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German to Indonesian in 3 seconds

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Translations booked online quickly and easily – like hotel rooms. That is the vision of nativy, a Vienna-based translation agency. How does it work? Anja Drame of TermNet, the International Network for Terminology, has obtained a precise answer to this question.

Josef Brunner, born in 1977, got to know the translation market from a client’s perspective while he was still working in international sales. He was often asked for help when a translation was needed. A business administration graduate, he had studied for some time in Spain, France and the Netherlands and, in addition, had taught himself Russian. So friends and colleagues considered him a language expert.

But everything began to change when his boss showed him a text in Cyrillic script and asked him “what does this say?” Even though it did look like Russian, the text was in Macedonian. But his boss did not understand that.
Lack of understanding of foreign languages within companies, an obscure translation market and the complicated procedure of procuring translations often made his company – like so many others – hesitate to address multilingual communication needs.

“At the time I asked myself why it should be easier to make an online booking for a hotel room than for a good translation”, Brunner remembers. He was convinced that it was technically possible.

And so the idea was born. In 2011, together with a colleague and software developer, he founded nativy, a translation agency that offers good translations in a client-friendly way and at fair prices.
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nativy’s founders Brunner (right) and Kerschbaummayr

What sets nativy apart is a special order processing system that generates an offer for the client within seconds. Nothing could be easier: the client uploads the text to be translated, which is then automatically analysed and matched against a complex database of available translators. Additionally, the client can also specify when the translation should be finished. The offer is prepared almost instantly – complete with a price and delivery deadline. Now all the client has to do is choose, and it’s done!

Brunner wants the system to be fair to translators as well. “We regard our translators as our capital. Each and every one of them is an independent professional and must be treated as such. Price dumping and cutthroat competition for the cheapest translation is a trend that will peter itself out. Our translators set their own prices.”

Brunner knows that clients do appreciate this. “For us it is about offering value for money rather than just low prices”.
This distinguishes nativy from many other translation agencies, where the management usually dictates the prices in a “like it or lump it” attitude towards the translators.

With their concept nativy has so far registered more than 1300 qualified translators – including for less common languages such as Armenian, Indonesian or Marathi.

Precautions are also in place to protect the confidentiality of documents. “Simply put, we are not a marketplace where the client’s text is sent all over the place until a translator says, “I’ll do it”.
Only the translator who receives the job sees the text. And the translator can ask the client questions about the text in a separate chat room.

Brunner is not afraid that so much direct contact could mean eventually losing his clients to his translators. “As a client, you always have a choice – you can look for a translator yourself who happens to be available, negotiate the price with them and so forth. If I, as a client, engage a translation agency it is because I do not want to or cannot do that myself. When the client then needs to have a text translated to five, six or more languages, that question no longer arises anyway”.

Quality is important to Brunner. In September 2013 his company was certified for the second time by the Language Industry Certification System (LICS) in accordance with the European Standard EN15038. This standard defines quality criteria specifically for translation service providers.

Among others, it determines what training and experience the translators must have. All translators who wish to work for nativy must meet these requirements. “We communicate this very clearly. And we examine it carefully. Applicants who fail to meet these basic requirements will not be included in our database. Just being able to speak one or more foreign languages obviously does not make you a good translator. But we find out very soon when someone fails to meet the criteria.”

For Brunner the standard EN15038 is more than just a helpful, practical guideline for how to manage his business. For him it is also a clear competitive advantage. “Today there are so many translation agencies that are EN15038 certified. These are very simple quality requirements. If a business is not certified, then the client really has to ask, why not?”

Brunner does not accept the argument that clients are not willing to pay the higher cost resulting from the translation-plus-review principle. “That accounts for just 30% of the price. But in return the client has the assurance that the translation is indeed of high quality and that it will not embarrass them”.

Technologically, nativy is modeled after Microsoft. Project management in the cloud – is that the future? “We are probably the first agency where you can place an order in Microsoft Word 2013, that is, Office 365 – very clearly a global approach. It is still very new, and Microsoft itself has only just started with it and will continue evolving in this respect.”

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And nativy, too, will continue evolving. The next innovations are already on the drawing board. Josef Brunner does not want to give away too much yet. But if they are only half as innovative, we have every reason to remain excited.

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Product names lost in translation?

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by Debora Russi

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We all know various examples from all sorts of industries which failed to check their product names in other languages. Just today I have read an article in the Wall Street Journal which described another example of product names lost in translation. The Swedish furniture giant IKEA named his bed frame Redalen after a town in Norway, which sounds like a Thai term for sexual intercourse. The plant pot Jättebra also sounds like an impolite term for the sex act. Almost all IKEA products have tongue-twisting Scandinavian names which bring a unique character to the whole product line and play part of the marketing strategy. Nevertheless, one needs to keep in mind that those names can also have other meanings in other languages. What now? Next time it would be better to hire a translation service or do you want to own a car that is called “Pajero” which in Spanish means “wanker”?  Linguistic land mines are all over the places and if businesses are to be successful on the international stage they must be sure that the message is communicated properly in foreign languages.

Enjoy your week!

Debora

Short insight into “Everything you ever wanted to know about translation”

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by Debora Russi

I have recently read this newly published book: “Everything you ever wanted to know about translation” written by Ms. Lola Bendana, Director of Multi-Languages Corporation, and Mr. Alan Melby, professor of Linguistics at Brigham Young University. Needless to say that both authors are seasoned veterans in the fascinating field of translation. Lola has been involved in the translation and interpreting business for over 20 years; since 1997, she has been the Director of Multi-Languages Corporation. Alan Melby is not only professor of Linguistics but also member of the ATA Board of Directors and senior member of several standard development organizations and started his career in translation over 40 years ago.

The book is packed with basic information and pithy explanations about translation and its process and is written in plain English. Whether you are completely new to the world of translation, or a requester of translation services, or an armchair expert, you’ll find plenty of practical advice. The two parts of the book are aimed at different audiences: the first one is for everyone and especially for requesters of translation services and the other one is especially for translators and project managers. It really is a handy educational tool and offers in the second section certification and revision guidelines which are very helpful for all people involved in the translation process. One of the main focuses in this publication is translation quality.

But how do we measure quality in translation?

By setting up a quality measurement system via appropriate specifications which makes a huge difference and helps all parties involved in the process to clearly identify issues and the root causes of possible conflicts. Like it says in the book: “When requesters and providers collaborate and keep end-users (those who actually use the translation) in mind, everyone wins”.

Furthermore, you find in the appendices several links to valuable resources such as professional associations, glossaries and termbases, code of ethics and translation standards.

And last but not least you find a glossary of terms and definitions for the translation industry in this book.

I would highly recommend this reading to anyone who is trying to put the pieces together when it comes to the business side of translation. It is a relatively easy read and the format facilitates rapidly looking up a specific point of interest.

If you are curious now, you find the downloadable version of this book for free under:

http://multi-languages.com/materials/everything_you_ever_wanted_to_know_about_translation_melby_bendana.pdf

Have a wonderful week!

Yours

Debora

Translation (and terminology) in the African languages

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by Anja Drame

New study highlights the state of the art for translation and language industry in the African languages

Common Sense Advisory has published its study about the need for translation in Africa. The study was conducted in 2011 in cooperation with Translators without Borders, and received quite an impressive feedback of more than 300 translators in the African languages. Almost 77% of the responses came from people living in Africa, the rest from the various regions in which Africans form a large Diaspora. However, as Common Sense Advisory stresses, the regional distribution is somewhat heavy on South Africa, followed by Kenya, Cameroon and Nigeria.

The results are interesting. One of the major findings is the high level of training and education received. More than half of the respondents are university graduates and one Third have a Bachelor degree. But with the large Diaspora and the various possibilities of language related studies one can conduct in South Africa this is perhaps less surprising. What I find most surprising is the fact that 46.3% claim that African language translation is their prime source of income. On the other hand, the lack of organization and trade union representation is felt as severe as payment morale appears to be low and political repression an issue.

Most translators work also as interpreters which makes a lot of sense if one considers the high place of oral communication and the relatively low literacy rates in the continent.

There was also a result that is interesting, although hardly a surprise for terminologists. A majority claims the lack of equivalents for terms in the major languages is an immense problem. Common Sense Advisory uses the terms cancer and clinical depression as examples from the heath sector, where translation and interpreting has such a strong and directly influencing place.

Of course we are aware of many projects addressing exactly this lack, both from governmental and public side and private initiatives. This is the case especially in South Africa with its elaborate language policy, but not only there. However, it still seems that the lack of access to and information about available sources is a major problem, especially for those translators with limited access to the Internet (although the study suggests that more than 80% are online while translating). And these are just responses from professional and educated translators and do not count the numerous translators who do the job while actually being employed as administrators, logisticians, nurses, etc. These people will hardly know where to find and how to access online resources. I can tell because I have worked with them in the field with an International NGO. And they do an impressive and tremendous job!

As for their future, African translators expect an upward trend with South Africa joining the economic bloc of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), making it BRICS. The expectation is an economic rise and the new trade partners creating additional demand. Generally, research shows that the translation market in Africa has been growing steadily. But it comes along with the fear that this demand will create a blooming of unqualified service providers which ultimately damage the reputation and industry. There are experiences all over the world with this problem and surely some action needs to be taken. Be it through organization and representation, quality assurance measures and partnerships. Any other ideas?

Africa is home to 2000 – 3000 languages (depending on who has counted them), belonging to only a few large language families. The major European languages of the former colonizing powers, such as English, French, Portuguese and to lesser extends German, Afrikaans and others, as well as Arabic dominate education, business and politics today. New languages such as Chinese were introduced with this country’s growing influence on Africa. Regional linguas francas such as Swahili or Hausa fight a battle against these languages. Sometimes with more success, sometimes with less.

I am curious to hear about your experiences!

Cheers, Anja

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Common Sense Advisory, Inc. is an independent research firm committed to objective research and analysis of the business practices, services, and technology for translation, localization, and interpreting. With its research for both Global Leaders and Industry Providers, Common Sense Advisory endeavors to improve the quality and practice of international business, and the efficiency of the online and offline operations that support it.

www.commonsenseadvisory.com

Download the full study:  http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/AbstractView.aspx?ArticleID=2869

8 million words – the ICRC’s need for multilingual communication

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Under the heading of MULTILINGUAL COMMUNICATION, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stresses the importance for communicating in various languages in its Annual Report 2009

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“In keeping with its mission, the ICRC communicates with a wide range of stakeholders at the local, regional and international levels. In 2009, some 8 million words were processed at headquarters using internal and external resources. The ICRC’s language staff and their external partners edited, translated and proofread a broad variety of public communication materials, including media products and materials for the ICRC website, publications, donor documentation and public statements, and documents of a legal and operational nature.”

The ICRC’s Annual Report 2009 describes the harm that armed conflicts inflict on populations around the world, and what the organization is doing to protect and assist them.

In 2009, the ICRC distributed 88,515 tonnes of food to 4.07 million people. Its water, sanitation and construction projects benefited more than 14.2 million people – the majority of whom were women and children – while the number of patients treated at health facilities supported by the organization was close to 5.6 million.

ICRC delegates visited around half a million detainees in 74 countries and four international courts, and handled almost 509,000 Red Cross messages, enabling family members separated by hostilities and other crises to restore contact. Around 143,000 of the messages were exchanged between detainees and their families.

The Annual Report is an in-depth country-by-country account of the ICRC’s operations in 2009. One section covers activities carried out at the Geneva headquarters, while operational statistics and a statement of accounts appear in a separate section. The report contains a current list of countries party to the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols.

Source: Annual Report 2009 of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Language Portal of Canada launched

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Canada has been regarded by most of us as the linguistist’s and terminologist’s paradise for many years. And derservedly so. Hardly any other country puts so much real effort into preservation and promotion of linguistic diversity. And above all, these efforts are crowned with professionalism, efficiency and success!

Canada now finally has her one-stop-shop for anything related to her linguistic heritage. The country’s rich linguistic resources are now accessible at the newly launched Language Portal of Canada.

“Through this portal, anybody can finally obtain access free of charge to TERMIUM®, the Government of Canada’s linguistic and terminology data bank. With TERMIUM® finding the right words has just become easier with more than 3,900,000 terms of which some 200 000 are in Spanish” says Gabriel Huard, Director of the Translation Bureau.

He further notes that “the portal also contains a vast array of language tools, a magazine, exercises dealing with problem words in French and English, and a directory of useful links to resources and organizations active in the language field.”

In June 2008, the Government of Canada published the Roadmap for Canada’s Linguistic Duality 2008-­2013: Acting for the Future. Within the framework of this initiative, Public Works and Government Services Canada mandated the Translation Bureau of the Government of Canada to design and put online the language portal.

Go to www.ourlanguages.gc.ca

Technical writing and terminology

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Technical documentation is an important issue for terminologists and translators alike. For the latter it matters because if the source text they receive for translation is bad it makes their work problematic. In the best case it will mean that the translator has to get on the phone or e-mail to confirm with the writer.  For the customer or company this means both higher translation costs and risk! Especially when there are many translators working on the same project. This is one reason why the market for technical documentation and other language services, has been growing steeply in recent years:

−      20-30% growth each year

−      30 billion Euro turn around world wide

−      EU : 1,1 billion Euro/year on translation costs

−      Loss of markets because of monolingualism

Frieda Steurs of Lessius University College, Antwerp, is our expert on technical documentation and terminology. In her presentation this morning at TSS 2009 she gave much practical advise on content optimization measures such as:

  • Controlled language
  • Terminology standardization

Optimal procedures in technical document creation and translation include

  • Source text control
  • Terminology management (both source text and translation oriented)
  • Translation management
  • Content management
  • Critical analysis of the needs of the user
  • Workflow management

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