Tag Archives: localization

Meet Central Europe in review

by Eleftheria Tigka, Vendor Manager at Commit

This was my first visit to Budapest for Commit’s participation at the Meet Central Europe event (MCE for short), that took place at the Budapest Music Centre on October 30-31, 2018.

As the plane landed in the Budapest airport, I was full of excitement at the prospect of this conference. I was looking forward to meeting peers and vendors, clients and colleagues, but most of all I was looking forward to being part of this first, inaugural event on Vendor Management.

Day one (October 30th), was partially dedicated to the MasterClass, Vendor Management Training, that was presented by Agi Szaniszlo, Talent Program Manager at Welocalize. Agi walked us through all major VM elements, such as recruitment/vetting and testing of vendors, vendor after care, VM challenges and quality management. It was an inspiring MasterClass that solved many questions.

Later on, Arturo Quintero in his keynote shared his insights on the entrepreneurial quest raising the question “which one are you in the relationship; the committed or the participating?”. Well, relationships, business and otherwise, have always been like that, but it does take some introspection to realize where you stand and where you want to be.

Špela Vintar, from the Department of Translation Studies, University of Ljubljana, described how the Translators of Tomorrow need to have New Skills for New Thrills, and explained that language professionals will remain in demand for years to come, but their skills and competences will need to be thoroughly redefined.

Later in the day, Miha Knavs, Supplier Manager at Vocalink Global compared two Vendor Management Strategies – Price Driven and Client Value Driven, presenting his recruiting approach when looking for domain specialist linguists, providing the following key takeaways: hiring approach, negotiation strategy, challenges to overcome, potential barriers to face.

Last, but not least, Danilo Monaco, CEO at Arancho Doc, discussed principles and ideas stemming from personal industry experience, where Vendor Management might be conceived as a factor in generating revenue through specific initiatives and organization design.

On October 31st, the day started with Eva Nagy, Language Services Center Manager at AMPLEXOR International, who gave a presentation on Assertive Communication in Practice (For All Roleplayers of the Language Industry), and explained how to be assertive in our private and business life, how to provide helpful feedback to others, how to receive negative feedback, how to protect ourselves when criticized and how to deal with conflicts and challenging situations.

The “New” Vendor Management or How to Wake Up a Sleeping Beauty was a session presented by Anna Rudzka-Halas, Team Leader of Translation Projects at eurocom Translation Services GmbH. Anna asked the audience “Why not harness the power of vendor management and turn it into an important asset for quality management?” and she explained how to introduce processes that integrate vendor management strategically and operationally into the ISO 9001-certified quality management workflow.

Ferdinand Kovacic, Managing Director at Kovacic Consulting, described Vendor Management across Cultures, Countries and Distances focusing on cultural adaptability, communication across distances and practical recommendations on how to deal with them.

In the afternoon, Jaroslava Ouzka, Global Sales Manager at Skrivanek tackled the challenges of identifying, allocating & readying Vendor resources for large (multi-language) translation projects and gave her own input on successfully managing the client’s expectations through precise hiring, training, scheduling and allocation processes.

That was all the time we had in Budapest, as we had a plane to catch back to Athens, nevertheless the knowledge, the experiences, the feelings and the people of the event will stay with us for a long time. Furthermore, the city itself, the vibrant culturally rich capital of Hungary, is a place that we will definitely visit again.

See you next year in Prague!

Commit excels in Life Sciences

by Hara Samara, Project Coordinator at Commit

There is certainly a lot to be said for the importance of translation in Life Sciences and much digital ink has been spilled on the challenges involved in the field.  However, today we would like to take the opportunity to share and celebrate some amazing feedback we received from a dear client about projects we completed in 2018 for a global developer and manufacturer of clinical diagnostic products.

Our client ran quality checks on samples drawn from approximately 200 projects we completed from February 2018 to September 2018 and the results illustrate the quality of translations for biomedical laboratory instruments, in vitro diagnostics systems, chemistry data sheets and IFU documentation for haematology analysers among others.

The quality checks have been carried out in all 36 languages that the documentation is translated into and our Life Sciences team scored the amazing amount of zero errors in the sample analysed, which ranks us NUMBER ONE in terms of quality out of 36 languages in total!

Here is what makes Commit stand out:

Passion: We love localisation and this is probably our most effective trait, since our passion for what we do enhances the desire to pursue excellence and makes us motivated, creative and resourceful. As Aristotle put it “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.”

Specialisation: Handling volumes that exceed 1 million words per year, Commit has established expertise in the field of Life Sciences. Our industry knowledge and proficiency are what makes us successful and highly effective even when things do not go quite as expected, i.e. more often than not!

Tools: Commit uses a range of technical solutions to meet the needs of our clients and offer quality assurance. Our commitment to the ISO 9001 and ISO 17100 standards in combination with the use of state‑of‑the‑art technology in CAT and QA tools allows us to build and maintain translation memories and termbases, ensure consistency, minimise human error and deliver top‑quality translations.

Tailored services: Be it a 200,000 words document concerning instructions for use for an immunoassay analyser or a handful of words from a chemistry data sheet, our expert project management team analyses the request and its individual specs to develop a tailored plan that allows us to handle successfully the highly‑sensitive content our clients trust us with.

Expert linguists: Last, but by no means least, at the core of our success is teamwork and the professional specialised translators we collaborate with. Being responsible for this account over the last 10 months, I am thrilled to see our efforts pay off and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the linguists that travelled with me all the way to the first place among 36 languages and contributed in such top‑quality results. This would never have happened without your commitment, diligence, precision and attention to detail. I know it’s been a rocky road sometimes and I would like to sincerely thank each and every one of you for the excellent collaboration and support, even when things have been challenging – well, especially then!

Cheers to you and our future adventures!

Going global? Well it’s time you get local!

by Nikoletta Kaponi, Operations Manager at Commit

Localize your content to increase conversions and customer engagement in foreign markets

Whether you are a multinational company or an online business aiming to reach potential customers around the globe, you may have already found out that your approach for entering domestic markets does not have an equal effect in foreign markets. And that is not just because of the language barrier; except for speaking a different tongue, people in different countries also think differently. Slightly paraphrasing one of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s quotes, speaking a different language entails a different perception of the world, thus rendering the limits of this perception primarily linguistic.

As such, when you try to communicate your brand, promote your products or services and engage with your potential clientele, you need to make sure you connect with them with content that is meaningful to them and has the same effect on the different locales as your original content would in your domestic market. To achieve this, you should not settle for just translating your content, but rather go one step further opting for the more creative services of localization, transcreation or even native copywriting which will transform your content into winning material.

Recent findings presented in a Common Sense Advisory report show that 87% of non-English speakers don’t buy products or services on English-language websites, and at the same time 55% of the respondents make purchases only on websites where information is available in their language. If the internet is your channel for sales keep this in mind, along with the fact that out of the 4,1 billion internet users worldwide just 25% of them are native English speakers (Internet World Stats, data as of Dec 31, 2017). This means that in order to connect with the remaining 75% of those users, build a trustworthy profile of your brand for them and convert them to loyal customers and advocates, you need to make sure you become “local” and engage with them in an authentic and culturally appropriate way.

China demonstrates one of the fastest growing e-commerce sales share over the total domestic retail sales, currently at 20% compared to just over 10% globally. This fact, combined with the figure of over 800 million Chinese-speaking internet users, surely renders the Chinese market an alluring target for sales expansion. However, if you fail to make your content, product information and customer support accessible to them, providing those in their language, this share of the market will remain unconquerable for you but will certainly be conquerable for those who decide to invest in a “local” identity in exchange for a promising ROI.

If you are wondering whether China would be an appropriate market for you, website traffic and big data analytics as well as market stats can help you identify opportunities in different geographies and make informed decisions not only about which markets to turn to, but also about the media and the content that would be more effective for reaching out successfully to your target audiences.

According to HubSpot Content Trends Survey Q3 2017, Latin America has the highest preference for video content (64%, compared to an average of 54% applicable to other regions) when it comes to choosing their favorite brands. So, if you are looking into an expansion in the Mexican market, aim for producing some quality videos as part of your content marketing strategy, to increase your brand awareness and the visibility of your products or services. And to ensure those videos get the attention of as many prospects within your target locale as possible, think about investing in audiovisual translation in the form of subtitling or even better dubbing, given that the latter is most common in Spanish-speaking countries.

Of course, such a process of becoming local in order to go global requires a certain budget to cover the costs of translation, localization, transcreation, subtitling or dubbing, depending on the type of content you choose to use for connecting with a foreign audience. But without that, your efforts to create great content for a new market may go unnoticed if they are not combined with equal efforts to make that content linguistically and culturally accessible. And in some cases, the cost may not even be as high as you think, especially if you have already some translations in hand which could perhaps be re-used or even re-purposed for your marketing campaign or your multilingual website or a post on your social media.

While the trend is for companies to go global, one should always keep in mind that people around the world are similar but different, and the differences they present are usually those that matter. As such, those differences should be respected, embraced and reflected in all attempts that the companies make when they aim at establishing true, original and meaningful connections with audiences in different locales.

Follow the big money: Making your brand successful in Japan

by Yuko Baba, Project Manager at Commit

September 7th, 2013 – it was a happy day for Japan. The country elated over the news that Japan will host the 2020 Olympic games. The expected cost of throwing this world’s largest party is reported to be 3 trillion yen (over 26 billion in USD), and currently, the city of Tokyo is undergoing major (I mean, MAJOR!) development to build its infrastructure to support this event and to welcome the participants and the visitors from all over the world.

It is a BIG deal – not only because of the resources that are pouring into this 16-days-summer event, but also because of its history. It has been more than a half century since the last summer Olympics was held in this city. In 1964, Tokyo was the first city among Asian countries to host the Olympic games, for which the city went through a huge renovation of its infrastructure. They developed Shinkansen (the bullet trains), highways and sport arenas. Prior to this event, the city had unsuccessfully bid for the summer Olympics in 1940 and 1960. After the first Tokyo Olympics in 1964, for a long time, the city was absent from this bidding affair until the voting in 2009 for the 2016 Olympics. The city has been planning and preparing for the 2020 Olympics for more than 9 years and counting.

Enough said, so it is a huge event in Japan for its people; but, what does that have to do with the rest of us – beside our patriotism to root for our own countries? According to the research by Bank of Japan (BOJ Reports & Research Papers, December 2015), they estimated the number of visitors during this event will be over 920 thousand per day. The numbers of visitors are steadily increasing in Japan since 2011, and if this trend continues, Japan will have over 33 million visitors in 2020. Basically, a whole lot of people are expected to be visiting Japan from now until 2020.

Where there is increase in the number of visitors, naturally, the consumption will follow suite.  This is the very reason why Tokyo decided to take on this huge gamble – to boost its on-going deflated economy via tourism and development. Yes, it is a gamble – with the huge bill to be paid for this one summer event; however, the city of Tokyo is very much optimistic. They estimated its economic growth to be 32.3 trillion yen (over 286 billion USD) and 1.94 million jobs will be created until 2030 (Article issued by Nikkei Asian Review External Trade, March 7th, 2017). So, yup, that is big money. Interestingly, the foreign-owned enterprises started establishing their entities in Japan, and the number tripled since 2014 according to a report by Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). Could this be the “Olympic effect”? We will probably find out in the next few years. One thing is certain – Japan is one of the “hot” countries that many industries are looking into right now.

The question is, are they ready to jump into the Japanese market? It is said to be one of the toughest markets, one you cannot simply approach with the one-size-fits-all marketing. A lot of successful foreign companies have come into Japan and failed miserably over the years – Carrrefour (France), Tesco(England), IHOP(USA), Boots(England), Old Navy(USA), Au Printemps(France) and Haagen-Dazs(USA) to mention a few. All of them are quite successful in their own and other countries; however, they did not quite make it in Japan. On the other hand, the major toy company, Toys”R”Us and Babys”R”Us who filed for bankruptcy in 2017 is still very much alive and doing well in Japan(Toys”R”Us Asia Limited), since it opened its first store in December 1991. That itself speaks of how different the market really is.

To be successful, you cannot just put your top-of-the-line popular products in the store and expect long-lasting revenue. Don’t get me wrong. It is not that Japanese people do not like foreign things. In fact, they do, but it just does not last long. A good example of this is Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. When they first opened, people lined up for hours, literally, HOURS! The first Krispy Kreme Doughnuts store in Japan had 7 hours waiting time. Yup, 7 hours to get a doughnut. However, now they are closing a lot of stores, and the company has been in the red for the past 3 years. The new CEO, Takako Wakatsuki, is switching gears to revive this business.

The successful companies seem to have common practices that crossover the industry types – selling something that’s specific to Japan. Starbucks is famous for adapting to Japanese culture introducing the flavors and looks that are suitable for the Japanese market. Take a look at the difference between Starbucks US and Japan’s new Frappuccinos for Halloween.

   Photo from Starbucks US and Starbucks Japan websites

Japanese Frappuccino uses more food-like natural colors, whereas the US version uses very vivid purple and green which can be perceived as unhealthy and not tasty to many Japanese people. In fact, Krispy Kreme is trying to revive its business using the same methods as Starbucks by developing less sweet doughnuts and more photogenic doughnuts to appeal to the Japanese market. The word “Insta-Bae” (which means Instagenic) was selected to be the Keyword of the Year in 2017. Japanese people are crazy about reporting their new experiences (especially food related) on Instagram. If the product is Insta-worthy, it generates popularity.

Photo from Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Japan website

                Another key to success is to work together with Japanese partners and let them lead the way. The reason Toys”R”Us Asia Limited has survived the stiff competition of Amazon.com so far is because they have a very different business model from the way the US company was run. They, in fact, are increasing their number of stores, which at the first glance, doesn’t make sense. However, their strategy is such that unlike the usual large size store, they minimized the store space by more than 70-80%. With this limited space, the numbers of displays will be limited which drives them to select the most interesting toys and high-quality, easy to use nursery items to display for the customers to experience at the store. Basically, their stores now function as a showroom for their internet stores rather than a warehouse to store the products for sales which is what caused the US company to lose to their competition.

Photo from Toys”R”Us Asian Limited website

                The uniqueness of the product lines and business models will not take off if there’s no marketing effort to promote its business. One of the backbones of the successful launch in the Japanese market will be localization – whether it’s a product specification or menus to marketing collateral, good localization practices cannot be separated from a successful business. When it comes to the client-facing reading materials, there is no space for errors. Japanese expect nothing short of perfection – that is the standard. The right expressions need to be used depending on the context (e.g., Formal and informal expression). Good quality localization will not only help to highlight your products and smoothen communication, but it should also boost your company image overall which is the gateway to winning people’s trust! Here are some tips for Japanese translation:

  1. Flow of language is very important. When translating from English to Japanese, the language often loses the natural flow due to the grammatical differences between these two languages. Make sure the translation is not literal translation; otherwise, it will end up sounding like a very “suspicious” translation to a lot of Japanese readers.
  2. What tone would you like to use? Japanese business terminology and colloquial terminology varies and so do expressions (formal and informal). Within the formal expression (called Keigo), it can be divided into 3 categories: Sonkei-go(Respectful language), Kenjyo-go(Humble language) and Teinei-go(Polite language). It is very important to decide the tone prior to the project and to know to whom the document is being addressed.
  3. Create glossary and terminology prior to project. Japanese have 3 writing styles – Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. They also use Roma-ji (which is basically the alphabets). Prior to proceeding with the actual translation project, decide the key terms and determine how it will be translated.
  4. Always have a second pair of eyes or more to check the translations. This means, you need to have extra time set aside for the review which is definitely needed as language is very subjective and with many rules in Japanese..

                So here we are at the end of 2018 and less than two years until the Olympics. If your company has been considering to join the party (and share of the potentially huge pie), now might be the right time!

Our first time at SATT!

by Giannis Nistas, Linguist at Commit

The 6th edition of the School of Advanced Technologies for Translators (SATT) took place on September 14-15 in Milan, Italy, on the premises of the International University of Languages and Media (IULM). It was attended by 120 participants, with 20% of them coming from abroad. Also, more than 50% of the participants work in the language industry.

Organized by the Bruno Kessler Foundation, this year’s school revolved around Machine Translation (MT) and other advanced technologies for translators, with lectures and labs spanning across two days, and speakers coming from the realms of research, academia, and the language industry itself. The first day was dedicated to lectures, whereas on the second day we received hands-on training in the university labs.

The keynote lectures were given by Sharon O’Brien and Renato Beninatto. The former, coming from the academia, tried to include MT and the skills associated with it into different translation competence models, and set some food-for-thought questions about how to fit MT in the training of translators and how to future-proof their careers. The latter, an industry veteran with extraordinary communication skills, provided us with an overview of the translation technology landscape with particular reference to developments in MT. His lecture was enhanced by personal experiences as well as tips for translators he shared with us.

Researchers Marco Turchi and Luisa Bentivogli introduced us to MT and MT quality evaluation respectively. Turchi gave us a detailed presentation of how Phrase-Based Machine Translation (PBMT) and Neural Machine Translation (NMT) systems work and drew comparisons on the performance of the two approaches. Bentivogli discussed about the importance of MT quality evaluation in deciding whether to use MT or not, and which system to select. She also described the various evaluation methods along with their pros and cons.

Industry people Tony O’Dowd, Laura Rossi and Konstantin Savenkov talked about KantanMT, a use case of MT in patents, and MT evaluation from an industry perspective respectively. All three lectures provided useful insights around MT.

The lecture day came to an end with a panel discussion among Renato Beninatto (moderator), Diego Cresceri, Tony O’Dowd, Laura Rossi, Paloma Valenciano (panelists). All active industry professionals shared their points of view about what skills translators should possess in our highly technologized industry.

During the labs we had the opportunity to attend hands-on courses on SDL Trados Studio 2019, MateCat, Smartcat, BootCat and MultiTerm, as well as focus on MT post-editing requirements and practical tips. I attended a lab on post-editing with Smartcat (led by Diego Cresceri), and another one on the use of such terminology tools as BootCat and MultiTerm (led by Claudia Lecci).

Overall, I enjoyed both days of the SATT 2018, was impressed by the passion of all my colleagues for our job, was excited to meet interesting people from our industry, and got to know as much of the wonderful city of Milan as I could on foot!

Congratulations to all those involved in the school’s organization!

I am looking forward to attending the SATT 2019 edition!

Are You a Hard Worker or a Smart Worker?

Working hard

by Katerina Pippou, Linguist at Commit

The translation industry can be innovative and exciting but like many other industries that work around demanding deadlines and heavy workloads, it can result in stressful situations and long working hours. As scientific research on occupational health and safety suggests, working non-stop increases stress levels, causes mental fatigue and physical pain, and even increases the risk of occupational injury or illness. Some lifestyle studies have shown that shorter vacation is associated with worse general health in midlife and higher mortality rates in old age, and that more vacation results in greater productivity and success at work, lower stress and more happiness at work and home. Of course, we don’t need science to prove the impact of working long hours and not taking time off from work on our health and everyday life; it’s something many of us experience, either directly or indirectly, every single day.

The good news is that we live in 2018! We have technology on our side: advanced technology that is constantly changing the way we communicate and work, offering us amazing new possibilities virtually every day. The other important thing is that we see a great mindset shift towards more flexible ways of working: more and more businesses (like Commit) are embracing flexible working, offering their employees the freedom to choose a working arrangement that suits best their lifestyle. So, who is to blame about overtime work or lack of vacation?

Ask yourself the following questions and let your own answers guide your way through a smarter way of working that will allow you to be more productive while working less (and that is whether you work in the translation industry or not!):

  • Is your way of working still working? We are creatures of habit, which means that we develop habits and routines that stay with us for a lifetime. As things change a little too fast in the translation industry, maybe we need to rethink how we work.
  • Are you putting up with stuff and waiting for the perfect moment to solve it or change it? If there’s a problematic situation that holds your work back and doesn’t allow you to perform at your best, probably there is no better time to act on it than now.
  • Do you feel overwhelmed by your inbox? Don’t worry, there are several things you can do to avoid an inbox that’s out of control, like dealing with emails as soon as they arrive or at set times only, clearing your inbox and filing your messages every day, sending less messages and more.
  • Does multitasking help you get things done faster or does it drive half-and-half results? Brain science indicates that we are more effective when handling one task at a time. Scientists may know better than translators.
  • Is this ‘always on’ thing a good thing? The chances are that being connected 24/7 won’t drive inspired action, nor boost your productivity. Just like any electronic device, our brain cannot function properly when it’s switched on all day long. We need to disconnect, shut down, take some time to rest and cool down, and then restart.
  • Are you aware of what is urgent or important or both? As most of the time we have to deal with too many unspecified urgent requests, our sense of urgency becomes so overloaded, to the extend that we cannot recognize the important stuff. Maybe it’s time to reassess urgency.
  • Are there any projects that you feel you cannot accomplish on your own? If you feel you are not good enough at something or that you don’t have enough time for something, don’t panic! You can always ask your colleagues for help, assign tasks to the right people in your team, and deal with projects that you feel more confident with.
  • Do you have enough resources available as the workload is increasing? Do you have the right resources at all times? Is there a backup team for your backup team? If not, you may often find yourself busy being busy.

How translation affects our information and entertainment

by Eleftheria Tigka, Vendor Manager at Commit

When I started learning English, I enjoyed reading UK teenage magazines immensely, considering them to be the cornerstone of information regarding the ways of the world. I even imagined translating and selling them to the Greek public.

Little did I know that translation was a global business, affecting billions of people. According to Common Sense Advisory, more than seven billion people live in nearly 200 countries and speak about 7,000 languages, making the language sector a 43 billion dollar business.

Impressive as it is, translation affects the way we are informed and entertained, one way or another.

Most pieces of information go through translation every day to be broadcasted by international Media, playing an indispensable role in exchanges between different cultures, and translation becomes a vehicle for intercultural dialogues. Accurate news, original information, points of view, comments, opinions and articles on politics, economy, society, and sports, are all translated so that the world can be better informed. It all goes back to the age when the messenger arrived to bring the news of what had happened in the next kingdom. Nowadays, the media play a crucial role in communicating to the public what happens in the world, going hand in hand with translation. People tend to think that all international exchanges are carried out in English, but this is not the case. Globalization has made more explicit the complexities of any communication, and the ability to observe, analyze and judge is required.

Furthermore, movies, TV series and video games require translation to reach their intended recipients. Our world is better, more colorful and interesting through all these means of entertainment. Imagine if you had no access to your favorite videogame or the latest blockbuster due to lack of translation. With 155 million gamers in the United States alone, the need for translation is on the rise.

After all, since much of our perception of the world depends on the entertainment we are exposed to, the importance of translation in entertainment is becoming obvious.

Last but not least, translation of literary works (novels, plays, short stories, poems, etc.) is of great importance. Be it the plays of Aeschylus, the poetry of Homer or the oeuvres of JeanJacques Rousseau, and, in recent times the fiction of J. K. Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien, they have all become integral parts of our world, shaping the way we think, the way we act and react, who we are and who we aspire to become.

Therefore, the next time you lose yourself in a novel or you play your favorite videogame with your little son, the next time you read the newspaper online or you catch the news on TV, please bear in mind that all this could be the product of translation, and that none of it would be available to you, to any of us, if translation had not played its part.

Translation is expensive; why don’t we use Google Translate instead?

by Tasos Tzounis, Project Manager at Commit

We all had texts that needed translation at some point in our lives.

In those cases, certain questions have arisen:

  • How much will it cost?
  • Will it be good but also affordable?
  • Will I have it on time, at a low price and in excellent quality?

While searching for the best solution, there are various alternatives to choose from, in an effort to settle on either the most affordable one or the one meeting our needs. But do we have all the necessary information to end up with an informed decision?

Those who are familiar with the Internet and its capabilities know Google Translate. Google Translate is a Google service that provides a translation of words or sentences from and to almost all languages. You just type or paste your text in the appropriate field and then choose the source and target languages. It has become such a large part of our lives that we have all heard the following phrases in some wording or another: “I’ll look it up on Google Translate”; “why don’t you use Google Translate?”; “translating a simple text is very expensive, so I’ll do it myself, and with Google Translate I will pull it off”; “why do translators ask for so much money since there is Google Translate?”. If we explore the subject more closely, there is a large percentage of buyers believing that translators either use Google Translate or mistake Google Translate for translation memories. And the question remains: why pay for translators when there is Google Translate? Can it take the place of a professional translator?

In recent years, due to the reduction in cost and delivery time, considerable progress has been made in the training of translation engines, growing the demand for automatic translation. But can this become a reality? In fact, the translation quality of Google Translate has improved quite a lot, particularly in language combinations that are widely-spoken, such as French or English, and remarkably when the target language is English. But what happens with not so widely spoken languages or languages ​​with complex grammar and syntax? Greek, for example, uses cases, specific rules and demonstrates peculiarities that at this moment a computer cannot work out on its own. Also, in many languages one word has more than one meaning or changes its meaning depending on the syntax; and this is where the famous Google Translate falls short compared to a professional translator.

Many now realize that Google Translate is not the solution and that the automatic translation it provides cannot replace the human factor. Nevertheless, the issue of cost and time remains, and many claim that translation should be performed with Google Translate and then get edited by a translator. However, this solution also seems ineffective. Most of the times, for the reasons mentioned above, the translator ends up translating from scratch and, of course, being remunerated for translation and not editing services. The cost then is the same for the client and significant time has been needlessly spent with pointless experiments.

But what happens when the text to be translated is technical and contains legal, economic, or medical terminology? Can Google Translate detect the corresponding terms and render them properly in the target language in order to create a meaningful text that has cohesion and coherence? Can it inspire the same trust as a translator? In these texts, the terminology is specific and often provided by the client. In other cases, the translator has compiled a terminology library from previous projects. Google Translate doesn’t have the ability to integrate this terminology. Besides, most of the times it fails to render these terms correctly or understand if a word refers to a Product Name or a Trademark that doesn’t need to be translated. Therefore, with texts that require particular attention and baffle even an experienced translator, the use of Google Translate is lurking dangers. Medical reports or case studies do not leave room for mistakes. The use of Google Translate for cost reduction might not be prudent as the consequences of an error exceed the cost of a translation by a professional. In every transaction, there is trust that is built over time. So, when we have a technical text, we have to do research, assess translators and choose the right person for the job. Especially in cases where more than one text needs to be translated, and we have to reach out to a translator many times, we need to choose the most suitable one that will meet our needs; something that is impossible with Google Translate as we cannot trust it blindly.

Another drawback of this “all-in-one translation engine” is that it cannot follow any instructions provided. Technical texts are usually accompanied by several directives, such as the translation or not of measurement units, chemical compounds etc. In these cases, a specialized translator outweighs Google Translate for the following reason: the translator can also perform research while Google Translate memorizes terms and places them in the text without understanding their meaning or the outcome created by this “mishmash”.

However, the main issue of using Google Translate is confidentiality. Working with a translator, the customer ensures the privacy of their personal data through contracts. This is not the case with Google Translate since Google keeps the data collected in the event you choose to download, send or store the content of your file and has the right to use and reproduce your text. This is also clear in Google’s terms of service:

“When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide licence to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.” Lastly, the use of Google Translate does not only affect the translation outcome in terms of quality, but it also raises copyright issues as it can be modified and republished.

Having explored the negative points of Google Translate, in my opinion it has one very positive aspect. It can be used as a dictionary to search for individual words as it provides a variety of interpretations. When searching for the translation of a term, it offers more than one rendering. Also, the translations of individual terms are correct, and surprisingly it seems to be more comprehensive than other online dictionaries. However, it cannot be used as a CAT TOOL or a translation memory, but it works perfectly as a multilingual online dictionary.

In conclusion, automatic translation is indeed free, but it has not yet succeeded in replacing the value and quality of a human translation. We will just have to wait and see what the future holds!

In-country Review: a must, a pain or both?

by Clio Schils, Chief Development Officer at Commit

When we look at the history of the process of translation and localization, primarily at the quality assurance step, we have come a very long way in the past 3 decades. I vividly remember a story from a good friend and now retired localization manager from a medical company. He mentioned to me that when he started running the translations for that company, the team literally had to “cut – with scissors – and paste” pieces of text for reuse into new updated versions of manuals. The content was then finalized with new to be translated text. The new text was translated and “more or less” reviewed back then as well, but one can imagine the challenges and risks of such a process.

The concept of Quality Assurance since then has been further developed, refined and optimized by industry stakeholders on client and vendor side, and the process of refinement is still ongoing: translation software programs have emerged and are still emerging, QA standards are being implemented, numerous commercial QA tools are being marketed and sold to those who understand that high quality is key. Still, in addition to all the tools and standards, there is one historical component in the process that is still there and offers the essential added value to any QA process, the human reviewer.

We all know that the essence of good translated output is a well-written source, the known “garbage in, garbage out” theory. However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume we have a translation that was based on a perfect source. We now move to the next step in the process, the review. Leaving aside the question “why we need a review in the first place, when we have a “perfect” translation, since it was based on a perfect source?” we go straight to the review step itself.

There are many criteria that co-define the type or depth of a review. As a rule of thumb, one could say that the higher the risk impact of a wrong translation, the more in-depth review is required. A mal-functioning vacuum-cleaner will not have the same impact as a wrong interpretation due to a bad translation of a patient’s medical-technical manual. In the latter case, a mistake in instructions could potentially have fatal consequences. Therefore, the in-country review is a must.

As per the example above, the in-country subject matter expert review is mandatory for highly regulated content “to the extent possible”. This step is conducted after the linguistic review by a subject matter expert. The emphasis lies on the technical aspects, functioning, use and terminology of the product rather than the linguistic elements.

Unfortunately, the in-country review step is not without challenges:

  1. The ideal subject matter reviewer is the in-country expert on client side. In most cases, these experts have other responsibilities and reviewing product content comes on top of their core responsibilities. It is a challenging act to balance.
  2. More and more “exotic” languages are required. Clients and buyers of translation services do not always have experts readily available in these countries.
  3. The limited availability of expert reviewers poses challenges on the overall TAT of a translation project and could endanger market release date of a client’s product.
  4. High turn-over among in-country reviewers of some companies, lead to longer lead times and potentially less reuse efficiencies due to differences of opinion regarding translations.

There are ways to ease the pain to some extent, some of which are:

  1. facilitate the process by providing specific proofreading guidelines and by providing validated “do-not-touch” technical glossaries. This will also be useful in cases of an instable reviewer pool.
  2. come up with other ways to execute this important step, i.e. use of specialized third party in-country review companies, use of the best specialized linguists who are being offered product training to master the features and function of the product.
  3. allow for reasonable time to execute a specific subject matter review task and document these pre-agreed lead times in a binding SLA, for example “up to 10k words, review time 3 working days”. When the generous deadline is not met, the project manager has the go-ahead to continue the process without any repercussions.

Finally, to summarize the answer to the question “In-country Review: a must, a pain or both?”. My answer is “both”, but the job needs to be done. Even today, and despite the challenges, an in-country review by a highly qualified subject matter expert offers a substantial contribution to the process. It will not only reflect on the overall quality of content but also on the company’s branding and reputation. Translated product documentation remains a very powerful marketing tool. It allows for deeper local market penetration thus bringing the product within reach of local end-users.

Does technology threaten translation?

by Dina Kessaniotou, Project Coordinator at Commit

The question of whether technology threatens translation depends on many different factors, and, basically, on how people conceive its purpose. The answer is indissolubly tied to how effectively the involved parties can leverage its advantages, identify its disadvantages and set the limits.

If we take a step back and consider when technology first impacted the translation process, we will be able to see the big benefits it has brought about: the broad use of the Internet, even if not a translation-specific tool, resulted to a tremendous change in translation, compared to the old-fashioned, paper-based ways, in terms of quantity, speed and quality in search. There was an exponential increase in the volumes of information available to linguists. Search became much easier and much more effective, as huge amounts of data, with multiple possibilities of customization, were made instantly and directly accessible.

At a later stage, translation-specific technology, namely the CAT tools, offered many valuable advantages to all players of the translation production cycle. Linguists were able to accumulate their knowledge and previous research effort, store it and organize it in a way they could easily retrieve and reuse it in the future. They could therefore eliminate repetitive work, increase their speed, reduce turnaround times for their clients and, of course, keep consistency – one of the most painful tasks in many types of content. This means savings in time and costs for all involved parties in the translation process. This also means ability to focus on brand new content. As there are still huge volumes of untranslated content, clients will normally be more willing to push this content into production in the near future. This is what happened during the last few years and will probably continue to happen, given that major providers in different fields of specialization have realized the importance of localization. Based on the above, translation technology is clearly a faster way to growth.

The natural evolution of CAT tools was the development of Machine Translation systems. At this point, and especially at the earliest stages of the development, the usefulness of technology started to be questioned. Many linguists thought it really threatened translation as it aimed to replace the human brain. In fact, there is still no machine that can catch all nuances and intangible elements of a language and adapt them in a different language. Even the more “flat” texts evoke specific feelings and emotions that should be properly conceived and transferred. So there is no way for machines to “threaten” translation. This doesn’t mean that the MT technology can’t be fruitful, especially if linguists are constantly involved in the MT development. Instead of being skeptical about machines, we should rather make them work for us. What might need to change is the way linguists offer their knowledge. Some years ago, it might have been difficult to perceive how CAT tools would increase efficiency and profitability, not only for clients but also for linguists. Nowadays, a considerable part of linguists cannot imagine their lives without tools.

The fundamental purpose of technology is to be continuously aligned with the challenges of the market and contribute dynamically to the linguists’ efforts for high quality services – and not just to cut costs by delivering automated results in one step. The only thing that can downgrade its usefulness is the lack of understanding of its real mission. When used effectively, technology can bring exclusively positive results and is really a valuable and profitable investment for all involved parties.