Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Localization vs. Translation

Translation can provide difficulties in many formats. Some text is highly technical and requires hours of research to find appropriate terminology. Other text might have an idiom or play on words that doesn’t exist in the new language. These are dilemmas that translators must deal with daily, and this is where two forms of language services come into play. Localization vs. Translation. 

Translation’s first priority is the source text. It is the translator’s job to adhere as faithfully as possible to the original content. Without the liberty or freedom to alter the content, translators must be creative while still staying “inside the box” to come up with solutions that will be coherent and concise in the new language. Translators must always walk the line between literal word-for-word translation to stay as faithful as possible, and adaptation of the text to better flow in the target language. Where on that line of balance the translator lands will vary from project to project but staying closer to the source text is always considered the “safe” route. 

Localization is when translators have much greater freedom to alter the content in order to adapt it for the target audience. This might entail changing an idiom in the source text to a different idiom in the target that holds a similar meaning. In the case of an acronym or alliteration it may require even more thought and consideration to come up with a viable solution. Localization focuses the efforts of the translator on the target language. They must be willing, and have the authority, to change the original content and perhaps even alter the meaning to ensure better reception by the target audience. Translators often struggle to offer this service without very close communication and cooperation with the client. It takes a great deal of diligence as well as freedom to alter the content and can thus pose a lot of problems for those who are not the original content creators.

Outsourcing Translation to an LSP

Many companies face the internal decision of either outsourcing their translation needs or keeping them in-house. Over the past decade there has been a trend for companies to outsource as much translation work as possible, and for good reason. 

When keeping translations internal, companies face the choice of either staffing an entire translation department dedicated to translating various company documents or utilizing current staff such as sales or marketing reps to translate content. 

1. If you decide to create an entire department for translation, you must first have significant enough translation demand to justify hiring and paying salaries for dedicated translators. As with any company you can expect increases and decreases in the demand for translation over a given year. This can result in significant downtime for translators with nothing to do, or slow down production when everyone is waiting on the translation department to work on their content. 

2.If you decide to utilize current staff to translate content as it comes up, then you likely don’t have as high a demand for translations. This, however, means that you must take time from your employee’s standard day-to-day functions in order to allot time for translation. Additionally, in these situations we tend to see that employers assume that being bilingual automatically qualifies an employee to translate content, when in fact this is not true at all. Translators undergo years of training and practice to become proficient at the art and skill of converting content from one language to another.  Utilizing untrained staff for translation work can result in embarrassing errors, or mistranslations that can cost a company dearly.

Outsourcing translation work ultimately eliminates all these dilemmas. By working closely with an LSP, companies have access to a larger network of resources, lowered costs, quicker turnarounds, and greater flexibility. LSPs have the resources to build glossaries, store translation memories, access to content specialists, and stay up to date on industry standards and certifications. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Loanwords – When Languages Share Words

The German language is quite infamous for its long words. This comes out of the general rule that you can combine words together to make new compound words, pretty much whenever you like. German, despite its reputation as a harsh language, can often be quite poetic because of this linguistic feature. 

We see examples in words we have borrowed such as Kindergarten, which literally means children’s garden, bringing forth imagery of cultivating a proper environment for children to grow. Kindergarten is an excellent example, as it maintains the exact same meaning across both languages. However, this is not always the case. 

As often as German lends its words to be used in other languages, it also borrows from others, including English.  A truly interesting linguistic phenomenon occurs when foreign languages borrow from English, either using terms that aren’t typically used by native English speakers or altering the meaning of a word or phrase to mean something new. This can often pose a very tricky situation for translators as they attempt to convey meaning between languages. 

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has used the word “shitstorm” on several occasions often to the shock of native English speakers. Afterall, this is seen as a rather vulgar term in English and would not typically be expected to be heard coming from the mouth of a political figure. 

The word, however, has been casually adopted into German, entered the country’s dictionary back in 2013. The meaning in German has changed slightly from the English original. Where in English the term would typically just mean a situation marked by extreme controversy and conflict, in German it specifically denotes a situation of intense blowback or outrage on the internet/social media.

It is in instances like these that international communication and translation can become difficult to navigate. As words are borrowed between languages, they often shift meaning slightly due to cultural and linguistic differences. It is the translator’s job to be vigilant of these alterations in meaning and to ensure that content is appropriately understood and transferred between languages, while avoiding any unintended offense or meaning.

Merry Christmas Around the World

Be prepared to welcome your holiday guests in any language! Below is a list of ways to say Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays in multiple languages!

Merry Christmas!
  • French: Joyeux Noël
  • German: Frohe Weinachten
  • Spanish: Feliz Navidad
  • Italian: Buon Natale
  • Portuguese: Feliz Natal
  • Dutch: Vrolijk kerstfeest
  • Romanian: Crăciun fericit
  • Polish: Wesolych Swiat
  • Swedish: God Jul
  • Czech: Veselé Vánoce

Happy Holidays!
  • French: Joyeuses fêtes
  • German: Schöne Ferien
  • Spanish: Felices fiestas
  • Italian: Buone Feste
  • Portuguese: Felizes Festas
  • Dutch: Fijne feestdagen
  • Romanian: Sărbători fericite
  • Polish: Wesołych Świąt
  • Swedish: Glad helg
  • Czech: Hezké svátky

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween Traditions Around the World

Halloween is an American Holiday filled with pumpkins, scary and funny costumes, candy, corn mazes, trick-or-treating and other festivities. While the Halloween is mostly centered around candy and commercialism, there are Fall festivities going on around the world with similar roots to the American holiday we celebrate. 

Nearly every culture around the world has a day (or days) meant to celebrate and remember the deceased, celebrate the fall harvest, or pay homage to our ancestors. Our Halloween is understood to be a relic from ancient Pagan and Celtic rituals from Ireland. 

Día de Muertos, is perhaps the most well-known Halloween-like holiday in North America. This festival in Mexico spans from October 31st, until November 2nd, and is a time to remember and pray for deceased loved ones. Recently portrayed in the Pixar film Coco, families often make ofrendas, which are private altars honoring their loved ones adding the favorite foods and sweets of the deceased as gifts. 

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong the Hungry Ghost Festival is celebrated by Buddhists around mid-September. Around this time of year, it is believed that spirits are able to visit the living, and so elaborate meals, and other gifts like gold and clothes are offered to aid the deceased. A famous tradition here is to light floating lanterns meant to guide the souls through the afterlife. 

Regardless of how you celebrate, we want to wish you a Happy Halloween!

AI Translators? Not Yet..

At an emerging industries and innovation conference in Shanghai earlier this year, the company iFlytek Co. got into some trouble for suggesting that their AI technology was providing instantaneous translations for speakers at the conference. It was discovered that in fact, the AI system was simply reading a translation previously completed by a human translator. 

The push in recent years for a real-life Babel Fish (the imaginary creature from Doulas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which instantly translates any language in the universe) has seen some great innovation and improvement in the industry. Every year AI and voice-recognition systems are improving in leaps and bounds to provide more accurate, and fluent translations, but they still have a long way to go. 

In the coming years it is not likely that human translators or interpreters will see their jobs threatened by this technology. The issue is that language is very flexible, dependent on context, cultural references, tone, and more. At the moment, this is too much for AI and computer programming to keep up with, and even human interpreters can only work for 20-30 minutes at a time. 

We can only guess at what the future may hold in terms of language translation devices. Someday perhaps it is likely that we will all be able to communicate with the help of an earphone listening and translating whatever we say, just not yet. 

PLG at the Chicago Pack Expo

The Pack Expo at McCormick Place has been a long-time expo for PLG to network and sell translation solutions in the Packaging Machinery world. As usual the show this year was one of the largest in Chicago, with over 2,500 exhibitors and an estimated over 50,000 visitors. 

We had a great time walking the show floor and networking with new exhibitors, as well as seeing a few familiar faces. The size and scope of the machinery, and robotics present at the show was truly impressive; watching and gaining a better understanding of how our client’s and prospective client’s products function is always time well spent. 

PLG’s services shine in an industry like packaging machinery, due to our highly certified and educated translators, our ISO certification, and Translation Memory system our team is a perfect fit to provide highly technical translations. From HMI text, to Operator Manuals, Sell Sheets and more, give us a call today for your next technical translation project!