Blogs on machine translation tools, and their (usually misguided) usage in the translation industry. This is something that we are particularly passionate about at Veritas, so read on…
Tattoo translation is in demand at Veritas and we regularly get requests for Chinese, Arabic and Hebrew translations and now and again, Gaelic.
As expected, many of the requests tend to be philosophical or simply personal to the person on the receiving end of the needle, and the translator’s task would be to translate the text into the equivalent in the other language. However, equivalent does not mean literal translation, which is all too common and could be catastrophic for the person having the tattoo.Examples of translations we have carried out at Veritas include ‘Sisters Forever’ into Scottish Gaelic and ‘Love’ into Traditional Chinese characters, as well as ‘Forever in my Heart’ into Hindi.
Obviously our process involves working with professional linguists who know what the equivalents are in the other language, and who only translate into their native language, ensuring that the tattoo reads exactly what it means. There are some hilarious examples of translation errors which have resulted in a red face at the end!‘diarrhea’ inked on their arm rather than ‘prosperity’. AND they were informed of this whilst in a Chinese herbal medicine shop. Embarrassing? To say the least!
Even though there are some awful tattoo mistranslations, there are also English spelling blunders which do make you wonder, such as ‘Life go’s on’ , ‘It’s get better’ and ‘streangth’.
If you think about it, a business would not get someone other than a qualified translator to translate their website or documents, but those are elements of translation that can easily be changed, at a cost, but they are not permanent. Tattoos ARE and you would be a fool to think a tattoo artist is a linguist too, [...]
Machine translation vs human translation. It’s like something from a sci-fi film – the battle between humans and machines; artificial intelligence turning on its human creators and, at best, rendering us obsolete, at worst, turning us into biofuel.
It’s a debate which is always rumbling along in the underbelly of the translation industry, and periodically raises its controversial head, with the Machine Translation Enthusiasts/Companies doing their best to convince unwitting businesses that it’s The Way Forward, and the Sensible People just smiling a bit condescendingly and getting on with persuading companies to source professional linguists for their translation work (which is basically what I’m attempting to do now).
The thing is, no matter how sophisticated the tools become, they’re always going to lack the human aspects of language. They’ll never grasp that words carry with them a multitude of cultural connotations and historical significance which can never be programmed into a machine.
Additionally, machines won’t ever master the art of word play, or understand stylistic choices. Neither will they query something they don’t understand if the context doesn’t make it clear. They can’t do extensive research or ask colleagues or clients to clarify an acronym. Yes, they can use sophisticated algorithms to cross reference databases and dictionaries and web pages, but that’s still no match for a person, who won’t be restricted by programming limitations, and can think around the problem.
Moreover, languages change constantly, subtly, with each year that passes. People make up new words and hijack old ones to take on new meanings. I’m sure everyone reading this can think of at least one or two words that are used between friends or family members, which probably aren’t examples of standard usage. I forget [...]
Crowdsourcing appears to be the latest trend in obtaining information or input into a particular task or project, by enlisting the services of a number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the Internet*.
The way crowdsourcing for translation works is that individuals submit possible translations on forums and webpages and other users can vote on the ‘best’ versions. These people are not necessarily professional translators; they may have no formal qualifications or experience in the profession.
It is to be expected that the rapid expansion of crowdsourcing and the new working strategies it introduces interfere with the way translators perform their profession. It may be that it creates new opportunities but when it comes to the translation industry, it also risks disrupting business relations as we have known them up to now, involving casualties in the process.
Serious concerns are voiced both about the status and prospects of translators in the future, and about the quality of the work carried out by amateurs. Many professionals claim that companies use crowdsourcing to make profit from free labour. Moreover, the issue of quality is regularly raised, as quality is at stake when the work is done by a crowd of non-professionals who, more often than not, lack specific qualification and expertise. Furthermore, where confidentiality and accountability are required, the use of qualified professional translators is a must.
There is wide agreement that professional translation will always be needed and that the new methods and technologies that are emerging will boost that need, rather than destroy the profession. Indeed, linguists are already managing translations done through these new methods. This does not mean that the risks mentioned above should be underestimated. However, once we realise and [...]
Many of our clients and customers come to us having never had a requirement for translation & interpreting services before. It’s a bit like going into a sports store looking to buy a pair of running shoes having never before worn a pair of trainers. Go to a standard store, you will get basic advice on your first pair, go into a specialist running store, you will get an in depth explanation on how your running shoes are the most important piece of equipment you will need and what would be the best style, shape & brand to meet your budget and fit your foot. What you really want is to be able to return to the store, knowing which style of shoes is the most comfortable, which shape shoe moulds to the shape of your foot and which type of shoe you need for road / trail /sprint training?
Confusing? Well it’s a bit like the translation & interpreting industry. It isn’t as simple as using someone who is fluent in a language, translating the text word for word. Companies and clients need to be advised on what type of translation & interpreting will benefit their company the most.
Many companies do not have the knowledge or the time to consider different options for their translation or interpreting requirements. They set their budget and cost becomes the only factor. A little advice can help someone enormously within a matter of minutes. Translation and interpreting require special skill sets that someone who is solely fluent in the language cannot provide, as well as someone who is not a specialist in the field required cannot [...]
Has it ever happened to you to turn to a professional translation agency for your linguistic needs and to suddenly have to answer all these questions about things as bewildering as CAT tools, DTP and fuzzy matches?
Keep calm and read further on! Here is a list of common terms used by translation agencies with a short explanation for your understanding:
Source/ Target text
The term source text (ST) refers to the original text requiring translation into a different language. Target text (TT) is the output of the translation process.
Source / Target word count
In translation, a translation agency will usually charge per word in the document for translation. Therefore, prior to quoting, a word count of the source text is taken. When a source word count is impossible, i.e. on hard copies, the target word count may be used instead. As opposed to source word count, the term target word count is the number of words in a translated document.
CAT Tools – Computer Assisted Translation tools
Due to advances in technology, computer software can now carry out or assist with translations. The term CAT indicates the use of such software with the translator. These tools are commonly used to manage both the specific terminology linked to the field in question plus the translation memories (don’t panic – jump to the following entry).
It is important not to confuse CAT tools with machine translation (MT), as CAT tools still involve a human translator who uses computer software to facilitate the translation process, whereas in machine translation there is no human intervention.
A translation memory, or TM, is a database that stores sentences, paragraphs or sentence-like units that have previously been translated, in order to [...]