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User Experience Takeaways: Still Hungry for Localization Change

Blogos, Localization Culture, Personalization and Design, Translation

Readers of MultiLingual magazine will know about the “Takeaway” section towards the back of the publication. It’s a kind of bully pulpit-meets-12 Step meeting “burning desire” platform, along the lines of U.S. public radio station KQED’s Perspectives program.

I have written a few MultiLingual “Takeaways”, and made other contributions, on user experience-related topics that frankly do my head in: Why the Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, and Translation (GILT) industry appears to run scared of user experience, or indeed are user experience and the GILT worlds even compatible in terms of coming up with a common language they should be trying to speak, for example.

Head. Stone wall. Bashing head off.

Maybe.

So, I am delighted to say that someone, namely Lynne Bowker of the University of Ottawa, Canada, has been paying attention to my words. Lynne has researched and written a paper published in Localisation Focus called “Translatability and User eXperience: Compatible or in Conflict?”, citing my MultiLingual sources, amongst others!

Localisation Focus: Localization and User Experience: Are they Compatible?

Localisation Focus:  Lynne Bowker explores translatability and user experience. Are they compatible?

Lynne has also spoken about the subject at various events. Watch out for other places where this hot topic might surface and join in the debate!

Nice.

I am always delighted to cause trouble inspire others to take an argument further for the benefit of the community. The whole point of “Takeaway” really.

Thank you, Lynne.

And, if you have an idea for the “Takeaway” section of MultiLingual, contact the editor.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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#LocWorld31 Dublin, 2016

Blogos, Travel and Culture

Around June of each year it’s a pleasure to represent MultiLingual at LocWorld in Europe. It gives me a chance to visit the “old world” I grew up in.

Europe. Quiet crowds comfortably brush up against each other. In a sense this physical contact makes you feel more connected to those around you. I consider how this makes me feel calm among strangers. People communicate more with their eyes and facial expressions rather than speaking.

I want coffee. There’s only one size and compared to the US it costs twice as much and offers half the content. It makes up for this in flavor. I adjust my table manners back to old world standards—use both fork and knife, take smaller bites—and begin feeling less like a stranger.

At first impression the Irish are chummy, but others might call them careless. They truly stand out among the rest of Europe and I quickly learn not to mention religion, though they are excited about politics. Someone became quite upset that the recently appointed minister of language did not speak Gaeilge (which they prefer to call ‘Irish’). “It’s like having a minister of economy who can’t count!”

I have an odd way of adopting the local accent wherever I go. When living in Australia it was all “Good on ya mate! Is that bee’ still coo?” and now that I live in the US: “It was, like, super awesome!” I’m sure the native Irish might have felt unsure what to make of my “I believe it’s tir-tee mailes from Doblin.” But I actually have no influence on it.

And in this way, I am localizing myself before showing up at LocWorld. It’ll be for that reason alone that I mean to drink two pints of Guinness a day.

Conference Centre Dublin, location of LocWorld31

Conference Centre Dublin, location of LocWorld31

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Director of Sales and Advertising at | + posts

Marjolein realized early on that the Netherlands was too small for her. After traveling to 30+ countries over the span of 10 years she moved to the United States in 2014. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Rotterdam and has long had an affinity for creative writing.

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European language providers predict further growth for €20 billion sector

Blogos, Language in Business

Guest post from the Association of Translation Companies. We were excited to see this news on how the industry logosis growing, even in places where localization is well-established — The editors at MultiLingual.

A survey of Europe’s language service providers (LSPs) indicates optimism for further expansion of the sector (currently worth more than €20 billion), with respondents indicating that they are 2.5 times more likely to expand their business either locally or internationally than sell and leave the sector*.

The poll was commissioned jointly by the European Union of Associations of Translation Companies (EUATC), the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), the European Language Industry Association (ELIA) and the European Commission’s European Master’s in Translation program (EMT) and its Language Industry Web Platform (LINDweb) project.

Responses from across 35 European countries, found that 53% of respondents expected to see growth in the sector in 2016, while predictions relating to their own business performance were equally optimistic; 55% expect to see an increase in sales. This does however indicate a slightly more cautious attitude than in 2015, when predicted increases in sales volumes proved to be over-optimistic at 59%, compared to real increases of 42%.

Roy Allkin, Chair of the Association of Translation Companies, comments: “The European language industry is of significant value, with the UK sector alone worth more than £1billion and employing 12,000 people. It is therefore very encouraging to hear continued predictions of growth for 2016.

“The survey did however uncover significant variances in optimism across Europe, ranging from 72% positivity in Germany to a concerning prediction of 15% reduction in Italy. Responses from UK LSPs placed us fourth in the positivity rankings with a score of 47%, a figure which will have undoubtedly been impacted by uncertainty surrounding a possible UK exit from the European Union.”

One factor, which is clearly influencing levels of optimism, is the pressure on pricing. This is ranked as the most significant challenge facing LSPs in 2016. While twice as many companies expected prices to increase rather than decrease in 2015, reality was somewhat different, with 30% of respondents reporting price deterioration, against only 8% who experienced an increase.

When considering factors affecting the industry as a whole, machine translation and competition were also perceived in the top three most significant challenges and trends for 2016.

Currently the use of machine translation is strongly dependent on the size of the company, ranging from 30% in the smallest segment (those with sales less than €250,000) to more than 70% in LSPs with a sales volume above €5 million.

And, in an effort to gain competitive advantage it is also the larger companies that are investing in certification, again ranging from only 12% in the smallest LSPs to almost 90% in the largest (those with sales over 20 million Euro’s / year).

Roy concludes: “There are a significant number of factors which will work together to shape the evolution of the language industry over the course of the next few years, from the adoption of new technologies to the impact of broader economic conditions.

“While we must accept that some of these are not within our control, it is vital for LSPs to adopt a pragmatic attitude to challenges and opportunities which they can influence. Client expectations are continually increasing and it will be those agencies, regardless of size, which respond best to these which will reap the rewards in the months and years to come.”

*Online survey conducted across 35 European countries by the European Language Industry Association, European Union of Associations of Translation Companies, Globalization and Localization Association with the support of the European Commission’s Directorate-General of Translation through the LIND project and the . Responses obtained from 39 UK language service providers.

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Publisher of MultiLingual, Donna Parrish is also co-organizer of the LocWorld conferences. Coming into the language industry from a background of mathematics and computer programming, she has an appreciation for the wizardry of language technology and an awe for linguists.

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ICU joins Unicode Consortium. What does that mean?

Blogos, Translation Technology

On 18th May, Unicode Consortium announced that ICU joined the Unicode Consortium.

What does that mean? it’s not your usual announcement that this or that producer of emojis joined the consortium as a member. What happened here is transfer of governance of the arguably most important open source reference implementation of Unicode and CLDR from IBM to the Unicode Consortium where IBM is one of the full members.

ICU consists of two main subprojects, ICU4C and ICU4J, which provide C/C++ and Java libraries respectively. It’s probably the most widely implemented open source stack in the ICU-logomobile world, but also at the heart of non-mobile operating systems and search engines. Let’s hope that transforming the ICU Project Management Committee into the 4th Unicode Consortium Technical Committee will mean even more open and transparent governance of this extremely important Unicode and CLDR reference implementation project under the Unicode Open Source License.

Both the original ICU and the Unicode license — under which ICU is available from now on —were derived from the permissive MIT License. We have seen standards organizations such as W3C and OASIS take ever more interest in the open source toolkits for their standards. For example, OASIS very recently allowed association of GitHub open source projects with its RF and Non-Assertion Committees, yet making the governance structure of a reference implementation to a Technical Committee itself is a unprecedented move.

Let’s hope it will be for the greater good of all ICU implementers and (billions) of end users.

 

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David Filip is Chair (Convener) of OASIS XLIFF OMOS TC; Secretary, Editor and Liaison Officer of OASIS XLIFF TC; a former Co-Chair and Editor for the W3C ITS 2.0 Recommendation; and co-moderator of the Interoperability and Standards WG at JIAMCATT. He has been also appointed as NSAI expert to ISO TC37 SC3 and SC5, ISO/IEC JTC1 WG9, WG10 and SC38. His specialties include open standards and process metadata, workflow and meta-workflow automation. David works as a Research Fellow at the ADAPT Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

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Wearabletech: Gucci Translate Anyone?

Blogos, Language in Business, Translation Technology, Travel and Culture

This innovation from IconSpeak caught my eye recently, though not the attention of my credit card.

It’s a t-shirt printed with icons that enables global travellers to communicate by pointing to the icons, doing away with the need for those so-so translation apps and clunky phrase books into the bargain. The icons themselves are said to be easily recognizable worldwide and have been picked to represent the most frequent translation needs of travellers.

IconSpeak World T-Shirt: Wearable tech taken literally?

IconSpeak World T-Shirt: Wearable tech taken literally?

Here’s what the Travel + Leisure website has to say:

“The Iconspeak T-shirt design  is surprisingly straight-forward: it’s a series of 40 “universal” icons laid out in a grid. By pointing to one or more of the pictures, you can create a very basic message without having to speak a lick of the language. You’ll just have to find someone willing to play T-shirt charades with you. A taste of the icons you have to work with: an airplane, tools, an open book, camera, clock, bus, boat, a person seated on a toilet. Basically anything you need to portray day-to-day necessities.”

So here we have wearabletech going in a more literal direction.

It’s always great to see innovation, but as a seasoned traveler, whatever about the idea of using icons in some curious ritual to communicate with others (and there are limitations), I think the cut and colours of the t-shirts themselves are not that appealing.

Perhaps there you feel there is some potential though. Find the comments…

You can read about IconSpeak’s inspiration on their blog.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Emerging localization technology for startups

Blogos, Translation Technology

StartupXl8Our Startup localization issue went live today, and in celebration, we’re sharing a guest post on the subject from Blazej Szperlinski of Text United. Read more on the subject here.

Why don’t more startups have their content translated? It’s easy to think that startups don’t localize due to limited funding or lack of language skills required to follow through with customer service for international clients. Perhaps localization is still waiting for its prime time, lingering in the back of startup founders’ heads to be used when the time is right?

But why would startups hesitate to implement localization tech? The English speaking market is becoming crammed with so many viable choices that breaking through requires tremendous effort. It’s already happening. Try searching for a fitness app on your smartphone and you’ll see what I mean. Instead of fighting the trend, startups will surely embrace localization as a financially viable and logical growth strategy. Either that, or they’ll drown in the sea of business clones.

It’s true that startup products are never ready and go through continuous improvement cycles. Yes, the marketing messages are always being A/B tested for optimal conversion rates. But is that really what’s stopping so many startups from reaching huge, international markets for a fraction of the cost they’ve put in to building their company? Especially since most new startups dive headfirst into scalable, cloud based business models.

Maybe it just doesn’t come to mind. After all, Eric Ries’ magnum opus, The Lean Startup, does not mention localization as a usable business driver. The subject is scarcely touched upon by startup blogs, especially with all the white noise generated by badly executed content marketing initiatives and so-called social media ninjas.

Many startups are waiting for the perfect day with 100% uptime, a predictable revenue stream, a featured article in Tech Crunch and a massive social media following. They plan to localize, but rather do it when every other process is already successfully implemented and they’ve established a strong position within their marketplace.

Perhaps startups hesitate because they’re scared of the sheer volume of work it presumably takes to execute an effective localization plan that allows the business to grow. But does it really?

Localization tediousness is a myth

Localization technology has improved dramatically over the last couple of years. One can recall a time when every bit of text had to be copied into a Word or Excel file, submitted to a translation agency, then pasted back into the content management system and applied to a separate instance of web or product content. The smallest change that would happen during this time would completely disrupt efficiency of multiple people’s work, making it nearly impossible to implement within a fast paced environment. I would argue that this ghost of the past is haunting startup owners, blocking them from taking the leap from English speaking to international markets.

Nowadays it’s simple to extract, parcel and deliver content directly to professional translators. Their work can be returned and automatically implemented within minutes, regardless if we’re talking about websites, documentation, mobile apps, software projects or marketing brochures. Application programming interfaces (APIs) that are, as a standard, bundled with any office software, allow immediate content extraction. This is useful for many reasons, the main one being to send the content directly to other apps and systems.

Every bit of office content is digital. Startups are using cloud drives to store their scrapbooks. Websites are governed by versioning systems that allow many people to work simultaneously without interrupting each other. Blogs are written in collaboration, in the cloud, in order to impact accessibility. Content publishing is a huge part of a marketer’s daily routine, that allows search engines to index and ultimately deliver the message to potential buyers. Legal documents are in a secure folder, and client references stay appended within a customer relationship management system. Marketing automation technology stores every newsletter, email sequence and ad. It’s all just begging to get localized.

Visual content such as dynamic images, videos or static such as PDFs with embedded graphics are slightly more difficult, since they can’t have the linguistic content harvested that easily. This is a minor obstacle, though, since quite a few localization technology companies employ professional project managers who handle these materials manually. They’re somewhere in the middle of the process, so clients don’t even need to think about it.

Adopting localization in startups

Startups have a certain rhythm. They launch fast, collect feedback, reiterate and repeat the process. They’re prone to quick pivots in messaging and value proposition, though they also need to build sustainability. It’s like having ten minutes of play time trying to fit a round block into a space of unknown proportions.

With this in mind, a startup will continuously change its size and form, trying out ideas for communications and product features at the speed of light. They test their markets and business models this way. What if I tell you they double, triple, quadruple this testing effort with localization?

Given the inter-connectivity of programming frameworks, content management systems and localization tech, startups can enjoy the benefits of having their entire business localized and still maintain high velocity iteration cycles. Since a startup’s app is usually solving a single problem, its translation will cost less than hosting a pizza day in the office, and additional updates or consistency checks will only get cheaper as time passes by.

Localization tech takes advantage of an automatically generated database standard called translation memory. If this is implemented early on, it can learn phrases, sentences and lingo, then suggest it to translators, so their work is completed faster and cheaper by the amount of translation memory input used.

Early implementation of translation tech is imperative for keeping costs at their lowest. It saves time and reduces fees thanks to repetition analysis. It’ll also allow consistency across any language based on the ever changing English version (or whatever the source language is).

Distribution can be a challenge, but startups tend to rely on content marketing as a powerful lead driver. When this content is written, Google and other search engines position it for grabs under smart keyword searches. Having that same content grant double the results when it’s translated may require minimal search engine marketing effort.

The same is true for paid ads. If the product and content is readily localized, there is absolutely no reason not to localize ads and geo-target them wherever startups think there’s a market. As a bonus, please remember that local ads are usually way cheaper than the English ones.

The beauty of having localization tech implemented is that it serves as a concierge for both consistency and upkeep. You won’t ever have to worry about the changes you make to your source content, since they will automatically be submitted for translation in any language you use. This way of working also ensures you always use consistent terms for the little things, like call to action messages or system errors, which are always overlooked.

Economics of sharing and crowdsourcing

As bogus as it sounds, crowdsourcing and the sharing economy is here to stay. Entire societies are jumping on board with Uber, AirBnb and Kickstarter, and are providing amazing value to one another by sharing the means they have to make their local world a better place. It’s instinct and self preservation. Startups are making sure that this instinct is capitalized upon, and provide more and more solutions allowing people to take part in greater initiatives.

The international adoption of the aforementioned services and their clones is a prime example of how startups are impacting behaviors and beliefs of entire nations — something historically only accomplished by either religion or governments. This outstanding opportunity to build an idea in spare time, out of a cluttered garage, and then share that idea with the entire world, is in this case the market’s response to startup founder instincts.

About the Author: As a marketer by trade and product designer by heart, Blazej Szperlinski focuses on easy inclusion of translation tech in international expansion of businesses.

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Publisher of MultiLingual, Donna Parrish is also co-organizer of the LocWorld conferences. Coming into the language industry from a background of mathematics and computer programming, she has an appreciation for the wizardry of language technology and an awe for linguists.

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Why the language service industry provides better opportunities for entrepreneurial women than other professional services

Blogos, Language in Business

Professional female climber Madaleine Sorkin in Krabi, Thailand. Sorkin is one of a cohort of women in climbing who uses her talents to sweep past many of the men in her field. Photo by Katie Botkin.

Professional female climber Madaleine Sorkin in Krabi, Thailand. Sorkin is one of a cohort of women in climbing who uses her talents to sweep past many of the men in her field. Photo by Katie Botkin.

Guest post by Isabella Moore, Former President, British Chamber of Commerce

Happy International Women’s Day! This year, there has already been significant debate around the need to accelerate gender parity. Having worked in the language service industry for more than three decades I have witnessed a significant increase in the number of female owned language service providers (LSPs), with the proportion of female directors now significantly higher than in many other professional services.

Of course it hasn’t always been this way. When I established COMTEC Translations Ltd in 1981 I found myself to be the only female on the Council of the Association of Translation Companies (ATC), the sector’s leading professional body. But now, more than 30 years on, I’m proud to say that almost 50% of UK LSPs are run by women, something which is reflected in the current makeup of ATC council members.

This stands in stark contrast to other industries, with only 15% of all UK businesses owned or run by females. Indeed, a recent Gender in the Law survey found that three-quarters of firms have a partnership featuring less than 30% women. So what is it about the language service industry that is more conducive to female entrepreneurship?

I believe the primary reason is the business model on which many LSPs are based. COMTEC, as an example, operates with a project management team that works with more than 1,000 trained translators and interpreters to fulfill clients’ language service needs. By nature, in addition to providing high quality language services, the business necessitates collaboration, intensive co-ordination, organization and relationship building. While it is foolhardy to proclaim any characteristics as sweepingly male or female, experience shows that this can often be a skill set associated more with females.

The proven success of this structure under female leadership, combined with the realization that you can achieve greater work/life flexibility as your own boss, has led to a marked rise in the proportion of women taking control of their destiny and establishing their own translation companies. What’s more, unlike other industries, age doesn’t present a barrier to entry, with the sector proving very fertile for older women with language skills or backgrounds in international business.

But while I can proudly talk today about the vital role that women are playing in driving forward a UK industry which is worth in excess of £1 billion and which employs more than 12,000 people, we must guard against complacency. In my role as the first female president of the British Chamber of Commerce, and as a member of the ATC Council, my focus has remained firmly on raising the profile of languages across all stages of the national curriculum and beyond, and supporting female enterprise.

The latest figures reveal that while more than two-thirds of students obtaining an undergraduate language degree are female, student enrollments to language degrees fell by an alarming 5% between 2013/14 to 2014/15. What’s more, while women accounted for 70% of those setting up their own business in 2014, “gender blind” policy setting has led to insufficient support for female entrepreneurs through enterprise support infrastructure and the tax and benefits system.

This highlights the stark reality of the challenges which our industry faces if it is to continue to prosper; it can only be through a more unrelenting focus by the government on embedding languages into our education system and supporting self-employed women that the UK can realize the full potential of the language service industry, not only in leading the way in gender parity but supporting economic prosperity and growth on a national level.

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Erica Haims has held long-term roles at Atlantic Records and Apple. She recently launched Haims Consulting to assist brands with their global marketing execution.

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Third Localization Unconference Canada. Now a Tradition!

Blogos, Language in Business, Language Industry News and Events

Oleksandr Pysaryuk (@alexpysaryuk) reports:

It was the third time we held the Localization Unconference in Toronto. And our Canadian edition was again absolute fun and a success! Shout out to co-organizers Jenny Reid and Richard Sikes, and to Charmaine Cook of Moravia who sponsored our afterparty – the networking dinner.

Achievers welcomed an especially close and intimate group of professionals. Some flights and road trips got canceled due to weather. But, those who did make it came from as far as Colorado, California, Boston, and up-state New York!

John Weisgerber of XTM was there, offering his unique perspective of the vendor, client, and translator side of the industry. It was great to have Ariane Duddey there again too, with quite a diverse background in the localization industry. We also had translators in the room – Beatriz @biafigueireddo, Catherine Christaki aka @LinguaGreca and Burak Benk of Dragoman Translation. From me as a new Canadian, who came here 9 years ago: congratulations to you all on recently becoming new Canadians. Welcome to Toronto, colleagues!

Localization Unconference topics for decision and discussion

Localization Unconference Toronto topics for decision and discussion

Conversations went on about the build or buy options for translation management tools, educating clients and meeting their (un)realistic expectations, the importance and best practices in terminology management, machine translation post-editing, and reviews and quality management (hello Ocelot, we did talk about you with much praise!). Toronto’s own, and now also quite global company, Wattpad offered expert opinions about how to build the case for localization, and about i18n product management. Interesting recommendations came in from Qlik’s globalization architect on harvesting localizable source text from web and mobile apps’ multitude of file formats. @BeatBabel and Translations.com were spotted among the attendees, talking about building teams, retaining great employees, and managing global localization programs. We got some good advice from young-at-heart localization veterans on what a career path in the industry could look like. Someone even mentioned @localization as an example career – going from translation manager to director of global UX at Oracle!

The biggest discovery of this unconference was Eric Bigras (pronounced with your best French accent). Eric is the recent graduate of York University’s program in translation studies. Did you know that Glendon College offers MA in Translation Studies? It claims that it’s “the only graduate program in Toronto and southern Ontario dedicated to the advanced study of translation”. Having the privilege of knowing Eric now, I know that program must be really good. Hear that MIIS? Canada’s got translation talent, too!

Localization Unconference dinner and audience session

Localization Unconference dinner and audience session

Thank you all for coming and supporting the Canadian Unconference with its true Northern spirit. And if you missed this unconference, see you at Localization World! I hear Montréal is so beautiful in autumn.

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+ posts

Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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How does the future look and how do we feel about it? The emotions and technology of the language industry

Blogos, Language in Business

A guest post from Roberto Silva, Technology Solutions Manager, Conversis

At the beginning of a new year, many people take a look at the past and make plans for the future. Luckily, I would say, most of these plans are never finished. On an enterprise level, the situation is similar, although usually centred more on economy than emotions. I have penned these lines about the emotions in the language industry as we experience a period of change and uncertainty.

Our industry is evolving, but not fast enough to accommodate current and new demands. Content is being generated at an incredibly fast pace, in particular on social networks. And most of that content is not being translated. Some translation companies are targeting short text translation instead of the traditionally larger projects with a start and end date. But they are certainly covering only a fraction of the information available. Reports show us that users demand content and like to read and buy in their own language, even though they might speak the source language. Only a fraction of web sites are available in more than one or even two languages. The need for linguistic services in areas like medical, entertainment, immigration and legal (to name a few) are potentially much higher than the number of current translators, interpreters and language service providers can cover.

Statistical machine translation (SMT) and its fast domain and language adaptation has brought hope to many companies and NGOs that language barriers to written language could finally be overcome in the near future. It has also brought fear and frustration to many translators as translation agencies turn to MT, imagining that they could lose their jobs, that their income may be reduced, that the quality of their work might be negatively affected and that their influence on the final results of the translation may be highly reduced. Part of this has happened, but on a much lower scale as expected and not exactly for the reasons originally argued. SMT is following a similar emotional curve to Rule-based MT before it, going from high assumptions to deception, as users and developers realise that it cannot fulfil the promise of quality instant automatic translation under most scenarios and language pairs. However, if your goals are realistic and you define your target audience expectations, SMT, hybrid MT and hybrid CAT-MT configurations properly setup and maintained can deliver surprisingly good results under certain circumstances, and may allow faster delivery and higher quality translations when combined with well-trained smart post-editors.

On the subject of quality, we are seeing exciting initiatives and studies to tackle the very complex notion of translation quality. As an example we have the QT Launchpad project, TAUS dynamic quality framework and the Quality Triangle Methodology, besides ongoing norm developments such as ISO17100 (if it ever sees the light). The problem I spot in most approaches to quality in our industry and what disappoints me most is that we seem to be more worried about how we measure quality as an isolated element, instead of how we identify and deliver the various levels of quality that the different customers require. The notion of placing the customer at the centre of the quality efforts is not new at all as you may expect. We can certainly learn from other industries or companies that have already been in our dilemma and have successfully applied methodologies like QFD (Quality Framework Deployment) and ethically implemented Corporate Social Responsibility in order to have happy stakeholders as well as sustainable enterprises. Have you ever wondered who the oldest companies in the world are, and why they have subsisted?

Outside of our industry, big data and machine-to-machine interactions are leading to a new type of researcher and the rise of analytics, but mainly for a single language. A very poor understanding of the world. And cross language information retrieval cannot provide the full answer even if it were extensively available.

I am amazed at the speed at which we are seeing all kinds of new devices show up every year. New ways of interacting with these devices will allow professional translators and all kinds of potential users to take better advantage of existing technologies such as voice recognition, large touch screens, eye tracking, and many other developments to increase current translation performance and make our work easier. Our wish may be to have that in place already, but we are not there yet. On the more distant horizon, all this might be replaced by direct brain to computer interaction (BCI) combined with other types of input to correct errors or to solve difficult formatting issues, which will be perhaps a much more natural way to translate.

Regarding software, we have more options than ever and the technologies are converging. Online tools, offline tools, SaaS options, smart technological platforms. It is all in the mix and this is encouraging. However, most translation tool designers and software reviewers seem to be particularly interested in the feature battle and perhaps prefer small increments in productivity instead of improving the overall user experience and including really disruptive technologies. Easier, perhaps, but the wrong way to go, in my opinion. A recipe for disappointment. There are advances in integration but have there been any really significant advances in translation and localisation in the past few years compared to the changes in other industries?

The coming years will surely bring many novelties that will modify more or less dramatically the way we work, in a similar way as Agile methodologies applied to the translation service industry have changed the way we understand and manage projects and engage with our customers. A review of our workflows and the way they interact with technology may bring greater improvements than a new tool alone.

We should not be scared of technology – it is here to help us. We decide how to use it. And in this respect it is important to keep in mind that we are social individuals and that we, generally, like to relate to each other. Not many decades ago, computers, devices and software programmed to play chess provided hours of fun to many, though never really replaced the flexibility of a human player, not to mention the option to have a drink with your opponent afterward. Gaming online today is oriented to playing with other real players, because we seem to enjoy this more than playing against machines. In a similar way, we prefer a human to answer a call to an annoying automated call centre that can be completely useless if the person that is enquiring has a particular accent and is required to input voice commands, or does not fully understand the operator’s language. Technology is an invaluable tool, but in adequate combination with us. Despite all these technological advances, human translation and human interaction in language projects is and will continue to be a key central point for many years to come. Enjoy the future.

RobertoRoberto Silva
Technology Solutions Manager
Conversis
With over 20 years of experience in the translation and localisation industry, Roberto brings a balanced approach to his role, ensuring that the use of best in class technology assists Conversis staff in delivering even better customer service and efficiency.  He is spearheading the implementation of workflow automation technology at Conversis and his brief stretches across the range of localisation based tools. Roberto also has a Masters in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

 

+ posts

Publisher of MultiLingual, Donna Parrish is also co-organizer of the LocWorld conferences. Coming into the language industry from a background of mathematics and computer programming, she has an appreciation for the wizardry of language technology and an awe for linguists.

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Smartling: Developing the Cloud Translation Experience

Blogos, Language Industry News and Events, Translation Technology

Smartling Logo

After meself and himself of Smartling met at the Websummit, I wanted to look at a forthcoming Smartling self-service offering suitable for software developers. When Jack Welde (@jwelde) (i.e., himself) gave me the nod, I got to it, taking the opportunity to reflect on the developer experience and enterprise translation, generally.

Offering translation “as a service” for developers faces two related issues: how to make it easy for busy developers to get stuff translated without disrupting their core activity, and how to build a business model out of all that. My main concern is the developer experience, but it’s obvious the Smartling startup puck is heading towards the enterprise.

Exploring Smartling

Smartling is a rising star, with 65 million USD in funding; regarded as the industry disruptor to watch in 2015.

Smartling packs a REST-like API to integrate with, and connect to, development environments for software resources of all sorts, web-based content, documentation, and so on. From a developer perspective, a PaaS ability to use APIs to hook up translation to IDEs, dev environments and source control systems, is a must-have feature. Eliminating on-premise hardware and consulting set up time offers more ROI and productivity.

It was easy for me to get going in the Smartling browser-based UI, uploading a Java properties file, and exploring the features.

Smartling uses a very cool Context Capture API to associate visual context to HTML content for translation. Connecting a rendered UI to translatable resource string IDs (offering a preview of the translation into the bargain) makes for a better final deliverable. Behind-the-firewall HTML content can be similarly contextualized using the Chrome Context Capture extension.

Previewable source and target strings shown in context during translation

Previewable source and target strings shown in context during translation

Externalization of content from code is key to having developers on your side. Most IDE and file formats have i18n/L10n support to abstract away translation risk, so Smartling has a great baseline to enable quality translation and development productivity alike, the translator UI protecting valuable coding goodness from damage during the source-to-target language change.

Smartling provides automatic extraction of a glossary for review, a way to include style guidance, and offers features in the translator UI to define and move about patternized placeables, dashboard reporting, and so on. Mucho flexibility, if you need it.

Extracted glossary entries

Extracted glossary entries

Smartling also enables customization of the translation workflow to suit business needs. For example, different translation workflow steps might be tailored to involve particular stakeholders before the translation is finalized (enterprise stakeholders, beyond end users, are that “political third rail”; forgotten with disastrous results).

Easy customization of translation workflow steps

Easy customization of translation workflow steps

I conjured up my own translations, but Smarting integrates with human and machine translation for a quality result.

What developers care about is a productivity solution in the cloud that resonates with their world of work, and that worked for me. I liked the Smartling approach. It was easy to set up, to integrate into processes, to see stuff translated in context, and to get valid translated files back for the build or deployment stage.

Understanding Developers

The “translation as a service” model is not new. GitHub, APIs, Python, Ruby, Node.Js, PaaS, and so on, are now standard parts of the developer lexicon. Yet, the localization industry continues to play catch up with developer community happenings, whether they be FOSS-based or corporate.

Developers are not translators, and don’t want to be. Empathizing with the developers’ world is the foundation for ideating together on smart solutions. Smartling has already done some awesome developer outreach such as the LinguaHack event in Kiev (others, please take note).

LinguaHack 2014 from Smartling on Vimeo. Click to launch.

Smartling LinguaHack Hackathon in Kiev, 2014

So, Smartling looks like a fine solution from the developer perspective; one for builders to get apps, websites and documentation translated easily and out there into the global market. It is, of course, an on-going story.

Smartling nails the notion that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to translation for developers, and from my explorations the solution hits the mark with cloud-based developer productivity and usability.

To use all Smartling features optimally is really an enterprise-level undertaking. Developers will never rush to attach contextual images or add descriptive notes to strings. Reviewing glossary extractions, creating translated terminology, and so on, are not developer competencies. Such things require a team: localization managers, translation coordinators, terminologists, information professionals, and others working further upstream in the software development lifecycle.

Enterprising Solutions

Enterprise translation requirements now go far beyond app resources, HTML sites, and documentation. It’s a complex business, and comes with critical performance, scalability and security prerequisites. Sure, it’s unglamorous, but as Oscar Wilde says, it’s better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.

Enterprises need to see real ROI and have incentives to move from current solutions. This is true of on-premise to SaaS adoption generally; there are other constraints too. Like user experience generally, making that decision “depends”.

So, I’ll be watching where that enterprise translation puck goes in 2015 for Smartling, and for others.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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