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Columns and Commentary
This issue’s Core Focus takes a look at some of the basics of translation, though more from the point of view of business-oriented translation. Jeremy Coombs has some advice on using macros to improve translation efficiency, and Jeff Williams has interviewed a few translators about machine translation, quality and so on. Igor Vesler provides an overview of some online resources to aid technical translators. . .
Probably one of the most obvious influences on international content distribution is the element of national government. Since we live in a world of boundaries and many different legal jurisdictions, we naturally must deal with local governments and the host of rules and regulations that govern the import and export of products of all varieties.
Now this is the point at which I need to interject a standard caveat regarding the form of the content products. Many in the world of IT and software have long been used to the notion of sending a piece of physical media through the shipping process involving customs, clearances and so on. The world of physical media still exists but is declining rapidly for mainstream content consumers and it’s likely that physical media such as CDs and DVDs will become nostalgic specialty items rather than the norm. With the growth of “cloud” data and content services, the ability to regulate across borders becomes significantly more challenging for local governments. . .
In all seriousness, these scenes seem rather silly as I put them down in print. (See why I might be embarrassed to admit I love it?) But to see them played out by characters who have become real on the small screen really helps one understand how difficult it might have been for people in those times to deal with technological changes. I’ve shared in this column before that I grew up in the rural American South during the 1980s. My grandparents had a party-line telephone, a way of sharing a single phone line between multiple families that doesn’t exist in the United States anymore, and their telephone itself was a corded, rotary dial until I went to college. Seventy-some-odd years of technological telephone advancement and we did not have nor want the latest thing on the market, a cordless touch-tone. . .
Of course, we serve many clients in the United States and Europe, but in many instances, the origins of these relationships were via contacts here in the United Kingdom. It seems that we are not unusual in this regard — according to Common Sense Advisory, geographic location is the third most important factor for translation buyers, after price and speed. So why is this manifestly global business so often still purchased locally?
Really, it’s all about relationships. Even in this digital age of e-mail, video conferencing and telecommunications, you still cannot beat face-to-face interactions. Locally sourced translation is a consequence of needs and pressures on both sides of the client-vendor relationship. . .
The idea of automating tasks with computers has been around as long as computers themselves, which is unsurprising because computers were developed with task automation in mind. But users soon discovered that computers aren’t just good for automating complex numerical equations; their speed makes them ideal tools for small, repetitive tasks. As home computers became common in the 1980s, macros became popular as shortcuts for programmers, and then for average users. A number of programs such as SmartKey were soon written to help users create them.
There are several different types of macros. Keyboard and mouse macros map a sequence of keystrokes and/or mouse actions to an output sequence. . .
As everyone in the translation and localization industry knows, professional translators are the backbone and lifeblood behind the scenes. By and large, translation is a solitary function and most translators work long hours for very exacting clients. Their observations and comments offer important insight into the state of the industry.
The conference was an opportunity to speak with a few translators to get their read on the marketplace and what they see as the emerging, relevant trends. A specific set of questions was posed to all the translators. Of particular interest were their observations on pricing and MT. . .
The ability of today’s translator to fully utilize the potential of web-based resources is a critical factor in both the quality and the speed of the translation process. Alas, as with any other fast-growing technology, human skills lag behind in this regard. For example, using a traditional dictionary only requires a basic knowledge of the source alphabet, while searching online sources in a meaningful manner presupposes sophisticated skills in the area of compiling and fine-tuning search queries, as well as handling the numerous resultant hits. Even more important is the conceptual difference between using a dictionary, thesaurus or similar collection of terms, and working with the various contexts in which a sought term occurs. . .
Brian Ó Broin
While most definitely a minority language in Ireland, Irish has an unusual status in comparison to most other minority languages in that it is constitutionally considered the country's “first official language." This is far from the truth, with probably a maximum of 2.5%, about 150,000, of the island's population having anything close to native-speaker ability, and the legal status of the language remains a source of annoyance to speakers of both English and Irish in the country.
The language's constitutional status stems from the cultural nationalism aspirations of the country's founders in the early years of the twentieth century, whereby it was believed that the country might be “de-anglicized" and the Irish language revived through constitutional and legislative action. An aggressive, but mostly unsuccessful, policy ensued of requiring demonstrable Irish-language skills from every Irish schoolgoer and legally recognizing the primacy of Irish in districts where the language was still the community's preferred tongue. . .
Ciarán Ó Bréartúin & Seanán Ó Coistín
Irish (Gaeilge in the Irish language), sometimes called Irish Gaelic or simply Gaelic in North America, has a very prestigious, albeit little-known history. It is probably the third oldest language spoken in Europe after Basque and Greek.
Irish has the third oldest written records in Europe, after Greek and Latin, and Ireland was one of only 17 places in history where an independent alphabet was created. This alphabet, known as Ogham, was created for the Irish language. One of the earliest grammars in history was written in Irish in the seventh century. It is called Auraicept na n Éces (Handbook of the learned) and it is the first instance of a defense of vernacular languages (at that time, spoken Irish over Latin). It predates Dante’s De vulgari eloquentia by 600 years. . .
However, SMEs don’t have the capital, diverse skillsets and resource pools that are available to bigger organizations that internationalize their businesses. The small business approach to marketing often appears unplanned, unorthodox or even at times chaotic from the large organization perspective. SMEs tend to be closer to their customers, are more flexible in responding to customer needs and are more agile at exploiting new opportunities than larger companies. Because of limited access to capital and resources, SMEs depend on personal networks and word of mouth to market their products and services. They very rarely engage in full-scale market research as their customers and industry contacts provide them with the information they need to develop their presence in specific markets. . .
Silvia Rodríguez Vázquez
Many of the most popular translation tools available in the market have now implemented web-based solutions, but these solutions are often feature-limited alternatives to their more complete desktop applications. Wordbee’s browser-based only philosophy releases the user from the burden of having to install a desktop version, but without losing any of the tool’s functionalities. Wordbee is a totally customizable collaborative translation management system (TMS), which makes it an eligible solution for both corporate and governmental institutions as well as for language service providers (LSPs). Thanks to its automated workflow technology, Wordbee makes the translation process smoother and simpler at all levels, yet efficient and successful, even for enterprises working with mixed internal and freelance teams or only with external translation professionals. . .
Benjamin B. Sargent
Not only is Arabic under-represented on the websites of the best global brands, it’s also missed by the great majority of Fortune 500 companies — a paltry 5% of these offer web content in Arabic. In comparison, 12% of Alexa’s 500 most popular websites by traffic volume offered Arabic as a language option. The depth of the disparity found between the size of the online Arabic-speaking community and the lack of content in that language suggests that an opportunity has been missed by global brands. . .