Post Editing: Variations on social media

I just about choked on my tea this morning after doing a quick Google search of the term social media. Under the auspices of Wikipedia, the search result declared that “the term Social Media refers to the use of [female anatomy]-based and birth control technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue.”

The great irony, of course, is that the wag who tweaked the wording from web and mobile, respectively, was cashing in on the very way social media works. So, if whoever-this-was decided social media’s defining characteristic should revolve around birth control, suddenly, as Stephen Colbert once put it, it was “fact” — until someone more reasonable caught it and changed it back.

From a linguistic perspective, of course, if enough people start thinking a word means a certain thing, even if it’s because the class clown decided to mess with everyone, then eventually, the dictionaries do change. Because words take on meaning as a culture uses them. In a virtual world, things just spread faster, especially in environments like Wikipedia where descriptions of fact and fiction are open for anyone to reinterpret.

Which is why up-to-date, reliable translation is essential. Thus, in our industry focus, Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo discusses translation for social media, with some help from a sidebar by Louise Law. S. Mitchell Donaldson reports on promoting luxury goods in China with social media, and Rebecca Ray interviews HootSuite’s Dave Olson about the company’s crowdsourced translation project — a subject Rebecca Petras takes up with a quick look at four other organizations that are localizing using community translation. Arancha Caballero offers a sidebar on using social media for marketing purposes, but not before Mohamed Attia recounts some of the details of the Arab Spring and how social media was used in it.

We have a core focus in this issue as well, on writing for translation, and we have two articles to go under its heading: one by Nicole Keller on creating translation-oriented source documents and another by Peter Argondizzo on variables, cross-references and conditional text. Additionally, Terena Bell shares thoughts on project management for languages of limited diffusion, Lori Thicke interviews Salvatore Giammarresi of Yahoo!, Kate Edwards discusses crowdsourcing for cultural relevance, John Freivalds talks about different electrical standards worldwide, and Silvio Picinini offers a brand-new acronym in the Takeaway.

If you like any of them, feel free to mention them via your social media portal of choice. For myself, I still sort of like the feel and solitude of the paper copy.