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Google’s AI translation system is approaching human-level accuracy

Source: The Verge
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

Google is one of the leading providers of artificial intelligence-assisted language translation, and the company now says a new technique for doing so is vastly improving the results. The company’s AI team calls it the Google Neural Machine Translation system, or GNMT, and it initially provided a less resource-intensive way to ingest a sentence in one language and produce that same sentence in another language. Instead of digesting each word or phrase as a standalone unit, as prior methods do, GNMT takes in the entire sentence as a whole. More.

See: The Verge

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National Museum of Languages to boost British multilingualism

Source: Belfast Telegraph
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

Britain’s first ever National Museum of Languages will soon be coming to high streets across Britain, as part of efforts to make the country multilingual.

The new pop-up museum will have a physical presence in regional centres as well as a major batch of online learning resources.

The project is part of the new MEITS (Multilingualism – Empowering Individuals, Transforming Societies) project based at the University of Cambridge, and funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.

[...] Wendy Ayres-Bennett, Professor of French Philology and Linguistics at the University of Cambridge and the principal investigator of MEITS, said the museum was important to engage the wider public in languages.

She added: “When we started, we found it very surprising that there are museums for dog collars and lawnmowers, but there is no National Museum of Languages in the UK, and we thought that was a real gap. More.

See: Belfast Telegraph

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Refugees face language barrier at health visits

Source: Wigan Today
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

A report has highlighted some of the difficulties refugees and asylum-seekers are having accessing health services in the borough.

Produced by Healthwatch Wigan with the help of the Support for Wigan Arrivals Project (SWAP) and TS4SE, a not-for-profit organisation which supports refugees, the report outlines how language is proving to be the biggest barrier for refugees accessing health and social care services in the borough.

It raises concerns about interpreters rarely being on hand to help refugees and asylum-seekers register and book appointments or during consultations with a GP.

It goes on to say that this has led to some refugees’ struggling to communicate their health problems. More.

See: Wigan Today

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Better automatic translations sought by 2020

Source: The Japan News
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

The government plans to accelerate the development of automatic voice translation technology that instantly translates spoken words into other languages ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Demand for translation has been growing due to a rapid increase in the number of foreign visitors to Japan. The government will spend a total of about ¥10 billion over five years from fiscal 2015 to develop the technology, and promote the efforts by involving both the public and private sectors.

It is possible that “omotenashi” hospitality could be realized through automatic translation machines by around 2020.

If you say “Please form a single line,” in Japanese through a megaphone-type automatic translation device now being developed by Panasonic Corp., synthesized sounds translated into such languages as English and Chinese come out its speaker.

It is effective for giving instructions at places where many random foreigners gather, such as stations or sightseeing areas. The device was used to provide evacuation guidance at a disaster drill conducted by the Tokyo metropolitan government earlier this month. More.

See: The Japan News

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Why this Arctic language doesn’t use an alphabet

Source: Sploid
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

Inuktitut does have a written language, but it’s just not an alphabet. Instead, as Tom Scott explains, it uses a related system of symbols to express sounds called an abugida.

This writing system is in use in the far north of Canada and was originally invented by Christian missionaries. Inuktitut—which can use one compound word to say the equivalent of an English sentence—is built on consonant/vowel pairs. In order to accommodate the language’s sounds and structure, a new set of symbols was developed. More.

See: Sploid

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Playing Scrabble in Chipewyan: New game helps teach language

Source: CBC News
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

If you think using the letter Q to nab a triple-word score is tough enough in English, try playing Scrabble in Chipewyan.

That’s now possible, thanks to Paul Boucher, a Chipewyan language teacher from Fort Smith, N.W.T.

Over the past year, he’s developed “Scramble” or Ɂëk’éch’a Helá, a Chipewyan version of the popular word game. And he’s bringing it into his classroom at Paul William Kaeser High School as a teaching tool.

“This is an opportunity for us to take a game and translate it into a language so the kids can learn the language,” says Boucher.

“We’ve been playing it already. It’s part of my activities during my lessons, I do that with the Grade 12s and I’m going to be starting to do that with my Grade 10s.” More.

See: CBC News

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Hillsborough teenager developing translation app for Syrian students

Source: Global News
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

Alex Steeves, a 16-year-old student at Caledonia High School, is developing a smartphone app that will translate Arabic into English in hopes it will help his Syrian classmates better adjust to the English language.

The app will take 25 common phrases like, ‘How much does this cost?’ or ‘May I use the bathroom?’ and translate them, helping both teachers and all students in the classrooms.

Innovative design teacher, Benjamin Kelly challenged his students to think outside the box and come up with an app that would be different from what they were used to doing. More.

See: Global News

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Natural language: The future of automated writing

Source: The Network
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

Can you tell the difference between what is written by a human and by algorithmic artificial intelligence?

You wouldn’t know it, but over the last few years, computers have increasingly (and quietly) written many of the sporting news, financial reporting, and weather forecasts you already read daily.

[...] The technology works like this. Rules for data are paired with pre-canned words and phrases to say different things. For example, if a movie has a five star rating, a machine might say the movie is “great,” “not to be missed,” or something similar. If the movie receives one star, the machine could say, “Not worth your time,” or “should be avoided.”

“Writing contains two distinct phases,” explains Nikhil Ninan, senior data scientist at Arria NLG. “The first phase is when the writer makes decisions about what content to include. The second phase simply executes the organizational, narrative, and syntactic decisions to output the surface text.” More.

See: The Network

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Open-source translation productivity tool finds a dozen backers

Source: Slator
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

A dozen companies have chipped in to develop an open-source, cloud-based translation productivity tool (aka CAT tool). On September 13, 2016, thetranslate5 project closed a second financing round among supporters, bringing the total raised to EUR 40,000.

“More than half of the funds have already been spent,” says Marc Mittag, lead developer and the driving force behind the project, when he discussed the project with Slator. Prior to starting his own firm in 2009, Mittag was with German-based language service provider (LSP) Transline. More.

See: Slator

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Why more international students are choosing Canada as an English language hub

Source: Latin Correspondent
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

For Latin American students looking to refine their English language skills and continue to further education or employment, Canada is becoming an increasingly attractive option.

Canada ranks as the world’s seventh most popular destination for international students and has one of the fastest growing tertiary education sectors in the world. In 2008, more than 184,000 international students were studying in Canada. By 2014, this figure had almost doubled to more than 336,000.

International students are attracted to Canada for a number of reasons. The quality of education is extremely high, the population is diverse and welcoming, and it is one of the safest places to live. In fact, international students in Canada are so satisfied with their experience that 51 percent plan to apply for permanent residence and 37 percent plan to remain in the country to pursue further study. More.

See: Latin Correspondent

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Only seven people in the world speak this Kenyan language—and now they are trying to save it

Source: Quartz
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

The Yaaku people, of Kenya’s Rift Valley, number only around 4,000. And only seven people, all over the age of 70, can speak the ethnic group’s native language, Yakunte, fluently.

As the number of Yakunte speakers has dwindled, various efforts have been made to save the language. Yakunte speakers and a Dutch researcher wrote a Yakunte dictionary in 2004. Advocates of the people established the Yaaku People Association in 2003, dedicated to preserving its culture. Recently, according to a BBC report, a local school funded by the French Cultural Group is holding language classes twice a month for young Yaaku. More.

See: Quartz

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The translation center powered by offers new features to Business members

Source: Translator T.O.
Story flagged by: Jared Tabor

New features and tools have been added to the translation center powered by and made available to Business members. More.

See: Translator T.O.

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The Manga Translation Battle vol. 5

Source: Crunchyroll
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

The Manga Translation Battle is particularly special because it’s the world’s only official Japanese manga translation contest. Not only is the contest sanctioned by the Digital Comic Association and the Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, the submissions are judged by veterans in the English manga publishing industry. The contest is already in its fifth year (or volume, as the organizers call it) and has produced some marvelous results. For example, Keiichi Arawai’s Nichijou, which was one of the previous titles featured in the MTB, is now one of Vertical’s top-selling manga titles. More.

See: Crunchyroll

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Words are our peaceful weapons, says Amnesty’s head of translation

Source: Slator
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

Human rights organization Amnesty International has translated a total of 4.9 million words in the first half of 2016 alone—300,000 words more than in the first half of 2015. Amnesty International runs translation, interpretation, language production, and digital services through a centralized service called the Language Resource Center (LRC).

Formally launched in 2010, the LRC is a virtual network of language professionals from various locations around the globe. In 2015, the LRC coordinated the translation of some nine million words in total in the field of human rights, according to Lucio Bagnulo, Head of Translation at Amnesty International.

“Translation plays an all-important role in spreading Amnesty International’s message. Defending human rights is not a battle fought physically. Instead, it is a battle we at Amnesty fight with words and this is where the LRC comes in,” Bagnulo says. More.

See: Slator

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Local linguist translates books in Hawaiian, Pidgin

Source: West Hawaii Today
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

KOHALA COAST — For linguist Keao NeSmith, translating literature isn’t just about going line-by-line through a book and translating the words.

“It’s the thought in the (author’s) head that needs to be translated,” he said. “It’s not a matter of translating the words; it’s an issue of translating the culture.”

NeSmith presented a panel Saturday at the HawaiiCon Science Fiction Convention about his efforts to translate popular literature into Hawaiian as well as a recent effort to translate Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic French novella “Le Petit Prince” (The Little Prince) into Hawaiian Pidgin. More.

See: West Hawaii Today

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More than a cúpla focail: How to learn a language in just three months

Source: The Irish Times
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

A Cavan man who speaks 11 languages and is known as ‘the Irish polyglot’ has devised a new way of becoming multilingual.

His message is simple, if somewhat startling. “Languages cannot be learned,” he says. “They can only be lived.”

[...] But how does his “hacking” method differ from those we’ve all seen – and many of us have tried – before?

“Language learning would be where you study grammar and you study tables of vocab,” Lewis says. “You do an exam, and maybe after a few years you might be able to get by in the language. Language hacking, on the other hand, gets you speaking from day one. You take the handful of words you have, and you squeeze the most you possibly can out of them.” More.

See: The Irish Times

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‘To err is human’ — comical gaffes and quiet triumphs of a UN interpreter

Source: CBC News
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

As leaders, old and new, gather for the United Nations annual General Assembly debate in New York City this week to outline their visions for the world, many will be listening to their words through the voices of interpreters. This can lead to some tricky — even comical — situations when issues of syntax, idioms, unknown words, accents and speed are at play.

This week will mark Interpreter Anne-Catherine Boudot’s ninth year covering the gathering, which she says is both an exciting and tense time for the UN’s interpreters. They stay on 24/7 standby and can be assigned to cover any number of events including the speeches by world leaders in the General Assembly hall, or one of the hundreds of meetings, side events and conferences that take place during this leaders’ week.

“You are aiming for 100 per cent accuracy all the time,” says the head of the UN’s interpretations service, Hossam Fahr. But, ”all interpreters are human — and to err is human.” More.

See: CBC News

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City strengthening Spanish translation services for non-english speakers

Source: Texas Public Radio
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

In its 2017 budget, the City of San Antonio is formalizing Spanish translation of certain city documents, agendas and council meetings. While the city has offered Spanish services during some meetings by request it will soon have a dedicated person hired to translate for Spanish-only speakers.

The city has translators available upon request most of the time. However, at District 1 Councilman Robert Trevino’s request, $225,000 is included in the now-approved budget for a full time translator and translation services. More.

See: Texas Public Radio

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Canadian interpreters fear “crude bidding war”

Source: Slator
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

Canada’s Translation Bureau has again come under fire. Earlier in 2016, the Bureau was put on the defensive after itannounced it would open home-grown machine translation system Portage to all Canadian government employees.

This time, criticism is directed at the Bureau’s planned use of a vetting algorithm to prequalify interpreters, which favors the lowest-bidding freelancers. The Bureau is “harming [its] ability to fulfill its mandate,” according to a freelancer from a large organization of conference interpreters.

The freelancer, Nicole Gagnon, was quoted by CBC News Ottawa as saying that the Bureau’s vetting system “could turn the complex process of hiring the right interpreter for the right job into a crude bidding war.” More.

See: Slator

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Translation app could be boon for migrant patients

Source: SBS News
Story flagged by: Paula Durrosier

Technology is being used to help health professionals in Victoria better communicate with, and care for, their patients who would otherwise need an interpreter on hand.

Using the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Assist iPad app, patients are asked basic questions in their home languages, which helps clinicians understand their needs.

The manager of speech pathology and audiology at Western Health, Sally Brinkmann, says even elderly patients who may not be familiar with technology can be comfortable with it. More.

See: SBS News

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