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Opinion & features

What the translation industry can do for Haiti


Modified reposting of entry by Tammi Coles in the Milengo Blog. Tammi is our Geeky Marketing Diva, and has a lot of experience in nonprofit advocacy. In her words, “coalitions and collaborations = conservation of effort = victory.”

Like you, Milengo staff worldwide heard the news about the earthquake in Haiti. As the reports and photographs poured in, the extent of the devastation became clear: full neighborhoods have been destroyed, government offices and services have crumbled, and basic access to food and potable water has degraded.

We have also witnessed an amazing public rally for support, including reports of initiatives from leading technology companies to mobilize their customers and employees in the efforts.

These reports started a conversation between Milengo CEO Renato Beninatto and Lexcelera CEO Lori Thicke about just what translators and localization service providers could provide to the effort.

We don’t have to look too far for ideas.

Pledge the efforts of your company
The folks at One Hour Translation put out a press release earlier today offering a simple, free translation of up to 250 words per each organization and individual affected by the earthquake. One document may not seem like much, but in an industry of over 40,000 companies, the potential impact on medical aid documentation and charity websites is enormous.

Offer your services as an individual translator
The French-based Translators Without Borders (founded by Lori) take it a step farther by offering translators the chance to answer the call of the humanitarian groups that need their time and effort. Their largest partner, Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders is already on the ground in Haiti, with over 1,000 patients already in their care and an inflatable hospital on its way. Whether the need is for training materials for volunteers or media announcements in multiple languages, your talents are welcome.

Spread the word one SMS and Tweet at a time
Messages on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have made a considerable impact on Haitian relief efforts. @RenatoBeninatto sent out a message on Twitter regarding the efforts of Haitian-born singer Wyclef Jean to get donations for the work of his nonprofit,, from U.S. residents. And CNet News reported that a similar SMS donation campaign driven by Verizon and the Red Cross raised $4 million USD within days, with each SMS a donation of just $10. The effort to both make a donation and spread the news virally is too simple to ignore.

Help Coordinate the Efforts
Doug Green from Translation Source, in Houston, TX, wants to make sure that our joint efforts are not so diluted. So, in order to make sure that language assistance has been properly mobilized, and that the language industry puts its best foot forward. He has created a Facebook group, a Twitter account, and an e-mail address to concentrate information:

Facebook: Interpreters and Translators for Haiti
Twitter: @IT4H

Doug also tells us that Pacific Interpreters has already stepped forward and begun to donate all over the phone interpreting assistance for Haiti.

We hope to hear more on Twitter and on this blog more about what you, our colleagues in the translation industry, are doing to help. Add your comments, ideas, feedback and more below.

It’s the End of the World: Crowdsourcing in Literature Actually Works!


Ok, a little context before my comments.

On September 15, Dan Brown’s latest book, The Lost Symbol, was launched with much fanfare in the United States and around the world. Because of the secrecy involved with the contents of the book, no advance copies were released to foreign publishers so that they could have it translated and launched at the same time in their markets.

As reported here, Swedish publishers decided to assign the job to multiple translators in order to limit piracy and to prevent impatient fans from buying the English version of the book, by expediting the publishing of the Swedish translation.

Well… they did it. On October 21, 2009 — only 36 days after the launch of the English version of the book — Albert Bonniers Förlag released the book in Swedish. In that period, they were able to translate, edit, format, print, and distribute 300,000 copies of a 614-page book.

And how did they do it? This article in Swedish (I read it using Google Translate) narrates the details of the adventure.  But for our purposes, what matters is that seven translators worked on this project. Their names are Leo Andersson, Tove Janson Borglund, Ola Klingberg, Lennart Olofsson, Peter Samuelsson, Gösta Svenn, Helena Sjöstrand Sven. From what I could see in AdLibris, the Swedish online bookstore, all of them are very experienced translators.

As one review says: “Another positive aspect: the translation is actually quite okay. Even here, I have put a sadly, because it would have been preferable if the insane circumstances surrounding the translation into Swedish – seven translators, a few mere weeks – had left its mark in the text.”

What do I think about this? I think that this must have been a very exciting project, as it epitomizes the power of collaboration.

The publisher needed to have the book out fast (I saw the English version of the book exhibited very prominently at the Stockholm airport both times I was there before the launch of the Swedish version) in order not to lose 150,000 sales as the publisher of Harry Potter did because of delayed translations. Time-to-market was the critical element in protecting its investment and maximizing its return.

And before you say the Q word, I actually believe that several translators working together might deliver better quality than one working alone.

Special thanks for my friend Anne-Marie Colliander Lind, from Common Sense Advisory, who helped me collect some of the data for this posting.

Productivity Prediction and Google Translate


The slide show in my previous posting ends with a quote from the “Visionary’s Handbook” by Wacker & Taylor, which says that “The closer your vision gets to a provable future, the more your are simply describing the present. In the same way, the more certain you are of a future outcome, the more likely you will be wrong.”

One of my most controversial predictions at the ATA Presentation was that in the future, translator productivity would be measured in tens of thousands of words. Looks like the authors of the book were right: I was just describing the present. In fact, I received an e-mail from SDL today promoting a quote by my friend Marian Greenfield that she did over thirty thousand words in ten hours of work, thanks to the features of her translation tool of choice.

The e-mail advertisement states:

34,501 words. 10 hours. One translator.
Sound impossible?

“I just completed a 34,501 word project in 10 hours thanks to AutoSuggest™, Context Match and the other nifty time-saving features within SDL Trados Studio 2009 SP1. That’s without having much of anything in the pre-existing TM!” Marian Greenfield, Translator and Trainer

There you have it. It is possible. And that is only the beginning.

And since we are at it, have you played with the new interface of Google Translate? It shows the translation as you type the original in the translate box. It’s really cool to see how the translation changes as you add words, and therefore context, to the sentence. And if you translate from a foreign language into English, you can actually hear the translated sentence by clicking the sound icon next to the translation. How cool is that?

Last week I met with the Program Managers for Google Translate and Google Translator Toolkit and learned about some features that are coming up. I predict that in less than six months Google Translator Toolkit will be a perfectly functional tool that can be integrated into an LSPs Translation Management System. Play with it and get used to it… that’s my recommendation.

KudoZ pearls


A suggested KudoZ translation for “chi ha qualche chilo in più”: “those with a Reubenesque figure”. I suppose that it refers to those who get overweight by eating too many Reuben sandwitches.

This is a syndicated post, which originally appeared at About Translation. View original post.

Insider Secrets for Setting Up Globally Distributed Localization Staff


Managing a localization team in Delhi and Dubai from Deluth is no picnic. But, with these tips, your far-flung team will fly across the finish line

Collaborative Translation Expands

Source: Localization Industry 411
Story flagged by: Jared Tabor

This month, two interesting developments in the area of collaborative translation:

  • Facebook applies for patent for Community Translation on a Social Network. If you have translated on the Facebook Translation platform, like I have, you know that the tool works very well. The only limitation of community translation, when it is voluntary, is that larger chunks of text never get translated.
  • Swedish newspapers reported yesterday Dan Brown’s first new novel since “The Da Vinci Code” will be translated by six translators. The objective is to limit piracy and to prevent impatient fans from buying the English version of the book, by expediting the publishing of the Swedish translation.

What’s the relevance of these stories?

Collaborative translation or community translation is taking hold as a valid process for commercial projects. The usual contention is that in order to achieve consistency, it is better to have as few translators working on a project as possible is trumped by the commercial imperative: It is better to have a good translation – even in the literary world – that is delivered on time, than a perfect translation that arrives too late to the market.

See: Localization Industry 411

Elements of a Collaborative TM Environment

Source: Localization Industry 411
Story flagged by: Jared Tabor

Last week I was in Québec City for the ATA-TCD Conference, which was superbly organized by Rina Ne’eman and Grant Hamilton.

The biggest takeaway of the event was the last presentation of the last day: A panel presentation by Don Shin, from 1-Stop Translation, and Rocío Txabarriaga, from Common Sense Advisory, named “The Future of the Translation Industry: MT, TM, Open Source, Crowdsourcing: Where’s It All Headed? And What Should You Do to Prepare?”

For his intervention, Don compiled some of the major efforts being done in those areas, but what I liked the most was his depiction of what the desktop of a translator working in a collaborative manner might look like.

The key point is that the translator is in control. At the top, you have the source text. Right below it, you have the translator’s TM, the project’s TM, and a Machine Translation of the segment. And below that, the translated segment.

It is up to the translator to choose which one of these sources she is going to use. On the right panel you have access to terminology and a chat window, to ask for help in live mode to other people working on the same project.

Finally, on the bottom right, there is a fare meter, that shows how much money the translator is making on the project. Whether this is a motivator or a demotivator depends on the price that the translator is getting.

Another panel discussing Translation Management Technologies, moderated by Duncan Shaw, failed to address what all the LSPs in the room were looking for: Interoperability. What I heard LSPs saying is that they want to let their translators work with any tool that they prefer (Trados, SDL, MemoQ, Across, whatever) and not to require them to have different tools for different projects.

What the industry seems to want, and the technology providers can’t seem to be able to deliver, is a standard format for Translation Memories that does not get corrupted if you change from one tool to another. Like as Comma Delimited File that can be opened by Excel, Lotus, MySQL or Oracle, without any data loss.

I guess that was the original promise of TMX.

See: Localization Industry 411

An interesting new blog on localization: Localization Best Practices

Source: About Translation
Story flagged by: Jared Tabor

David Ashton works for SDL, but his new blog, Localization Best Practices, is an independent effort.

David’s blog looks and feels professional, and has already published several interesting posts. In particular, I found “How healthy is your localization partner’s supply-chain?” should be required reading for most buyers of translation services, and “The case for and against direct update of TM’s by translators” should be pondered by the clients and MLVs that are all too ready to unleash a scrum of translators all on the same project and on the same memory:

Translators are only human and errors are introduced by human translators every day… that’s why we have Quality Assurance processes in the first place! Auto-propagating translations pre-QA carries a tremendous risk

Many translation blogs start with tentative steps, unsure of where they are going, only to find their feet with practice and time. David, on the other hand, hit the ground running.

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