Archive for June, 2011

Are You Bilingual? Join the Club!


A research by Concordia University says that more than half of the world is bilingual. As translators, we have a big portion of piece from this cake. It is amazing how our brains work because we have to think in two different ways while working. The situation gets more complicated when the languages are from different families (like Turkish-English) or when we know more than two languages. In the latter case, you begin to compare three or four languages, which is almost a miracle for me. Of course it is not a miracle, just kidding. Science explains everything for us. I have read an article on which was originally published on sciencedaily. Here you can find some interesting parts from it. You can read the whole article by clicking the link below.


Concordia University researchers studied two groups of fluently bilingual adults — aged from 19 to 35 and from 60 to 81 years old — and found significant age-related differences in the manner their brains interpreted written language.

“We wanted to know whether older adults relied on context to process interlingual homographs (IH) — words that are spelled the same in both languages but have a different meaning,” says lead author Shanna Kousaie, a PhD candidate at Concordia University’s Department of Psychology and Centre for Research in Human Development (CRDH).

Does “coin” mean “money” or “corner”?

As part of the study, subjects were asked to read hundreds of trios of words. The first word in the triplet was in either English or French, indicating the language of the IH, putting it in context for readers. The second was an IH — a word such as “coin,” which means “money” in English but “corner” in French. The third word was one that might or might not help the person understand the meaning of the IH more quickly.

Read more


More than half the world is bilingual

These findings shed light on how bilingual adults process language. Although some 50 per cent of the world’s population is bilingual, much language research has so far focused only on single language speakers.

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How Do We Get Lost in Translation?

I always watch movies with subtitles. When I know the source language I can’t help paying extra attention. There is a saying: “Ignorance is bliss”. Sometimes, I really find it reasonable. Seeing the subtitle is completely different from what people are talking about, it demotivates me. In this article, Sean Baumgart highlights some good points and gives examples from famous speeches and movies. I really enjoy reading it. Here it is: 

Thank God Winston Churchill didn’t use a voice-to-text message service to circulate his famous wartime speech in 1940.

Instead of the British prime minister’s reassurance that “we shall fight on the beaches” to turn back German forces, the electronic translation service now widely available on mobile phones would have relayed a more confusing message.

“This is I John. Demitri. We shall fight on those ending grounds. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets,” was how the service interpreted Churchill’s timeless words.

Churchill’s actual words were, “we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets”.

English citizens, weary and panicked as World War II advanced on their doorstep, would probably have been left wondering: Who’s John Demitri? Where’s the PM? And what the hell is an ending ground?

They’re questions similar to those that many users of the service, which converts 10-second voice messages into text, find themselves asking today.

The service’s translations often run the gamut from confusing to amusing, so we thought we’d put it to the test with some well-known phrases from popular culture.

We weren’t disappointed.

Famous lines from movies, politics and even the local train station were thrown into the service and what came out the other end was frequently amusing.

For the rest of the article, click here.

To What Extent Should We Rely On Machine Translation?


Recently I have read an article which supports my ideas about machine translation. For Latin or Germanic languages, using machine translation can work to get a general idea about the text; however, it is not the same for other language pairs. My mother tongue is Turkish. My second language is English and I know a little bit French and Spanish. I confess that, I myself use Google Translate for my French homeworks from time to time but it “always” needs double check. During translation, I use English-French language pair because Turkish-French is such a disaster. That’s to say, machine translation works (of course not 100%) when it comes to similar language families. Although Turkish uses Latin alphabet, the sentence structure is different. Tony Bradley from PCWorld explains this situation better giving different examples: 


One of the features touted by Google for Google Docs is the ability to easily translate documents into 53 different languages. For day 18 of 30 Days With…Google Docs I decided to put those translations to the test.

I don’t do a lot of work internationally that would require me to have to translate my documents from English to some other language, or to take documents I receive in other languages and translate them into English. So, for the purposes of testing out the translation capabilities of Google Docs I enlisted my Twitter followers to help out.

I used some bilingual volunteers and sent them a document in English, as well as the Google Docs translation into whatever other language they speak and asked them to analyze the quality and usability of the translated document. Then, I asked some other volunteers to send me documents in another language so I could translate them into English using Google Docs.

I sent one volunteer a document in English and its translation in French. He replied to comment, “Some sentences were perfect, but some were almost impossible to understand,” adding, “I’d give the translation 7 on a scale from 1 to 10. I would not use such a service in a professional setting, although it gives a good general idea of the text.”

My other tests didn’t go as well. French at least still uses the same alphabet and reads left to right like English, but when going from English to Hebrew Google Docs apparently butchered the translation.

My Hebrew-speaking volunteer said, “Sorry to say, but, in general I can describe the translation into Hebrew as “one big disaster”. In 95 percent it is just unreadable (not only “hard to understand”).”

The files that were sent to me in other languages didn’t fare much better. Because I am not fluent in Arabic, and can only read a little Spanish, I can’t tell you for sure what the original documents say. But, I am fluent in English, and I can tell you that the translations didn’t make any sense at all.

The Arabic presentation translated into a loose, chaotic collection of words in English. Overall, I think I can make an educated guess at the topic of the presentation based on the general context of the words, but the resulting translation didn’t really express any coherent thoughts.

The document I was sent in Spanish appears to be a poem called “Before”. When I open the Spanish version in Google Docs, I can see the nicely formatted stanzas, but when I translate it into English I get a big, run-on paragraph with poor punctuation.

For the rest of the article, click here.

SmartDraw, a project chart software for translators


If you have only one translation at a time, it is ok; however, life is not always that easy on us (unfortunately). When we have more than one translation project, each has its own deadline. Even if you can make a schedule simply with pen and paper, it is better to have it on computer and get notifications. Considering we do most of the translation on our computers, SmartDraw enables us to see our schedule on our screens. Here is a brief explanation of the software: 


A Gantt chart (commonly known as project chart) is used extensively by project managers and other people involved in scheduling. While it is similar to a timeline in that it deals with time and events, the format and purpose of a Gantt chart is very different. The Gantt chart is a table with one task for each row and time in the columns. The unit of time chosen depends on the length and detail of the product, but some common units are weeks, quarters, months, and years. Usually there is a column at the left listing the tasks, then columns for start date, end date, and duration, followed by the columns for time. Each task has a bar extending across the time columns, representing the duration of the task. Milestones and critical path lines may also be used to add further detail to the chart. Milestones are important checkpoints or deadlines represented by small symbols in the time columns. Critical path lines connect task bars to indicate a dependence of one task upon another’s completion or commencement.

  • Automatic Formatting
    Click simple commands and SmartDraw builds your Gantt chart for you, automatically. Add or remove tasks, change start or end dates, and SmartDraw realigns and arranges all the elements so that everything looks great.
  • Quick-Start Templates
    Dozens of professionally-designed Gantt chart examples for common projects make you instantly productive. Simply choose the template that is most similar to your project, and customize it to suit your needs.
  • Microsoft Project® Compatible
    Need to share your Gantt chart with Project users? No problem. Export your chart to a Microsoft Project file with a single click.
  • Free Support
    Got a question? Call or email us. SmartDraw experts are standing by ready to help, for free
To download for free, click here.
For the official website, click here.

The Opportunities of Localization


It is a well known fact that translators earn very little considering the amount of the work they do. In my countyr, and I am sure in many countries, translation is considered something very easy and anyone who “knows” two languages can do it. I remember having decided to study Translation. My grandma asked me that “Is this a decent job? Are you sure?”. Yes, I still am sure; however, I am also aware that one should add something on translation. Localization is a huge plus if you are a translator. With the developments in technology, internet and web, knowing how to localize websites or products is a must for international companies. Here is an article, published in Columbia Daily Tribune. It talks about translation, localization and interpreting and their importance for many companies:


“Dale Eggett, who will finish a master’s degree in less than three weeks, will go to work the week after, having had no problem landing a job.

“I did have multiple, multiple job offers,” said Eggett, whose Spanish and computer skills put him in the forefront of a burgeoning field. The global marketplace for interpreting, translating and other language services was estimated at $26.3 billion in 2010 and is projected to reach $38.1 billion by 2013.

Most people are familiar with translators, who deal with the written word. Interpreters handle oral communication in government agencies, courtrooms, doctors’ offices and businesses.

But Eggett, 28, of California, who will graduate from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, will be paid $50,000 a year to work in a relatively new discipline: localization management, which provides one of the best chances for steady employment in language services.

Localization combines language expertise with computer savvy. “I’m kind of behind the scenes making the job easier for translators,” Eggett said. When a website needs to be translated, it’s Eggett’s job to strip out the coding and send the translator only what needs to be translated.

The work is painstaking. Imagine a complex website with multiple drop-down boxes, leading to more drop-down boxes. Each element on each box needs to be translated.

Like many other sectors, language services face unique challenges, said Jiri Stejskal, president of Cetra Language Solutions, an Elkins Park, Pa., company that supplies translators, interpreters and localization experts to a range of clients.

Stejskal is in a better position to know than most. He recently was president of the American Translators Association and is in line to become president of the International Federation of Translators in Basel, Switzerland.

One issue is machine translation. “It’s not quite there yet,” Stejskal said. He pulled out a screen grab of a Philadelphia government website that used the familiar journalism term “lead story” on its home page. Somehow in Spanish it morphed into a “story about metal,” featuring a photograph of former Philadelphia Mayor Juan F. Calle, or John Street.

But a more fundamental and ongoing struggle is to educate employers about the difference between being simply bilingual and truly qualified.

Top interpreters need to hear what is said and speak it in another language simultaneously. That’s the gold standard used at the United Nations and international conferences, and high proficiency can merit a six-figure income.

That level of ability isn’t the same as language skills gained by growing up in a bilingual household. “Knowing how to cook doesn’t make you a chef,” Stejskal said.”

For the rest of the article, click here.


Thank you  Columbia Daily Tribune and MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS.



Are translators right- or left-brained and does it really matter?


We know that some people have an obvious talent for learning and using new languages. It is not wrong to say that it runs in the family. For example, when she was in high school, my mother’s best course was English; my sister is an English teacher in a primary school and I am studying Translation. There are other biological findings about learning languages and the brain parts. Recently, I have read the article of Marta Stelmaszak, a Polish translator, who writes about the relation between brain parts and being right-handed or left-handed within the frame of translation job. It is a quite interesting article because when I consider my family, my mother is left-handed; me and my sister are right-handed. Here, I publish some part of her article. You can go to her website by following the bottom link and participate in a little test. Enjoy!


“It is common knowledge that there are two brain hemispheres, left and right, and they have different functions in processing information. Usually, it is believed, and I believed so till today, that if you are right-handed you are left-brained and vice versa (I’m left handed for that matter, but the right-brained description never actually resembled much of who I am and how do I behave).


Brain lateralization and handedness: it’s not as you think


Brain function lateralization is evident in the phenomena of right- or left-handedness and of right or left ear preference, but a person’s preferred hand is not a clear indication of the location of brain function.

Although 95% of right-handed people have left-hemisphere dominance for language,only 18.8% of left-handed people have right-hemisphere dominance for language function. Additionally, 19.8% of the left-handed have bilateral language functions.

Even within various language functions (e.g., semantics, syntax, prosody), degree (and even hemisphere) of dominance may differ. That means that left-handed people are actually more likely to be left-brained as well.”


For the rest of the article, click here.

How the semantic web will affect translation?



It is kind of impossible to keep up with technology. There is not a day goes by without hearing some news. Here is another one: “semantic web” or “Web 3.0”. It sounds pretty cool, isn’t it? Now, let’s see how it will affect our job… Luke Spear explains what will change in our lives as translators after Web 3.0:  

As far as I understand it, the “Semantic Web”, heralded by Tim Berners-Lee as the coming of Web 3.0, is about labelling everything. Because apparently the web as it stands is a big mess that somebody needs to clean up. All data on the global network will be tagged in a variety of ways, allowing computers to group relevant data sets in any way it or its operators see fit.

“The semantic web, bringing together AI and OCD.”

So what will this mean for the translation industry?

My initial thoughts are the quite obvious implications, but further discussion and consideration in this field is welcome; your comments and thoughts can be shared below.

Key impact 1 – Term research

This ought to see a massive improvement in efficiency, with relevant information rising to the top of any related search. Glossary, term and dictionary websites would do well to keep an eye on this in order to capitalise on improved data transparency.

Key impact 2 – Machine translation

This may be improved if the concepts are implemented, with full context being given to any multi-lingual text on the network, mistakes should occur less frequently. As a QA measure machines could also validate their own term selection decisions by comparing like for like texts and highlighting words and terms with lower certainties.

Key impact 3 – Buyers buying less


For the rest of the  article, click here.

Comic Translation


Until reading this article below, I had never thought about comic translation, I admit. Although the text is pretty short, it takes a quite long time. The sizes of text bubbles are defined by the one who draws the comics. Moreover, the same effect should be created with the exact word choice. Here is a very good article about comic translation. I have also found a very good comment to this article. I will publish them one by one because they are pretty long:


“The comic is available under a Creative Commons license that allows you to also translate the comic into your language. Examples of French, Portuguese, and Italian versions of the comics are already available. Perusing the translated examples, and the “translation kit” sources it became clear that whereas the text on the cover, in speech bubbles, and in a few other places, is easily translated, other text (such as the names of creators and their work) is not, and the comics characters and their interactions themselves remain constant across all language versions.

So a number of questions arise for all aspiring comic creators:

  • What is the best (in terms of ease or process compliance) translatable source? For example, are PhotoShop layered files (PSDs) the way to go? How about JPEGs? or XML?
  • What translatability considerations have been made in the source content? For example, can the speech bubbles be resized to cater for text expansion, or contraction without obscuring the characters or other information?
  • How culturally applicable are the characters, the rest of the graphics, and even how the the action is portrayed? Do they need redrawing, replacement, or any other considerations? Check out this piece on how a Marvel Captain America comic was localized into French: “In other words, they are trying to translate the American Visual Language closer to French Visual Language.”
  • What of the actual information being conveyed? Does it make sense once translated? The CSPD does offer the advice that translators to either rewrite relevant portions of the legal discussions to make them reflect the law of your jurisdiction, or post a warning conspicuously they are offering a translation of a comic book that discusses the situation of documentary filmmakers under United States law. Sounds like comics need localization, doesn’t it?

Clearly, a fully-translated and culturally-applicable comic book delivery can be a big undertaking. That’s not to knock anyone’s effort here. Even a basic translation can raise the quality of debate and public information and lead to further investigation by readers, but it must be made clear to consumers that’s the intention of what they’re reading.”

For the original article, click here.


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