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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

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
January/February, 2013


Columns and Commentary

Post Editing: Proving technology

I imagine some of this sounds familiar. Very few people are willing to initially embrace the idea that a machine of some kind is going to be changing their job. It’s only when they see that it truly is going to make their job easier, or better, that they’ll accept it. It might take a little proving first. . .

Enterprise Innovators: Building low cost MT

Valarie Gilbert joined EMC nearly two years ago as a senior director in EMC’s Services and Support team, building tools and systems for online self-service problem resolution. She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, holding BS and MS degrees in metallurgical and materials engineering. Valarie also earned a certificate in capability maturity model integration from Carnegie Mellon.

Thicke: At 16, you were one of the youngest women ever accepted at Carnegie Mellon. What does this say about you and how did that prepare you for your career? . . .

Gilbert: It prepared me to confront scary things face on. At the end of the day, I don’t like a problem to be ahead of me. I want to face it, figure it out, solve it, move forward. This sometimes means not doing the popular project or taking the easy road. It’s not recognition that motivates me, but the pleasure of getting things done and getting them behind me.

Off the Map: The impact of territory disputes

Over the years, we’ve seen this form of retail retaliation take place in various markets, and it’s understandable. Ordinary citizens in a specific locale who disagree with another country’s actions really don’t have a lot of leverage to make a difference, except when it comes to their spending habits. On more local levels we see this kind of business boycotting taking place on a regular basis, as it’s a common part of citizen uprising to disagree with the actions of a specific business and then try to choke the flow of income to that business. What makes the phenomenon to which I’m referring more unique is that this happens on a national level. It’s not just a few citizens boycotting over one company or one issue; it’s an entire nation wanting to economically damage another nation in lieu of overt military action. . .

Macro/Micro: The polarizing business of opinion

For those of you who have forgotten the scandal or never heard of it to begin with, please allow me to fill you in. Chick-fil-A is an American fast food chain serving the tastiest chicken sandwich known to man. Seriously, I think they must slather the things in crack or something because they’re that addictive. Anyway, while the actual Chick-fil-A restaurants are locally owned franchises, the brand itself is owned and licensed by a man named Dan Cathy. July 16, 2012, Cathy was quoted by The Baptist Press as being personally against gay marriage for religious reasons. Enter the long tail. Media organizations that do not share Cathy’s beliefs of course got wind of them. And they printed them. And aired them. And broadcasted them until the whole of the United States was fully aware that the owner of Chick-fil-A is anti-gay.

Personally, I don’t care if his religious beliefs are the worship of Zuul, Gatekeeper of Gozer, the demigod from Ghostbusters. His company makes a darn good chicken sandwich. But I’m pretty much alone in that opinion. The Twitterverse, Facebook — the entire US media world, really — erupted. . .

World Savvy: The ugly American

The novel The Ugly American by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer first appeared in 1958 and was later made into a movie in 1963 starring Marlon (The Godfather) Brando. The book takes place in a fictional Southeast Asian country and deals with the yucky behavior of Americans, particularly government employees. Quoting U Maung Swe, a character who appears in the book:  “No one who has ever visited America and come to know the country could fail to trust and respect her people. For some reason, however, the Americans I meet in my country are not the same as the ones I knew in the United States. A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They’re loud and ostentatious.” . . .


Lingoport Resource Manager

Lingoport Resource Manager version 1.0, which was released early in November, is a software solution that monitors the software build environment for localization-relevant changes, flags and extracts changed resource files on behalf of localization project managers, automates the testing of both outbound and inbound localized resource files, and automatically replaces build-ready files back into the build environment in the proper location. . .


System functionality in language technology

The last ten years have seen some real practical advances in translation technology: statistical machine translation (SMT) and effective collaboration using server and cloud-based translation management systems.

Both increase productivity and reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a given localization project. This same period has also seen great advances in IT, namely the universal adoption of XML as a vocabulary for all aspects of interchange and data definition, as well as big data, the ability to store and process vast quantities of information, and to mine it in order to benefit from this immense resource. Hand in hand with these advances, we have seen a constant and almost remorseless rise in internet connection speeds and geographical penetration. . .


Open source localization

The open source movement is about open development and design of software applications. Open source software is not developed behind closed doors by a small team of developers, but in the open, and by everyone willing to enhance the application through their own time commitment and expertise. This philosophy automatically lends itself to the recently popular crowdsourcing methodology — organizing a volunteer community to perform a given task for your organization. For open source, that task is generally software engineering. For us at Mozilla, it means a lot more. . .

Touchscreen devices in the localization industry

I decided to curb the kids’ overuse of these devices. So I did a little trick. Since I know Japanese and the kids don’t, I changed the user interface (UI) language to Japanese so the kids would stop using the devices.

But, to my surprise, I failed. The kids were still using the devices, and the overuse didn’t stop, because they didn’t need any language help. They can easily get what they want on these devices by sliding and flicking through icons and images. It was not the UI language, but icons and images that were navigating them through using the device. My five-year-old son cannot read the UI text and screen messages, but based only on the icons and images, he can interpret what’s on the screen and just like a pro user, he can do things such as change the wallpaper to a picture of his choice, view animation clips, check scores and levels for his favorite Angry Bird game, and a lot more. . .

Cost scaling through technology management

There are many pieces to translation cost, with vendor rates, computer-aided translation tools, TM leverage and machine translation (MT) being the primary ones. Each had to be addressed. We gained some initial cost benefit by reducing our vendor pool from five to two. It’s a prominent trend in large enterprises across the outside services spend ecosystem. On the client side, we gain lower vendor management overhead, volume discounts and the ability to invest more time in partner relations — and honestly, this one doesn’t get the attention it deserves. The vendor gains increased revenue. It’s a win-win for those involved, but does have implications for the broader market. Once we had resized our vendor pool, we turned to rate analysis. We reviewed industry reports from Common Sense Advisory, spoke with other large enterprise clients — in aggregate, of course; no specific rates were discussed — and had an opportunity to hire in someone from the vendor side with the added benefit of strong vendor-side pricing knowledge. We negotiated roughly a 10% reduction in cost, while still leaving our partners with healthy enough margins to continue the great service they were providing. . .

Translation technology's big data revolution

Translation technology can certainly be better exploited to capitalize on massive demand to translate content across all industries throughout the many touch points in the consumer decision journey. They may be particularly important in the burgeoning consumer classes in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China or the CIVETS markets of Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa.  

But translation technology providers will need to maintain openness in order to continue the change they have exhibited in the last few years if they and we are to enjoy rich rewards. After a generation of stagnation, where there were only rare examples of firms improving on tired old TM technology, often built with Windows-based editors, we suddenly find ourselves primed for a generation of dynamism. . .

Post-editor shortage and MT

Progress has been made in a number of areas, particularly with the hybrid engines that combine the best of rule-based machine translation (RBMT) with statistical machine translation (SMT) techniques. But these changes have been incremental rather than groundbreaking. MT alone is still not capable of delivering fully automatic human quality translations.

So why, then, is MT on the roadmap of almost every savvy translation buyer today? If MT's quality hasn't improved as much as we had hoped it would, there has been at least one significant change in the MT landscape: our expectations. We have stopped expecting MT to be perfect. Instead, we have realized that there is a place for imperfect MT, and when it needs to be perfect, a strong business case can be made for human rework. . .

Integrating language technology

However, all the items that need to be right pose a multilingualism challenge, as the vast majority of the online population regularly interacts only in one language. The challenge is to make information shareable and comparable across language silos. This means the NLP areas of MT, cross-lingual retrieval and (automated) language learning amplify the usability of the other areas: search engines, question-answering, text mining; adaptive filtering and personalization; task modeling, behavioral predictions based on anticipatory analysis; speech recognition and synthesis; summarization and drill-down techniques. . .