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Weekly Shorts | January 22, 2021

Business News, Language Industry News and Events, Mergers and Acquisitions, Technology, Terminology, Translation, Translation Technology, Uncategorized, Weekly Shorts

TransPerfect revenue up 11.5 percent

TransPerfect has announced a 2020 year-end revenue of 852 million USD. This is a roughly 11.5 percent increase over 2019’s revenue of 764 million USD.

Volaris buys Across

Canadian private equity firm Volaris Group has purchased Across, a Karlsbad, Germany-based translation management software provider. Deal value was not disclosed.

A Swedish hashtag?

Most language professionals on Twitter use #xl8 to find one another’s tweets, but translator Erik Hansson is pushing for a Swedish language version. The current #xl8 has English language origins, using “x” to represent the “trans” in “translate” and “l8” as a phonetic representation of the rest of the word. “I am not giving up hope,” Hansson tweeted Monday, “One day, more #Swedish #translators on Twitter will finally discover our own hashtag #ovst” — short for översättning, the Swedish word for translation.

American Literary Translators Association awards open

The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) has officially opened its 2021 award applications. The National Translation Award is given to translated books for both poetry and prose, the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize goes to an English translation from one of any Asian languages, and the Italian Prose in Translation Award (IPTA) is awarded for Italian into English prose.

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Ad Astra Buys MontLingo

Language Industry News and Events, Mergers and Acquisitions, Translation, Translation Technology, Uncategorized

Silver Springs, Maryland-based translation company Ad Astra has bought MontLingo, a language services provider (LSP) in Brossard, Quebec. MontLingo was founded by Bryan Montpetit. Montpetit is well known in the industry for prior sales roles held at various translation software companies as well as for his stent on the Association of Language Companies (ALC) board. Neither LSP responded to inquiries regarding deal value and other details by press time.

MontLingo will become Ad Astra’s first office in Canada, with Montpetit staying on as vice president of marketing.

This is the fourth language industry acquisition MultiLingual has learned about this week. On Monday, Memsource announced its purchase of fellow translation management software (TMS) provider Phrase — formerly known as PhraseApp. Canadian private equity firm Volaris Group also recently acquired Across, a Karlsbad, Germany-based TMS. And yesterday, MultiLingual was first in the localization industry to report on Straker Translation’s acquisition of TMS company Lingotek.

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Breaking News: Straker Acquires Lingotek

Language Industry News and Events, Mergers and Acquisitions, Technology, Translation Technology, Uncategorized

Australian language services provider Straker Translation has officially purchased American translation tool company Lingotek, according to mandatory public disclosure reporting in Financial Times. Straker Translation is traded on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Under Australian law, listed corporations must notify the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) when “the products of the merger parties are substitutes or are complementary to each other” — as translation management systems (TMS) and services are to one another. Financial Times  — an Australian business newspaper — shared the news in a running ticker tape of deals at 9:50 am Australian time, January 21 2021.

Grant Straker, Straker founder and chief executive, said the acquisition is key to Straker’s ongoing plans for expansion. The deal brings with it access to 20 enterprise customers and partners, including Oracle and Nike.

This is a roughly US $6.74 million deal, with Straker Translations paying out $5.27 million in cash, and Lingotek receiving the remaining $1.2 million in stock. In 2020, Lingotek’s revenue was $US 7.9 million. The disclosure predicts Straker Translations will therefore reach break-even on the buy during the company’s 2022 fiscal year.

Lingotek is a cloud-based translation services provider, offering translation management software and professional linguistic services for web content, software platforms, product documentation, and electronic documents. In 2006, Lingotek was the first US company to launch a fully online, web-based, computer-assisted translation (CAT) system and pioneered the integration of translation memories (TM) with a main-frame powered machine translation (MT). Since then, the company has been expanding and modifying the tech it offers companies.

In the last six months Straker has seen its share price increase by 50%, and this acquisition is likely to continue to increase Straker’s stock prices.

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GlobalSake Launches February 4 with a Look at International Fitness

Language Industry News and Events

GlobalSake (pronounced like the Japanese rice wine) debuts its first online event February 4 focusing on international expansion case studies in the wellness and fitness verticals. Until the end of January, MultiLingual readers can use code GSCommunity2021 for a 20% discount on the annual program.

GlobalSake was founded in 2017 by Talia Baruch (who formerly headed international product and growth at Linkedin and SurveyMonkey), John Hayato Branderhorst (a senior strategist at btrax), and Yin Yin (director of strategic accounts at BigSpring). The nonprofit strives to be a global community of tech leaders in startups, scale-ups and multinational corporations driving international efforts. GlobalSake’s stated mission is “to bring together cross-functional, cross-cultural, cross-regional professionals for shared collective wisdom and meaningful collaborations for more effective alignment on global efforts.” The vision is to broaden localization into a more strategic, holistic, and cross-functional industry. Based in San Fransisco, California, past events were held in person. Like many other events, GlobalSake is opting for a digital approach in 2021, hoping “to address our community’s ask for continuity with on-going meetups for relationship building and knowledge share” even during this current “time of virtual isolation.”

GlobalSake’s 2021 annual program — TheParlamINT— is a speaker series of 12 monthly events held via Zoom, each dedicated to a different challenge in localization. The program looks at case study stories around the world, considering what worked, what didn’t, and the lessons learned.

Each event is held on the first Thursday of each month. March’s discussion is on international consumer insights, and April’s is on global payments, with subsequent topics focused on strategy and other aspects of global expansion. The full annual program is here. The first event in the series kickstarts on February 4, and is held from 9-10:30 am Pacific time, with industry insights from professionals working for ASICS Digital (formerly Runkeeper)Noom Inc, Kin, and other global brands.

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Google Translate Causes Vaccine Mishap

Language in Business, Language in the News, Localization Basics, Personalization and Design, Translation, Translation Technology, Uncategorized

Last week, MultiLingual reported on a Virginia Department of Health website translation error that incorrectly told Spanish speakers they don’t need coronavirus vaccines. New information from Richmond, Virginia newspaper The Virginian-Pilot now reveals how this error came to be.

“The Virginia Department of Health’s main sources for translating critical covid-19 and vaccine information are three marketing agencies that don’t list translation services on their websites and Google Translate,” Sabrina Moreno reports, pointing out that both translation reliability experts and Google itself caution medical providers not to use the free online tool for medical translations. Google translated “the vaccine is not required” as “the vaccine is not necessary” on the Department of Health’s frequently asked questions website.

In the United States, Hispanics have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus with higher death and hospitalization rates than white Americans. Ensuring this group has access to covid-19 vaccines is of particular importance in Virginia where — as of January 13th — Latinos only accounted for 9 percent of those receiving a dose despite making up 21 percent of the commonwealth’s covid-19 hospitalizations.

“Immigrant advocates and certified translators said the state’s failure to prioritize adequate translation showed Virginia’s lack of investment in populations already facing a trust gap in the health care system and language barriers that have historically limited access to medical care,” writes Moreno.

Luis Oyola, director of organizing for Legal Aid Justice Center in Richmond, says he’s been warning the state of what Moreno calls “the desperate need for translated and culturally competent materials” since March. “The government is reaping what they sowed,” Oyola told The Virginian-Pilot

The government, however, continues to stand beside its mistranslation. “Many Spanish speakers do read this form as it was intended — namely, to make clear the vaccine is not mandatory and therefore will not be forced on anyone,” director of communications Maria Reppas told local television station ABC 8News.

Nearly 1.4 million Virginians speak a language other than English at home. More than half of these people speak Spanish.

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Terena Bell is an independent journalist who writes for The Atlantic, Washington Post, Fast Company and others. She is former CEO of In Every Language.

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Localization & Race: Disney’s Dubbing Controversy

freelancing, Geopolitics, Language in the News, Localization, Localization Culture, Localization Strategy, Multimedia Translation, Personalization and Design, Uncategorized

Disney/Pixar’s localization of the movie Soul has generated some race-related controversy, according to The Independent. Released in 41 different countries, the film is about a Black jazz player who tries to reunite his body and his soul after the two accidentally split apart. It’s only the fourth animated movie in the history of American cinema to feature a Black character in the leading role.

The film hasn’t gone without criticism in the United States, where cultural news sites like Gizmodo, Screen Rant, and Insider have pointed out that Soul seems to lean into Black stereotypes. In its original English version, the film uses a white actor to voice the main, Black character’s soul — something Gizmodo and others claim removes Black agency.

In Denmark and Germany, white actors voice the character’s body as well, sparking the Danish controversy. (If German cinema-goers are upset, the media is yet to report it.) “A number of activists and scholars suggested that [the] casting was an example of structural racism,” reports The Independent. Nikolaj Lie Kaas — the voice actor who received the lead Danish part — said, “My position with regards to any job is very simple. Let the man or woman who can perform the work in the best possible way get the job.”

The language industry, however, has long considered non-qualification related factors in “who gets the job.” In interpreting especially, US providers often pair limited-English proficients (LEP) with interpreters of the same gender for assignments, based on language and topic. If an LEP has been raped, for example, crisis centers may require a same gender interpreter as a way to help minimize trauma. For religious reasons, female Arabic and Somali speakers also may require female interpreters for medical visits. In these instances, a man very well may be the best interpreter in town, but other factors must be considered in awarding the job. That said, film localization is a different field and appears to adhere to different standards in at least some cases.

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Memsource Buys Phrase

Language Industry News and Events, Mergers and Acquisitions, Translation Technology, Uncategorized

Czech Republic-based translation management system (TMS) Memsource has acquired Phrase, a competing TMS headquartered in Hamburg, Germany. Memsource chief executive officer (CEO) David Čaněk would not disclose the value of the deal, but did indicate it was a predominately stock transaction: “The three founders of Phrase will become shareholders of the Memsource group.”

Phrase — formerly known as PhraseApp — will continue to operate its technology independently of Memsource with Čaněk serving as both business units’ CEO. Čaněk would not disclose Phrase’s annual revenue, but a Memsource news release references Lufthansa Systems and Pizza Hut Digital Ventures as two key Phrase clients. The acquisition was funded by The Carlyle Group — an American private equity corporation that became Memsource’s majority shareholder last July.

In a space that has recently become crowded with multiple small to medium size TMS, MultiLingual asked Čaněk why buy Phrase. “A few reasons,” he emailed, explaining Phrase was “a bootstrapped business — just like Memsource — with a similar culture and a very successful high-growth business complementary to Memsource in many ways,” both in terms of product and European regional focus.

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Weekly Shorts | January 15, 2021

Business News, Geopolitics, Interpretation, Language in the News, Language Industry News and Events, Localization, Multimedia Translation, Personalization and Design, Technology, Terminology, Translation, Uncategorized, Weekly Shorts

Translation error says Spanish speakers don’t need vaccine

A localization error on the Virginia Department of Health’s website told Spanish speakers they don’t need coronavirus vaccines, according to Norfolk, Virginia newspaper The Virginian-Pilot. Medical students at George Mason University discovered the mistake, which may have stemmed from unclear source text: “Before the faulty translation, the English passage simply meant the vaccine wasn’t mandatory,” the paper reports.

TransPerfect opens Istanbul office

New York-based translation company TransPerfect has opened a new outpost in Istanbul, Turkey. N Can Okay will oversee the office, dealing primarily with talent recruitment, according to a company release.

Neural interpretation from TikTok?

ByteDance, the parent company of international social media platform TikTok, has gotten in the interpreting game, releasing an open source tool named NeurST: Neural Speech Translation Toolkit. Note this is a misnomer, as the tech does not translate written language — rather interprets verbal speech. Full code is available on collaboration portal GitHub.

Nieman Lab predicts non-English news

American journalism think tank The Nieman Lab anticipates the United States will see more non-English news content in 2021 as both translated and in-language reporting increase. “Additionally, we foresee more substantive and equitable partnerships developing between mainstream and ethnic media organizations,” write Stefanie Murray and Anthony Advincula.

ATA accepting conference proposals

The American Translators Association has issued its call for presentation proposals for the association’s October 27-30, 2021 conference. The event will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota with virtual attendance options. Proposals are accepted through March 1.

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InterpretAmerica Closes

Business News, Interpretation, Language Industry News and Events, Uncategorized

Today marks the last day of operations for InterpretAmerica. Founded in 2009 by Katharine Allen and Barry Slaughter Olsen, the organization served as an open forum to champion the profession of foreign language interpreting.  Over the past 12 years, it hosted multiple conferences of its own as well as partnered with the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) on its Think! series events. Allen and Slaughter Olsen marked the end of their tenure at 11 am Eastern with a memoriam of sorts — a 90 minute conference call celebrating the group’s advocacy efforts.

For those outside the language industry, InterpretAmerica’s best known work may be the video it produced for American business magazine Wired, showing how interpreters do their jobs. While the explainer focused primarily on interpreters working at the United Nations or in other political environments, it did review crucial differences between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, as well as other basics of the profession.

When asked about their personal favorite projects, though, both Allen and Slaughter Olsen cite Lenguas, a Mexican conference series Slaughter Olsen says “recognize[d] interpreters in conflict zones and the inclusion of so many indigenous interpreters in our activities as peers and colleagues.”

“What really triggered this [closure] was a radical change in my career path,” Slaughter Olsen explains, “In May of 2020 I accepted a position as VP of Client Success at KUDO,” a multilingual web conferencing platform. Allen says she then took “time to decide whether to stay on with InterpretAmerica as a solo effort or maybe with a new partner,” opting to close in the end. Resources presently on the InterpretAmerica website and YouTube channel will remain online indefinitely.

Speakers at today event included interpreting industry leaders from GALA, Certified Languages International, Cross-Cultural Communications, the Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters in California (CoPTIC)​, the American Translators Association (ATA), and others.

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Vaccine Saves Language and Lives, NPR Reports

Geopolitics, Language, Language in the News, Travel and Culture

Getting vaccinated against covid-19 may do more than save your life. It could also save your language. That’s what Cherokee schoolteacher Meda Nix told National Public Radio (NPR) in an interview last week.

A member of the Cherokee Nation — a sovereign tribal government within the geographic boundaries of the United States — Nix grew up in an English and Cherokee speaking home, then studied Cherokee later as an adult. She is one of only around 2500 people who speak the language fluently today.

Native Americans — including the Cherokee — have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the US Center for Disease Control, contracting the disease at a rate 3.5 times higher than white Americans. The Cherokee Nation specifically has seen more than 11,000 coronavirus cases and 63 deaths. At least 20 of those who passed were Cherokee speakers, per NPR.

Initially, Nix had not planned on being vaccinated. Then tribal leaders held a Zoom call with covid-19 specialists, urging Cherokees to step up — not just for their lives but for their culture.

Cherokee is a member of the Iroquoian language family. Its writing system does not use an alphabet. Rather, 85 distinct characters represent the sounds used for speaking the language with one character assigned to each discrete syllable found in a word. For this and other reasons, the US Secretary of State considers Cherokee to be a Class IV language. Language classifications refer to the average amount of time required for English speakers to achieve proficiency when studying full time. At 88 weeks, Class IV languages are the most difficult group.

Nix teaches Cherokee to fifth graders, starting with vocabulary she learned from her mother about the natural world — such as the names for trees and birds. NPR reports that “by preserving her language, she is really preserving ‘everything. Our culture. Our beliefs. Our ways.'”

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Terena Bell is an independent journalist who writes for The Atlantic, Washington Post, Fast Company and others. She is former CEO of In Every Language.

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