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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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SBA Closes Comments on Controversial Proposal

Business News, Interpretation, Translation, Uncategorized

Comments are now closed on a controversial proposal from the US Small Business Administration (SBA). Rule SBA-2020-0055-0001 seeks to raise the amount language services companies (LSP’s) could bill a year and still be considered small businesses. Revenue classifications are used by the US government to determine whether enterprises are eligible for small business set-asides — a select number of government contracts awarded to companies that bill less than 8 million USD a year. If successful, the measure would raise this amount to 20 million USD — a threshold where Lindsey Cambardella, chief executive officer of Translation Station in Chamblee, Georgia, says truly “small” LSP’s would no longer be able to compete.

“Arguments may be made that businesses smaller than $8m may not be able to handle larger contracts, but as a company that falls into the $3m – $5m range, I can confirm that we are prepared to handle large projects,” Cambardella wrote on the SBA site, “I do not believe we would be as competitive if we were facing companies as large as $20m.”

Small business classification isn’t just important for companies looking to work with the US federal government. “It also matters for the large primes,” says Bill Rivers, lobbyist for the Association of Language Companies (ALC). Primes are major corporations that win larger government contracts, then outsource part of that work to small businesses. It’s not uncommon for the US federal government to award translation jobs to primes that don’t have any translation capabilities. As a result, this work sometimes trickles down to small business LSP’s.

Initially, ALC was in favor of the change, with Rivers noting in an October 8 blog that raising the amount was one of ALC’s top seven priorities. But as Cambardella and other members have spoken out against the plan, the association has changed its position. “ALC is taking a neutral position now. We had started out supporting this, but as you see, there are a lot of smaller companies that feel they wouldn’t benefit,” Rivers says.

In a December 22 email that went out to members, the ALC explained that “[t]he SBA must consider each and every comment.” Comments are also entered into the permanent record that accompanies any new regulation. “If the regulation is challenged in court, these comments will help guide the courts in their review,” according to ALC.

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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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Maldonado named Women in Localization president

Globalization, Internationalization, Interpretation, Language, Language Industry News and Events, Localization, Translation, Uncategorized

Women in Localization has a new president: Argentine translation leader Cecilia Maldonado begins her one-year term today.

Founded in 2008, Women in Localization is a nonprofit organization that works to foster a global community for the advancement of both women and the industry by providing networking, education, career advancement, mentoring, and recognition of women’s accomplishments. Membership is free and both women and men are invited to join.

To select its officers, Women in Localization works through a succession committee. The committee interviews existing board members to determine their goals for the group, then selects a slate of candidates accordingly. Candidates are also interviewed then the final list is presented to the board, which votes. Maldonado served as vice-president in 2020 and was confirmed president for the upcoming year during the board’s last voting session.

In 2020, Women in Localization’s “high level objective” was to focus on growing global membership, “which included setting up a virtual/global chapter to focus on our remote members and provid[ing] stronger support to our non-US chapters,” according to Maldonado. Six new chapters were founded according.

“I’m super excited about my new role at [Women in Localization],” Maldonado emailed. “After constant growth, 2021 will be a year for restructuring and reorganization, simplifying and streamlining our organizational structure so we can set the foundations for enduring success. With 28 chapters in 18 different countries today, we need to step up our game to be ready for the challenges and opportunities growth brings.”

Maldonado is well-known figurehead in the localization field, having cofounded both Translated in Argentina, an industry association, and Think Latin America, a popular conference that later became part of the Globalization and Localization Association’s Think! series. She is also an active volunteer for the Association of Language Companies, a US trade group.

Nimdzi — the organization that owns MultiLingual — is an official Women in Localization partner.

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ATA Offers Payment Plan to Struggling Members

freelancing, Interpretation, Language Industry News and Events, Translation, Uncategorized

Can’t afford your American Translators Association (ATA) dues? New this year, the organization is allowing members to pay in two installments: 50 percent down now, the remainder in six months. Annual renewal fees cost anywhere from 89 USD to 492 USD, depending on membership type.

This payment plan is a first for ATA and what organization president Ted Wozniak calls “a member benefit [considered] as a token of appreciation for current members who may have financial issues due to the pandemic.” According to a December 30th Tweet, in order to take advantage, members must renew online. ATA currently has more than 10,000 institutional and individual members across more than 103 countries.

“We don’t have hard data on the economic impact of the downturn or the pandemic on our members,” Wozniak emailed MultiLingual. In the United States however — where the ATA finds the bulk of its members — recent Census Bureau surveys reveal self-employed adults were hardest hit by 2020’s economic downturn. In states where at least 25 percent of businesses had to close for temporary quarantines, 13.9 percent of freelancers were forced to rely on food banks, religious or community groups, or friends and family for at least one meal a week. This compares to 8.7 percent of workers who were not freelancers prior to the downturn. The majority of American translators are self-employed.

ATA had planned to conduct a members’ compensation survey in 2020 — a plan Wozniak says was pushed back to this year because of the pandemic. Right now, the association is basing the need for payment plans on “anecdotal stories from members,” he explains, which range from “a near complete loss of business to little or no change to an increase in business — not entirely unexpected given the diversity and dispersion of [translation and interpreting] services around the globe.”

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Beijing subway to standardize English translations

Business News, Language, Language in the News, Personalization and Design, Terminology, Translation, Travel and Culture, Uncategorized

If you’re heading to Beijing you may have to put up with conflicting subway station names — at least for a while. According to news site China Daily, the city has “adopted a new set of English translation methods for the capital’s rail transit stations.” Basically what this means is that the municipal transport commission authority is gradually changing the way stop names are localized into English — both on maps and signs. Trick is, the changes aren’t happening across all materials at once: “Different English translations for a same station may exist over a period of time as the replacement of the signs will be carried out gradually and orderly,” China Daily reports. Early maps with the new names are already available. Distribution began late last year. The signage translation work will start in 2021.

The city’s goal is to provide new stop names that not only reflect the geographic location of a place but its cultural implications — and in a way that enlightens foreign travelers. Subway stop names that previously used pinyin — an adaptation method that uses letters from the Roman alphabet to spell out Chinese words based on sound — will be changed to new names that use the Chinese phonetic alphabet. The first word of each stop name will also be capitalized now with all subsequent letters in lower case. Locations will also be marked by compass direction, using abbreviations like “(N)” for north or “(W)” for west. Well-known subway stops — such as those named after places of historic interest — will not change. For example, 颐和园 and 国家图书馆 will remain Summer Palace and National Library — their already globally-accepted English language translations.

In 2014, a revamp of Hong Kong’s subway translations resulted in The Wall Street Journal mocking Beijing’s by using Baidu’s free online translation portal to derive the paper’s own localization of stop names.

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Belgian Translation Error Could Result in Travel Fines

Geopolitics, Language in the News, Technology, Translation, Uncategorized

English-speaking visitors to Belgium may have arrived under a misunderstood set of coronavirus-related travel rules, according to national newspaper The Brussels Times.

“According to the English version of the official info-coronavirus.be website,” journalists Maïthé Chini and Jules Johnston reported on January 4th, “travelers must complete the form ‘within 48 hours of [their] arrival in Belgium.'” Trick is, that information is not correct. In its original French, Dutch and German — the country’s three official languages — the government states Passenger Locator Forms (PLF) must be completed before people arrive — not after.

Fortunately, the Belgian government corrected the mistake not long after The Brussels Times called to request comment. “It was a wrong translation of the text and it has now been corrected,” Yves Stevens, spokesperson for the country’s coronavirus crisis center, told the paper. It’s unclear, however, how many travelers entered the country before the correction was provided. Fines for those who do not complete the forms as instructed are €250 per person.

According to Reuters, Belgium has seen 650,011 covid-19 infections and 19,701 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the global pandemic back in March. Travelers and residents are encouraged to use Coronalert, a contact tracing app available in English, French, Dutch and German for iPhone and Android. According to the frequently asked questions page of the Coronalert website, “The language of the app is automatically matched to the default language configured in your smartphone’s language settings. If your phone is set up in another language than these four, Coronalert will by default be installed in English.”

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Gender Inclusive or Just Bad Hebrew?

Geopolitics, Language, Language in the News, Terminology, Uncategorized

It’s traditional for the United States House of Representatives to open each new session with a prayer, but that prayer typically doesn’t end with “a-women.”

On Sunday, January 3rd — right before the members of the 117th session were sworn in — Missouri representative Emanuel Cleaver used the interesting turn of phrase together with “amen,” saying “May the lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us and give us peace — peace in our families, peace in this land and there I ask, oh lord, peace even in this chamber. We ask it in the name of the monotheistic god, Brahma, and god known by many names by many different faiths, amen and a-women.”

Since the swearing in, Cleaver’s usage has fallen under criticism from the international press with UK outlets The Independent and Daily Mail reporting.

In addition to serving in Congress, Cleaver is ordained as a minister in the United Methodist Church, a denomination of the Christian faith. Brahma, however, is a Hindu god.

The word amen itself derives from the Hebrew, meaning “certainty,” “truth,” or “verily.” In English, it is a declaration of affirmation typically used at the end of a prayer or used on its own as a form of agreement or sign of support. While Hebrew is a highly gendered language — in addition to number agreement, verbs also agree with subject noun gender — “amen” is non-gendered.

In other words, Cleaver’s usage is more politically than grammatically driven. January 1st, House speaker and fellow Democrat Nancy Pelosi proposed new rules for the body that require members use “gender-inclusive language,” citing examples such as “parent” instead of “mother” or “father” and “sibling” instead of “brother” or “sister.” These rules also require members to substitute verbs for gendered English nouns — “strike ‘’submit his or her resignation’ and insert ‘’resign’’’ — as well as use common nouns in place of pronouns: “Strike ‘’he or she serves’’ and insert ‘such Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner serves.’’’

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Anja Jones Translation Goes Fully Virtual

Business News, Geopolitics, Language Industry News and Events, Translation, Uncategorized

Anja Jones Translation (AJT), a British language services provider (LSP), has gone completely virtual. Staff’s last day in the company’s physical Newquay, England office was December 31st. AJT’s 20 person team will now work remotely from home, connecting through Slack and other tools.

Founded in 2014, AJT is a midsize agency that translates 1.5 million words a month for an annual revenue of 1.5 million GBP. Cloud-based translation management provider Smartling is its largest client.

During coronavirus lockdowns, virtual LSP’s have become more common — or at least virtual employees have, according to an October 2020 report from Common Sense Advisory (CSA). Before last spring’s quarantines, 78 to 83 percent of global LSP employees worked in a physical office. By the pandemic’s height, though, that number had dropped as low as three percent. In western Europe — including the United Kingdom, where AJT is based — 49 percent of LSP staffers had returned to physical offices by October, with 63 percent hoping to come back once the pandemic is over. AJT is simply among those not returning.

Company owner Anja Jones is quite clear, though, that the move to virtual LSP would have happened with or without covid. AJT began planning the shift around two years ago — when Jones realized Brexit-related visa changes would make it more costly for AJT to hire translators from the continent. Covid lockdowns simply forced AJT’s employees into the home environment, speeding up the company’s timeline. Having already worked remotely the bulk of the year, Jones decided to stay there.

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