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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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March 2014

Game Localization: Translating for the global digital entertainment industry

Other sections on accessibility and localization, fan translation (“ROM hacking”) and crowdsourcing, as well as the use of machine translation in online games provide valuable insights. To me, however, the most interesting chapter was “Pedagogical issues in training game localizers.” The authors criticize the fact that despite the large demand for game localization and the existence of numerous translator training programs at universities worldwide, this subject has been largely ignored (though they do include an appendix on “Postgraduate courses in game localization in Spain”). Rather than simply decrying this state of affairs, they offer a detailed discussion of what such programs should consist of, including specific course descriptions . . .


March 2014

Post Editing: The familiarity of Europe

Thus, for me, and probably for many readers, localizing for Western Europe seems like it should be easy. Easier than many places, anyway. And probably it is — both for products coming from the United States and products coming from other locales in Western Europe. There are many shared cultural assumptions and even some shared cultural references. . .


March 2014

Macro/micro: Keeping tabs on your frenemies

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, UrbanDictionary.com has seven different definitions of the word frenemy. None of them are positive. Personally, I first heard of frenemies when the term popped up as a program title in season three of Sex and the City. In this episode, Miranda meets a guy at a wake and asks how he knew the deceased. He says, “Roommates in college. We were friends, but competitive. We were always fighting it out for everything. He even died first, just to beat me to the punch,” to which Miranda responds, “You were the classic frenemies.” In other words, they looked and acted like friends, but really, down at the core, there was still something adversarial going on. Friend + enemy. . .


March 2014

Off the map: Not all boundaries are geographic

Whenever we encounter new cultures outside of our experience, whether it is through travel to the locale or people from those cultures visiting us, we face a dilemma. There is an innate desire to connect and communicate, to find the common ground experience that may lay the foundation for a long-term relationship of some variety. Certainly there are topics that are common to all of our humanity — family, friends, work, recreation and so on. At various levels, we also collectively experience issues with politics, economics, various forms of disparity, inclusion, exclusion and so on. What defines the boundaries of proper topics? Who writes the rules of context for when a discussion about, say, a government action against its citizens is acceptable and disclosure of one’s annual income is not? And of course, why does this matter to our practice of content localization and culturalization? . . .


March 2014

The Western European localization job market

Ask me about the US localization job market and I could rattle on for days, but for intel on Western Europe, I called on Inger Larsen, managing director of Larsen Globalization, a language industry recruitment company based in London.

Larsen and I know each other well. We were business partners for close to seven years, both recruiting for the company she founded in 2001. My US-based partner and team kept focused on the US market, and Larsen and her crew took care of the United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East. We all recruited for Asia. For years now we have gone to each other for advice and like to toss back and forth tidbits on what makes us different.

The great thing about getting to know a job market through a recruiter is that she (or he) has a very good feeling for how jobs are flowing at any given moment. They know trends in hiring, they know who is hiring and what the most popular positions are. . .


March 2014

Western Europe’s new translation community

Inside the EC, the Directorate-General for Translation (DG Translation) has several translation-related initiatives. These include terminology (the IATE portal and the activities of the TermCoord unit); translation masters degrees (EMT, a quality label for university translation programs); and machine translation with the MT@EC program.

According to an EC study, up to 11% of small to medium enterprises (nearly a million firms) have lost contracts with potential clients in other EU countries because of language barriers. Recognizing the shortage of language skills, the EC is proposing that by 2020, at least 50% of all 15-year-olds in Europe should speak one foreign language as an “independent user” and 75% of all pupils should learn two foreign languages at lower secondary level. . .


March 2014

Languages and language services in Europe

According to the 2012 First European Survey on Language Competences, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish are the most widely taught languages in the EU. The survey also found that improvement is still needed and that skills vary across countries. Only 42% of students were found to be competent in their first foreign language, and just 25% in their second.

At the college and university level, the Erasmus program promotes and facilitates study abroad and the resulting enhanced language and intercultural skills within the EU. The Erasmus program has been in existence since 1987 and over three million students have participated. The program currently serves approximately 230,000 students per year. The term “Erasmus generation” has been coined to describe the generation of transnational professionals able to follow career and professional options seamlessly throughout Europe. Employers can get involved by offering internships and placements to students in the Erasmus program. . .


March 2014

Localizing content for the UK market

When Oscar Wilde quipped in his 1887 short story The Canterville Ghost, “We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language,” he was definitely onto something. The differences between British (UK) and American English, however small they appear to nonnative speakers, stand out to natives on either side of the pond.

Despite a few centuries of these gradually evolving variants, the languages never diverged too much, and UK and US English remain siblings. So how much do these differences justify localizing or customizing content, products and services for the UK market?

Thanks to globalization and the proliferation of American culture, language and products, what gets produced in the United States is perfectly understandable to just about anyone in the United Kingdom. After all, aren't they all avid consumers of cult series such as Friends, The Sopranos and Breaking Bad? . . .


March 2014

Shaping Google’s voice in 60+ languages

But how useful is access to all of Google’s technology if you can’t understand the interface?

That’s of course where localization comes in. More than three in four of Google’s users live outside the United States. Three in four internet users have a different native language than English. As language professionals, we wield the power of language to convey values. And our mandate as Google’s language specialists is to use the power of our respective languages to convey Google’s values.

Here’s a story about how much localization can matter on a micro-level: one of the most recent additions to the over 160 languages that Google Search is localized into is Myanmar. Bringing Google to Myanmar was a volunteer project bringing together Google and the Burmese community worldwide, and it met a host of challenges. . .


March 2014

Technology agnostic machine translation: Part two

In part one of this article, I discussed the main approaches to machine translation (MT): statistical (SMT) and rules-based (RBMT), as well as hybrid, which combines the two. Using case  studies from my own company, LexWorks, as well as those from other technology agnostics such as PayPal, Symantec, Autodesk and Adobe, I demonstrated that for many experienced MT practitioners, it’s not a case of which engine is best, but rather which engine best suits the content and language combinations. This second article of the series provides more concrete examples of fitting the right approach to the right situation. . .


March 2014

ITS 2.0: Next generation multilingual content production

ITS 2.0 bears many commonalities with its predecessor ITS 1.0, but provides additional concepts that are designed to foster the automated creation and processing of multilingual web content. ITS 2.0 focuses on HTML and on XML-based formats in general, and can leverage processing based on the XML Localization Interchange File Format (XLIFF), as well as the Natural Language Processing Interchange Format (NIF).

Even though ITS 2.0 is a young standard, various implementations and end-to-end scenarios have already been realized. They show that ITS 2.0 can reduce production time and enable cost savings in management and translation. . .This article may be viewed in its entirety online.


March 2014

Happy birthday to the Bard

April 2014 marks the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. Not only was Shakespeare one of the most prolific writers ever known, but he also, without question, left an extraordinary linguistic legacy through his literary achievements. The author of 38 plays and 154 sonnets, the man we call the Bard remains one of the world’s best-loved playwrights and poets.

His plays, in particular, remain popular with theater groups around the world and are forever being performed and with different interpretations. . .


January/February 2014

Post Editing: Saved by the cloud

As the year turns and we head into 2014, those of us in the more sporty corners of the Northern hemisphere celebrate. We like being saved by the cloud. Those of us around the globe in the localization industry look to a different kind of cloud for some of the same benefits — protection, gentle conditions and even fun. . .


January/February 2014

Off the map: The ever-changing map

One of the key content areas on which I initially focused here years ago was maps (cartography) as they’re an oft-employed fundamental aspect of visual media. In response to both those specific pieces as well as my consulting work in general, I often hear an inevitable comment from a colleague, something along the lines of “How important can this really be? The world map doesn’t change that quickly.” In respect to that perception, I thought it would be interesting to look back on just the past eight years of this column and point out some ways in which the maps have indeed changed, and the cultural landscape along with them. . .


January/February 2014

Macro/micro: How LSPs can be David to Goliath-sized clients

In our industry, we have become much more skilled than we used to be at finding point-people whom we can empower to change and to grow translation processes at their companies. But what are we doing to empower their first followers? Not to discount the ripple or butterfly effect, but in companies as big as countries, one employee can only make so much of a difference alone. When you help a client consolidate and centralize, do you sit down and help him map who else there works with translation? Do you help him find, identify and empower his first followers? . . .


January/February 2014

Perspectives: High availability backup strategies for freelancers

If you work in-house for a language service provider, a multilanguage vendor or even a single language vendor, high availability strategies or failover procedures are just some stuff the IT guys will take care of. If your computer crashes, someone else will be able to provide you with the files you need and a new PC in a matter of hours or even minutes. But if you are working as a freelancer, always remember you are the translator, the marketing specialist, the cleaning lady and the whole IT department. It is your responsibility to take all the necessary precautions to reduce risks and, when the worst happens, to recover your productive capabilities as soon as possible. . .


January/February 2014

MadCap Lingo 8

Early on, the folks in charge at MadCap recognized that there was a strong link between the language and technical writing industries (this may have a “duh” effect on most of us, but remember that many in the technical authoring world have yet to make this amazing discovery). So they spent quite a bit of early effort to become more visible to the translation industry, partly by showing up at industry events but also by providing useful features such as full Unicode support, outstanding double-byte support for East Asian languages and support for bidirectional languages. . .


January/February 2014

People-powered translation at machine speed

Cloud computing has dramatically changed how we do business and the way we work. It has given rise to remote workforces and global collaboration. At the same time, businesses are leveraging large crowds of workers to perform tasks at unprecedented scale, speed and quality. Translation is no exception. So how is translation by the crowd, in the cloud, changing the landscape of content globalization?. . .


January/February 2014

MT in subtitling and the rising profile of the post-editor

Subtitling is the most popular audiovisual translation mode in the world, and one whose growth has been consistent, thanks to its advantages: it is the quickest, most economical method and is suitable for any type of programming. Technological developments over the years have inevitably affected subtitle production and the role of the subtitler has evolved accordingly. The part of the work that has remained largely the same has been the translation of source language utterances into written subtitle text in the target language, however this is about to undergo a major change also, as predicted by a 2008 European Commission study on dubbing and subtitling practices in Europe. . .


January/February 2014

Using Let'sMT! to teach about SMT

The platform offers cloud-based, user-tailored statistical machine translation (SMT) and online sharing of training data.

The platform is aimed at professional use in localization where it can be accessed directly from an online translation web interface. The platform also allows for integration with the translation memory systems SDL Trados and MemoQ via plug-ins. 

The user interface integrates the open source Moses SMT system and thus frees the user from the technical tasks of downloading and installing these tools. . .


January/February 2014

Cloud translation process, current and future

Cloud translation systems involve a different approach — you pay monthly so there is no large initial financial outlay. Additionally, you can vary your licenses according to demand. No organization has a constant demand for translation. It is usually feast or famine: one month you are snowed under with work, the next, things can be very quiet. The ability to adjust your licenses means you pay for what you need. With the traditional TMS and CAT vendor approach, if you suddenly acquire a large project that requires 30 more licenses you would be forced to buy the additional licenses even though you will no longer need them in two months. With a cloud-based system, you should be able to vary your licenses from month to month or even week to week according to demand. . .


January/February 2014

Improving MT productivity within the cloud

The evidence clearly shows that integration of MT into the translation process increases productivity. The challenge we face is showing both translators and customers that MT technology is useful for them. Our solution to this challenge is simple — we want to make productivity metrics available in a cloud-based CAT tool, following our experience in integrating MT engines into the translation environment, as well as experiments in measuring the productivity of post-editing within this environment. . .


January/February 2014

Technology agnostic machine translation: Part one

When machine translation (MT) was in its infancy, just being able to deploy one MT engine seemed accomplishment enough for an enterprise. As a result, the MT debate centered around which engine to choose: a rule-based (RBMT), statistical (SMT) or hybrid engine? Claims and counter claims were made, but “bake-off” contests were unable to resolve them once and for all: one engine would win for French, another for Japanese, a third for Russian — and no one was any closer to answering the question “What engine should we use?” . . .


January/February 2014

Implementing a TMS at Ciena

As an initial step of the TMS implementation process, we needed to understand the current situation of the localization efforts within the company. For this purpose, all teams involved in the translation process were identified and consulted. The main objective was to obtain information about the steps they followed in the translation process, the resources and file formats they used, and the volume and frequency of their translation requests.

After a few first conversations it was clear that all teams were facing similar challenges and that translation seemed to be a pain point in their processes given it had suddenly become crucial in their objectives after acquiring many of the internationalized Nortel products and services. More than 15 different teams from all regions and organizations were interviewed and consulted during two months. . .


January/February 2014

Thinking about localization for the cloud

On a broad scale, this localization definition becomes part of our own localization definition. Localization is the process of adapting a product and accompanying materials to suit a target-market locale. We already know that this can include translation of a user interface and other similar content. 

But all this leaves us with another question: how can we select the right languages we need to localize our cloud services? . . .



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