Post Editing: Starting seeds

Since the first of the year, we’ve seen another wave of articles about the need for linguists, for translation, for language learning in the United States. Not that this is new, but some people are actually reaching the point of thinking that serious language learning might be useful for businesspeople whose companies have international connections.

The idea that we can jump into languages is tempting — we want results, we want timelines and we want hope, if nothing else. Even if all the research says that starting language learning in college is 15 years too late, that it takes 10 to 20 years (preferably immersion) to become a reasonably proficient speaker of a second language. If it takes one person 20 years, it’ll take 20 people one year, right?

Of course, John Freivalds has talked about a language strategy that he calls guerrilla linguistics for a long time. His column in this issue will give you a glimpse. Learn a little, fake a little — it’s a start.

In addition, columnists Tom Edwards and Kit Brown offer good advice on geographic names and writing requests for proposals, respectively; and in the “Perspectives” column, Gary Muddyman describes the attractions of doing business in Brazil.

Think of breezes, palm trees and a pastel waterfront that looks like Amsterdam — that’s where Papiamentu thrives, and Larry D. Salas shares the history of this Caribbean creole.

Medical localization, translation and interpreting are the heart of this issue, with Richard Sikes outlining the topics currently under discussion; Göran Nordlund explaining why instructions for use must be translated; Dana Barras showing how localization and CE Mark consulting fit together; Marc H. Miller pointing out risk-management concerns; Shelly Orr Priebe describing quality processes, including back translation, in medical-industry work; and Natasha Bonilla and Alexandra Farkas discussing ways of providing training for medical interpreters.

On the technical side, Addison P. Phillips explains new language tags (part 1 of 2), and Bill Hall begins a series that describes what’s new in the .NET platform’s globalization space.

Kit Brown offers a technical communicator’s view of the book Technical Communication — international, and Donald A. DePalma’s “Takeaway” addresses the ambiguous terminology that the language industry uses to describe itself.

Here in Idaho, some optimistic gardeners plant seeds indoors in February for flowers and vegetables that they’ll set out in May, pamper all summer and harvest in September. On a cold day, those tiny green shoots allow us to believe in spring. Just so, small movements toward geographic literacy and language learning keep hope alive that as we learn to speak with other people better, we also learn to listen.

Meanwhile, in other signs of spring, the localization industry will gather at the Internationalization & Unicode Conference (IUC 29, March 6-8) and The Localization Institute’s conference on global websites and e-commerce (March 28-30), both in San Francisco; and Localization World Barcelona (May 30-June 1). Continuing to plant seeds, encouraging the growth of healthy language techno-logy for people and their work worldwide. We hope to see you at one or more of these gatherings. Cheers!

—Laurel Wagers, Managing Editor