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!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Benefits of Being Bilingual

Learning a new language is never easy, but the benefits of doing so can be life changing in several ways! Just like any muscle the brain needs exercise too and learning a new language has been shown to be an incredible tool for exercising the brain. Many medical studies even suggest that learning multiple languages can, improve attention span, increase the ability to multitask, and even reduce the risk of Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and strokes.

Beyond these amazing health benefits, learning another language helps us bridge the gap between cultures and world views. It opens our mind to new perspectives and ways of life that were previously shut off to us.

At PLG all of our staff speak at least 2 languages, and we celebrate the diversity of culture, language, thought process, and world views.

Take a look at the Ted talk below for an in-depth look at the benefits found in being multilingual!

Ina TED talk by Columbia Professor John McWhorter, he reviews the top benefits oflearning a new language.

PLG is officially ISO certified!

As you may have seen in our last Newsletter, we spent the Summer undergoing a heavy review and revision process on all our procedures, so that we could undergo an extensive 3rd party audit to become an ISO certified Translation Service Provider. 

ISO 17100 sets the standards in the translation industry as how quality translation products and services can be achieved consistently. We had to extensively prove compliance with all standardized procedures, as well as the qualifications of our translators to achieve certification. The translators for example, are required to hold a recognized graduate qualification in translation from an institution of higher education, as well as 5 years full-time professional experience in translating in order to qualify as ISO certified translators. 

Adherence to the industry proven standards allows our internal processes to run smoother and more efficiently while minimizing opportunities of human errors and the impact of variation among personal preferences or habits. Because of this, from quotation through project completion the certification has allowed us to focus on the details of each process. Regardless of the nature and requirements of the projects, or who on our staff is assigned to the job, your project will always be handled by trained professionals following the same procedures to insure consistent high-quality results. 

Holding this certification is a high prestige in the industry, due to the time and expense required to achieve it. To maintain our certification, we will undergo yearly audits to show continual compliance and improvement of our procedures.       

If you would like to take a look at our certificate or read more about the standard you can do so here:

Friday, June 29, 2018


Please join us in welcoming the newest member of the PLG Team and in-house French expert, Kaitlin Tossing! We are extremely excited to bring her onboard as our company has continued to grow. 

A recent magna cum laude from North Central College with a degree in French, Kaitlin pulls on her experience from studying abroad at L’Université Catholique de l’Ouest in Angers, France and tutoring grades K-12 in order to provide linguistic expertise and excellent customer service.  

We are confident she will provide added value to our team and clients as she steps into her role. 

Company Software Updates

PLG has updated our software and hardware! These updates enhance quality, improve productivity, promote efficiency and increase cost-effectiveness. 

This latest software update makes our database even easier to use; allowing for better management of all your translation needs from start to finish. With new and improved high-quality fragment matching and a self-learning translation features that adapts to jobs and remembers patterns that are particular to specific clients and projects, we’re sure that this update will improve time and cost efficiency. This update is also expected to strengthen quality control for all translations as it updates the “translation memory” for a project in real time. 

Trados, our software of choice and one of the leading translation tools in the industry, allows us to create a translation memory that is unique to each client and remembers preferred word choices, previously translated projects, and more! 

We are excited at the opportunity this presents to improve our services and our ability to anticipate and meet any and all translation projects head-on! 

ISO Certifications

Here at PLG, we are currently in the process of working with industry experts to receive ISO 17100 Certification that is specific to translation service providers. The International Organization for Standardization is a third part organization that sets standards across almost any industry. 

The most generic standard is ISO 9001, which sets out the criteria for a quality management system. This standard can be achieved by any organization, across any industry as it provides a set of systems and procedures to establish quality regardless of the service or product being offered. 

ISO 17100, on the other hand, is designed specifically for Translation Service Providers, and stipulates how to go about vetting translators, project management standards, and other quality control measures. 

In the coming weeks, ISO auditors will review procedures curated by our experienced project managers that document our abilities, resources, and processes needed to manage any and all translation projects with an eye for quality assurance, translator experience, and delivering capacities. 

What this means for us: 
  • Reinforced standards for translators with a focus on qualifications, competence and experience. 
  • Transparent project management procedures.  
  • Clearly documented resources and technologies for more reliable translation outcomes. 
  • Stronger quality assurance. 
What this means for you: 

Higher Quality, More Efficiency, Better Cost-Effectiveness

Friday, April 6, 2018

Netflix and Large Scale Subtitle Translation

Netflix is working on an incredible, but complex, solution to a very difficult problem. As one of the largest digital media and entertainment companies in the world, Netflix is working on being able to bring its content to users around the world. 

Netflix’s international business will soon account for more than half of the company’s revenue, so the company has begun to invest massively in its ability to translate and subtitle content for users outside the US. However, Netflix is in a difficult position for translation, since all of the content produced by the company (TV shows, and movies) contains the most difficult parts of language to translate, jokes, idioms, sarcasm, cultural references, slang, etc. 

How does one go about handling, and ensuring quality translation on such a large scale for such difficult content?

Last year Netflix revealed the HERMES tool, which allowed thousands of translators in hundreds of languages the ability to test their translation skill, in order to be an approved resource for the company. The test consisted of several rounds of multiple choice questions which were meant to measure the translator’s ability to:

  • Understand English
  • Translate idioms, etc. into their target language
  • Identify linguistic and technical errors
  • Subtitle proficiently

Through the completion of the test (which consisted of thousands of randomized questions, so that no two tests were the same) Netflix was able to produce scores regarding a candidate’s skill level in translation, and match candidates with projects that would suit their skills.
This will also allow Netflix the ability to self-manage and work with translators directly rather than having to go through 3rd parties like us. For an enormous company with deep pockets, this was a rather incredible solution to a difficult problem. Within the coming years we should see Netflix content available in just about any language, as their international sales will no doubt soon surpass their US market.

Video and Audio Translation – How it Works

Does your company have training videos, marketing ads on YouTube, a company introduction video on your website? In the past year we have seen a large increase in the number of requests for video subtitling and voice-over work, and we would like to extend our services to you! 

Click here to see a video sample on our website!

Creating multimedia content in multiple languages can be a daunting task for companies who are looking to diversify their content. Our job is to streamline that process for you, and provide turnkey solutions for your video and audio translation. 

Having a video subtitled or dubbed with a new language can certainly be a more expensive service than translation of a document, but it can also be an extremely effective way to bring new and important material to your multilingual staff and clients. It also displays another layer of effort and inclusivity to all those who may take interest in your product or services.

There are 4 key components to the subtitling/voice-over process:
  1. Transcription – First we need the script from the video, if you are unable to provide this we can simply watch the video or listen to the audio file, and copy down the text.
  2. Translation – As with all of our projects, the next step is translation. This can get a little tricky when it comes to multimedia content, as languages often lengthen or shorten the amount of text after being translated. With video or audio files, however, we have to stick to a narrow timeframe. Translations that are too long or too short will throw off the flow of the video, or will bleed over into different scenes/slides. 
  3. Voice-Over/Subtitling – with as much preparation and timing considerations brought into the translation process as possible, our team then moves on to creating the subtitles or voice-over itself. This process again, requires some careful editing and timing, as well as hiring appropriate voice talent to record the script. 
  4. Quality Review – All videos have to go through a strenuous quality review before being delivered back to the client. The translators and project manager carefully go through the finalized file to ensure the translations flow properly, are not cut off anywhere, and convey the appropriate meaning at the right times. 

If presenting your company in a global light and offering multimedia content in multiple languages is important to you we would be happy to chat further about how we can help!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Top 3 reasons to translate your company content

If you are receiving this newsletter you have either used our services in the past, or have at least inquired about potentially using our services. In this globalizing economy companies are finding it more and more necessary to localize their content for different markets. However, those of us working in the translation industry are often met with skepticism as to why it would be necessary for a company to be able to provide their content in multiple languages. 

Let’s review some of the top reasons our clients ultimately decide to translate their material with us.

1. You sell your product overseas.
This may seem like an obvious answer, but many of our current clients have been selling their products abroad for years, and have only just begun to translate their user manuals, or marketing material to help drive those markets. In today’s market potential customers expect to be able to get information about products quickly, easily, and in their own language. While not impossible to sell products overseas without ever translating the literature that comes with it, our clients have found great success in being able to provide multilingual content. Consumers are far more likely to invest their money and trust in a product that comes with instructions in their own language, or marketing material meant specifically for them. 

2. You are looking for ways to keep growing. 
As with any business the key to success is continual growth. Our top client’s don’t see translations as a necessary evil; they see translation as an opportunity to grow their brand. Through the translation of their websites, marketing content, user manuals, software interfaces, etc. our clients are able to push their business to new heights. Markets they thought were stagnant or had a hard time penetrating have opened up to them through the ability of their company to promote themselves in multiple languages. Their business and products are instantly viewed with more credibility and trust by their potential customers who are able to read information in their native language, while providing even our smallest clients the appearance of a more global presence.

3. You have to adhere to regulations
Another no-brainer it would seem, but many of our small or up and coming clients go to sell their products abroad only to find out that the laws of that country require them translate their content. One of the biggest areas we see this is our clients selling products in Canada, and specifically Quebec, who quickly discover that the province is very strict on its rules regarding French translations being not only available, but given equal prominence on packaging and instruction sheets. In cases like this our company is always poised to quickly step in and make sure your product is ready to hit the markets running. 

Regardless of your reason for translating your content be sure to use a vendor you trust! Our staff is standing by to help with your next project, so give us a call!

2018 Winter Olympics

The 2018 Winter Olympics began this morning in Pyeongchang, South Korea, bringing together athletes, volunteers, spectators, and press from all around the world. Over 200 participating countries will be sending young athletes to compete this year, which begs the question, how will so many people from so many countries will communicate?

The primary languages of every Olympics are English, French, and the language of the host country, in this case that would be Korean. Of course, not every competitor speaks one of those languages, so South Korea has organized over 2,000 volunteer translators and interpreters to help facilitate communication between athletes, coaches, the press, and the game’s judges, organizers and staff.

Additionally, a local South Korean software firm developed the official translation app for the Winter Olympics. The app, named “Genie Talk”, is usable on Apple and Android devices and can translate English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic.

In a funny translation related “egg-cident” this past week the Norwegian camp attempted to order eggs for its athletes from a local grocery store in Pyeongchang. Unfortunately for them, when attempting to place the order they turned to some help from Google Translate which made a minor translation mistake. Instead of ordering 1,500 eggs, the Norwegians received an order of 15,000! Luckily they were able to sort the matter out and return most of the unneeded eggs, but we are sure they will be more careful next time they use a machine translation tool.

As a very diverse company, with translators and staff from around the globe we will be cheering for many different countries in the Winter Olympics. However, we will all be inspired by the act of people from so many different countries, religions, cultures, and languages to come together in friendly competition.