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MultiLingual is the leading source of information for the language industry and businesses with global communications needs. Published eight times a year plus an annual index/resource directory, it is read by more than 12,000 people in 67 countries. Information and current news are also provided by and the free electronic newsletter, MultiLingual News.

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Back Issue

Magazine Cover
December, 2012



Gender bias and project management

I have had to deal with catcalling before and even assumptions about my intellectual and physical abilities due to my gender, but never so directly and from so un-self-conscious a source. Many people I have spoken with have assumed I would encounter this type of prejudice primarily with immigrants from the Maghreb living in Paris, but much to their surprise the verbal abuse came in equal parts from both native and nonnative French people. So why was this hurtful, demeaning and frankly rather aggressive behavior deemed appropriate in both native French and immigrant culture? . . .

Columns and Commentary

Macro/Micro: Untangling the deemed export mess

War is one heck of a macroforce. Let’s face it, there are fewer things on this earth that impact more aspects of people’s lives than war. Whether or not countries are getting along, and to what extent, greatly controls the outcome of almost everything it touches: world politics, the economy, even translation.

I’m not talking about language services for the defense industry, even though that’s clearly a way in which the macroforce of war and peace impacts our work worlds. I’m talking about exporting. Exporting, you say? Yes, deemed exporting. . .

Off the Map: Dealing with regime change

However, we are businesses operating on a global scale and not only across many diverse cultures, but across cultures that are constantly evolving. In some locales it seems as if those changes are so subtle as to be imperceptible, so they’re sometimes (perhaps unfairly) viewed as backwards or conservative. Other areas are showing more overt changes, often for the betterment of their society, but sometimes not so much. Whatever the case, change is inevitable; as the oft-quoted Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only constant is change.”. . .

Enterprise Innovators: Twitter’s 400,000 Translators

Founded in March 2006 and launched in July 2006, Twitter is a real-time information service on which people post ideas, comments and news in 140 characters or less. Twitter brings users closer to the topics, events and people they care most about around the world. Twitter is available globally in 33 languages, with 140 million active users and 400 million tweets per day. Based in San Francisco, Gaku Ueda is Twitter’s engineering manager in charge of making Twitter an even more global product by translating it into more of the world’s languages. . .

Post Editing: Beyond Headlines

It seems like everyone in my field of vision has been paying just a little more attention recently to the Middle East and North Africa — from lawyer-blogger Yasser Latif Hamdani calling 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai “Pakistan’s Jeanne d’Arc” in Pakistan’s Daily Times, to the televised US presidential debates on foreign policy that included at least 185 references to the Middle East, to a friend of mine coming back from hanging art in Tunisia. . .


Localization for the long tail: Part 2

This is Part 2 of a series focusing on long tail localization.

Traditionally, translation management systems (TMS) have been able to effectively address their customers’ needs by radically simplifying the admissible choice of workflow patterns.

This was a viable solution in the past, where each of the relatively small producers had to cover the whole localization cycle not being able to effectively rely on standardized interchange with their competitor’s tools. This worked as long as there was at least one major tools provider independent of any single language service provider. However, the comprehensive TMS of the past is not able to address the generalized workflow needs of next-generation localization. . .

Region Focus

Right-to-left localization for mobile devices

During the past few years, mobile device applications boomed and the need to get these applications localized into right-to-left languages became crucial. The question is, why is localization into these languages important?

In fact, there are a number of reasons. For one thing, there is a big market share to be had in this area in general. Secondly, there is huge potential in new categories specifically, such as banking and health care. But social and news applications still have a long way to go. . .

Language technology in Saudi Arabia

With the advancement in communication and information technology and their widespread usage, Saudi Arabia is a leading country in mobile penetration rates and Arabic applications, including internet and social networks. Arabic is the first language of the 18 million Saudis, while English is the second.

Since Saudis tend to use Arabic in most mobile and PC applications, more research and development need to be done on human language technology with more focus on Arabic. . .

Localization lessons from intercultural mentoring

It could have been the start of a multicultural take on a classic joke premise: an American, a Moroccan, an Algerian and a Yemeni were riding in a car — and it did end up a joke of sorts. Not understanding Arabic, I listened to the cadences of language among my passengers, until they burst into laughter and then into English. It turns out they could not understand each other, and were laughingly accusing each other of not speaking Arabic.

For the second year, I’ve had the privilege of volunteering as a cultural mentor for technical women visiting Silicon Valley under TechWomen, sponsored by the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. . .

Translation and social media in the Middle East

Over the first few months of 2011, the Arab Spring started in Tunisia, shortly followed by revolutions in Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Other countries are still struggling with further uprisings around the Arab world. Dominant regimes continue to be challenged due to the snowball effect in the Middle East, spurred by a potent combination of economic, social and political grievances in opposition to their autocratic political systems.

Most of the English-speaking world followed the unfolding news by checking their Twitter feeds in line at the grocery store, sitting on their dorm room beds scrolling through Facebook on their laptops and reading translated articles on Al Jazeera from their home offices or cubicles at work. . .

Understanding the orality of Arabic culture

Signs define visible and invisible boundaries within cultures and societies, and semiotics is the study of these signs and symbols. It is used to study people’s perceptions, interpretations and interactions with symbols and signs. As computational software is breaking distant boundaries and rewiring cultures and societies, human-computer interaction researchers are relying on semiotic methods to study the interplay between information systems, languages and cultures.

To meet the exponential growth in the use of codes and software in today’s organizations, linguists and cultural brokers working in the field of localization and broader language technology require semiotic perspectives on language and culture to mediate the development of usable spaces and devices for users with different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. . .


Reflections on the language industry

I think this has been a challenge that many business owners face in our industry. Many former linguists and translators who have a prospering business struggle to find the balance of the three fundamentals to growth and prosperity: financial discipline, operational performance and professional sales. By professional sales, I mean a well-defined process, a business function that is integrated with the clients in mind and is executed accordingly. . .