Tag Archives: translation

ELIA ND Vienna in review

by Vasso Pouli, CEO at Commit

This was a short trip – Wednesday afternoon flight to Vienna and Friday evening flight back!

Short but intense, with five theme tracks and many interesting speakers!

Amongst our personal favorites were the business success stories and the soft skills tracks. Also, for the first time, we saw dedicated IT and Interpreting tracks which we think are a great addition to the ELIA ND arsenal!

Day 1 in the business success stories track was all about self-awareness!

The kick start was stimulating with the Kaleidoscope team, Annita and Klaus, and Bob Donaldson presenting the EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) model and how it is being implemented in the Viennese LSC. Well, therapists have been discussing the importance of self-awareness and acceptance (of self and others) for years, but ‘therapy’ seems to be more easily implemented at a business level (smirk). What Annita, Klaus and Bob taught us is that Visionaries need to accept their creative but chaotic self and look for consistency and accountability through execution in their Integrator counterpart. Well, it is a lengthy process but Annita and Klaus seem to have found their match, thanks to Bob!

As if that was not therapeutic enough for the first day, Industry Expert Roberto Ganzerli shared the 50+ mistakes he did in LSC management from day one of founding his company to the day of signing its sale. The most important lessons learnt: take a good look at the mirror, acknowledge what you can and cannot do, ask for help and delegate to people that can do it better than you. That sounds like a true leader, don’t you think?

In the IT department, Konstantin Dranch talked about the “Connector Game” and how LSCs can take advantage of some IT tweaks, connecting TMS with client CMS and gain a competitive advantage.

Which brings us to Day 2.

Luiza Szafrańska from Argos Multilingual introduced us the eight Melbin team roles and shared some rather interesting insights on the impact each can have in team allocation. While Luiza was presenting the characteristics of each, it was fascinating how we, attendees, were profiling not only ourselves but also our colleagues and peers. And only a few hours later, we all had a déjà vu moment at Paul McManus session on competence-based management and the DiSC® approach.

The presentation by Andrew Hickson, Ludejo’s Marketing Manager, was a riveting story from Ireland to the Netherlands, from childhood to adulthood, from pub owner to marketing manager in a loc agency, and from loc employee to leader!

Last but not least, keeping in line with Day 1 therapy, the session hosted by Gabriela Lemoine and Jesper Sandberg can certainly be categorized under an “LSC Anonymous” track. Both hosts – and many attendees – shared their personal/family stories regarding their businesses but “what’s shared in Vienna, stays in Vienna”!

And it all comes together once again to testify to and validate that we are a people industry!

We definitely look forward to meeting our shrinks friends and colleagues next year somewhere in the Netherlands!

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.

Back to “human”

by Vasso Pouli, CEO at Commit

This is not a usual newsletter entry, it will not be about a specific localization subject nor a very informative or educational one. It is more of a ‘putting-my-thoughts-to-writing’ piece which however are open for questioning and debate by you, the readers.

There were two instances that sparked this idea, a funny one and a rather sad one; but let me start with the funny one and see whether we will get to the sad one.

For those of you who don’t know me, I have a rather strong-minded but cute 3-year-old daughter whose Christmas gift request was ‘Chatty’, a robot penguin. Well, Chatty has a pre-installed set of instructions which it acknowledges using voice recognition SW and acts accordingly. Chatty is a nice penguin with very funny responses and pre-recorded messages and every time we turned it on, we had a blast, but that was only as long as an adult voiced the instructions, i.e. when Chatty said ‘I am hungry’, we said ‘Eat’ and then there were a bunch of funny chewing sounds and Chatty thanking us for its delicious dinner and asking for a drink, and you can imagine how the story goes… But everything fell apart when my daughter wanted to boss it around being the one to be voicing the orders. At the age of 3, well… let’s just say that she has not yet mastered the art of clear articulation, and instead of ‘Stop’ she uttered ‘thtop’ or thought that it would be nice of her to add its name in the question i.e. ‘How are you, Chatty?’ or be even nicer and ask politely by adding ‘please’ in the order. Chatty was having trouble understanding her and either said, very successfully I may add, that she did not make sense or that she had not eaten her food and she did not speak loud or clear enough. At first, she was troubled and insisted, but then she was concerned, then angry because she could not understand why being polite did not have the expected outcome in this case nor what she was saying wrong when she uttered ‘thtop’ instead of ‘stop’. So now poor Chatty sits deactivated on the top shelf of her drawer wishing, I imagine, it could interact more or better with her, as this would be more fun. Right, Chatty…?

And you are probably wondering why I am saying all this… Well, we are in the era of Amazon deliveries with drones and instant service, we interact with machines all the more often, probably much more than we do with people, and we have a reason for doing so; it is easier, it is transactional, it is quick, so quick we have no time to actually mentally process it, and this makes it automatic. And automation is good, it saves us time, it frees our hands from the mundane and procedural tasks supposedly allowing us to deal with the more creative and challenging ones. But are we up to the task? This would require inspiration, interpersonal interaction and cooperation. How can we achieve this when we expect humans to communicate in a pre-conditioned manner and we condition both our words and our actions in order to trigger the expected outcome?

At the end of the day, when neither of the recorded options in a voice service suits our question, when our instantly generated invoice has the wrong information, when we accidentally press the wrong button and everything crashes, when we want a cafe latte with double shot of espresso, low fat milk, Stevia instead of sugar and a straw -even though it is  a hot drink-, we need to talk to a person, to an actual human being. Only they can be insightful, flexible, creative and add meaning and value to our interaction, and only then can we be genuine, can we be ourselves, even if we may not utter clearly enough or even if we are more verbose or polite than what would be expected.

We are all striving for a leaner, more automated and streamlined workflow, but what if we strived for more meaningful human interactions, where every ‘ping’ has its equal and corresponding ‘pong’ instead of the same mundane stereotypical preconditioned automated ‘ping’, ‘ping’, ‘ping’.

And why don’t we leave the sad story for another time?

What do you think?

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.

ELIA Together 2018 – In review!

by Effie Salourou, Customer Operations Manager at Commit

ELIA Together, the premium event that brings together language service companies and freelance linguists took place last week and we couldn’t have been more excited! You see, it was hosted in our hometown, Athens, and we got to welcome and meet old and new business partners, colleagues and friends.

The venue

The event was hosted at the Megaron Athens International Conference Centre (MAICC) that is undoubtedly a stunning, state-of-the-art venue for conferences and events. With three different halls covering the three different tracks of the conference (Specialisation, Trends and Technology), there was a session for each taste!

The food

You can’t go wrong with Greek food! The menu on both days included fresh salads, mouth-watering appetizers, typical dishes for meat lovers, lots of options for vegetarians, and luscious desserts!

The program

The theme for the third edition of Together was Specialise to Excel and had 31 different sessions. Here are some of the sessions that we managed to attend:

  • Óscar Jiménez Serrano gave the keynote speech on Technology disruption in translation and interpreting mentioning a lot of successful examples (and some not so successful ones) from his personal career.
  • Wolfgang Steinhauer’s session had a very intriguing title as he promised to show us how to drastically increase our productivity in order to manage to translate 10.000 words per day! His method and point of view was very interesting, and this is something that we will definitely investigate further.
  • Another informative session was the one presented by Sarah Henter, which was an introduction to clinical trials. She focused on what makes the linguistic work on clinical trials so special, what kind of texts and target audiences there are and what knowledge linguists need to acquire in order to efficiently work in this area.
  • Josephine Burmester and Jessica Mann gave a presentation on Marketing localization and the complexities of this field. They gave very vivid examples taken from the German advertising industry and showed us how something global can become local (or not!).
  • Daniela Zambrini focused on the purposes of Simplified Technical English, illustrating the structure of the ASD-STE100 Specification and its advantages for translators and technical authors. This session was quite interactive since at the end we had to re-write sentences according to the Specification.
  • If you wanted to learn more about patent translation, you had to attend Timothy Hodge’s presentation called “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to translate patents”. Showing interesting facts and examples from our everyday life, he gave us an insight on the life of a patent translator and also gave us some tricks for finding and using the right terminology for translating a patent document.
  • This year, Commit presented a session as well! Our CEO Vasso Pouli addressed an important point about specialisation: the huge value we can add by combining vertical, task and technology knowledge. She made an interesting point by showing how we can expand our localization services by adding new skills to our portfolio.

Our booth/our team

Commit had a booth and we got to showcase our new corporate image and marketing material. We got to meet and greet lots of familiar faces as well as new business contacts that we hope will lead to fruitful collaborations. We would like to thank everyone who visited our booth and of course the ELIA organization that made this conference possible. Ευχαριστώ!

Linguistic validation services in the Life Sciences localization industry

by Nicola Kotoulia, Project Coordinator at Commit

Among the multiple specialized localization services available in the Life Sciences sector we also come across those referred to as Cognitive debriefing, Backtranslation & Reconciliation and Readability testing. How familiar are you with these methods? What does each mean, why is it required and what does it entail?

Translation errors can change the meaning of important content in clinical trial settings resulting in medical complications or the rejection of an entire clinical research project. Ambiguity in translated health questionnaires or instruments can mean that items or questions can be interpreted in more than one way, jeopardizing patient safety and clinical trial data integrity. Unclear and hard to use translated drug leaflets mean that users may not be able to take safe and accurate decisions about their medicines.

In order to help avoid such hazards, IRBs, medical ethical committees, regulatory authorities and applicable legislation require that validation methods in accordance with FDA and ISPOR (International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research) guidelines are put in place for translated documentation, such as Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs), Clinician Reported Outcomes (ClinROs), Quality of Life (QOL) questionnaires and package leaflets (PL) of medicinal products.

Cognitive debriefing (also known as pilot testing) is a qualitative method for assessing respondents’ interpretation of an assessment, using a small sample of patients. It helps determine if the respondents understand the questionnaire the same as the original would be understood and tests the level of comprehension of a translation by the target audience. The goal is to ensure that data collected from PROs can be comparable across various language groups used during trials. Steps of the process include:

  • Developing a debriefing protocol tailored to the target questionnaires/instruments, subject pool, mode of administration, anticipated problem items etc.
  • Recruiting respondents including in-country professionals experienced in interviewing techniques and patients that match the target population.
  • Conducting the interview (in person or otherwise) during which respondents complete the questionnaire/instrument and answer questions to explain their understanding of each question or item. They restate in their own words what they think each translated item means. This way the interviewer discovers errors and difficulties and locates points that are confusing or misunderstood.
  • Generating a report with demographic and medical details of the interviewees, a detailed account of patients’ understanding of all items, including information about the number of subjects interviewed, their age, time for completing the task and any difficulties that came up. It may also include investigator recommendations or solutions for resolving confusion or difficulties.
  • Review and finalization during which a project manager checks the reports completeness, and ensures that the detected problems are addressed by making revisions as needed for clear, precise and well understood final translations.
  • Creation of summary report where the service provider details the methodology used, as well as the results of the cognitive debriefing.

Backtranslation and reconciliation is a very effective and stringent process that provides additional quality and accuracy assurance for sensitive content, such as Informed Consent Forms (ICFs), questionnaires, surveys and PROs used in clinical trials. It is a process for checking the faithfulness of the target text against the source, focusing mainly on the conceptual and cultural equivalence and less on the linguistic equivalence.

In a back translation, the translated content (forward translation) is translated back into the original language by a separate independent translator. The back translator must be a native speaker of the source language and have excellent command of the target language. He/She should stick more closely to the source that he/she would for a regular translation to accurately reflect the forward translator’s choices, without attempting to explain or clarify confusing statements or to produce a “polished” output.

The next step, “reconciliation”, refers to the process of noting any differences in meaning between the two source versions. The original text is compared to the back translated text and any discrepancies are recorded in a discrepancy report. Discrepancies may be due to ambiguity in the source text, errors introduced by the forward translator, or back translation errors. The reconciler flags issues such as differences in meaning, inconsistent/incorrect terminology, unsuitable register, missing/added information, ambiguities or errors in the backtranslation. Several back and forth between the linguists may be needed to reconcile the versions so that edits and adjustments are made as needed to optimize the final translation.

Readability testing in the fields of pharmaceutics qualifies that the medical information contained in the drug leaflet is usable by potential users of the medication, that is, that they can understand and act upon the information provided. It is a critical step in the process of designing product literature.

Since 2005, manufacturers of medicinal products are legally required to have their patient information leaflets (PILs) readability-tested in order to acquire product approval. According to Directive 2004/27/EC, these leaflets should be “legible, clear and easy to use”, and the manufacturer has to deliver a readability test report to the authorities.

Readability testing may be carried out by the sponsor or CRO, or a language service provider undertaking the localization of the documentation. The process steps can vary, but stages may include:

  • Preparation of the PL, during which the text of the leaflet is carefully edited and checked, spelling and grammatical errors are corrected, and sentences are rephrased to ensure compliance with the appropriate EMA template.
  • Drafting of questionnaires with questions covering the most important details of the product and its use. These questions that must be answered correctly by any user to ensure correct use of the product.
  • Pilot testing for assessing the prototype in terms of clarity, simplicity, safety, non-ambiguity, etc. Results are used to further revise the leaflet.
  • Actual readability testing conducted using subjects of different ages who are native speakers of the language of the leaflet. Participants are interviewed on key questions about the product. They should be able to answer most questions correctly and no question should consistently cause problems. The goal is to achieve a 90% correctness in the responces.
  • Generating reports that detail the test result based on which final edits are made.

The above processes provide an additional safety net for clients in the clinical and pharmaceutical industry helping them meet regulatory requirements and allowing them to focus on their registration and marketing preparation plans.