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Translation and Language Industry Observations
Translation and Language Industry Observations
Using a synthetic voice as a translation editing tool
June 10, 2019
Freelance Translators / Technology
I have a colleague called Ryan. He’s been with me since 2014. He’s reliable, consistent and a valued member of the team. I’m from Northern Ireland and he’s from the USA, so we’re both English speakers working in the west of France. What separates us is that I am a physical being and he is a virtual voice. In fact, I can only really refer to him as a ‘he’ rather than an ‘it’ because his/its name is Ryan and his/its masculine voice derives from a real person. I ’employ’ Ryan to read aloud the text that I have prepared for clients: he comes in at the final stage of the translation or the editing process. In previous times I used to read this text out loud myself, but my concentration was inclined to wander after spending days poring over the same words, and although I felt that reading aloud was a sensible thing to do, I hadn’t taken the time to consider its empirical validity. So I began to search for answers. I had to go all the way back to 1969 to find Nida and Taber’s reflections on reading aloud as an editing tool for translators: “As the text is read, the translator should note carefully those places at which the reader stumbles, hesitates, makes some substitution of another grammatical form, puts in another word, or in any way has difficulty in reading the text fluently. Of course, some of the problems in reading may be due to inexperience in public reading, but if two or more persons have difficulty at the same point in the reading of a translation, this is a warning signal that something is likely to be wrong. Perhaps it is an awkward grammatical form, perhaps a difficult semotactic [syntax that alters the meaning] arrangement, perhaps a problem of word order. But whatever the problem may be, it should be carefully analyzed.” It would be good to be able to quote from numerous pieces of research, but I can’t. Translation scholars have been decidedly quiet on the subject of phonological equivalence and the importance of reading aloud as an editing tool, which is a pity when reading aloud can now be undertaken by a synthetic voice. This voice may not stumble or hesitate like a human voice, but the human listener, me, is quite capable of recognising the above obstacles as the text is read out loud. Moreover, the synthetic voice can carry the listener beyond the bounds of grammatical equivalence into the textual and pragmatic equivalence of cohesion and coherence. If I lose track of the people and themes while Ryan is reading, or if I lose track of the overall meaning, then I know that something in the text isn’t right and will have to be reviewed. As a translator who now spends more time editing than translating, I no longer need my human colleague to highlight (in yellow, which I love!) potential conflict between the source text in French and the target text in English. My remit has become one of improving an English text until it is sufficiently ‘readable’. Readable is a loaded term, defined by Anagnostou and Weir as “what makes one text more difficult or easier to understand than another” (2006), but at the very least, I would hope that the eventual reader can read my improved text with ease, which means that I have optimised the use of such devices as repetition, punctuation, sentence length, pronouns, parallel structures, polysyllabic words and syntax. I could of course resort to one of the 200 known readability formulae to measure and adjust some of these devices – it would be quick, but these formulae focus on writing style to the detriment of content, structure and design. And this brings me back to Ryan and the value of using a synthetic voice. Ryan does the reading; I listen; I alter; Ryan rereads; I listen; I alter, etc. I stop when the words, the grammar, the cohesion and the coherence blend into harmony. Like all translators, I have performance criteria: much of my text is read by editors from international journals and publishing houses. They are thorough, so my English has to be thorough too. Nevertheless, Ryan has had to step in occasionally to save me from glaring errors, typographical or other, which have floated to the surface of the text after being submerged for a number of days. I had simply stopped seeing them (especially if they were missing words). What can I say? I rely on Ryan’s efficiency. Did you know that he can read about 10,000 words per hour? I could accelerate his voice within my text to speech (TTS) software, but I’m happy with his normal speed. At the moment, most TTS programs automatically highlight each word as it is read, but wouldn’t be wonderful if they could use different colours to highlight different problems, like the overabundance of passive constructions, and wouldn’t it be even more wonderful if I could set the program to highlight what I want it to highlight from a number of options? If only… Until then, whether you edit what you translate or you edit what others have written in your target language and you want to maximise the quality of your work, Ryan and a host of other synthetic voices may be worth considering. I have certainly benefitted from his/its input. About the author: Rowland Hill is a professional translator who lives and work in France. He mostly translates and edits economics/sociology articles/books and children’s books. What does Rowland say about machine translation? “I’m not much of a machine translator. My only machine is my brain and whatever complementary software I can find, like TTS.”...
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Localization, Internationalization or Globalization? Which one do you need?
March 27, 2019
Translation & Localization
As our world becomes increasingly smaller and interconnected through the rapid advance of technology, translation alone is often no longer enough. That’s where localization, globalization and internationalization services come in. But which do you need – and what is the difference between them? Read on to find out. Localization Let’s start with localization. Whether you’re translating marketing materials, an app, a video or something else, it’s important to focus your material on your target audience. Localization does just that. The process considers everything from the popular culture and current slang to the religious beliefs of the translation’s intended audience, molding the resulting language to meet those needs. Localization can apply to imagery, logos, company names and more, with all of these potentially being amended to suit one specific audience. Internationalization Internationalization is essentially the opposite of localization. It is the process of preparing something to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. Instead of focusing a translation on the needs of a specific group, the process creates a document (or logo, app, video game, etc.) that can be used by people around the world without the user experience diminishing in any way. Internationalization must often be addressed at a deeper level than localization. Data encoding, software and hardware issues can all have a fundamental impact on internationalization and must therefore be considered as part of the overall process. Globalization Globalization is the process of preparing something for a global audience. This is a broad term that can actually encompass both internationalization and localization. For example: as part of its globalization strategy, a company could seek to make its website appeal to as wide an audience as possible through internationalization when developing the site itself and the content, but then localize elements such as currencies and the checkout experience. Which service do I need? If your business has plans to expand its operations and court a global audience, then globalization is an essential part of the process (along with translation, naturally). In all likelihood, you will need both internationalization and localization expertise in order to build your brand around the globe. Speaking with an established translation agency can be a helpful part of establishing the best way to go about reading your documents for your company’s globalization. Such entities have a great deal of experience when it comes to supporting brands to go global and will be able to offer insights as to where internationalization will be absolutely essential and where localization may also be of use. It’s a process that can at times seem complex, but the business benefits are undeniable. Building a brand that appeals to customers around the world is easier than ever before and can be an immensely rewarding – not to mention profitable – experience. As such, it’s time to start mapping out your globalization (and internationalization and location) needs. Author Bio William Mamane is Head of Digital Marketing at a translation company that provides translation, localization, globalization and internationalization services....
Will Machines Replace Professional Translators?
March 14, 2019
This debate has been going on for years. Will machine translation (MT) become good enough to replace human translators? Will professional translators need to find another line of work? If recent history is any proof, the answer is no. MT will not replace professional human translators in our lifetime. This notion is shared by many people in the industry. Here is a supporting quote from a recent (February 2019) Techcrunch article on MT: The problem with machine translation, when you really get down to it, is that it’s bad. Sure, it won’t mistake “tomato” for “potato,” but it can’t be trusted to do anything beyond accurately translate the literal meaning of a series of words. In many cases that’s all you need — for instance, on a menu — but for a huge amount of content it simply isn’t good enough. The simple fact is that as much progress as has been made in the last 10 years, MT is (a) not reliable enough to replace human translators and (b) it is unsuitable for 98% of the mission critical tasks needed by today’s customers. Brief History of MT First there was rule-based MT (RBMT), which was deemed as not ready for prime time. Then about 10 years ago, Google started the statistical MT (SMT) revolution which was supposed to bring MT to the next level. Which it did, but the promise did not come to fruition and the models did not deliver human quality translation. Then came neural MT (NMT) which was definitely the greatest MT technology ever invented. Now, companies are touting Deep NMT based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) which will surely replace professional translators. The MT experts keep on telling us that MT will be ready really soon. But that ‘really soon’ has already stretched out into a long time with no real end in sight. And the demand for professional human translators seems to be growing steadily and outperforming other professions. According to a USA Department of Labor report in 2016, translation jobs are expected to grow by 18% in the next 10 years. Employment of interpreters and translators is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Globalization and large increases in the number of non-English-speaking people in the United States will drive employment growth. Job prospects should be best for those who have professional certification. Drivers of MT As it has been from the start, MT is a scientific endeavor which combines several advanced fields: computational linguistics, mathematics, computer models, statistics among others. MT technologists are geek scientists who speak in a language of their own. If you suffer from insomnia, go to a conference in MT and you will be put to sleep in no time. Advances in MT are driven by one thing and one thing only: money. Companies are hoping to capitalize on advances in MT in order to make money. The companies who are promoting MT as a business are either tech giants (like Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook) or LSPs. The tech giants want to get their hands on cheap translation services since they have gigantic amounts of text that need to be translated. The tech giants also have the resources to train the MT systems to provide good translations for their own purposes. LSPs are using MT so that they can offer low cost translation services to customers with large translation budgets. The tech giants have peripheral objectives as well. For example, both Google and Microsoft have been developing speech-to-speech translation systems for commercial use. Microsoft and especially Google are monetizing access to their MT APIs. And MT is helpful for search engines who want to gain market share. What Can and Can’t be done with MT As stated previously, MT can be improved by training the system with large corpora (plural of corpus) of aligned text. So if a company like Microsoft trains their MT to translate Microsoft’s knowledge base, then the system will yield good results. But since it takes huge resources both financially and technically, almost all companies can’t undertake this kind of work. Likewise, using an MT-savvy LSP for PEMT (post-edited MT) work is also tricky. Firstly, the LSP will need to make a huge investment in their MT which will be passed along to the client. And if you do not have huge amounts of texts then the price may be comparable or even higher than human translation. And even after all of that, a human translator is needed to post-edit the MT. The following kind of translation work can’t be done with MT: – Certified translation for official purposes. This kind of work requires a signed statement of accuracy by the translator, something that can’t be done by MT software. – Books/Novels/Poems. In the 1970s and 80s my uncle, Ivan Sanders, had translated a number of Hungarian novels into English. I remember that these projects involved numerous face-to-face meetings with the author so that that translator (my Uncle) could gain an in-depth understanding behind some of the characters in the novel and to understand the author’s thought process on certain parts of the novel. These projects took about two years to complete. No way a machine can translate a novel at the same quality level. – Scanned images on PDF files. At GTS, most of the orders for online translation services are for PDF files. Some of them are scanned documents which are not great quality. These kind of files require prep work and getting MT into the loop may not be efficient. – Critical legal documents. If you were buying a house in France for $5 Million and needed to translate the contract, would you trust a machine translation? Summary Scientists and engineers funded by the private sector will continue to develop MT systems which will represent breakthroughs in science and technology. Quality will improve but only marginally. Demand for translators will increase due to the increase amount of content that needs to be translated....
Top Online Translation Companies
March 8, 2019
Online Translation Services
Buying professional translation services online has emerged as a viable solution for today’s customers. In the traditional, full-service model that prevailed in past years, customers would contact a translation agency by phone or by email. Ensuing communications between the client and the agency would also be done offline-sometimes even using postal mail to send in materials. Today, customers can get instant price quotes, order translation services and complete payment online. This results in lower prices and faster delivery times. Now, you can get a professional translation services in a matter of hours. Here is a comprehensive list of online companies, not listed in any specific order. In this list we only included companies that provide instant translation price quotes anonymously (without needed to enter your name and email address). If anyone comes across an online translation company that is not on this list, or if you have any reviews or comments about a company, please feel free to comment and we will update this list. gengo is a Japanese company which was recently acquired by Lionbridge (one of the biggest translation companies in the world). Together with OHT (see next entry), Gengo pioneered the professional online translation space. Prices at gengo start at $0.06 but are much higher for reviewed translation. Up until recently, gengo only provided translation of business and general texts. Now they provide translation service in most subject matters. One Hour Translation is an Israeli company that provides translation services in all subject matters. Prices start at around $0.14 for specialized text. Based in San Francisco, Rev seems to have shifted their focus towards the video and entertainment industry. They offer services not related to translation, such as transcription and captioning services. They do provide certified translation of official documents and business translation services. Stepes is a US-based company that provides professional document translation services. Self-billed as the “Uber of Translation Services,” Stepes has a nifty, easy to use user interface which can be used on mobile devices as well as computers. Textmaster is a company based in France that provides professional document translation services. Specialized translation services start at 0.16 Euro per word. Translated is an Italian company that has been in the translation business for 20 years. Their online interface is not very convenient. Prices for professional translated start at $0.10 per word. They offer buy-now-pay-later service for corporate clients. They also offer Post-Edited Machine Translation (PEMT) services in partnership with Google. Based in the UK, Turbo Translations provides fast document translation services starting at $0.10 per word. Tolingo is based in Germany. There prices seem to be high (around 0.20 Euro per word). Furthermore, they add 19% VAT to the price even if you are outside of Germany. Mars Translation provides instant quotes but asks you to enter your name and email address. You can enter a fake name and email to get the instant quote. Prices start at $0.15 a word. Smartlation’s user interface is cumbersome and it takes many clicks to get a price quote. It is really an online marketplace of translators and you get several options from specific translators in their database. It is unclear what responsibility Smarlation assumes in the process. Furthermore, I am not sure I would want to order translation services from a company that has typos on their home page. Nativy is an Austrian based company. They add VAT to all orders even if you are outside of Austria. There User Interface is not very convenient due to a wizard that constantly serves up popup windows. Tomedes is an Israeli company. Prices start at $0.14 per word. MyTranslation is a professional online translation agency based in France. They only offer translation into German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch. They offer two modes of service. They choose a translator for you with prices starting at $0.14. Or you get bids on your projects with prices starting at $0.11. They also add VAT to the translation price even if you are outside of France. GTS Translation is the owner of this blog. Click here to get an instant online price quote for professional translation services. ...
How to make BIG bucks as a freelance translator
March 7, 2019
Let’s start with a few basic facts: the translation industry is huge and generated over US$45 Billion in 2018. The world has several hundred thousand translators who are making a living in this industry. It is clear that there is a lot of money out there and freelance translators can do very well in today’s market. There are translators who make over $100,000 a year. And most of the freelancers can work out of their home and at their own hours. Sounds good right? The downside is that there is a lot of competition out there and the barrier of entry is low. Anyone with a PC and Internet connection can open her/his own freelance translation business. So how can you fare better than the competition? This post provides a few pointers that can help you on the road to success. Love your work. This point is banal and can be said about any profession. If you don’t get excited about your work then you won’t be successful. Words matter! While you are working, consider that the words that you are writing may be seen by millions of people. MILLIONS! With this is mind, your translation work should be crafted carefully and joyfully. And when you love your work, you will do your best to constantly hone your skills which will drive you to improve in your chosen profession. Be Professional: the most important thing you can do is have a professional attitude about your business. A freelance translator will need to invest money in setting up her/his business. This includes buying a decent PC and purchasing software licenses. Buying a CAT tool is a must. It would behoove a professional translator to have licenses for all software products and not steal copyrighted products. Don’t skimp on other expenses which will make you look better to potential clients. Invoices, letterheads, mailers, web pages and your CV should be designed so to appear as professional as possible. Be Quick. Another no brainer but needs to be said. You can make more money delivering 5,000 words a day then if you only deliver 3,000 words. Speed can be achieved without compromising quality. CAT tools can help speed up the process. Translators have been known to use other software aids in their work, like speech-to-text software, all in the interest of increasing throughput. The best paid translators are the ones who can work fastest. Prepare a kick-ass CV. Your resume should be ready to go. The CV should be written in the language that your customers understand (in our case this would be primarily English). A good quality photo on your resume is recommended. Avoid listing previous jobs which are not relevant to your objectives. A resume that includes jobs as a phone receptionist, waiter or lifeguard at a summer camp are not going to make you more attractive as a freelance translator so leave them out. Likewise, avoid listing hobbies that have no relevance to your objectives. Finally, distribute your CV in PDF file format and not in Word. CVs in Word format can get messed up when viewed by your customers. Maintain an Online Presence. There are several ways you can do this and it is highly recommended. A website will show your potential customers that you mean business. There are good low cost options for publishing a 1-2 page website in which you can tout your skills (wix.com and wordpress.com are examples). Register on freelance translator directories like proz.com and translatorscafe. Once you have profiles in these websites, send them to clients in your proposals. Sign up on online translation company websites that are looking for translators. Click here to sign up as a freelance translator on GTS Translation website. Be Social. Be available to answer questions raised by your peers on the various forums and social networks. This will raise your profile online and get you more exposure. If will also show customers that you are an expert in your field. Price yourself industriously. When you are out of work, bid low. When you are busy, bid high. The main thing is to keep busy and stay in business. Did you ever pass by a restaurant with people waiting on line to get in? The food is probably good there. Did you ever pass by an empty restaurant? The food is probably bad. The same with translators. The good ones are busy and often unavailable. The poor ones have plenty of time on their hands. Follow the money. The translation business can be highly sporadic. Feast to famine. So take work when you can because it may dry up tomorrow. Try not to tell your customers that you are too busy because then they may find a replacement and cut you out of the loop in future jobs. Work 16 hours days when you can and rest during the slack times. When you are rich enough, then you can turn down jobs. Be timely, polite and flexible. Answer all emails quickly. If you don’t have a smartphone with an email account then get one, that way you can be on top of your emails. Be polite to your customers and try to use the word YES more than the word NO. At the end of the day, your customers want to order from someone who is not only competent but is also a nice person to deal with. Be grateful to the people that provide you with work, as it will ingratiate you to your clients. Try to solve problems on your own. Translation PMs don’t like to be besieged by pesky questions. It wastes time and delays delivery. If you have a pressing issue which you can’t solve on your own then fire away. But if it is something you can solve on your own then do so (and consider adding a translator note to the finished text). Be a stickler for quality. This is key. Proofread your material carefully, run a spell check as much as needed. Try not to assume that someone else will catch your mistakes and avoid making any. Deliver on time and never make excuses. If you can’t deliver on time (which is in itself a cardinal sin), then at least notify the customer of the delay in advance. NEVER make excuses and provide reasons for the delay (my mother-in-law is in the hospital, the work is in my office PC and I am now at home, etc.). These excuses just make you appear to be a liar and better just to apologize for a delay and offer a price discount if you can afford to....