators typically translate at around 2,000-3,000 words per day.

    An alternative is rapid translation of time sensitive content using machine translation. Being first to market with new information can be a significant competitive advantage. However, the quality of machine translation still leaves a lot to desire.

    Some companies most certainly understand the benefits and potential of its automated translation technology and is now trying to regain a level of control over it.

    Do you have anything  to say about languages and translations?  Please comment below.

    Data Security in Translation

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    Data Security in Translation

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Data SecuritySo you need your patent application, your clinical trial questionnaire, or your e-discovery material translated. Well, unless you’re in the enviable position of having highly qualified linguists sitting in the cubicles right next door, chances are you will need to engage the services of a translation services company. But who are these people? Can they be trusted with your confidential information? Who will have access? And where, exactly, will your information travel before it is returned to you in Spanish, Chinese or Russian?

    So here’s the scoop: Chances are your material will travel lots, and lots of people will have access to it, unless you work out with the translation company the specific data security handling requirements for your material. Look for a translation company that is experienced and savvy when it comes to data security, ideally one that has implemented a comprehensive information security management system and is certified to the international security standard ISO 27001/BS 7799. Such a company will be able to help you formulate the best security handling options for your translation project, focusing on four key areas where data vulnerabilities can be mitigated: material content, method of transmission, translators and their location, and data storage and backup.

    If you have had data security problems with translations, please comment below.

    eDiscovery and Translation

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    eDiscovery and Translation

    The Problem:

    A mountain of foreign-language material! We need it in English and we need it fast! eDiscovery Translations are expensive and take time! What do we do?

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. E-Discovery TranslationPossible Solutions:

    • Use of foreign-language reviewers: Reviewers (in the source language) review the material before it is translated and identify pertinent and relevant information. Only pertinent and relevant information is translated.
    • Use of machine translation (MT): MT offers a fast and inexpensive way to translate large volumes of text. Caution: Depending on the language pair and subject matter, even the best MT engines may achieve only 40% translation accuracy. Also, if confidentiality is important, DO NOT use readily available MT engines, such as Google Translate. While use of these engines is free, they typically retain your data and use it to train and improve their output.
    • Use of machine translation (MT) + post-editors: A light or full human post-edit performed on a machine-translated text will improve accuracy, as the translator identifies and corrects mistakes made by the MT engine. MT + post-editing is typically faster and cheaper than a full human translation (HT).
    • Use of machine translation (MT) + reviewers: Reviewers (in target language) review the machine-translated text and try to identify pertinent and relevant information. Only pertinent and relevant information is either post-edited or fully translated by a human translator. Caution: The machine-translated text may be only 40% accurate, and reviewers might miss pertinent and relevant information.

    Machine Translation: What to Consider

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    Machine Translation: What to Consider

    LSI is a translation service company that sells machine translation (MT), typically into English, either as pass-through raw machine output or with one of 2 levels of human post-editing (light and full post-editing). MT is often requested for “gisting” purposes, when a client wants a quick and inexpensive way to find out about the nature and content of foreign-language documents. MT is typically processed in bulk, so that relevant content can be highlighted and extracted from a large volume of foreign-language material, as for a legal e-discovery project.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translation Post EditingThe quality of machine translation output varies greatly depending on the type and quality of the source text that is fed into the MT engine. Factors such as source language (European, Asian, or other), subject matter, writing style, and the technical quality of the source text affect the output.

    Raw MT output can be improved by training/customizing the MT engine with previously translated text in a given subject matter and/or writing style, which the software then uses to match similar text it encounters. The benefit of using a trained MT engine must be weighed against the time and cost that is involved in training the engine.

     

    MT Post-Editing

    Raw MT output can receive a light or a full human post-edit in order to improve the MT output by making the text more accurate and readable. However, MT post-editing is not geared towards creating a translation of top linguistic quality for publication. Only a full human translation with revision/editing is expected to achieve that result.

    Light MT Post-Editing

    The objective of a light MT post-edit is to create a translation in which essential words are translated correctly, so that the reader can capture the general meaning of the source text. The post-editor is not expected to improve on the syntax or writing style, and the text may remain awkward to read. A light post-edit should take about 1/3 of the time of a full human translation, thereby shortening turnaround time and cost.

    Full MT Post-Editing

    The objective of a full MT post-edit is to create a translation that is as correct, unambiguous and easy-to-read as possible, with relatively good syntax. The post-editor is not expected to improve on the writing style or create a publishable text. A full post-edit should take about 2/3 of the time of a full human translation, thereby still shortening turnaround time and cost.

    Try It Out!

    If you are considering MT for your translation needs, simply provide us with a sample of your source text. We will run it through our MT engines as a test, so you can get an idea about the quality of the MT output for your material.

     

     

    Quality Translation Processes

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    Quality Translation Processes

    How can professional language service companies (LSCs) ensure technically flawless and competent translations in order to achieve high customer satisfaction?

    By establishing and maintaining transparent and easily verifiable processes in a translation quality management system. At a minimum, such a system should establish and constantly monitor the following core translation processes and resources: (1) Project inquiry, feasibility, job specifications, and quotation acceptance in writing with Terms & Conditions, (2) Competence of human resources/translators, (3) Adequacy of technical resources, (4) Translation project management, (5) Verification of fulfilling job specifications and (6) Delivery.

     

    Gala Event Wrap Up Discussion: The World of Professional Translation Services

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    How does the “business of language” translate to you?

    I just returned from the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) 2013 conference in Miami. The Florida city – whose Spanish-speaking population outnumbers English-speaking residents – was particularly relevant to the group assembled inside the hotel because it represented exactly the opportunities – and the challenges – that we were discussing.

    This year’s theme, the Language of Business, spoke to the urgency of being able to communicate in today’s world of more than 6,700 languages. Particularly for businesses, the ability to bridge language and dialect barriers – even within their own geographic locations – can be a terrific competitive advantage, and a strategic benefit for governments as well.

    Professional language translation companies such as LSI are those bridges. We utilize technology, people, and a combination of language and document translation services to adapt communications and content to a region’s language, culture, and customs. Our localization industry is what David Orban (CEO, Dotsub and futurist) referred to in his keynote address as “the bedrock of globalization.”

    Granted, the industry-specific GALA conference was focused on how localization businesses like ours address emerging technologies, innovation, and the challenges of our industry. But how does the “business of language” translate to you as a customer?

    Certainly, large, multinational organizations such as SAP, Adobe, and Amway invest heavily in supporting their international efforts with localization to adjust content intelligently for regions, dialects, and colloquialisms.

    Regardless of your business size, though, or whether your organization is focused on business-to-business or business-to-consumer, if you are selling to populations that speak different languages, your ability to produce content that translates relevantly to your target audiences is critical. Miami is a good example, where businesses must communicate effectively to both Spanish- and English-speaking customers.

    Technology naturally expands a business’ reach beyond the local economy. The Internet is a prime model of a technology that removes geographic barriers. Mobile solutions extend Internet (and thus content) accessibility from even the remotest areas of the globe – including Africa, the second largest mobile market in the world. But with only 27 percent of the today’s Internet in English, localization and professional translation services become more important than ever.

    Translation Memory — A Primer

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    Translation Memory – A Primer

    What Is It? What Can It Do for Me?

    Translation memory is a set of software tools that function as a database to store translated material. Individual memory items, known as segments, are stored with source and corresponding segments aligned in this database. A segment can be a sentence, a bullet point, a title, etc.

    When a segment is translated, the source and target texts are stored “next” to each other in the database. When a segment is repeated in a future related document or update of the same document, the segment does not need to be retranslated. It can be used as is by the translator or modified only slightly, depending on the context of the surrounding paragraph. A stored segment that is an approximate rather than exact match to a source segment in a new text being translated is known as a “fuzzy” match (for example: “The house is blue.” and “The house is red.”) is presented to the translator to make minor changes to obtain the desired translation.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation MemoryOver time, individual translation memories can become very large and significantly reduce translation costs and turnaround times. Where a new segment would be charged at 100% of the agreed-upon rate, a fuzzy match might be charged at 75% of the full rate and a repeated segment 30%. Additionally, the memory contributes to better consistency because re-using segments will guide new translation and create consistency.

    Translation memories can be customized by client, by subject matter or both. For example, a translation memory can be created for Client ABC-Marketing, Client ABC-Technical Docs, etc. They can also be set up in a hierarchal way so that one translation memory is used preferentially before another.

    Glossaries can also be linked to translation memories to add another translation aid for the translator to ensure that specific client or subject terminology is properly used in a translation.

    A further way to create a translation memory is through the process of “alignment”. If you have a corpus of previously translated document pairs, the alignment feature can be used to match source and translated sentences and other segments, thereby building a translation memory. This is a combined automated and human process, therefore there will be a charge for this. However, the savings achieved in the translation process may make this step worth the effort and cost, particularly if there will be future translations of similar material.

    Only files that are editable can be used in a translation memory – no scanned PDFs or images. In addition to Microsoft Office files, most translation memory tools also support files produced by other authoring tools like FrameMaker, InDesign, etc.

    A Pricing Example

    Let’s assume that you have a 100,000 word set of documents that needs to be translated from English to another language. The table below shows a possible price comparison:

    No Translation Memory Cost at $.030 per word With Translation Memory Cost at Base Rate of $0.30 per Word
    100,000 words $30,000 50,000 new words $15,000
    25000 fuzzy matches $5,625
    25000 repeats $2,250
    TOTAL $30,000 TOTAL $22,875

     

    In reality, there will likely be more repeats and less fuzzy matches, however, this example shows how quickly the savings can add up. In this case, the saving is $7,125 (23.75%).  If the number of words was 1 million, the saving would have been over $70,000.

    Evaluation of translation options

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    Evaluation of translation options

    There are many document translation service options a buyer has when considering translating their document from the source language into the target language (e.g. Japanese into English).  The different levels demonstrated below vary by price and text comprehensibility.  They range from under $1.00 a file (Machine Translation-MT) to over $100.00 a page (Human Translation with Editing).  Understanding the differences might save you a lot of money and give you the desired comprehensibility you are seeking without exceeding your translation budget.  Looking at a sample of each of these levels before placing   an order will help you decide.

    These translation options are:

    • Machine Translation (MT) – translation performed by computer software;
    • Light Post Editing (LPE) – limited human editing of machine translated documents that gives priority to correct terminology and accuracy of meaning;
    • Full Post Editing (FPE) – deep human editing of machine translated documents that includes syntax and other composition qualities;
    • Human Translation (HT) – full human translation (no MT or post-editing) of the original document with appropriate fluency, idiomatic expression, and writing style (Can be certified for court);
    • Human Translation with Editing – fully edited human translation to verify accuracy of all translation aspects and to ensure appropriate style for the intended audience while retaining faithfulness to the message of the source text. (Can be certified for court or published).

    Understanding your options will help you make a more informed decision. Translation for information serves various purposes, and you can stay within a tight budget by not exceeding the needed level.

     

    Inaugural Blog Post

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    Inaugural Blog Post From President & CEO, Martin Roberts

    Bienvenue! And welcome to Linguistic Systems’ first blog post.  I’m Martin Roberts, president and CEO of Linguistic Systems, Inc. (LSI). Our mission, with this blog, is to bring you useful translation and interpreting news, tips to maximize the value of your funds spent on translation, and the latest news from LSI.

    I’m proud to lead this company that provides important professional translation services to corporations/institutions and individuals throughout the world. LSI was founded in 1967 when the standard tools were typewriters, white-out, and carbon paper. Having experienced the translation industry from its infancy to where it is today, I have to say, globalization has generated tremendous growth but it seems the surge is still in an early stage as communications continue to proliferate.

    innovationIn response, we are using the most advanced technologies to bring greater value to our clients. For instance, last month we unveiled our patent pending Select Translation Service. This system provides online access to five levels of quality for information purposes. Specifically, the system is an online, web-based application for translating foreign language documents into English according to the user-defined priorities of accuracy, speed, and cost. Immediate turnarounds with significant cost-savings are available.

    Globalization  (including website globalization) continues to drive and expand our services in new directions. More corporations are opening headquarters in the Asia Pacific region, particularly China, and timely translation services are essential to keep pace with the changing demands of local markets. Today, lawyers, medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and the like are in need of translation to conduct day-to-day business that involves consumers and regulators.  Download a copy of our STS data sheet.

    I look forward to your feedback on this inaugural blog post and sharing more LSI news with you! In each posting we will share with you our thoughts on  new language trends, innovations, or challenges.  If you have any colleagues or friends who might benefit from our blog postings about new developments, feel free to let us know and we will add them to our distribution list.

    We are always striving for continuous improvement at LSI. If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions for future newsletter topics I’d love to hear from you with comments to this or other blog posts.

    Regards,

    Marty Roberts

    Hymns and tones: Melodic Intonation Therapy

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    Hymns and tones: Melodic Intonation Therapy

    People with aphasia, a condition discussed in a previous blog post here, experience the loss of language in both spoken and written form. There is one somewhat controversial but fascinating course of treatment for people with aphasia (PWA): Melodic intonation therapy (MIT). As early as 1745, a case of a 33-year-old Swedish farmer piqued his community’s interest: this man was paralyzed on the right side of his body, and could only say “yes.” But during church services, he could sing the words of familiar hymns. Olaf Dalin, a contemporary physician, commemorated this phenomenon in writing, and in 1904 a neurologist named Charles Mills found again that some PWA can sing before they can speak.

    downloadMills suggested a primitive form of melodic intonation therapy in the form of singing songs with patients, which he found to help with patients’ emotional well-being, but which did not necessarily help with their speech.

    In 1945, speech-language pathologist Ollie Backus suggested presenting words and phrases PWA wanted to learn in a rhythmical fashion: the beginning of contemporary melodic intonation therapy. This iteration did not involve singing hymns, but rather drilling patients by showing and having them repeat useful words and phrases in varying tones and to a specific rhythm. Formal studies of the therapy began in 1972; in 1974, 6 individuals out of a group of 8 in one study made improvements in speech with MIT. These results should be interpreted with caution, as they only come from a single study and confounding variables may have affected the results. The idea of melody helping patients learn to speak again is certainly an appealing one, however.

    A popular hypothesis for explaining the positive effects of MIT on aphasia patients is that while language is generally controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain (at least in right-handed individuals), it is commonly believed that musical knowledge and processing happens in the right hemisphere. Could using the other side of the brain help compensate for the left side’s weaknesses? The jury is still out. But the next time you sing along to your favorite song, know that it may have a permanent spot in your brain, whether there is a loss of language or not.

    3 Tips for Navigating the World of Foreign Language Data

    relativity-logo-rgb-150This blog is presented with the permission of kCura, the makers of Relativity. We thank them for allowing us to share this blog with you.

    John Del Piero – Discovia | Review & Production, e-Discovery

    3 Tips for Navigating the World of Foreign Language Data

    Rarely does a review project shape up exactly the way we predict. Litigation support teams need agility and flexibility to be prepared for everything e-discovery can and will throw their way.

    Growing data volumes are an obvious contributor to this reality, but so is today’s international landscape. Globalization means more foreign language documents are finding their way into company data stores, and that results in added complications during e-discovery for both litigation and investigations.

    If you’re starting to see that foreign language data is becoming a bigger part of everyday e-discovery, here’s how to get ahead of the complexity.

    1. Think multilingually.

    It is important to always be prepared for foreign language data that may appear in your collections. Odds are good that your business—or your client’s business—involves some dealings in another country, whether via product sales, outsourced services, or recruiting efforts. Modern business means foreign language documents are always a possibility, if not likely.

    For example, our team recently kicked off a relatively small internal investigation involving five custodians. After initial strategizing with the client, we knew we might need to handle foreign language data. Even though we didn’t know what languages or volumes to expect, we were fortunate to have prepared the right technological workflows, including tapping a specialized translation plugin for our review workspace, in advance. It turned out that this small investigation became a big one, and more than 10 million documents involving English, Russian, and several Middle Eastern languages were collected when all was said and done.

    Bonus Tip: You can also use early case assessment workflows to perform analytics on your case and identify which foreign languages are used in which documents.

    2. Hone in on foreign language insights with the right technology.

    The days of setting aside individual documents with foreign language content during a manual, linear review so they can be attended to separately by native speakers are more or less behind us. Case teams can now take advantage of text analytics to identify those documents at the very start of the review. The benefit here is that, while still requiring a separate workflow, these documents can undergo a first-pass review simultaneously alongside the English documents—instead of being flagged and funneled into a separate process as reviewers churn through the entire data set manually.

    Working with foreign languages in your e-discovery software also means identifying the right stop words—common terms that the system will ignore, such as “the” or “it”—for searching and analytics, so be sure to have a proper understanding of those dictionaries from the start. You can also get creative during searching by looking into slang or other regional terms that could be present in your data set.

    Creating a unique analytics index for each language is a good way to ensure you’re making the most of your system’s conceptual analysis of the data. Additionally, work closely with foreign language experts to identify any foreign names or terms that could but should not be translated, such as “Deutsche Telekom,” and dig into foreign keyword search criteria that may uncover the most important files by helping to create clusters—conceptually related groups of documents that can be automatically organized by the system.

    Bonus Tip: Taking note of some special considerations for use on foreign languages, leverage email threading and other analytics features on this data for better organization with minimal human input.

    3. Know you have options for translation.

    All of those technology options mean that a slow linear review by native speakers is no longer necessary—at least not to the full extent it once was. However, once you’ve identified potentially relevant materials via these workflows, you still need to get the data into the hands of the experts on your project. You can’t build a convincing case strategy based on second-hand reports of the stories the documents are telling—at some point you’ll need accurate document translation to provide evidence.

    Fortunately, even translation is a different animal when you have the right technology and workflows in place. Machine translation is a very low cost option, but you must be careful. It can provide a gist meaning, but is unreliable for the true meaning of any sentence. While convenient and fast, machine translation may produce misleading information—and some of it may be simply incomprehensible. For reliable accuracy, consider human revision of the machine’s results.

    For instance, on that same case of 10 million documents, our team ended up with more than 70,000 files that required translation—and the task seemed daunting. Working closely with Linguistic Systems, a Relativity developer partner, we were able to identify a collaborative, hybrid workflow that utilized post-editing of the machine translation to split the difference between the cost-effectiveness of machine translation and the refined accuracy of human translation. In the end, it cost 65 percent less than we anticipated for a manual translation—and we gathered all the insight we needed, easily within the time allowed.

    Bonus Tip: Specialized tools that can be added directly to your review workspace support translation workflows in real time, so you don’t have to move data around. Discovia worked with the Relativity Developer Partner, Linguistic Systems, Inc., who does this translation work through their proprietary LSI Translation Plug-in, an application in the Relativity Ecosystem.

    When it comes down to it, tackling foreign language data is yet another example of how modern e-discovery requires a healthy balance of technology, expertise, and collaboration. How do you ensure you’re sticking the landing on feats like these? Let us know in the comments.

    John Del Piero is vice president of global e-discovery solutions at Discovia, where he helps foster effective partnerships with law firms and corporations tackling complex litigation and investigations. He joined Discovia in 2010.

    Signs and Culture: The World of American Sign Language

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    Signs and Culture: The World of American Sign Language

    “Your name is what?”

    This is not how most English speakers ask a new acquaintance their name. Hearing (as opposed to Deaf) speakers say “What is your name?” And they get to see their formulation in writing all the time – in dialogue introducing a new character in a novel, or on a job application. But Deaf or hard-of-hearing people who speak American Sign Language (ASL) don’t have that luxury. They must learn one set of grammatical rules for signing, and another for reading and writing English.

    sign_languageSome people assume ASL is simply English conveyed in gestures, but that is certainly not the case. There are the grammatical differences noted above, and also the notion of signs as opposed to gestures. I’ve experienced at least one hearing person refer to a sign as a “gesture,” and knew from taking ASL classes that members of the Deaf and the hard-of-hearing community would not appreciate this phrasing. A sign, like a word, has a fixed form and meaning: its visual representation does not change from speaker to speaker, and it has a definition as precise as that of a spoken or written word. Hearing people’s gestures, on the other hand, are often made up on the spot and only carry meaning during that particular conversation.

    ASL speakers face not only the challenge of being required to learn two languages if they want to be able to convey thoughts through writing or to read a favorite storybook. Crucial information is always being conveyed auditorily – from train announcements to sirens, it can be hard to get a full read on one’s environment without the sense of hearing – and Deaf people must navigate the world without that help. They may face misinformed hearing people in daily life as well, who attach a stigma to Deafness and do not want to understand Deaf people’s language or lived experiences. Deaf Culture, a sign I will never forget from my two semesters of ASL in college due to its obvious importance to my Deaf professor, refers to the way Deaf people interact with each other: jokes that hearing people may not understand; books and movies that speak to the challenges of Deaf life; describing people using solely physical characteristics, in a way that may seem blunt to some hearing folks. It’s a culture Deaf people are rightly proud of and that they dedicate much time and effort into preserving and helping evolve.

    My above-mentioned ASL professor, who is Deaf, taught the entire two semesters I took with her without speaking a single English word. Immersion has always been the best way to go about language learning in my experience, and my classmates and I knew we needed to pick up signs and grammar as quickly as in any other foreign language class to succeed. But we were also required to attend Deaf cultural events for class: church services, movie nights, themed meetups. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people gathered at these events and signed with rapid fluidity, allowing us students to glimpse church or a movie through a quite novel cultural and linguistic lens. We learned about Gallaudet College, the only all-Deaf university in the country, of which our instructor was a proud alum. She described the college, slowly, during our classes: Washington, D.C., a beautiful campus, students and professors who really understood. One day towards the end of the semester, our professor revealed that she actually did speak English, to one person: her mother. “Because I love her,” she signed to us, “and because she can’t sign.” Clearly, it takes a very powerful love to draw a Deaf person out of their Culture enough to speak what is truly a foreign language for someone else’s convenience. Deaf Culture, like ASL itself, is strong, rich, and varied: a home for a beautiful language and those who speak it, understanding each other in a world that often refuses to understand them.

    Linguistics Research: Patterns and ‘Mini-Languages’

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    Linguistics Research: Patterns and ‘Mini-Languages’

    Readers of this blog will have seen my post about deciding to study linguistics as an undergraduate. The takeaway from that course of study, for me, was an appreciation of the complexity of languages and their tendency to change over time, as well as a basic understanding of areas of linguistic study like sociolinguistics, syntax, and phonetics and phonology. But what is it like to continue studying linguistics as a graduate student, to the point of conducting original research to investigate specific questions about language? Dr. Anna Greenwood recently obtained her Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and spoke with me about her research.

    a-group-of-peoples-generate-a-network-100232926Her studies took place, Dr. Greenwood says, “at the interface of phonetics and phonology.” For the uninitiated, phonetics refers to how people perceive and produce speech sounds, like vowels and consonants, while phonology deals with how these sounds are then organized within languages to form larger units, such as words. Languages are “highly organized” – so how do speech sounds affect a language’s organizational structure? To narrow in on Dr. Greenwood’s research – what kinds of sounds can occur at the end of a word?

    There are “voiced” and “voiceless” consonants across languages. Which category these sounds fall into is determined by whether your vocal cords vibrate (voiced), or not (voiceless), when they are produced. To hear how voicing can change a sound, take “s” and “z” for example – if you produce a long “sssss” sound, then add voicing, you will hear “zzzzz” instead. Dr. Greenwood noticed that in languages where words can end with consonant sounds, they generally tend to end those words with voiceless consonants. Why? Is it “easier” to learn the more frequent pattern of voicelessness at the end of words, or is it simply that the voiceless consonant patterns are easier to perceive? Dr. Greenwood believed it was the latter – that these particular infrequent patterns are just as easy to learn as the frequent ones – and set about creating “mini artificial languages” to test this hypothesis. Her languages included words following the more cross-linguistically frequent pattern of voiceless consonants at the end (“poss,” as an example), as well as ones following the less frequent pattern of word-final voiced consonants (“pozz”). Using undergraduate students at her university as subjects, she “had speaker[s] record the words of both languages in two different ways — one which was slow and hyperarticulated, like how we speak in formal settings, and one which was faster, more slurred, more resemblant of how we speak to our friends.” She found, “consistently, that my participants had basically no problem learning the infrequent patterns when they were taught the language in the more formal speech.”

    So – her results suggest that specifically for the patterns Dr. Greenwood was studying, there is no “innate problem” in learning infrequent sound patterns – just that more common sound patterns are easier to hear. Could these findings help explain commonalities among languages across the world? More research is needed, Dr. Greenwood says, but her studies have opened the door for investigation. Fascinating new discoveries such as hers are coming out every day – and at LSI we are always ready to learn more about language. Many thanks to Dr. Greenwood for taking the time to share her findings with us.

    Multilingual Link Roundup

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    Multilingual Link Roundup

    If you love language, take a look at the following articles. We at LSI enjoyed these stories, which are from varied perspectives on many aspects of language. From personal essay to a report on gendered hurricane names, these articles should whet your linguistic appetite – and inspire you to learn more!

    An in-depth look at the decline of the Hawaiian language, and those who are working to help revive it by educating the next generation in language immersion schools:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/tomorrows_test/2016/06/how_the_ka_papahana_kaiapuni_immersion_schools_saved_the_hawaiian_language.html

     A beautifully written personal essay about languages as windows into other cultures:

    http://the-toast.net/2016/05/31/language-learning-decolonisation/

    A language-related Onion article for good measure:

    http://www.theonion.com/article/underfunded-schools-forced-to-cut-past-tense-from–2336

     And finally, an article we wish was from the Onion about how hurricanes’ names affect people’s perception of their severity:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/06/02/female-named-hurricanes-kill-more-than-male-because-people-dont-respect-them-study-finds/

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    The wonder of code switching

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    The wonder of code switching

    I was standing at the bus stop, tired after a long day and ready to go home. A woman and her young daughter were also waiting there, and I was letting their Haitian Creole wash over me as I stared into space. Suddenly, though, the mother said “a strawberry smoothie, once a day,” in English. This was a bit jarring and snapped me back to attention and on to remembering learning about code switching, something covered in sociolinguistics courses I had taken in college.

    ConsiderThere is still much to be learned about bilingualism – whether bilingual babies and children are learning two or more languages simultaneously and separately; whether they really master one first, then the other; whether the grammar from one language serves as scaffolding for a second, third, fourth. But an observable phenomenon occurs with many bilingual speakers in conversation, once those languages have been learned: code switching. This refers to switching languages in the middle of speaking – often in the middle of a sentence, or just inserting one word from Language 2 into a sentence spoken in Language 1. As someone who had to study hard to approximate fluent French, I am always mesmerized by truly bilingual people who can switch between languages so fluidly.

    Whether and how one code-switches depends on the relationship between the speaker and her listener, the subject matter at hand, and probably other mechanisms that bilingual people have internalized but maybe couldn’t even articulate if asked. Code switching is common when the speakers are very familiar with each other. It’s seen with family members or friends speaking casually, perhaps with Dominican-Americans dropping an English word that may more precisely convey some American cultural signifier or concept into an otherwise Spanish sentence.

    What was the Creole-speaking woman at the bus stop saying about her strawberry smoothie? I’ll never know. But her easy shifting reminded me to appreciate all our beautiful codes, and especially those who can switch between them to create a novel and quite personal code of their own.

    When Language Leaves Us

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    When Language Leaves Us

    Have you ever had a word at the tip of your tongue, but just couldn’t say it? You know what you want to say but just can’t conjure up the right combination of sounds. Imagine if that happened with almost every word you tried to say. For people living with aphasia, this is the unfortunate reality.

    epilepsy-623346_1920Aphasia is a language disorder found most commonly in people who have suffered a stroke or, to a lesser extent, a traumatic brain injury. Most often, a stroke that occurs in the left hemisphere of the brain causes aphasia; the left side of the brain controls most aspects of language in most people. The above-mentioned loss of words, clinically referred to as anomia, occurs in all types of aphasia, but there are variations on the disorder. Some people can speak fluently if with some nonsense words mixed in, but not understand language while others can understand but not produce language. Aphasia can affect spoken and written language.

    It is important to note that aphasia is a loss of language, not intelligence, which is what can be the most frustrating aspect for those living with it: the mind comprehends what is going on, including an awareness of the aphasia itself, but still the patient struggles with language.

    June is National Aphasia Awareness Month; if you hadn’t heard of it before, the American Stroke Association has plenty of information here.

    In past years, stroke survivors, speech-language pathologists, and supporters have gathered at the Massachusetts State House to spread awareness of their cause; there are approximately 80,000 new cases of aphasia diagnosed per year, and yet many have never heard of it.

    Learning about language disorders may move us to advocate for those who have them, and at the very least should foster a deeper appreciation of the ease with words many of us may take for granted. Keep aphasia survivors and their loved ones in mind the next time you can’t find a word; that moment will pass for you but for others it never will, and there but for fortune…

    Seven Ways to Design Better Global Marketing Brochures

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    Seven Ways to Design Better Global Marketing Brochures

    Design Concept. Design Drawn on Dark Wall. Design in Multicolor Doodle Design. Design Concept. Modern Illustration in Doodle Design Style of Design. Design Business Concept.

    I have listed things to avoid when you design a brochure that will be translated in a previous post. Today I want to show you things that we commonly see on client source files and our advice for those of you who design global marketing brochures or product sheets.

    When your designed piece follows some of the best practices that follow, you can expect that your translation cost will be less. In addition, you can expect the design quality of your translated material to be identical to your source file.

    What follows are best practices you should take into account when designing globally distributed design materials! For example, when you design product sheets in InDesign:

    1. Plan using paragraph and character styles in a smart way. This is a recommended practice in graphic design in general, but this will affect production cost when materials are translated. Think about hierarchies of styles, create descriptive names for each style, and design in a logical way. It will help us to follow your styles and/or create new styles that work together with styles you have set up.
    2. Thread text frames where it makes sense. When we see files where a designer linked all text frames for body text, we immediately know that we can use translation tools more effectively. A file with separated individual text frames requires more production hours. This means added cost to your translation project.
    3. Make images flow with text. This is called anchoring objects as well. Rather than placing small objects separately from text paste objects into text so that those objects travel as text reflows. Let’s say you have a product manual with some button graphics within the text boxes. If you don’t anchor them to the specific text, the translation company will need to anchor each one of them. Again, this will affect your translation cost.
    4. Allow extra spaces everywhere. When a page is designed tightly, there is a chance that we have to reduce the font size and/or leading dramatically or make fonts condensed to fit translated text. Depending on a language, we might need to go down even 1.5-point from the 10-point font, and 8.5-point size does look smaller than the source. This is especially important when translating a file from English into Spanish.
    5. Be flexible on fonts being chosen for translated materials. Make sure to provide a whole package of InDesign files including fonts. A translation company will try to use the fonts provided when possible or they will look for similar looking fonts depending on the language. Some languages look quite different from English. It is almost impossible to retain the same feel with English designed piece.
    6. Prefer tabs over spaces. Don’t hit the space key multiple times! We see this happen not only in InDesign but also in Word files. If you would like to receive a clean looking translated file, just use tabs! Alignment looks sharp and beautiful with tabs.
    7. Don’t forget to use master pages for multiple paged documents. It saves design time greatly when some pages have similar design elements regardless of translation. This is another tool that helps final output layout quality be high.

     

    Perhaps your file was clean with all styles and masters set perfectly when your brochure was designed initially. Probably there have been quite a lot of revision rounds since, and multiple people have worked on the file. It is then very important that you follow the best practices that I have described above before you submit your document for translating. A good translation company will follow your design specification. In other words, we won’t mess up your design with translation!

    Five Essential Tips for Successful Translation Projects!

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    You Don’t Know the Language? Five Essential Tips for Successful Translation Projects!

    desktop translator illustration. Flat modern style vector design

    You are a Global Marketing Manager or Project Manager and asking yourself, “I need to translate these product sheets into three languages. I don’t know the languages. How do I start this project?”

    With close to 50 years of translation business experience, we can provide you with some essential tips for a successful translation project.

    • Make sure that your target audiences and languages match.
      Let’s say you are thinking of translating marketing collateral from English to Spanish. Are you targeting Spanish-speaking people in the US, Columbia, or Spain? Moreover, if it is for the US market, what about numbering decimal format? Should they be US style (e.g. 0.1, 1,000) or European and Latin American style (e.g. 0,1, 1 000 or 1.000)?If you are targeting Chinese-speaking people, is the country you are targeting Taiwan, Hong Kong, or China?
    • Choose a translation company with solid experience in the language service market with excellent customer service.
      Maybe you are requesting a quote from a few translation companies. Carefully select the one that you think offers the best support for your concerns. Translation management is not a simple task. You want to choose a company that will partner with you throughout your project answering questions and providing you the language expertise you are looking for. A good partner will help you achieve your foreign language goals. You must trust that the company you choose will be experts in translating projects for the languages you are looking for. They also need to be subject matter experts in the topic you are translating. And, most importantly, the translator should be a native speaker of the language in the country you are translating for. Engaging with the right company will make all the difference when it comes to getting the best translation for your money and effort. There must be a deep level of trust as you don’t know the language!
    • Ask as many questions you may have to an Account Manager at the translation company before the project starts.
      If you don’t know how your translation projects will be handled, take the time to speak with the account manager and ask as many questions as needed until you are confident in your choice. For example, you can discuss:

      • What file format should be submitted and what formats can the final files be formatted into?
      • Describe the differences between quality and speed?
      • Formatting quality requirements: print or presentation ready versus rough formatting?
      • Language requirements: what languages are you translating from and into?
      • Does the translation company provide DTP* services?
        * If your materials contain images with callouts (embedded text in images), make sure you provide the source files (Illustrator or Photoshop) for those and provide them to the company at the job start. Recreating a chart costs more than placing translated text into an already-created chart.
    • Verify your source files are complete before providing them for translation.
      So often, the delay of project turnaround is related to incomplete source files and additional changes to source files after the project has started. If you want to avoid additional costs to the project, make sure your source files are final in the source language. This includes all images and charts.

    If you only have a PDF file as a source file, make sure to read this tip!
    It is always best to provide the original source file. If the source file is only in PDF format you can expect a higher translation cost. Just converting the PDF file into an unformatted word file doesn’t work either. A converted Word file translation costs twice or even triple as much when compared to a newly created Word file. A clean and not converted Word file or InDesign file is always the best source file format for the best translation costs and quality of translation and formatting. Frequently, when converting a file from PDF into Word you will lose formatting and even words. Remember that what you are providing as the source file is what the translator will be looking at. If you provide an incomplete, poorly formatted source file, you will also get an incomplete, poorly formatted translated file back. Spend extra time in making sure you are providing the best available source file you have.

    • A well-prepared job start will lead you to a satisfactory project finish.
      No one wants to deal with issues or difficulties. Be sure to spend time on the job requirements and conditions that I stated above before starting a project and you will assure smooth project handling. Even though you don’t know the language, you will know how to avoid extra costs, turnaround delays, and/or complications. You probably have a schedule you need to meet. Any delays or incomplete items will only add time to your deadline and open the door to translation mistakes being made. So my advice is you take the time before you submit the project so that you can both meet your deadline and get the quality translation you expect.

    I hope these tips are helpful. Remember that choosing the best partner will save you time, money and effort. However, it will still be up to you to perform good due diligence, as you know what and for whom this translation is for. Good luck managing your translation projects!

    Language and the Plastic Brain

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    Language and the Plastic Brain

    President Obama

    You may have heard about the Obama family’s recent trip to Cuba, where between his diplomatic duties, the President managed to squeeze in time talking with ordinary citizens. And if you’ve seen the above photograph, you’ll know that in order to communicate with the Spanish-speaking people there, he needed an interpreter – and who better than his daughter Malia?

    It’s a well-documented phenomenon that the POTUS can attest to. The younger a person is when they are exposed to a particular language, the more easily they will learn it. The time period (called a “critical window”) for language acquisition is during the first few years of life though of course language learning can occur across the lifespan. But from the moment they are born children begin filtering and synthesizing the language-related sounds around them, and their young brains are particularly adept at doing this. It’s related to infant brains’ particularly high neuroplasticity, or the flexibility of the brain in creating new information pathways as it learns. Synaptic pruning, like the pruning of an unruly bush in your yard, is the brain’s way of getting rid of pathways it doesn’t use. Newborns’ brains are just beginning to prune themselves, leaving room for a staggering amount of new connections to be made when, say, they hear a new language.

    As the brain continues aging its plasticity decreases. If like many people in the U.S., you only begin taking French in middle school, you’ll know firsthand how hard it is to pronounce a single new word, let alone think fluently in French. Many preschools are beginning to offer full immersion classes, often in Spanish, to take advantage of the young students’ critical period for learning any language. And of course, this period applies for signed as well as spoken language; for more information on Nicaraguan Sign Language, developed by deaf children in a single generation in the 1980s, look here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/07/2/l_072_04.html .

    The human brain is capable of so many amazing feats that producing and comprehending spoken, signed, and written languages as it does on a daily basis can sometimes be brushed aside. But when it’s necessary to use a foreign language to communicate it becomes obvious how intricate and difficult a task that is. Here’s hoping next time you visit a Spanish-speaking country, someone like Malia Obama is nearby to help!

    Why Study Linguistics?

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    Why Study Linguistics?

    This question is projected onto the front wall of my phonetics classroom. I look at it. “Why?” Why would my professor ask us this? Shouldn’t we know? Won’t she drive any doubt out of our heads with the lecture she’s about to deliver, full of those pop science-y morsels about who says “pop” and who says “soda” that we can repeat to our friends later, feeling smug? Maybe part of me hoped or even knew that there could be more to studying the elements of language than this, but I’d never really thought about it.

    Various aspects of the answer come through years of study, true, but the most important element introduced in that phonetics class is borne out every day on the streets of New York, watching movies and television, talking with friends: language is always changing, and trying to staunch the flow of new vocabulary and phrasing will get you nowhere. Unsurprisingly, new terms tend to come from the mouths of young people, especially young women.

    The very professor from my phonetics class, Lisa Davidson of NYU, was recently interviewed about a particular quality of young women’s speech that is becoming more common by the day. This is “vocal fry,” a phenomenon occurring when a speaker’s vocal folds fully close then quickly open, creating a gravelly sound very different from when the vocal folds move smoothly between being partly open and partly closed, which happens during typical speech. As with every change new generations make to language, vocal fry is being derided by older speakers, from public radio hosts to anonymous bloggers, with increasing regularity.

    Davidson puts to rest the idea that vocal fry is inherently “bad” to do while speaking, noting, “We expect our children to dress differently than we do, and to have different hairstyles. We might decry it, sort of, but you know, fashion styles change. Why wouldn’t everything else [including language] change too? It’s just yet another way of making ourselves different than the generation that came before us.” (https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/nyu-stories/lisa-davidson-on-vocal-fry.html).

    Studying linguistics taught me precision and how to diagram complex sentences – but internalizing the fact that language is constantly in flux was the most important thing I learned in my years of study. I can only hope this attitude will stick as I grow older and the changes become more and more removed from the ones of my youth.

    Consider

    Rush translations

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    Rush Translations

    We understand that the demand for speed in translation jobs is very high. To satisfy clients with such needs, we can make that happen. From account managers, project managers, translators, to graphic specialists, all work to complete the job on time. Teamwork counts. Our project managers are very experienced and committed to handling such jobs every day.

    When speed is crucial, sometimes other factors (such as layout) become less of a priority.  What follows are tips for clients submitting a rush job. These tips can help both clients (less cost) and us (faster process).

    • Be sure to tell your account manager the level of translation quality and layout you require from the very beginning. Perhaps the file needs to be printed professionally or posted on a website where both content and format matter.
    • If the files contain a table of contents and index, let us know if they should be translated and formatted or if they can be skipped (for example, if a client only needs the translation for analysis purposes).
    • If files contain images and diagrams, let us know if they must be translated.
    • Let us know if you have a translation reviewer at your company or would like to add editorial services when quality is very important.

    We will be happy to assist you when you need an urgent translation.

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    The Old Chicken and Egg Conundrum

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    The Old Chicken and Egg Conundrum

    For years linguists have discussed the question of whether language affects our thoughts and behavior. Does a Spanish speaker think differently than a Japanese speaker? In “How Language Can Affect the Way We Think” by Jessica Gross (2013), the answer may be “yes.” For example, in the 1950s, researchers studied the language and thoughts of Zuñi speakers (Native Americans indigenous to New Mexico and Arizona), who don’t have separate words for orange and yellow in their language. Sure enough, it was difficult for speakers of Zuñi to tell the two colors apart when asked in the study. At the other end of the spectrum, Russian speakers, who grow up with two completely different words for “dark blue” and “light blue,” were better at differentiating between the two colors than English speakers in a 2007 research project.

    Language differences go deeper than just colors, however. In an article in the Wall Street Journal by Lera Boroditsky, the issue of language and blame is discussed. While English speakers tend to say a person “broke a vase,” for example, Spanish and Japanese speakers would say that the “vase broke itself.” In a Stanford University study, researcher Caitlin Fausey discovered that after watching a video of people accidentally breaking eggs, spilling drinks, etc. and subsequently taking a surprise memory test, English speakers were more likely to remember who caused the accidental event than the Spanish or Japanese speakers.

    A third example can be seen among the aboriginal community of Pormpuraaw, Australia, where indigenous languages use “north,” “south,” “east,” and “west” instead of words like “left” and “right.”  For instance, instead of saying “there is a bug on one’s left leg,” a speaker of Pormpuraaw would say “there is a bug on one’s southwest leg.” Boroditsky decided to study the effects of this linguistic difference and asked the Pormpuraawans to arrange a set of pictures by time of occurrence. While English speakers would do this from left to right, and Hebrew speakers from right to left (Hebrew is written from right to left), the Pormpuraawans arranged the pictures from east to west. Therefore, when facing south, the pictures were placed from left to right, but when facing north, from right to left.

    While research is still being conducted on the relationship among thought, behavior, and language, it seems that language plays at least some role in our thought patterns.

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    The Almost Right Word

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    The Almost Right Word

    “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter — it’s the difference between a lightning bug and the lightning.”   –Mark Twain

    As Mark Twain so wisely states, choosing the right word is important. That’s why, in the translation business, it is considered good practice to always translate into your native language. Even if one is completely fluent in a second language, ideas and concepts may be phrased slightly differently by native speakers, making sentences sound stilted, awkward, or just plain wrong if a non-native speaker writes them. Some mistakes may cause native speakers a great deal of amusement. Take these examples below (source: linguagreca.com):

    In a Norwegian cocktail lounge:  Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

    It doesn’t make sense to English speakers, because “to have children” has the connotation of giving birth to children, which is most likely not what the Norwegians meant.

    In a Nairobi restaurant:  Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.

    Again, we know what the translator is trying to say. But in this case, the sentence sounds like the manager is even ruder than the waitresses.

    At a Budapest zoo: Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.

    While this sentence is grammatically correct, the way it is written causes native speakers to think the guard wants to be fed.

    Although most translators would not make such amusing mistakes, these examples highlight the importance of linguists working into their native language. Almost right isn’t right at all.

    Living Language

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    Living Language

    If you are socializing with a younger crowd, you may hear phrases like That’s totes adorbs! or I’m so jelly. While I admit to becoming slightly bothered when people say totes instead of totally, adorbs instead of adorable and jelly for jealous, every generation, yours and mine included, has made changes to the language, making it the English we consider “normal” today.  Language is always evolving, always adapting to the needs and norms of the culture around it. Eventually, something being totes adorbs will sound old-fashioned, being replaced by new words and phrases by the generations to come.

    Various linguistic processes have resulted in language changes. One such process is called “rebracketing,” which means that a word is broken down into different parts. For example, the word apron used to be napron, a change that was the result of confusing a napron with an apron. The opposite occurred with the word newt; this type of amphibian used to be an ewt, but eventually changed into a newt. Other changes took place through the shortening of common words. Goodbye was originally God-be-with-you, while pub comes from public house. And metathesis, or the rearranging of sounds, transformed words like brid to bird and revelent to relevant. The fact that English is a language that is alive and well means it will always be changing – like all languages used by people in their daily lives.

    So You Want to Be a Translator

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    So You Want to Be a Translator…

    hamletMany people think that translating from one language to another will be an easy and fun way to make a living. This is even true of people who think of translation as a profession, and especially for people who have learned another language in the course of their lives. But even this situation is not always true: some people think they can just study a language for a year or two and be able to translate from it (presumably into their native language). Reading sites for professional translators, you can occasionally come across questions like: 1. Which language is in most demand that I should study to become a translator? 2. Which of the two languages, Arabic or Spanish, would get me the most work as a translator? I’m thinking of learning one of them. 3. I studied Spanish in school, but I think I can earn more money if I learn Portuguese. Is the market for Portuguese translators better than for Spanish?

    You may think that funny. Of course you should already know another language to even think about becoming a translator. But not everyone does. Some think they can learn what they believe to be the basics of another language very quickly, and then translate anything from one language to another. But how well does a person need to know a second language to translate from it to their native language – or to translate into it?

    Two different issues: 1. To translate from a language (known as a source language), how well do you need to know it? 2. To translate into a language (the target language), how well do you need to know that? Almost all good, experienced, professional translators will answer the second question quickly and easily: you should only translate into a target language that is your native language, a language you have learned from early childhood, have studied throughout your schooling years, and have always thought and written in it naturally. The first question is more difficult to answer, given different people’s varied of life and educational experiences, but a good rule of thumb may be: a) you should have spent at least a year in the country where your source language is spoken, b) you should have studied it at least 5-10 years, and c) you should feel comfortable reading books and newspapers in it – without having recourse to a dictionary.

    Then, why do so many trained translators advertise their skills as, for example, English<>Spanish (which means they can go both directions)? Usually because they believe they can get more work if they say they can do both directions. But in fact, they should only translate into their native language, because that is the one they know best and have the confidence to do well. It becomes painfully clear very quickly that a translation done by someone not a native speaker is not natural. (Certainly, not all native speakers can translate into their native language, but that doesn’t negate the need for only translating into your native language.)

    Besides needing to know the culture and the language of your second, or source language, you also need to be very familiar with the subject matter you want to specialize in. You can’t translate legal or medical texts if you don’t know those areas. When you see a description in Spanish of a business that is owned by one person, do you know the correct terminology to describe it in English? It’s not a “one owner business” in English, it’s a “sole proprietorship.” In most cases, looking it up in Google won’t give you the right answer, although sometimes you get a choice, and then the trick is to know which of the choices is correct in the particular context. If you aren’t familiar with the terminology used in the subject area in that language, you’re sunk! You can always take your pick, but it’s more than likely you’ll be wrong.

    Yes, doing translations is intriguing, but even knowing two languages well is not the only requirement to becoming a translator.

    Movies and Translation

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    Movies and Translation

    Have you heard of the film “American Bluff,” ”American Sting” or “American Dream”? No? What about “American Hustle”? In French, Portuguese, and Hebrew, the film is better known by the names above (albeit in the actual language). Translation can be a tricky business, and movie and TV show titles are no exception.  While some titles get translated word for word, some languages completely change the title to make it more culturally appealing, leading to greater success for the film or show. Some examples of this are “Two and a Half Men” being translated into German as “My Cool Uncle Charlie” (Mein cooler Onkel Charlie) and the film “Die Hard” as Die Slowly (Stirb langsam). In France, “The Matrix” is translated as “The Young People Who Traverse Dimensions While Wearing Sunglasses (Les jeunes gens qui traversent les dimensions en portant des lunettes de soleil) and in Spanish, “Weekend at Bernie’s” is “This Dead Person is Very Alive” (Este muerto está muy vivo). A little different!

    The interesting thing, however, is when translators of movie titles in other countries take the original English title and transform it into “simpler” English, which causes some confusion when English native speakers discuss those films with non-native English speakers. “Silver Linings Playbook,” for example, is known as “Happiness Therapy” in France, while “Miss Congeniality” debuted as “Miss Undercover” in Germany and “Miss Detective” in Italy. My favorite movie title translation is the Hebrew translation of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” To make it more immediately appealing and successful locally, the translators changed the title to “It’s Raining Falafal.” Even in Hollywood translation is all about culture!

    Movies

    Advice from a Translation Industry Project Manager

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    Advice from a Translation Industry Project Manager

    Key and LockProject managers in the translation industry come across all kinds of documents. From Japanese contracts to Dutch reports to Spanish marketing pamphlets, we see it all.

    In order to understand the life of a project manager, it is necessary to know how translation works. A typical translator can translate between 1,500-2,000 words a day. Therefore, if your project is 20,000 words, it could take at least ten days for one translator to complete. If you need the project sooner, there is the option of dividing the work between two translators, but then you run the risk of having slightly different translation styles and registers throughout the document. This is where editing, or having the translated work reviewed by a second linguist, comes in to play. In order to ensure that the document is polished and completely mistake-free, it is always recommended to have the document edited. Translators are only human, after all, and having a second linguist review the work ensures accuracy.

    As previously stated, every project is unique. For example, some projects are more technical than others. These types of documents may require more time, as translators will need to research the specific terminology used in the field. Other projects have certain text that should remain in the source language, while still others require specific formatting and graphics work. It is important that any instructions for the project are very clear, as these guidelines will pass from the client to the project manager to the translator. The clearer the instructions, the more confident you can be that your project will be completed exactly to your standards.

    In summary, it is the goal of a project manager to have the translations completed as exact to the meaning as possible.  With clear instructions, as well as by understanding the translation process, you can be sure to receive a high-quality translated project.

    Journey to the West: The Story of the Translator Xuanzang

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    Journey to the West: The Story of the Translator Xuanzang

    One of the four classics of Chinese literature is the historical romance known in English as the Journey to the West was inspired by one of history’s greatest feats of translation. This ancient story of a monk named Xuanzang, who went on a 17-year long journey from north China to India, is still very popular in China.

    Xuanzang lived in China during the Tang dynasty (early 7th century), an era when the study of Buddhism was flourishing. From an early age he studied the Chinese classics and Buddhist writings that had been translated from Indian languages, such as Sanskrit and Pali. But while studying these translations, he suspected that many were inadequate, and decided that he needed to improve them. To do this, he would need access to the original texts which were not available in China. He had to journey to the West, to the Buddhist kingdoms of Central Asia and India to retrieve the source texts. So he left the comfort of Chang’an, the Imperial capital, and made his way west along the foothills of the Tian Shan mountain range, stopping for rest in oasis cities. But travel in those days was not safe; nevertheless, he eventually reached the Buddhist Kingdom of Turpan, where he met a king who helped him in his further travels to India. Eight years later he reached Nalanda, once the epicenter of Buddhist learning in India. There he studied Sanskrit  and copied nearly one thousand texts to bring back to China.

    He returned to the Imperial capital 17 years later with enough Sanskrit literature to occupy both him and a large group of students for the rest of their lives. The translations they produced still serve as the standards of the Chinese Buddhist canon.

    Certainly not every translator has the energy and determination of Xuanzang, but his story highlights some of the contributions translators make to knowledge and communication.

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    A Day in the Life of a Translator

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    A Day in the Life of a Translator

    What is it like to be a translator? Depends on the day! For me, when I receive a job, the first thing I do is look over the text to see what the topic is and how it is written. Is it factual and straight-forward? Is it a marketing text, with colorful words and phrases? Or is it a personal document? A translator needs to keep the voice of the author in mind when working on the text.

    After getting the general idea of the document, I get right to work. In some cases, the topic is very subject-specific, which can make things a little more complicated. For example, I recently completed a translation on 15th century fabric in Burgundy, France—I can’t say I’ve ever come across that topic before! Therefore, before translating any further, I read many articles on silks, velvets and various weaving methods of the time, which gave me a much better understanding of the topic at hand. Researching is often necessary as a translator, even if one is an expert in the field.

    Regardless of the topic, I have a certain routine when it comes to translating. I’m sure every translator is slightly different, but mine goes something like this:

    • I go through the text the first time. When I reach a word or a sentence for which I can’t find the “perfect” English term, I highlight it in red to return to later.
    • Having completed my first draft of the text, I then return to those tricky red sentences. Finding a good translation for these is like trying to solve a puzzle—it’s a challenge, but you feel an immense sense of accomplishment when you know you’ve found the perfect way to phrase something in your native language.
    • After the entire text has been translated, I then go through my translation a second time, comparing it with the source document word by word to make sure I haven’t missed any small detail.
    • Finally, I put the source document away. I read my rendition of the text a third time, making sure it sounds 100% perfect in English, the target language.

    And that’s it. My translation process is complete…until the next job!

    3d human with red stop sign

    Vocabulary versus Meaning

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    Vocabulary versus Meaning

    While having a vast vocabulary is important for any translator or interpreter, simply knowing the dictionary meanings of words in a foreign language is not enough. In fact, in any language, there are many cultural layers behind certain words and phrases that linguists need to know.

    I learned this the hard way when living in German-speaking Austria. As English speakers, we often say “how are you?” as a continuation of our “hello” greeting. We then expect the person to answer with an automatic “Good, how are you?” German speakers, however, don’t do this. Not knowing this cultural norm, I simply translated our common English greeting of “Hello, how are you?” to the German “Hallo, wie geht’s?”when talking to people abroad. After receiving slightly strange looks from German speakers, I would then be provided with twenty-minute long answers involving that person’s stomach issues, skin rashes, fights with estranged siblings, you name it. I quickly learned that the German version of “how are you” is a little different from the English.

    Another example is the phrase “Bis spӓter,” which translates to the English phrase “See you later.” But not exactly. In Austria, after meeting up with a German-speaking friend and getting ready to leave, I cheerfully told him “Bis spӓter!” He gave me a very strange look and said in German, “No, I won’t see you later.” After being a little confused about why he didn’t want to see me ever again, I realized that the German “See you later” can only apply to later that day, and not to the general, anytime-in-the-future way we mean it in English.

    These subtle differences in meaning can make all the difference in translating and interpreting. While the above examples are very basic and low-level, they represent the fact that cultural norms play a role in how one should translate or interpret certain words and phrases. It is therefore very important to be aware of the culture of the language.

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    Different Words, Same Object

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    Different Words, Same Object

    If a British person asked someone to put something in the “boot” in the U.S., they may not be understood. The same might happen if an Argentinian asked for a “papa” instead of a “patata” in Spain, or an Austrian asked for a “Semmel” instead of a “Brӧtchen” in Germany. Depending on the country, the vocabulary, such as these words for “trunk,” “potato,” and “dinner roll,” can differ greatly. But how did these differences begin?translation memory

    To answer this question for the English language, we need to travel back to Great Britain in the 1600s, before the pilgrims set foot on American soil. The Brits themselves may be dismayed to hear this, but, back then, they actually sounded more like American English speakers do today. They threw away “trash” instead of “rubbish” and looked at the beautiful leaves in the “fall” instead of “autumn.” When the settlers came to America, however, their vocabulary remained much the same, while, back over in Great Britain, the language slowly began to change, meaning that words like “fall” and “trash” went out of style. The new colonists didn’t get the memo, however, and a few vocabulary differences were born.

    Other differences were more deliberate. After the Revolutionary War, the Americans weren’t feeling too happy with their British counterparts. And what better way to show their new independence than to start spelling words differently? When Noah Webster published his famous dictionary in 1828, he therefore opted for a lesser known spelling of some words, such as “humor” instead of “humour,” “fiber” instead of “fibre,” etc. to show that the new Americans were different from the British (http://www.livescience.com/33844-british-american-word-spelling.html).

    Today, whether you say “pants” or “trousers” or “papa” or “patata,” it is important that your translation uses the vocabulary words that your target audience will recognize. For example, it would be a mistake to use the British word “lorry” in a U.S. translation, as many American English speakers would not know this word for “truck.” The same is true for many languages of the world, making it all the more important to use a native speaker as a translator.

    Are You Designing a Brochure that will be Translated?

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    Are You Designing a Brochure that will be Translated?

    Are you planning to design an English brochure that will be translated into other languages? Here are some tips before you start designing it. The most important thing is to have flexibility in design. Simple is better!

    Let’s say if you have a single line of a catch phrase in a large font. When it is translated, it may become three lines of text, depending on the language. Some European languages are two or three times longer than English. In contrast, Chinese and Korean can be 50% or even shorter in length.

    THINGS TO AVOID:

    • Justified text – This is a real pain to work on. For longer languages, we condense the font, set less tracking, and so on. For shorter languages, we space letters out more or increase font size. We make all possible adjustments for it to look good, but often it may lose the feel that the English design has. Worse, it can look clumsy.
    • Coloring some words within a sentence – To emphasize some words, we sometimes want to make them a different color. However, this may not be a wise choice on a translation. Other languages have very different grammar from English, what you aimed for visually in your English design may disappear in the translated material, or it may not look good.
    • Use multiple fonts and font weights – Only use two fronts: a serif and a sans serif one. Add variations to them by bolding, italicizing, and underlining. Also, understand that the fonts you use for the English materials may not work for other languages. Possibly some letters won’t appear correctly or accent marks would be gone. For many European languages, the Std and Pro fonts work beautifully, so try them first.

    Tell your language provider if you have a highly designed marketing piece to be translated and you are concerned for how it will look in another language. Consult them before the project starts about fonts to be used, font size, and any other design issues that may arise.

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    Don’t have a Cow! Time to Hit the Hay! It’s not Over ‘til the Fat Lady Sings!

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    Don’t have a Cow!  Time to Hit the Hay! It’s not Over ‘til the Fat Lady Sings!

    Don’t have a cow!  Time to hit the hay! It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings! As native English speakers, we don’t think twice when we hear these phrases. But can you imagine being new to America and having your friend tell you that it’s time to hit the hay? What did the hay ever do to you? Or being at a baseball game, with your team  losing, ready to give up, when your US-born friend looks at you and insists that it’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings? Where is this fat lady, and why is she singing? As for having a cow, when my teenage English students in Salzburg tried to guess what this idiom could mean, they thought it meant having a fat girlfriend. Lovely.

    While every language has idioms, these set phrases with figurative meanings can pose problems for non-native speakers.   I’ve seen firsthand how these phrases can throw you for a loop (another odd phrase!).  Some examples I’ve come across include:

    Non-native speaker: Katie, my new roommate told me she wants to move in this weekend, but she isn’t feeling well. She said she is going to play with her ears. Does that mean there is something wrong with her ears?

    After cracking up, I explained that the phrase is “to play it by ear” and its meaning. To this day, however, we still say “to play with your ears.” Has a nice ring to it.

    Non-native speaker: I texted John to see if he wanted to go to the football game with me today. He said he can’t because he has to go to his parents, but he’ll take a rain check. I know he is a very nice polite guy, but is he really going to check the weather for me? I can do that myself.

    While such stories may be amusing when they take place among friends, idioms often pose a problem for translators. As a German translator, I need to be able to recognize the foreign idioms and know their meaning, making sure not to translate them word for word and having the Germans laugh at me!  Germans, for example, kill two flies with one flyswatter (two birds with one stone), give up the spoon (die), and, when they are happy, hang out on Cloud 7 (while us Americans are up on Cloud 9). Makes me wonder who’s on Cloud 8…

    Where to Break Lines in Japanese Text

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    Where to Break Lines in Japanese Text

    If you lay out Japanese text for proposals, presentations, advertisements, or brochures (and if you are not a native speaker), it is important to do so following Japanese language customs.

    3D Businessman handshakingThere are rules for breaking lines in Japanese. Especially relevant is the Kinsoku Rule, which Wikipedia explains on page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_breaking_rules_in_East_Asian_languages

    In some cases these rules can be bent a bit. If you want to adjust the line breaks yourself, you will need some expertise in Web coding. Generally, the Web system automatically sets up the text in a readable format.

    However, for important sales or marketing materials, to avoid any mistakes, it is better to check with a Japanese native. Perhaps in your Tokyo office there may be someone who can check it for you. If you cannot find anyone, ask your language provider to proofread and edit your materials to make sure they are free of mistakes.

    Once in a while we receive such job orders from our clients. Our Japanese native editors make corrections and adjustments to line breaks, as well as other mistakes such as repetitions of words when people “cut and paste a translation” without knowing the language. Native proofreading is essential to preserving your image of  high quality.

    MT as Good as Human Translation?

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    MT as Good as Human Translation?

    A client recently told our Development Manager that machine translation is as good as human translation. Was he way off base or did he just not express himself correctly?

    Let’s have a look at some examples using Linguistic Systems’ own STS system (www.linguist.com/services-sts.htm). The following table shows examples of MT using the STS system as well as comparison human translations that were done independently. As a point of reference, the STS system is a high quality MT system, consistently outscoring other systems using the industry-standard BLEU score (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BLEU).

    Language Source Text Machine Translation Human Translation
    Spanish El historiador Juan Luis Montero ha asegurado en un estudio científico que la “Torre de Babel” era de 60 metros de altura y no de 90 como se pensaba hasta ahora, en una hipótesis que se incluye en la primera exposición que se hace en España sobre uno de los más famosos edificios de toda la historia. The historian Juan Luis Montero has ensured in a scientific study that the “Tower of Babel” was 60 meters in height, not 90 as it was thought up until now, in a scenario that is included in the first exposure that is done in Spain on one of the most famous buildings of the whole story. Historian Juan Luis Montero has confirmed in a research study that the Tower of Babel was 60 meters tall, not 90 meters as people had thought until now. His theory is included in Spain’s first ever exhibition on one of the most famous buildings in history.
    Japanese かかる課題を解決すべく、本発明の地盤改良気泡材は、起泡剤の希釈水に増粘剤を添加して、液を発泡させることにより強力な膜を持つ気泡を製造してなるものである。起泡剤としてアルキルサルフェート系界面活性剤を用いる。増粘剤として水溶性セルロースエーテルを使用する。 In order to solve the problem of the, present invention improvement of the foaming material, the foaming agent of dilution by adding a thickening agent to water, liquid by producing bubbles having a tough film. As the foaming agent アルキルサルフェート -based surfactant is used. Water-soluble cellulose ether as a thickening agent is used. To solve the problem, adding a thickener to the diluted water of a foaming agent, the ground improvement foam material of the present invention makes bubbles that have a strong film through the foaming of the liquid.  An alkyl sulfate surfactant is used as the foaming agent.  Water soluble cellulose ether is used as a thickener.
    German Niemand weiß, was der Große Bruder genau tut. Die Vermutung liegt aber sehr, sehr nah, dass der Große Bruder es selbst umso genauer weiß. Es geht um Adobe, ein US-amerikanisches Softwareunternehmen, das mit Flash Player eines der am meisten verbreiteten Programme zum Abspielen von Multimediadateien zur Verfügung stellt. So gut wie unbekannt ist, dass Flash im Computer-Betriebssystem des Benutzers Infodateien, so genannte Super-Cookies versteckt, die Daten über Surfgewohnheiten speichern und an Adobe-Server weitersenden. Noch völlig unklar ist, was diese, bis zu 25 Megabyte großen Super-Cookies, sonst noch so von der Festplatten der PCs weiter geben. Nobody knows what the big brother does. But the presumption is very, very close, that the Big Brother is even more exact white. It’s about Adobe, an American software company, with a Flash Player of the most popular programs for playing multimedia files. As good as unknown that Flash in the user’s Computer operating system, so-called Infodateien Cookies hidden Super-store data on web surfing habits and Adobe-Server transferring. Is very unclear is what this up to 25 megabytes big Super-Cookies, else the harddisks of PCs continue to exist. Nobody knows for sure what, exactly, Big Brother is doing. One suspects, however, that Big Brother himself knows precisely what he is doing. Case in point is Adobe, a US software company whose Flash Player is one of the most widely used programs to play back multimedia files. Little known is the fact that Flash hides information files inside the user’s operating system, so-called Super Cookies, which store information about the user’s online surfing habits and forward that information to the Adobe servers. It remains unclear, however, what else these up to 25 megabyte-sized Super Cookies may be forwarding from the PC hard drives.

    The human translation in each case is clearly “better,” however what does that even mean?

    From a linguistic, grammatical and stylistic point of view the human translation is nicer and makes English speakers “happier” than the error-filled and stylistically-challenged machine translation. It is a translation that can be published.

    However, if a client only needs to pay a fraction of the human translation cost for the MT, and they are simply looking for information, not to publish, then from their point of view, it may really be as good as a human translation. But look at the German above. Can you really determine what exactly is happening with the Super-Cookies just by reading the MT? Not really. The human is much more understandable. Of course, instead of paying for a full human translation, you can also upgrade the MT by adding a post-editing step, in which a human translation clears up any ambiguities without necessarily fixing all grammatical and stylistic issues.

    It’s a lot to think about. If you’re in doubt about what you need, speak with your Account Manager at your Language Service Provider and ask about options.

    What is foreign brand name analysis and why you may need it.

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    What is foreign brand name analysis and why you may need it.

    qualificastionsImagine your company is about to adopt a new name for one of its products. It hires an advertising agency to develop that name and an entire marketing campaign. This is not going to be cheap. Of course the agency knows the US market thoroughly, and is probably worth its price. It will have an experienced strategy for developing a name and will know key points to analyze for US English, but it is more than likely it will not know how to do an analysis for foreign markets

    Foreign brand name analysis is a way to discover if there may be a problem using a name in another language. If you plan to sell your product outside the US (as well as within the US), you will definitely need to commission research into how the name is likely to be received abroad. You (or your ad agency) may be tempted to try to save money on this stage: don’t!

    It goes without saying that if you plan to sell your product in Germany, you will want to have an analysis for German. But you may be tempted to do only one analysis for Spanish, and there are many, many varieties of Spanish. At one time, our company was asked to do a name analysis for Spanish, but luckily it was targeted at four different countries: Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela. It was discovered that it was just fine for three of the Spanish variants, but for Mexico the name would have been a disaster because it was likely to be associated with the festival of the dead. The project saved that company from a very costly mistake, and was well worth the extra few dollars.

    Everyone knows about the embarrassing error of the Nova automobile, which is true for any version of Spanish. But the really interesting stories are to be found in names that were not chosen because the companies trying to use them found out before committing to them.

    Mixed Nuts

    Translators

     

     

    Mixed Nuts

    Have you ever looked at what’s in a bag of mixed nuts? You have? OK, have you ever thought how a bag of mixed nuts is like the translation industry?

    Fifty percent are peanuts. These aren’t even nuts – they’re legumes. Just like the 50% of people who claim to be translators, but aren’t. They might look like a nut (speak a couple of languages or more), but they’re not translators. Count on your language service provider (LSP), like Linguistic Systems, to weed them out and protect you from them.

    TranslatorsAt the other end of the scale are the expensive nuts, the pecans, almonds and brazil nuts. These are really good nuts, but they’re very expensive if you can find them. And if you can find one, you have to fight everyone else in your family for them. Like a really good, experienced, expensive translator who is usually booked up and can’t take your project.

    This leaves the almonds and cashews. These are the people you can count on. They’re mostly available or can squeeze you in. They’re affordable and they provide good quality. They are the staple of the industry and LSPs specialize in finding them, testing them to see what they’re good at and matching the right one to your project.

    What about high-quality machine translation? Have you ever found a macadamia nut in a bag of mixed nuts? I didn’t think so.

    Which Form of Arabic Do You Need?

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    Which Form of Arabic Do You Need?

    Arabic, like several other languages, is not the same throughout the Middle East. When you need a document translated into Arabic, if you are unfamiliar with the regional variations in this language, it may be difficult for you to choose which form or dialect to request. The various forms of Arabic are: Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, colloquial Arabic (variations include dialects for: Egypt and the Sudan; Arabian Peninsula; Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine; Iraq; and Morocco, Algeria, and western Libya).

    Linquistic Systems, Inc. Arabic TranslationsClassical Arabic:Classical Arabic is the formal, written Arabic of the Koran, and has historically been the language used in courts, bureaucracy, and literature and scholarship.

    Modern Standard Arabic (MSA):MSA is the modern counterpart of Classical Arabic and is the official language of 22 Arab countries, where it is used in both oral and written form on all formal occasions. The main difference between MSA and Classical Arabic is that MSA contains the vocabulary of modern discourse, while Classical Arabic is used for older, more formal expression.

    Colloquial Arabic:Colloquial Arabic is the spoken form of the language. It has many local variants; the main regional dialects are:

    Egyptian Arabic – the most widely spoken and understood second dialect

    Sudanese Arabic – spoken in the Sudan

    Levantine Arabic – Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and western Jordan

    Gulf Arabic – the Gulf Coast, from Kuwait to Oman

    Najdi Arabic – the desert and oasis areas of central Saudi Arabia

    Yemeni Arabic – most common in Yemen

    Iraqi Arabic – Iraq

    Hijazi Arabic – in the area west of present-day Saudi Arabia (referred to as the Hejaz region)

    Maghreb Arabic – mainly in Algeria, Tunis, Morocco, and western Libya

    Hassaniiya – in Mauritania

    So, which form of Arabic should you order for your translation? MSA is used in most formal situations, including documents, the Internet, and public media. It is also used in scientific and scholarly journals and legal and medical information. The main difficulty arises in dealing with marketing and advertising copy. There, while MSA can certainly be used, sometimes a better choice would be the local dialect. Your translation provider will be the best source to advise you which to choose.

    How much is MT Being Used Anyhow?

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    How much is MT Being Used Anyhow?

    In a recent newsletter, Jost Zetzsche of the International Writers’ Group (www.internationalwriters.com) provided some interesting statistics about the use of machine translLinguistic Systems, Inc.  Machine Translationation (MT) by professional translators. He obtained these numbers from David Canek of MemSource (www.memsource.com), a provider of translation technology tools.  MemSource makes MT available to translators from within its suite of tools and can track how many translators make use of this functionality.

    Despite all the outcry against MT among translators around the world, a full 46.2% of translators who use MemSource also use the MT function. Of those, 98% used the very public Google Translate or Microsoft Bing, who keep and reuse all data submitted to them. Only 2% of translators use customized and secure MT engines such as AsiaOnline, KantanMT and Linguistic Systems’ own Select Translation Service (www.linguist.com/services-sts.htm).

    This brings up a couple of interesting questions for clients: (1) Am I paying for full human translation and getting post-edited MT instead? and (2) If my data is being shared with Google and Microsoft, how secure is it really?

    Clients need to be very clear with their translation partners about what they are paying for and about how their data should be handled. In general,  post-edited MT may be acceptable  from a quality perspective depending on the editing  thoroughness, but clients deserve to know exactly what  is happening. Perhaps more importantly, clients also deserve to know that their information is being handled in an acceptably secure fashion and not floating around the Internet for anyone to  see and use.

    Right now this situation is as transparent as a brick wall. Your valued comments are invited.

    Back Translations, their rationale and value

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Back Translations, their rationale and value

    For medical and pharmaceutical clients, back translations are necessary facts of life; they are absolute requirements for most clinical research documents that must be translated into other languages. But for experienced professional translators and editors who work in this area, back translations seem a wrongheaded way to approach accuracy and faithfulness to the source document.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Optional Back TranslationWhy would governmental agencies require a back translation of all clinical trial documents as a matter of course? In a cogently argued article in ICT (International Clinical Trials, summer, 2008, pp.16 ff.), Simon Andriesen points out that, 1. everyone involved needs to be informed about all aspects of the trial, 2. the results of the research will need to be published, 3. documents must be written in clear, unambiguous language, 4. many trials are performed across national boundaries, and 5. consequently, the research must be multilingual in design for accurate comparative cross-country evaluation. To accomplish this, factors that need to be considered include evaluation of the source questions as well as the target translation. For example, when a patient in India or China is asked to evaluate the level of discomfort (from 1-10) of a procedure and rates it a 2 (slight discomfort) because they are accustomed to living with a certain level of pain, is that really comparable to a 2 given by a patient in France or Germany, someone who is not accustomed to living with pain? The people engaged in design of the research need to ensure that answers are comparable across national and linguistic boundaries. How can the source language and translations of a question help accomplish this?

    Translators and linguistic editors are not concerned with evaluating research design nor for comparability of results across linguistic boundaries. They are concerned with linguistic accuracy, naturalness, and proper form, which are really very different from the concerns of a medical researcher or government agency. And for translators, their arguments against back translations are perfectly valid: a good translation, along with good editing, is much to be preferred as valid linguistic procedures over back translation. This is especially true if both the translation and back translation are rushed to meet a tight deadline, and the people evaluating the back translation do not really know what they should be looking for. For example, if a back translator uses the word “brave,” but the original English had “courageous,” the client should not be focused on this as an error in translation: it’s not, the meaning is exactly the same. Another example would be judging it a mistranslation if a back translation uses “participates in” for “takes part in.” Minor variations like these do not indicate translation errors, they simply reveal the many correct, possible choices in a language.

    Rather than criticizing a back translation for changed word order or slight, seeming differences in word choice from the source, which translators understand is the correct way to go about conversion from one language to another, Andriesen argues that people who evaluate forward and back translations should be looking at comprehensiveness (inclusion of all points in the source document) and comparability across languages. True, this demands a great deal of time and trouble, but it is the true rationale behind requiring back translations. It is usually the case that the linguistic aspects of a clinical trial are given short shrift, and not enough time and effort are spent on how translations and back translations can aid the research process, provided they are performed correctly.

    Andriesen concludes his excellent article with:

    “If back translations are merely done to be kept on file or to satisfy ISO auditors, the efforts and cost are a total waste. When taken seriously and done in a professional way, a back translation effectively can identify the shortcomings of a translation – although one may argue whether it is cost-effective. A final edit stage, with a detailed commentary or a double forward translation, will probably provide the same level of confidence.”

    Interpreting: Ordering the right service

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    Interpreting: Ordering the right service

    What do you ask for when you need someone who can speak another language for an individual client deposition or medical appointment? – for a conference? – for a patent lawsuit in court?

    When they need language services like these, many people contact our office requesting a translator. Some even qualify that by asking for a “translator on site.” But translations are written documents, and the people who do them are “translators.” And it is also possible to request that a translator be provided at a specific company site to do a written translation. All oral work, however, is called “interpretation.”

    There are several different kinds of interpretation, depending on the mode and purpose, and most interpreters are qualified for only some of these types. The most demanding mode is simultaneous interpreting, usually reserved for large conferences that may require several different language pairs (e.g., English/French, English/Spanish, English/Portuguese) and use equipment (headphones, etc.) and booths to isolate each interpreter and avoid interference from other language pairs. The interpreter speaks at the same time as the speaker in the source language does, but is usually a sentence behind the speaker. He/she must hear, register, and remember what the speaker is saying, while at the same time interpreting into the target language the content of the speech a few seconds earlier. The audience can listen to the interpreter via specific headphones geared to that language pair. It helps to have the speech written out beforehand, but if there are rapid exchanges of information in two languages, the interpreter must think very quickly, assimilate the information in one language, and interpret it into another. This requires very specialized skills and training, and the number of interpreters who can do this is very limited. Most simultaneous interpreters work a full day or several days.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Interpreting ServicesAlso demanding is certified court interpreting, which often requires the simultaneous skill, although sometimes consecutive interpreting is sufficient. Consecutive is the most common mode and is used for depositions and medical appointments as well as for court. The attorney or doctor speaks first, and the interpreter listens carefully to what is said in the source language, and then interprets it immediately afterwards into the target language. People do not speak at the same time, which makes it somewhat less stressful, but the interpreter must be familiar with the terminology of the subject to be interpreted, as well as both source and target languages. Most consecutive interpreters work by the hour, with a two or three-hour minimum.

    Escort interpreting is yet another mode. Here the interpreter must walk around a facility or place with the people he/she is required to interpret for. Mobile equipment (microphones and speakers) are required, and the interpreter may have to function in either a consecutive or simultaneous way, depending on the situation.

    In addition to these types of interpreting, sometimes clients require a whisper interpreter. This mode is often used at meetings where interpreting for only one or two guests is required. The interpreter sits next to them and whispers her/his interpretation into their ear. No equipment is needed.

    Finally, many medical facilities (and others) use telephone interpreters. These are on-call interpreters, prepared to provide consecutive interpreting over the phone in their language pair for specific subjects. They normally work only a few minutes at a time, as long as the phone call or medical appointment takes, but can be available for somewhat longer periods if necessary.

    The type of interpreting you need depends on the given purpose or event. It is always helpful, however, to provide written materials or background information to help the interpreter prepare for your event. No matter how competent and appropriate the language professional is, the written documents will enable the interpreter to prepare in advance of the event and ensure the most suitable interpretation for your needs.

    Selecting a Translation Vendor

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Selecting a Translation Vendor

    Magic Triangle Checked 2 ENAs is true for any project, selecting the right tool, the right resource, is vital for the successful completion of the project. To be sure, the translation industry is awash with hundreds of thousands of individual translators and translation agencies working in every corner of the globe, all vying for a piece of that multi-million dollar pie in a rapidly expanding market driven by continued globalization. Today, translation of product literature and web content is no longer merely a tool to market and sell product abroad; for many industries, like the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, new safety regulations imposed by local governments require that all product labeling, instructions, cautions and warnings are provided in the native language of the target market to avoid injury or death by incorrect use of a device or drug.

    When choosing a translation vendor, the ultimate purpose and target audience of the translation determines what level of sophistication a buyer should require from the vendor. If a translation error could potentially cause injury or death, then a certified full-service translation agency should handle the project, an agency that has the resources to translate, revise, edit, review and proof a translation in a full-service workflow model. On the other end of the spectrum, if the purpose of a translation is ‘for information only’ and translation errors carry little or no risk, the buyer could opt for individual freelance translators or a small startup agency that might offer a more cost-effective solution (although not necessarily so). The buyer should keep in mind, however, that translation requires a joint effort between the buyer and the TSP when it comes to job specifications and the exchange of information. If a buyer’s translation needs will be ongoing rather than sporadic, establishing a good working relationship with a single provider who can handle projects of various sizes and levels of sophistication might be advantageous in the long run.

    These are questions to be asked of a potential TSP:

    • Which languages do you handle?
    • How long have you been in operation?
    • What are your qualifications/how do you qualify your translators? (Note: Being proficient in a source and a target language is not enough to be a good translator; number of years of translation experience, subject-matter familiarity, text-type competence, overall level of education, continued residence in a country where the target language is spoken, and expertise with the required software tools are important considerations when qualifying translation resources.)
    • What is your typical translation work flow (i.e. translation, review, revision, proofing)?
    • Who will manage my project (in an agency)?
    • Can you provide me with sample translations/will you translate a small sample for me?
    • What extra-value services can you provide (i.e. layout/desk-top publishing, creation of glossaries or translation memories, certifications/notarizations, if required)?
    •  Do you have the required software programs/tools for my project (i.e. InDesign for layout work)?
    • How are files transferred to and from your facility (i.e. email, HighTail, uploads to a secured site)?
    • What data security or confidentiality agreements do you provide (if required)?

    Translator Qualifications

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    Translator Qualifications

    What percentage of people who speak more than one language are actually qualified to work as professional translators? That’s a difficult question to answer. However, as Vendor Manager at Linguistic Systems, I can tell you how many people who “think” they can work as professional translators are actually qualified.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translator QualificationsLinguistic Systems receives on average over 300 applications per month from people offering us their translation services. This is a combination of unsolicited applications through our website and applications in response to targeted recruiting campaigns (for example, a targeted search for medical translators from English to selected languages).

    Out of these 300 applicants, only about 70 meet our basic requirements of a university degree (or equivalent) and 2 years of professional experience. These applicants are then sent a sample to translate.

    Out of these 70, an average of 9 new translators per month pass the test and are invited to join our translator pool.

    What does this mean?

    Well, for one, it means that not every bilingual or multilingual person can work as a translator. Either, they don’t have the aptitude or targeted education.

    Could it also mean that Linguistic Systems (and many other legitimate translation agencies) are too stringent in their requirements? Perhaps, but as a client, isn’t that what you want?!?

    Client or Service Provider – Who Owns the Translation Memory?

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Client or Service Provider – Who Owns the Translation Memory?

    Who owns the translation memory? This is a question that has dogged the language services industry since the introduction of translation memory tools decades ago. And both sides can quite logically make a claim to ownership.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation MemoryThe service provider can claim that it is their work and investment in the translation memory tool in the first place that gives them ownership.

    The client can claim that they own the source and target texts and that, since the translation memory contains both, they can reasonably claim ownership.

    Oh, and there is a third side to the question, too. What about the translator who has also invested in a translation memory tool? Doesn’t he or she have a claim also?

    Clearly, there is nothing very clear about this at all.

    The definitive solution is to ensure that this question, and all other questions, is unambiguously addressed in any agreement among the parties involved, including any costs to be paid by one party to another, before the job starts.

    Maybe it is pretty clear, after all…

    Website Localization

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    Website Localization

    localizationWhat is website localization? It is much more than the simple translation of text. It is the procedure of altering an existing website to the local language and culture in the target market. It is the method of adapting a website into a different linguistic and cultural framework. This revision process must reflect specific language and cultural preferences in the content, images and overall design and requirements of the website, but keeping the consistency of the website. Culturally adapted web sites reduce the amount of required understading efforts from visitors of the site to process information, making navigation easier and attitudes toward the web site more favorable. The adaptation of the website must additionally take into consideration the stated purpose of the new website with a focus on the targeted audience/market in the new location. Website localization aims to customize a website so that it seems ” accepted “, to its visitors despite cultural differences between the designer and the audience. Two factors are involved—programming expertise and linguistic/cultural knowledge.

    The prosperity of website localization is the result of the reputation of computer and Internet users. People all over the world treat the Internet as their main location for information and services. These people do not speak the same language. As a result, website localization has become one of the primary tools for business global expansion.

    Due to website communication across multiple cultures for multiple needs, the Internet has given way to non professional translation practices. Because website localization involves mixed strategies, organizations tend to maintain a global image while using website localization to appeal to local users. The challenge of website localization has become even more important as web sites increasingly have the potential to both supplement and replace presence in foreign markets. As web design becomes more fitting with national culture, it will foster online consumer purchasing. Creators take into account the “language, education level, belief and value systems, and traditions and habits” of the target culture in order to optimize results.

    What is a rush job and why: Factors to consider when ordering translation

    Linguistic Systems Translation

     

     

    What is a rush job and why: Factors to consider when ordering translation.

    fast turnaround speedometerWhen people order translation they usually have a specific date they need to have it done. But they rarely consider how long a good translator needs to do it properly. One rule of thumb is that most translators can complete about 3,000 words a day. “What,” you may say, “3,000 words should not take 8 hours!”

    Ask any translator: it does. Translation is not just a matter of translating words or sentences, often a translator needs to do some research to find the right term, and that can take a while. More important for the person ordering a translation is the fact that you definitely do not want a translator to deliver his or her first pass at your material. Nor do you want them to read it over immediately after their first try. For best results it’s always wise to allow several hours (ideally, at least a day) to elapse before re-reading a translation. So, you may have an important letter to translate, and the letter is less than 2,000 words, but the translation agency says the soonest they can delivery your translated letter is 2-3 days from when you place the order. They are allowing time to find the right translator, as well as time for the translator to re-read the translation.

    But you want the translation back the same day, or the next one at the latest. You may even need to deliver it quickly. Most agencies will consider any job that needs to be delivered within 24 hours a rush job. They will charge extra for such jobs because 1) the project manager will need to put aside everything else to expedite your letter, and 2) the translator who accepts it will also need to put aside everything else. The translator may be able to complete a first pass in 4 hours if it does not require any research, but they will not be able to re-read it in that time. Even at the cost of putting aside all other work, the soonest you can expect your translation would be the next day – if you want decent quality. If quality is not important, yes, you can probably get it in 4-6 hours.

    And that is for a very small job! What about when you need to have 10,000 or 50,000 words translated? Another rule of thumb is that a decent, full-time translator needs a week to translate 10,000 words. For 50,000 words, you need to allow 5 weeks. If you must have your 50,000-word translation in 2 weeks, most agencies will bend over backwards to accommodate you. What they will need to do is assign your job to several translators and an editor. The editor will assure consistency of terminology and quality, but an editor will require several days to look over the completed translation. Of course, it is possible to deliver your translation when you need it, and the agency will do everything to ensure that, but you should be aware of what is considered a rush job and why that is true.

    Language Needs for Clinical Trials

    Linguistic Systems, Inc.

     

     

    Language Needs for Clinical Trials

    blog clinical trialsIf you conduct clinical trials, you know that you must often make documents available in many languages – and afterwards you need to have the results translated back into English! This is time-consuming, expensive, and can even prove to be something of a nightmare for a pharmaceutical company accustomed to dealing with medical/scientific issues, but not language nuances.

    So you need to depend on experienced professionals to do the language work for you. In addition to agencies that are specialized in clinical trials, you should look for ones that have excellent project management and can provide sophisticated translation memory technology across your clinical trials projects.

    Specialized experience enables you to receive language translations by professionals who know the exact right word to use in their native language for the medical term. Thus the terminology should be correct.

    For project management, you want to look for both a logical, complete system for doing the work AND experienced, long-term managers who know what to look out for and will be able to deliver your documents when you need them. Especially in later stages of clinical trials, time is often of the essence.

    Translation memory that can be used across a project allows for consistency of translation, no matter who the translator is.

    Ideally, all translations should be edited by a second language professional, but for clinical trials work, the editing stage is absolutely essential. You should not accept translations that have not been edited by a second language professional, no matter how critical delivery time is. You cannot skip the editing stage – proofreading is not enough.

    Linguistic Systems provides all of these for your translation requirements in:

    • Regulatory documents
    • Clinical protocols and summaries
    • Investigator materials
    • Patient information
    • Informed consent forms
    • Patient questionnaires
    • Case reports
    • Patient outcomes and adverse events
    • Drug labels and inserts

    Overcoming Obstacles to Translation Quality

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    Overcoming Obstacles to Translation Quality

    qualityWhen you entrust a language service provider with the translation quality  of a document, you may feel powerless once the document leaves your hands and undergoes the translation process. This can be especially daunting for a customer who has never worked with a translation provider and doesn’t know what to do to help ensure a high-quality deliverable. Below, I offer a few tips that will help you regain control by taking an active part in the translation process.

    Preparing the Source Text for Translation

    Customers ordering translation services for large engagements on a regular basis might include source text optimization as part of their process. This step involves checking the source text for any errors and ambiguities that could hinder a smooth translation process. The translator, a native speaker of the language that the source text is being translated into (the target language), might not pick up on ambiguities as readily as a native speaker of the source text. For example, a sign on the door of a beachfront bar that reads “We don’t serve shirtless surfers” could be interpreted in two different ways. One meaning implies that drinks or food will not be served to surfers not wearing shirts, and the second, somewhat gruesome meaning suggests that one will not find shirtless surfers on the menu. As far-fetched as the second meaning may seem, the example serves to illustrate that in some cases, there may be more than one interpretation of a source segment. Be sure to check your source text for possible errors and ambiguities that could lead to mistranslations.

    Although not directly related to language quality, inconsistent formatting can negatively influence the reader’s first impression of the translated text. We all know the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, but in reality, almost everyone judges a book by its cover to some degree. Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools will output the translation based on the source text input so any inconsistent leading or kerning in the source will be duplicated in the translated text. If you want the translation to not only read well, but also to look great, you can help by supplying a well-formatted source document.

    Selecting a Translation Partner

    Selecting a translation provider is one of the key decisions that you will make during the translation process. During the selection process, focus on choosing a company that has experience translating the subject matter in question. If the document is legal in nature, you will want ensure that the provider you select specializes in legal translations. You can ask for references and information on the types of projects completed. If the subject matter is a sub-specialty of the main subject, make sure to highlight this to your translation team so that the best suited resources can be allocated to the task.

    Another criterion for selecting a translation partner is the reliability of the supplier’s translation process. Most agencies will include quality assurance steps so that no activity goes unchecked. Usually, a second linguist will proofread the translation for any errors, and if formatting is required, it will also undergo a format check. You should find out what QA checks are carried out to guarantee the highest possible quality. Selecting a translation partner that you feel comfortable with and trust is just as important. This should be someone who will guide you through the process and will help you find a solution that’s best for you when obstacles arise.

    Supplying the Necessary Supporting Documentation

    Your translation contact might ask you for reference material when you submit a request. In the context of language translation, reference material would be any documentation that provides additional information about the text to be translated. Consider a recent request to translate the word “red”. This may seem simple enough, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. In some languages, adjective endings will differ depending on the noun that they modify. For example, in Polish, “red” could be translated as “czerwony”, “czerwona” or “czerwone”, depending on the gender of the noun that it modifies. A customer might copy and paste individual words translated out of context into a larger body of text. This is why it is so important to let the translator know how these words will be used in the compiled document. If a part of a document is sent for translation, the entire document needs to be supplied for reference so that the translation team can see how a particular segment fits into the whole. The same rule applies to software strings which are usually supplied out of context, drawings or diagrams belonging to an instruction manual, etc. If you are not sure what reference material would be relevant, ask your translation provider for input.

    Allocating the Appropriate Turnaround Time and Budget

    As a general rule, a translator can translate approximately 2,000 words per day. This number will increase or decrease depending on the subject matter, the complexity of the text, and the target language. An editor will be able to edit approximately 1,000 words per hour, depending on the translation quality and the factors mentioned above. These numbers represent the ideal situation, but many translators will also be working on other projects, and the resources best suited for your request might not be available right away. For this reason, you should give your translation partner as much advance notice as possible for larger requests so that the appropriate resources can be lined up ahead of time. In addition, sufficient turnaround time, determined based on complexity, volume and your internal schedule, needs to be given to ensure a high-quality deliverable. Rush requests cannot be avoided in today’s fast-paced global market, but they should be kept to a minimum as they place undue strain on everyone involved, including your internal teams, and can make it difficult to achieve top quality.

    A team of in-country translators specializing in your field will be able to produce a higher-quality translation than a team of translators residing outside of the target country without the necessary subject-matter expertise. High quality and expertise come at a price so if quality is of utmost importance make sure that a sufficient budget has been allocated and that your translation contact knows your priorities. When setting a budget, consider the costs of an incorrect translation that can result in re-printing costs and missed sales.

    Machine Translation, Post-editing, and Human Translation: Business Uses and Pitfalls

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     Machine Translation, Post-editing, and Human Translation Business Uses and Pitfalls

    We are all familiar with various jokes about Machine Translation (MT) and how one very good sentence may be followed by a nonsensical one.  While the nonsense is amusing,  anyone reading MT should also be warned against depending on the accuracy of seemingly good sentences. One of the main functions of a human post-editor is to validate statement that are sufficiently correct, not just correct those that have significant flaws.  Correcting the most offensive errors in terminology, grammar, and syntax are important, but the primary need is to ensure that the translation conveys the correct meaning of the source.

    A human translator is generally consistent in strengths and weaknesses, but MT is random and that creates a danger.  The reader should never assume Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translation Post Editingthat the types of errors are consistent or one good sentence near the beginning means you will find an overall good quality level.  MT is a minefield of random errors, and the most dangerous ones are those that are hidden in statements that seem correct, until examination by a post-editor reveals that the correct meaning is exactly the opposite of what appears in the MT! This phenomenon is actually more common today than years ago when MT was based on a dictionary plus grammar rules instead of the modern statistical approach.  The latter draws on a very large database of sentences and phrases and the computer seeks the best match to the input source text. But suppose the best fit contains a “not” that isn’t in the source? Unfortunately this is reality and the reader must always be vigilant. It is also the reason why  a post-editor must have an excellent knowledge of the source languages and check every target segment against its corresponding source.  Cleaning up the target text so it reads reasonably well without checking against the source is not true post-editing.  Such practice is particularly misleading if the post-editor applies technical expertise to correcting target terminology yet leaves the wrong meaning intact because there was no check against the source.  The most important quality of a translation is its faithfulness to the meaning of the source text, and this emphasis is particularly important for MT where meaning is so easily lost in a jumble of partially comprehensible sentences. By any definition, computers have not reached a capability that can challenge human intelligence.

    For applications that require greater faithfulness to the source text, human translation from scratch is the better choice. Done well, the human translation will have more appropriate language that expresses nuances likely missing in the post-edited MT.   Good style that generally surpasses MT post-editing also yields less ambiguity and easier reading.   A full edit of the human translation is advisable where accuracy is paramount.  For business purposes, the human translation is the best choice for distributed translations and marketing material.

    This still leaves the potential for significant savings when the basic need can be adequately satisfied with post-editing.  For non-critical information, particularly internal information, perhaps with a short life, Machine Translation with a tailored amount of post-editing should be sufficient and provide a practical solution for a large volume and limited budget.

    To summarize:

    1. Be very wary of MT that has not been reviewed against the source text.  A sentence that is comprehensible may actually be seriously flawed in meaning.
    2. Post-editing, done correctly, can capture the correct meaning and save significant cost in money and time.
    3. Translations prepared for wide distribution should be performed with human translation, not with post-edited MT.

    Machine Translation: Facts and Myths

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    Machine Translation: Facts and Myths

    Ask people about Machine Translation (MT), and surprisingly, you will get a whole palette of opinions, from derision to declaring MT the ultimate solution for all cross language communication problems.  Nowadays, few people, right or wrong, do not have some opinion about it..

    So, what is the reality? Is MT useful? And if it is, under what circumstances should we use it?

    * * *

    Historically, the first translation by a computer was demonstrated on January 7, 1954, by Georgetown University and IBM. The system had a dictionary of 250 words and translated more than 60 predefined sentences from Romanized Russian. Its abilities were so limited that some people called this event a hoax and didn’t consider it a real MT system. Nonetheless, it provided a great inspiration, and indeed people expected that within a few years translation problem would be resolved forever.

    Since then, the excitement about prospects for MT has persisted with the same hope of reaching acceptable results within just a few years. Unfortunately, the situation hasn’t significantly changed, and we are still “just a few more years” away.

    The problem is in the very nature of the translation process. Here’s how a highly experienced translator describes her work: “Translating is not a simple one-to-one exercise (though beginners often wish/hope it were like that). True translating is understanding the meaning of the sentence in one language and then expressing that same meaning in the second language in the best words for that language.” With all the progress of technology, computers still do not “understand” what they’re doing. The real human language is too versatile, nuanced, and ambiguous for any “super-smart” algorithm.

    Modern computers are very powerful; they perform billions of operations per second and use gigabytes of memory, but at best they can provide acceptable translation of only the simplest declarative sentences. Nevertheless MT translations are still just plain funny. A famous anecdote describes the MT rendering of a biblical saying “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak as “The vodka is strong, but the meat is rotten.” Over the years, that particular story has been debunked as myth. But here’s a fact confirmed by Vernon Walters who worked for President Eisenhower; they used a CIA computer program to translate the sentence “Out of sight, out of mind” to Russian and back to English. The result was: “Invisible idiot”.

    * * *

    Ludicrous yes, but it doesn’t mean that machine translation is futile. The fact is that despite its flaws, MT is quite popular and Google Translate is one of the most visited sites on the Web. Indeed, it’s free, fast and easy to use, but not without plenty of faults..

    Google has the entire Internet to train its MT engines and it no longer translates “Microsoft” as a “small tender company”. But one should be very careful and not expect that even the best MT gives anything more than a gist of the source text.  Usually, it’s good enough to recognize the topic of an email or the domain of a website; but before purchasing a product from a foreign country, be ready for the fact that the translation of its technical data might be misleading. And never base your decision to buy foreign drugs based on machine translated instructions if you stay clear of causing harm. That’s especially important if you are translating not into your language, but into a language you are not familiar with.  Even checking with a reverse translation is no assurance that you won’t offend somebody. In my own experience, the word ‘communication’ was translated as ‘intercourse’ without any idea of its second meaning that spoiled the intended message. And never use MT for publishing in a foreign language; otherwise you might result in something like this:

     Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translation Facts & Myths

    Nevertheless, it’s a great advantage to be able to translate a sentence, an email, or a web page almost instantly and for free, but what if you need to translate a larger document? What if your organization needs translation for thousands of pages written in various foreign languages, some of them unknown? Suddenly, the translation is not free at all and far from being easily available.

    In addition, public ‘free’ translation services use every word we translate .  As always, “free cheese can only be found in a mousetrap”. Another caveat for companies often dealing with proprietary documents is to avoid translation providers that don’t specifically assure data security.

    * * *

    Let’ summarize the facts.

    Of utmost importance is procuring translation of proprietary or other sensitive material only from a translation vendor who can assure sufficient data security.

    If you have a large ongoing bilingual project, a good vendor will be able to use your stored bilingual data to customize for you a special MT engine that will produce a much higher than average MT translation quality within the domain of your project.

    Even using a customized MT engine, always keep in mind that MT yields only a gist of the source text. It shouldn’t be used for making any important decisions. However, MT can be very effective in identifying the important documents and immediately scrapping the  irrelevant ones. And never assume that an MT sentence is correct because it appears well composed. That can be a terrible trap; it always needs human verification.

    When MT confirms that you have in hand a document with desirable data, you should improve the translation. Depending on the final purpose, you should ask your translation vendor to edit the MT result in order to improve its readability and comprehension thus making it usable for managerial decisions. That process is called post-editing. The amount of post-editing can be varied according to the importance of the document. Only when sufficient qualified human post-editing is applied can the translation be considered reliable.

    Even the post-ending quality might be insufficient in the most important cases, e.g., documents to be published or submitted to a customer or government authority. Then, you should order clean human translation that does not involve MT at all because the MT biases the translator’s thoughts.

    Companies that are searching for information and are knowledgeable in the available range of translation services have a great advantage in recognizing they can save huge amounts of cost and time by applying MT to quickly eliminate irrelevant material and post-edit relevant document for a fraction of the full human translation cost. Only the truly important documents should be translated with the highest translation level, and then they have achieved the goal of cost and time optimization for the best possible results.

    * * *

    Price and Quality

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    Price and Quality

    Inquiries have shown that buyers and sellers frequently disagree on what quality means. The lack of agreement on what translation quality is and how it can be calculated creates incompatible expectations and contradiction. The lack of agreement also makes it difficult for both sides to agree on what the payment should be.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Price and QualityAnd however, buyers and sellers establish important business decisions on the belief that paying more or less for translation affects linguistic quality – regardless of their responsibilities. Can we really say there is a connection between quality and price?

    The price/quality relationship refers to the perception by most consumers that a relatively high price is a sign of good quality. The belief in this relationship is most important with complex products/services that are hard to test, and experiential products that cannot be tested until used (such as most services). The greater the uncertainty surrounding product/services, the more consumers depend on the price/quality suggestion and the greater premium they are prepared to pay. The classic example is the pricing of Twinkies, a snack cake which was viewed as low quality after the price was lowered. Excessive reliance on the price/quality relationship by clients/consumers may lead to an increase in prices on all products and services, even those of low quality, which causes the price/quality relationship to no longer apply.

    What about the price-quality effect? Buyers are less sensitive to price the more that higher prices signal higher quality. Products/services for which this effect is particularly relevant include: image products, exclusive products, and products with minimal cues for quality.

    If not, how should buyers and suppliers behave differently going forward?  Please post your answer to this question.

    Guidelines for Customers Electing a Client Review Step

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    Guidelines for Customers Electing a Client Review Step

    Client review, when carefully planned out, can add value to the finished product. Some customers will always include client review in the translation workflow to ensure that the translation is an accurate rendition of the source text, focusing on highly technical and complex aspects of the original as well as the company’s preferred terminology and style. While a translation agency will select translators with experience in the pertinent subject matter, those resources might not possess the same in-depth knowledge of the company’s product as an internal resource intimately familiar with the product’s technical aspects and the company’s goals and objectives. Other customers might choose to include a client review step for high-visibility documents destined for publication. Whatever the reason may be, here are a few important questions to consider when planning for this process step:

    Will client review be carried out?

    If a client review is planned, the translation agency must be informed of this additional step. Do not be alarmed if your contact asks whether a client review step is required. This does not mean that the agency will only use their best resources on assignments requiring client review and will not be diligent with other projects. A translation provider will ask this question for planning purposes so that he/she can decide on the best way to integrate this step into the translation process. For example, your project manager might send you an intermediate file to review so that changes can be incorporated directly into the file prior to formatting. If review is performed on a formatted document, the agency might charge extra for this task. Changes specified at this stage usually need to be implemented manually, a high-risk activity requiring extra time and additional QA. Scanned, handwritten comments are the most difficult to read and interpret so do not be surprised if the agency sends instructions for the reviewer to follow when making corrections.

    Do I need to provide the translation agency with any additional information?

    Are glossaries (either monolingual or bilingual), translation memories (TMs), terminology databases (TDs), style guides, or translations of the previous version of the source text available? If so, they will need to be provided to the translation agency for reference so that the key terminology can be applied to the current project. If the source text contains little or no context (example: software strings exported as Text or Excel files), the accompanying documentation and help files will provide the translation team with important supporting information that will enable them to translate the text accurately. This will reduce client review time and will enable the reviewer to focus on other aspects of the task.

    Who will review the translation?

    The next door neighbor who studied German for a few years in college will not be the best choice for translation review. The ideal candidate is a native speaker of the target language who is proficient in the source language, with experience in the subject matter and in-depth knowledge of the product. Ideally, this is someone from within the company familiar with the company’s objectives. Usually, client review is not the primary activity for employees who perform this task so plenty of advance notice should be given. If no qualified resource within the company is available, you may decide to hire a contractor to perform the review. Similar selection criteria will apply in this case.

    What instructions should the reviewer follow?

    Make sure to communicate to your reviewer any pertinent instructions provided to you by the translation agency. Your translation contact might send an intermediate file for review to ensure that all changes are implemented prior to formatting. Make sure you understand how the reviewer should enter his/her changes as this could depend on the type of translation software that the file is exported from. It is also very important that the reviewer have on hand the same reference material that you provided to the translation team. Otherwise, the reviewer might incorporate changes that contradict the reference material. Whenever possible, the same reviewer should be asked to evaluate future translations in a given language. It is very difficult for a translation team to be consistent with client review changes when different reviewers might suggest different translations for the same term or phrase.

    An important aspect of a translation that might rear its ugly head during translation review is linguistic style. Whether we say “Have a nice trip” or “Enjoy your trip”, the meaning is the same. It is important to bear in mind that, as this example illustrates, the same concept can be communicated in different ways. Assuming that the reviewer is experienced in the subject matter and might not possess the linguistic background of a translator, it might be best to instruct him/her to limit stylistic changes and to instead focus on the technical aspect of the translation. Don’t despair if the reviewed translation is drowning in a sea of red ink. Most of these changes might very well fall under the category of style. Not adding much value to the finished product and potentially delaying the review process, these types of changes can be avoided by outlining the reviewer’s responsibilities in advance.

    Has the source text undergone all necessary input and approvals?

    If the source text has not undergone the necessary approvals, the reviewer might suggest source text changes in addition to revising the translation. Such changes are impossible for the translation agency to evaluate since the agency’s role is to translate the source text, not to rewrite it. Your contact will inform you if these types of changes are present, and you will need to decide whether to implement them. This will delay the process due to the additional back-and-forth with the translation agency. Even if the source text is frozen and has undergone all the necessary approvals, the reviewer may still introduce changes that alter the meaning of the original. It is advisable to anticipate this, and to instruct the translation agency ahead of time to reject or flag such changes.

    Will you be sending the reviewed text back to the translation agency for evaluation?

    As explained above, a reviewer may sometimes implement changes that will alter the meaning of the source text that you should be aware of. Reviewers also sometimes introduce errors so it’s always a good idea to send the reviewed file back to the translation agency. If a tight deadline does not allow for an evaluation of client review changes, you should still send the final, corrected document to the translation agency for reference on future projects.

    Tips For Translators Applying to an Agency

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    Tips  For Translators  Applying to an Agency

    What does an agency look for in translators?  Agencies look for translation experience, educational background, and rates that are within their budget.  An aspiring translator’s resume or CV must contain these three elements up front. It’s always possible to put your rates in your email, but it must be easily seen. We don’t need to read all about your enthusiasm, your willingness to please, your cooperative attitude, and adding these to a resume is perceived as “fluff” or will give the impression that you are not experienced. Your resume should outline your translation experience up front, including your specializations or areas that you have done translations in and are thoroughly familiar with the keywords in that subject. Your specializations should not include areas you would like to work in but haven’t up until now.

    After providing details of your translation experience, you should have your educational background. You should include all academic degrees you have received, the university you studied at, its location, and the subject of your degree. You should not include secondary school education as it is not relevant. Special graduate courses are important. We do not need to know other languages you may be acquainted with but can’t translate into or from. We do not need to know your own estimate of your competence. We only need to see the language pairs you are competent to translate into or from.

    Also important, at the top of your resume should appear your language pair(s), including your native language as the first target language. Strangely, many aspiring translators forget to include this, expecting the agency representative to be a mind reader or to guess at it from other information.

    You may also want to include your other types of employment, especially if it is relevant to any of your translation specialties, but this should come after your translation experience and education. Your hobbies should only be included insofar as they are relevant to translation work.

    Always useful is the various types of software you use (including the version you have) and how proficient you are in using it. The more difficult it is to find this information in your first email to an agency, the less likely the agency representative will consider you. It is in your interest to provide all this information in your initial contact. If you do, you will probably get a response.

    A note to translators already in our database: please don’t forget to let us know if any of your information has changed (email, phone, software, specializations) so that we won’t lose contact with you.

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    Complete or Finished and the Dreaded Client Review

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    Complete or Finished and the Dreaded Client Review

    Some may argue that there is little difference between the meaning of complete and finished. But consider this (from a joke circling through cyberspace of late): When you marry the right woman, you are complete; when you marry the wrong woman, you are finished; when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are completely finished!

    Language fun at its best: The joke works because the word finished may be applied to express different, in fact opposite meanings: Finished (complete) as the successful end to a task, the reaching of a goal; and finished (done in) as the unfortunate outcome of endeavors that have led to a state of resignation, of giving up.Linguistic Systems, Inc. Translation Client Reviews

    Can this joke be translated into other languages? Most likely not. We cannot assume that the use of finished as meaning done in works in other languages, and thus the joke may be untranslatable.

    Fortunately, the translation of jokes is seldom requested (unless you find yourself at a cocktail party having to explain to a foreigner why everyone is laughing). And yet, translators struggle daily with challenges presented by language-specific subtleties and usage conventions, such as a play on words or an idiom. The translator must select just the right term or phrase to convey the intended meaning, having to make a million astute and intelligent word choices. The emphasis here is on choices! Usually, there is more than one way to skin a cat…

    …wait, do they skin cats in other languages?

    Enter the (sometimes) dreaded client review.

    For sure, a client review of translations is an important quality control step that ensures translations meet client expectations and are suited for the intended purpose. Ideally, a client review step is scheduled as an integral part of the translation workflow, so that client preferences regarding terminology and style can be accommodated before the finished product is delivered.

    A client review becomes problematic, however, when the reviewer makes gratuitous changes and essentially rewrites the translation. The problem is not the rewriting itself – the text belongs to the client and the client should fully adapt it to his/her purpose. The problem is the implied quality assessment of the translation. Somebody might ask: Was the translation really all that bad to warrant so many client edits?

    Well, no. This is all about writing styles. This is about language arts, not math, and one+one seldom equals two. This is about the craft of writing, about word choice and selection and style and flair. It’s about the way the cat was skinned…

    When Every Job Is a Rush

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    When Every Job Is a Rush

    Sure, we live in a fast-paced world. The push for instant gratification, instant results, instant service, instant everything has us dancing like crazy puppets on a string. A notable exception is instant coffee: We generally prefer the slow brew to keep us sufficiently revved up to deal with all the other instants in our lives.

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Rush TranslationInstant service in translations can be accommodated by machine translation. Indeed, there is high demand for this service and it’s perfectly suited for gisting purposes, that is, finding out what a foreign-language text might be all about. It’s easy and quick, just as we like it: Submit a file, click a button, and out comes a translation – or at least something that looks like a translation but is likely riddled with errors.

    This sets the stage for fast-turnaround translation demands, however. A client may ask: Why can’t I get a human translation by, say, tomorrow? I have this very tight deadline! What’s the problem?

    Here’s the problem: In order to produce a competent translation that conveys the source text accurately, with the correct terminology and style for the intended audience, at least the following process steps are necessary:

    • Pre-translation processing/source text analysis: Review of the source text by the translation service provider (TSP) to determine possible technical challenges and translator requirements.
    • Search for appropriate translators and revisers based on language pair and subject matter.
    • Assignment and handoff of project to translators.
    • Translation work performed by translators. Rule-of-thumb output for a single translator is 1500 to 2000 words per day.
    • Review of returned translations for completeness by the TSP’s project manager.
    • Assignment and handoff of project to revisers.
    • Review/revision work performed by revisers (“second pair of eyes”). Note: There is no meaningful quality assurance step in translations other than having a translation reviewed/revised by a second translator with competency in both language pair and subject matter.
    • Review of revised translations for completeness by the TSP’s project manager.
    • Delivery of final texts to the client (if no client review or text layout/formatting steps are required).

    Piece of cake, ain’t it? Well, no! While language professionals might be willing to pull the occasional all-nighter (drinking plenty of slow-brewed coffee), asking them to accommodate rush turnarounds every single day might tempt even the most diligent and conscientious professionals to cut corners and forego much needed quality assurance steps. The result: Poor quality translations and client complaints.

    Let’s face it: Instant translations are like instant coffee. Once you take the first sip you wonder how you could ever fall for it.

     

    Brand-Name Analysis: Well worth the Expense

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    Brand-Name Analysis: Well worth the Expense

    Back in the 90s, during the .com boom, when startups were looking for an immediate international presence in the new global marketplace, language service providers were flooded with requests for brand-name analysis. The need for brand-name analysis took center stage in the marketing world after such embarrassing marketing flops as trying to sell the Chevy Nova in Latin America (no va in Spanish means doesn’t go/ doesn’t work).

    Linguistic Systems, Inc. Brand Name AnalysisNowadays, in a struggling world economy, requests for this service seem to have slowed somewhat, yet brand-name analysis remains a vital and important service offering. The process starts with a client questionnaire that gathers information about the intended product and its target market and audience. In addition to the obvious questions about language and locale, clients have to let analysts know for what type of organization or service the brand-name is intended, who the target audience is, and whether or not gender and age of the target audience play a role. The completed client questionnaire together with the proposed brand-name(s) is then sent to analysts in the target countries.

    It is important that analysts live and work in the target countries to be able to assess a proposed brand-name’s impact and subtle connotations. There are regional differences in language use: A brand-name that works well in Madrid might sound archaic in Mexico City, much like Brits advertise “flats” in the London Times while Bostonians list “apartments” in the Boston Globe.

    Therefore, it is well worth the up-front cost and investment to have a name analyzed by trained analysts in each target country long before artists and designers go to work creating attractive logos, brochures and web content around that name. Spending any capital, even emotional and intellectual capital, on a brand-name before a brand-name analysis is carried out may lead to grave disappointments, if not wasted marketing funds.

    Project and Business Continuity Planning

    Project and Business Continuity Planning

    Project and business continuity planning is important for any type of business, including the document translation industry. Clients entrust to a Language Service Provider (LSP) documents to be translated by a certain Linguistic Systems, Inc. Document Translation Plandate, often an extremely time-sensitive date, such as meeting a submission deadline for a clinical trial or a court case. When accepting the translation assignment, the LSP negotiates and then commits to a delivery date, yet many things can go wrong all along the translation workflow.

     

    Planning for project and business continuity is as critical for LSPs as it is for any other type of business. Events that can cause interruptions in the translation work flow should be identified and scored as to their potential impact and probability of occurrence. Once such risk assessment has been carried out, risk mitigation plans can be formulated. Critical risks that an LSP should assess are these:

    Human Resources

    Who handles the project internally? What do we do if that resource becomes unavailable?

    Who handles the project externally (translators, editors, reviewers)? What do we do if one or all of those resources become unavailable?

    Technical Resources

    How are documents transmitted? What do we do if the transmission system fails and becomes unavailable?

    Where are documents stored while they are in progress and long-term? What do we do if the storage system fails and becomes unavailable?

    Risk assessment and mitigation does not provide a magic bullet to eliminate all risk. As in every-day life, there is always some risk that has to be accepted as residual risk. Being proactive about risk assessment, however, allows the LSP to prepare for interruptions to the normal work flow and have in place adequate proxy/backup systems that can ensure the successful and timely completion of projects.

     

    Machine Translation: The Market for Accessibility

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    Machine Translation: The Market for Accessibility

    It’s been said that more information is generated today in a single year than was generated in the last 5000 years combined! Information is everywhere and we expect it to be instantly accessible and Linguistic Systems, Inc. Machine Translationavailable in every corner of the globe. The demand for rapid, high-volume turnaround in language translation has been increasing steadily as corporations attempt to maintain a global presence in their markets. Translations are needed not only for the traditional outward-facing media, such as corporate websites and marketing brochures, but also for internal communications, such as company newsletters, shareholder reports, and employee benefit packages.

    Let’s face it, though: The traditional model for professional language translation is focused on high-quality output and does not lend itself for rapid turn-around. The tradition