Archive for the 'Translation' Category

Jun 04 2005

The Culturally Customized Web Site

My copy of The Culturally Customized Web Site by Nitish Singh and Arun Pereira arrived yesterday from the publisher (Elsevier). The price offered by the publisher when following the link from Nitish Singh’s homepage ($23.96) was lower than the price on Amazon.com which was list ($29.95) and the publisher shipped it gratis. It comes endorsed by John Yunker, author of Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies, who says it’s “a valuable tool for helping executives successfully localize their web site”.

By the way, I found out about this book thanks to Amazon.com’s personalized recommendations. Aside from buying books from Amazon.com, I’ve taken the time to click “I own it” under “RATE THIS ITEM” on the Amazon.com page describing each book I’ve purchased elsewhere. Doing this really put the “personalized” in my personalized recommendations.

Also, Don DePalma’s book, Business Without Borders: A Strategic Guide to Global Marketing is now available in paperback on Amazon.com for only $16.96 (list price for the paperback is $19.95, list for the now-out-of-print hardcover edition was $29.95).

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Apr 26 2005

New Research from Common Sense Advisory

Common Sense Advisory has published a new Quick Take. Last month we wrote that Lionbridge acquired Berlin-based Logoport for its translation memory technology and that Irish language service provider (LSP) Transware PLC bought globalization management (GMS) supplier Global Sight. The Lionbridge deal makes sense, while the Transware purchase seems misguided. In this Quick Take we lay out what makes one deal better than the other. (Renato Beninatto)

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Apr 25 2005

Byte Level Guide to Translation Agencies Helps Companies Go Global with Right Service

Published by under Translation

Now in its third edition, Byte Level’s “The Savvy Client’s Guide to Translation Agencies” includes:

* 70 translation agency profiles
* 10 questions to ask before selecting a translation agency
* How to manage translation for the U.S. Hispanic market
* Translation agency trends and innovations
* What companies need to know before taking a Web site global

In addition, agencies are segmented by size, location, and specialty to help executives generate “short lists” of potential candidates, saving hours of research.

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I don’t know whether Linguistic Solutions is included, but we’re here if you need us.

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Apr 25 2005

Innovative Arabic Language Translation Software Now Available to U.S. Government

The remarkably fast, accurate, and versatile Sakhr translation software
will allow U.S. government agencies to translate documents from Arabic to
English in a matter of seconds or minutes instead of hours or even days. The
translation capabilities of Sakhr may be equally applied in reverse, allowing
English to be quickly translated into Arabic, opening up a variety of
applications for the software beyond the national security arena. For
example, as Iraq develops its democracy and works to rebuild, this translation
software can play a valuable role in helping to provide needed medical
information, textbooks, engineering documents, and much more from the U.S. and
other English-speaking countries to the Arab world

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Caveat emptor!

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Apr 18 2005

ATA TCD 6th Annual Conference

Saturday, April 16, 2005, I had the pleasure of speaking to an audience of my esteemed colleagues at the American Translators Association Translation Company Division 6th Annual Conference in Philadelphia on Targeting and Profiling Customers and Vendors Online. Download Targeting and Profiling Customers and Vendors Online.ppt.

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Feb 07 2005

EU Acts Get Lost in Translation in Estonia

Published by under Translation

Lawmakers in new European Union member country Estonia have got bogged down when ratifying some pieces of EU legislation because of poor translation, a press report said Monday.

“Theres a huge web of problems in connection with translating (EU laws),” Rein Lang, chairman of the Estonian parliaments European affairs committee, said in the Eesti Paevaleht daily Monday.

“The government has to make sure the English and Estonian-language versions of the laws are identical.”

The ratification of several EU acts has stalled in the Estonian parliament because of mistakes spotted in their translation, which has resulted in the documents having to be retranslated.

Officials have said the quality of translation has been patchy because of the huge amount of acts that needed to be translated before May 1, 2004, when Estonia joined the EU.

More than 100,000 pages of text have been translated, often under pressure of very tight deadlines, said Hille Saluaar of the Estonian Legal Language Centre.

Today, with Estonia a member of the EU, most translation work is being done in Brussels.

About 100 translators have moved from Estonia to the EU institutions in Brussels, causing a shortage of translators at home in the Baltic state.

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Feb 07 2005

Web of Words: Online Translation Services

English just about remains the prevalent language online, but making sense of some sites is tricky unless you’ve taken the time to learn a new language.

However, technology is on hand to help out with those moments when you find material online, in books and magazines or from far-flung friends or family that has you reaching for the language phrasebook.

Alternatively, there may be an important document from Europe or further abroad that you need to respond to quickly. Fear not, as the internet provides online language translators. It can even help you get on with things when you’re abroad if you have access to a handheld computer and know where to look.

Fishing for meaning
Babel Fish is the most famous online translator. Its name is taken from the novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, who in turn borrowed it from the Bible. The Babel Fish lived in people’s ears and translated languages from all over the universe into English for the book’s hero.

Surprisingly, given its reputation as the original translation site, Babel Fish seems to have been slightly outdone by an upstart. Once again Google’s translation service picks up where others have left off and, although it makes no great strides toward perfect English, it does at least manage to pick up on some of Babel Fish’s omissions…

Online translators should not be relied on to provide the exact meaning of foreign words and phrases, but they can give a good idea of the gist of the meaning and when the alternative is knowing nothing at all, it’s not exactly a risk.

Web of words
Many sites also provide the option to translate an entire web page from its native language into English. Altavista and Google both have a section where a web address can simply be entered into a box. From there it will automatically take you to a version of the site where all block text has been translated.

Again, expect varying results from this method and be aware that text in images will not be translated. The good thing about this is that any links you click on while looking at the translated site will also be translated into the language you requested.

If you’re looking for something a little more accurate, it is possible to buy software that considers the nuances of words and grammar to give a much better translation.

Try Systran as a starting point. The company provides the software that powers the Altavista site but also offers professional translation tools to home users. However, the company warns in its promotional literature that this software is mainly for getting the gist of what a document is trying to say and if you want to read or publish in any higher quality then a good degree of user input may be required.

Babylon Software
also offers translation tools for Windows…

A roving eye
There may be times when it is essential that you get a very accurate translation of a foreign document but you don’t want to fork out huge amounts of money on software that may not necessarily provide you with the perfect answer.

Sometimes having a human eye run over it is the only possible alternative.

Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone that speaks or reads Japanese, Arabic or Spanish, because there are websites that can provide you with this service at a reasonable price. One reliable site is TransAction which does the whole thing online if you wish, including getting a quote and receiving and delivering the requested documents.

You may think that to get a foreign document translated you will first have to type in all the text for the software to analyse, along with all those unusual grammatical and punctuation marks. Not so, as a scanner and optical character recognition software can take the strain here.

The software recognises the shape of letters by scanning them in; each scanned letter or symbol is then converted to the character, number or symbol it represents. Occasionally it will mistake a letter, especially if the print quality of the document is poor but this can be solved with a bit of common sense and a spell checker.

Of course, the optical character recognition software has to feature support for the language you want to translate from. Readiris Pro… recognises 104 languages while FineReader… understands up to 107.

Verbal dexterity
If you find yourself dealing quite a lot with foreign documents or speaking to people from other countries online, you may decide that you’re ready to take the plunge and learn the language. If so, there are numerous pieces of software that can help you out.

Linguaphone courses now come on CD-ROM and as downloadable software…

Wordace (available at Amazon) is another useful tool as it helps the user get to grips with the complexities inherent in speaking like the natives, as well as having hundreds of thousands of word translations and verb conjugations, some of the building blocks of language.

If you’re simply looking for useful phrases to help you get around when you’re in a country, try Phrasebase. It’s a simple-to-use site with a whole range of phrases in many languages that have been categorised into easy to understand areas. Simply click on an area, find the phrase you’re looking for and away you go. It’s much cheaper and easier than buying and using a phrasebook, if you have online access while you’re away.

You can also buy software for handheld computers that contains hundreds of useful phrases for holidaymakers, and many will actually read out the translation so you can perfect your pronunciation and impress the locals with your efforts. Mobilearn covers French, German, Italian and Spanish…

Handy tools
If you’re staying in a foreign country, accessing the internet may not be as easy as it would be at home. Even then, would you know how to ask where the nearest cyber-cafe was? At such times, having a handheld PC with translation software installed may be the perfect solution.

One company that specialises in such software is Ectaco. It provides a range of different applications that can be used on your Pocket PC, Palm and even some advanced mobile phones.

You can even purchase software that will take a phrase you speak, translate it and then speak it back to the person you are talking to. However, this is expensive and for less… you can get a more basic phrasebook with translation capabilities.

If you’re looking to keep costs down, there are some free versions available. One example is Pocket Translator from Innersky for Pocket PCs. The website provides easy-to-follow instructions to get it up and running. But as with most things, the free versions won’t provide the same depth or ease of use as those you pay for.

Everything becomes clear
If you’re simply looking to find a way to read foreign text, and all you need to know is the basic gist of what’s being said, then the internet is the perfect place to start looking. There are lots of online translation tools that can change a slab of text, or even an entire foreign website, into English but don’t expect to understand everything that comes back using this method.

If you’re looking for more detailed translation, expect to pay for it. Generally, the better the quality of translation, whether through software or translation services, the costlier it is.


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Of course, Linguistic Solutions breaks down language and cultural barriers through translation, interpretation, foreign language instruction and cross-cultural training.

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Feb 06 2005

Cultural Moment Lost in Translation: Lives as Seen in the Shadow of Tiananmen Square Become Ancient History

The pace of change in China during the last 15 years has been extraordinarily fast; the pace at which its literature reaches us in translation, shamefully slow. Chinese dissident writer Ma Jian is known in the English-speaking world for his award-winning travel memoir of rural China in the 1980s, Red Dust.

Since the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong in 1997, he has been living with his partner and translator in London. The Noodle Maker, the first of Jian’s novels to appear in English, is set soon after the events of Tiananmen Square in 1989, already ancient history to today’s young entrepreneurs, artists and university students.

Reading The Noodle Maker has some of the blurred effect of a time-lapse photograph — it is a hard-hitting satire of a cultural moment that has come and gone. Only a reviewer intimate with today’s China could judge to what extent its critique is still sharp.

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Feb 05 2005

Boom in Arabic Translation Post-Sept. 11

Published by under Translation

Increasingly, writers, readers and publishers are turning to literature as a bridge between cultures, particularly Western and Arab societies estranged since Arab extremists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

This in turn is driving a boom in translation.

Those involved in the push say the American University in Cairo Press is an inspiration.

AUC Press has been publishing Arabic literature in translation for 20 years – its backlist of some 100 novels represents one of the largest collections of modern Arabic literature in English in the world.

Its latest offering is The Yacoubian Building by Al Aswany, a bestseller since it appeared in Arabic in 2002.

It’s a provocative survey of the social and political pressures of the present that have many Egyptians looking nostalgically to their more tolerant and hopeful past.

Al Aswany says it may help the world understand the political stagnation and corruption that leads many Arabs to extremism and violence.

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Feb 05 2005

Arabic Literature in Translation: A Bridge Between Estranged Worlds

It’s a novel of sex, romance, power and religion.

And in a post-September 11 world looking for a window on the Middle East, it is significant that Alaa Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building is also a novel of Egypt that has just been translated into English.

Increasingly, writers, readers and publishers are turning to literature as a bridge between cultures, particularly Western and Arab societies estranged since Muslim extremists from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. Recent years have seen the arrival of a Web site devoted to translating fiction and new grants for literary translations. Last year, the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest of its kind in the world, chose the Arab world as its “guest of honor,” giving several hundred Arab writers and intellectuals an unprecedented chance to exchange ideas with their Western counterparts and meet publishers and agents.

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Feb 03 2005

Japanese Kit Kat Sales Boosted by Lucky Translation

Known as Exam Hell, school entrance exams are notoriously stressful in Japan, but students in their droves are turning to what they believe is one very lucky charm -– a bar of Kit Kat.

As well as being a favourite lunchtime snack, students are now bringing the Nestlé chocolate bar into the exam room because the phrase “kitto katsu” means, “If I try, I will win.”

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Feb 02 2005

Common Sense Advisory Releases Fourth-Quarter Global Business Confidence Surveyâ„¢ Results

Published by under Translation

Common Sense Advisory, an independent research and consulting firm, announces the release of its fourth-quarter Global Business Confidence Surveyâ„¢ results for the translation services industry. The surveys polled buyers and suppliers of language services and technology about their current business situation, plans, and expectations for the near future.

The supply-side report, “Global Business Confidence Survey: Supplier Q4-2004,” is the third in a series of quarterly polls into the attitude and plans of language service and technology providers. It compares the results of all three surveys to chart changes in business confidence over the last nine months. Common Sense Advisory has begun to cross-tabulate its results with those of the U.S. Department of Commerce and other national and international agencies reporting on the general economy.

The buy-side report, “Global Business Confidence Survey: Buyer Q4-2004,” is the first in a series of parallel reports on the corporate and government demand for language services.

As with its supply-side research, Common Sense Advisory will conduct this survey every quarter, compare results, and comment on the changing attitudes.


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Feb 01 2005

Common Sense Advisory Releases Business Assessment of SDL International

Published by under Translation

Common Sense Advisory, Inc., an independent research and consulting firm, has released the second in a series of reports on publicly traded language service companies. The report, “SDL 2005: Challenges and Opportunities,” provides a business assessment of UK-based SDL International (SDL), a provider of translation services and technology solutions, in the financial and business terms that reflect the company’s importance to the globalization plans of large enterprises. Specifically, the report:
– Analyzes SDL’s business fundamentals
– Assesses its value and performance through valuation methodologies including discounted cash flow and relative valuations.
– Provides SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats) analysis in the context of the language services market landscape and company details
– Discusses strategies that could enhance shareholder and customer value
– Provides an in-depth look at the globalization market dynamics and buying trends

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Feb 01 2005

Shakespeare’s Sonnets in New Finnish Translation

Published by under Translation

A new Finnish translation of William Shakespeare’s Sonnets appeared on Monday under the title Nautintojen ajan aarre (The name is taken from the line “Where all the treasure of thy lusty days” in Sonnet II). The translation is the work of author and scholar Kirsti Simonsuuri, and the volume has been published by Yliopistopaino.

The process of translation took a total of around five years, but Simonsuuri had other research work and some fictional writing going on at the same time, as well as teaching duties at Helsinki University, in England, and in Holland.

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Jan 31 2005

Linspire Experiments with “Community Translation” of its Linux Distribution into 80 Different Languages

Published by under Translation

Linspire, the old Lindows, has got a Web-based application that is supposed to let volunteers translate Linspire’s Linux distribution into 80 different languages although currently the thing appears to only support 21.

It’s called IRMA, short for the International Resource Management Application, and quite frankly one shudders at what could result.

The company says 200 people, representing 35 languages, have signed on already.

Volunteers are supposed to pick the code strings they want to translate. The system reportedly prompts the translators if certain words or phrases have already been translated.

Linspire says checks will be put in place to control the quality of the translations.

It says that when 25 or more volunteers are translating in a particular language, they will work in a double-blind system, where two people translate the same text and have their translations checked against the other. When translations match, they will be used. If they do not match, the lead translator will reconcile the situation.

Languages that don’t have enough translators for the double-blind checks will be reviewed by language managers, who will edit the translations for consistency and accuracy, Linspire said.

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