This issue’s Core Focus takes a look at some of the basics of translation, though more from the point of view of business-oriented translation. Jeremy Coombs has some advice on using macros to improve translation efficiency, and Jeff Williams has interviewed a few translators about machine translation, quality and so on. Igor Vesler provides an overview of some online resources to aid technical translators. . .
Silvia Rodríguez Vázquez
Many of the most popular translation tools available in the market have now implemented web-based solutions, but these solutions are often feature-limited alternatives to their more complete desktop applications. Wordbee’s browser-based only philosophy releases the user from the burden of having to install a desktop version, but without losing any of the tool’s functionalities. Wordbee is a totally customizable collaborative translation management system (TMS), which makes it an eligible solution for both corporate and governmental institutions as well as for language service providers (LSPs). Thanks to its automated workflow technology, Wordbee makes the translation process smoother and simpler at all levels, yet efficient and successful, even for enterprises working with mixed internal and freelance teams or only with external translation professionals. . .
Probably one of the most obvious influences on international content distribution is the element of national government. Since we live in a world of boundaries and many different legal jurisdictions, we naturally must deal with local governments and the host of rules and regulations that govern the import and export of products of all varieties.
Now this is the point at which I need to interject a standard caveat regarding the form of the content products. Many in the world of IT and software have long been used to the notion of sending a piece of physical media through the shipping process involving customs, clearances and so on. The world of physical media still exists but is declining rapidly for mainstream content consumers and it’s likely that physical media such as CDs and DVDs will become nostalgic specialty items rather than the norm. With the growth of “cloud” data and content services, the ability to regulate across borders becomes significantly more challenging for local governments. . .
In all seriousness, these scenes seem rather silly as I put them down in print. (See why I might be embarrassed to admit I love it?) But to see them played out by characters who have become real on the small screen really helps one understand how difficult it might have been for people in those times to deal with technological changes. I’ve shared in this column before that I grew up in the rural American South during the 1980s. My grandparents had a party-line telephone, a way of sharing a single phone line between multiple families that doesn’t exist in the United States anymore, and their telephone itself was a corded, rotary dial until I went to college. Seventy-some-odd years of technological telephone advancement and we did not have nor want the latest thing on the market, a cordless touch-tone. . .
Of course, we serve many clients in the United States and Europe, but in many instances, the origins of these relationships were via contacts here in the United Kingdom. It seems that we are not unusual in this regard — according to Common Sense Advisory, geographic location is the third most important factor for translation buyers, after price and speed. So why is this manifestly global business so often still purchased locally?
Really, it’s all about relationships. Even in this digital age of e-mail, video conferencing and telecommunications, you still cannot beat face-to-face interactions. Locally sourced translation is a consequence of needs and pressures on both sides of the client-vendor relationship. . .
Brian Ó Broin
While most definitely a minority language in Ireland, Irish has an unusual status in comparison to most other minority languages in that it is constitutionally considered the country's “first official language." This is far from the truth, with probably a maximum of 2.5%, about 150,000, of the island's population having anything close to native-speaker ability, and the legal status of the language remains a source of annoyance to speakers of both English and Irish in the country.
The language's constitutional status stems from the cultural nationalism aspirations of the country's founders in the early years of the twentieth century, whereby it was believed that the country might be “de-anglicized" and the Irish language revived through constitutional and legislative action. An aggressive, but mostly unsuccessful, policy ensued of requiring demonstrable Irish-language skills from every Irish schoolgoer and legally recognizing the primacy of Irish in districts where the language was still the community's preferred tongue. . .
Ciarán Ó Bréartúin & Seanán Ó Coistín
Irish (Gaeilge in the Irish language), sometimes called Irish Gaelic or simply Gaelic in North America, has a very prestigious, albeit little-known history. It is probably the third oldest language spoken in Europe after Basque and Greek.
Irish has the third oldest written records in Europe, after Greek and Latin, and Ireland was one of only 17 places in history where an independent alphabet was created. This alphabet, known as Ogham, was created for the Irish language. One of the earliest grammars in history was written in Irish in the seventh century. It is called Auraicept na n Éces (Handbook of the learned) and it is the first instance of a defense of vernacular languages (at that time, spoken Irish over Latin). It predates Dante’s De vulgari eloquentia by 600 years. . .
However, SMEs don’t have the capital, diverse skillsets and resource pools that are available to bigger organizations that internationalize their businesses. The small business approach to marketing often appears unplanned, unorthodox or even at times chaotic from the large organization perspective. SMEs tend to be closer to their customers, are more flexible in responding to customer needs and are more agile at exploiting new opportunities than larger companies. Because of limited access to capital and resources, SMEs depend on personal networks and word of mouth to market their products and services. They very rarely engage in full-scale market research as their customers and industry contacts provide them with the information they need to develop their presence in specific markets. . .
The idea of automating tasks with computers has been around as long as computers themselves, which is unsurprising because computers were developed with task automation in mind. But users soon discovered that computers aren’t just good for automating complex numerical equations; their speed makes them ideal tools for small, repetitive tasks. As home computers became common in the 1980s, macros became popular as shortcuts for programmers, and then for average users. A number of programs such as SmartKey were soon written to help users create them.
There are several different types of macros. Keyboard and mouse macros map a sequence of keystrokes and/or mouse actions to an output sequence. . .
As everyone in the translation and localization industry knows, professional translators are the backbone and lifeblood behind the scenes. By and large, translation is a solitary function and most translators work long hours for very exacting clients. Their observations and comments offer important insight into the state of the industry.
The conference was an opportunity to speak with a few translators to get their read on the marketplace and what they see as the emerging, relevant trends. A specific set of questions was posed to all the translators. Of particular interest were their observations on pricing and MT. . .
The ability of today’s translator to fully utilize the potential of web-based resources is a critical factor in both the quality and the speed of the translation process. Alas, as with any other fast-growing technology, human skills lag behind in this regard. For example, using a traditional dictionary only requires a basic knowledge of the source alphabet, while searching online sources in a meaningful manner presupposes sophisticated skills in the area of compiling and fine-tuning search queries, as well as handling the numerous resultant hits. Even more important is the conceptual difference between using a dictionary, thesaurus or similar collection of terms, and working with the various contexts in which a sought term occurs. . .
Benjamin B. Sargent
Not only is Arabic under-represented on the websites of the best global brands, it’s also missed by the great majority of Fortune 500 companies — a paltry 5% of these offer web content in Arabic. In comparison, 12% of Alexa’s 500 most popular websites by traffic volume offered Arabic as a language option. The depth of the disparity found between the size of the online Arabic-speaking community and the lack of content in that language suggests that an opportunity has been missed by global brands. . .
As many of our writers in this issue point out, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is an interesting localization market — and it’s possibly for that reason that it feels trendy in spite of the fact that we’ve been covering it for years.
Part of it, as they say, is location, location, location: the collective CEE geography has landed its countries in political upheaval over the decades, and currently, their wealthier neighbors to the west have an emerging business relationship with them. . .
Not quite two years old, MemSource Cloud is already developing into a complete and user-friendly online translation environment. The developers were originally attached to a Charles University research project that resulted in a server and code editor plug-ins destined to solve the problem of inconsistency when translating text strings. Based in Prague, MemSource is proving to be a useful resource for project managers and linguists alike. . .
On September 19, 2012, Apple Inc. released a new app for its iOS 6 operating system that was meant to unleash the company from the shackles of an increasingly competitive relationship with Google.
The app in question was Apple Maps, an entirely new mobile mapping resource that displaced Google’s long-revered Google Maps app that had gained ubiquity across the iOS and Android platforms. With all the requisite pomp and circumstance, Apple hailed its new mapping capabilities as the most advanced to date, and promised to deliver a whole new way of viewing the world. And yet within a mere few hours, media outlets, users and businesses quickly discovered that Apple’s maps were fraught with spatial data errors, such as misplaced streets and points of interest, incorrect labels and abysmal driving directions. What could have gone wrong?. . .
. . .This means “how empty is fullness (wealth), and how full (wealthy) is emptiness.” But that’s a pretty clunky translation. To overcome the chunkiness from one language to the next, many linguists over the years have sought to invent a new language. And remarkably, in the current world, a fellow by the name of John Quijada, instead of having hobbies like electric trains or classic cars like I have, decided to invent a whole new language, Ithkuil, over a span of three decades. . .
. . .It’s not just translation for the food and drink industry (believe me, exports and imports in this market flow like distilling water) that we in localization can learn from beer today. It’s the existence of the craft brew itself — that ever-developing, hipster-enthralling, growing-market phenomenon. Microbrewing is all about quality, and the yellow stuff, more affectionately known as “good old fashioned American piss water,” has become a mere commodity. . .
“We prefer to work with freelancers” is what vendor managers, procurement managers, project managers or production managers usually answer to single language vendor (SLV) representatives offering them language services. But is it a good approach?
The pros and cons of working with freelancers are well known to language service provider (LSP) executives and employees. SLVs are often perceived as a type of freelancer, just bigger and more costly, with no additional value. Is this a correct view of SLVs? Using freelancers for projects has become a habit in the localization industry and is a true driving force behind this business. 500,000 translators in 6,000 languages work hard each day in order to bridge the gap between manufacturers and their clients globally with the help of LSP companies that secure the peace of mind of executives in global markets. But is it really an efficient approach? Are the risks behind sourcing and managing multiple freelancers during complex projects really worth it? Can you afford to ignore the benefits of collaboration with an SLV?. . .
If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest, behind China and India. The social networking site, which announced its one billionth user in October, leads the social media movement.
Ghassan Haddad, director of internationalization for five years at Facebook, was himself at the forefront of another great movement, translation crowdsourcing through engaging user communities. Prior to joining Facebook, Ghassan was director of software engineering and localization at PayPal. With a PhD in linguistics from the University of Illinois, Ghassan has over 20 years of experience in language research and technology, management and software development. He was interviewed from his office in Palo Alto, California, during his last week at Facebook. . .
Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) should include all countries of Central Europe, plus these belonging to Eastern Europe. Several definitions of both regions exist today, but they often lack precision or are extremely general. These definitions vary both across cultures and among experts, even political scientists, recently becoming more and more imprecise.
The Central Europe region should not be confused with the area of the Central European Time Zone, stretching from Spain up to Poland. In the most limited sense, the CEE region is reduced to the four member states of the Visegrád Group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia). In our opinion, for both political and economic reasons, the Balkan states should be treated as a part of the CEE region. The term Central Europe resurfaced by the end of the Cold War, which had divided the Old Continent politically into East and West, splitting Central Europe in half. . .
Elena Rudeshko, Maryna Babich, Lyuba Lazarenko & Katia Kosovan
. . .Noteworthy from a linguistic point of view is the similarity among the languages within the Slavic language group, which includes Belarusian, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Polish and, further south, Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbo-Croatian. Ukrainians in the western part of Ukraine have no difficulties understanding Polish. Russian tourists in Bulgaria point to the fact that they do not encounter any major difficulties understanding Bulgarians. Czechs and Poles will most likely understand each other, too. This will in no way mean, of course, that native Ukrainians will be as good in translation into Polish as a native Polish translator. However, this could mean that the average Ukrainian would rather read the instructions for a domestic appliance in Russian or Polish than in English. Most Slavic languages are highly inflected, meaning the words are mostly modified depending upon the tense, number, person and other grammatical categories. Localization project managers should be aware that the implementation of global changes in such languages will not be as straightforward as it could be for English, for example.A lack of proper terminology is another difficulty that translators and localization professionals often encounter. For fast-paced technology industries, terminology has become an issue for Slavic languages. . .
Alfred Hellstern, Katerina Gasova & Libor Safar
The language — terminology, style and tone — used in software products is constantly evolving; some of the changes are gradual and some are more radical with major new releases. It is probably fair to say that the language used in localized products always lags a little bit behind. There are multiple reasons, but two are probably the most significant.
First, localization introduces new terminology, concepts and often communication style to the target language. Some may be right on target and some may turn out to be not the right choice, but it will take some time before the common parlance in the given language passes a final verdict. Local languages adapt to the influx of new terminology coming from English, in their own way, style and speed. Second, product localization tends to conserve the language, pretty much like translations of religious or philosophical texts used to in the past. There is a natural tendency to leverage and recycle translations between releases, and changes to codified terms or stylistic guidelines require special effort and, of course, extra cost to implement. . .
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The media is currently full of bad news about every region of the world, without exception. With everything going that badly, exactly why (and where) is the translation industry able to sustain compound annual growth of 12.17%, according to Common Sense Advisory’s 2012 report on top language service providers (LSPs)? Where is this growth coming from if the developed world is in a crisis, and emerging markets are faring little better, with “key uncertainties”?
In June 2000, two years after the major economic crash in Russia of 1998, few expected the economy to even come back within a decade. However, in my article “The Software Market in Russia,” published in the June 2000 issue of MultiLingual magazine, I predicted annual growth in Russia to be at a level of at least 4.5% in the following five years. According to an FBK Company press release, “GDP [gross domestic product] growth in Russia over the first decade [of the twenty-first century] was 159.2%,” and within this release from one of the first private auditing firms in Russia, we can see that the actual GDP growth numbers were up to the promise, proving it to be a conservative estimate, since the actuality for the years 2001-2005 was 5.1%, 4.7%, 7.3%, 7.2% and 6.4%, respectively. . .
Ultan Ó Broin
“Tell me more about that” is a standard phrase used by usability professionals to elicit information from users when gathering requirements before designing a solution. The question’s probing, open-ended nature is the very essence of an iterative, user-centered exploration that makes for building a great user experience (UX).
For enterprise applications (used for enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management functions), understanding how workers accomplish tasks distinguishes UX from usability’s traditional emphasis on user interface (UI) layout, look and feel. At Oracle, we say that applications UX is about how you work, not about how you click. Using a range of disciplines, a UX team delivers thoughtfully designed solutions that reflect anything of importance used to complete a task. This broad consideration we can usefully refer to as context of use: the core of successful user requirements gathering.
Context of use varies by enterprise location, country, region, culture and so on, nuanced by worldwide trends. . .
. . .Customer support has not caught up to the globalization of customers. According to Greg Oxton, executive director of the Consortium for Service Innovation, a nonprofit industry alliance of high-tech customer support organizations, “Growth markets for most companies today are not in their home country. Their markets are global.” The implications of this for the translation and localization industry are clear: “The majority of customer support interactions are with content, not people, and that is driving demand for fast, economical localization capabilities.”
Today, however, relatively few companies offer online technical support in the languages of their customers. Even when global customers account for more sales than domestic customers, support content is often available only in the domestic language, or in a limited panel of mainstream languages. This leaves out a great, and growing, number of users who also purchased products or services but who, unlike their domestic counterparts, are not fully supported. . .