Archive for November, 2011

Internet Slang FTW!

ROTFL, LOL, ASAP, FTW, WUU2, OMG and many many more. It has even its own dictionary. Internet slang is practical to use but hard to understand 🙂 When I was in primary school, I used to try come up with my own kind of language so that my mom could not read it at all. I tried to shorten the words but I just could not memorize my own abbreviations and I gave up. Today, internet slang offers the kind of language that I always wanted! There is also a dictionary- you do not lose track of what’s going on. Or, while you’re chatting on Facebook or MSN with a native speaker, you do not have to say “Sorry, I do not understand what you say”. Here is an online internet slang dictionary. It works quite well, at least for a non-native speaker like me 🙂

You just type the abbreviation of words and click “Translate Slang”. In the box above this, you find the translated- generally long- version of it. There is also some quizes to test yourself 🙂

Everyday, new words are added to the glossary of internet slang. If you do not want to get alienate with this new fashion, just bookmark this page:

OMG! Our Facebook page is so popular!


What is the Hardest Part of Translation?

The first pages… Total abyss 🙂 You generally never know what you will come up. Even if you go over the whole text once before translating, it always turns out to be harder- at least for me. In the first pages, you may have to make up many terms that you do not find in dictionaries or that do not even exist in the target language. You search the newly made up term on Google and if there is no result, you will have to think it over from the beginning until you find something that sounds natural/native.

When you get over the first pages, here comes a relatively easy part. You have all the terms translated in your hand. Of course I am just talking out of my experiences and this may not be valid for all text types. For example, technical translation keeps the same level throughout translation. If it is a difficult text, I am sorry but you generally feel this until the end. When I have a difficult text, I buy up chips and chocolates as a caution 🙂

My last translation was a performance report and I found the final part easiest because texts like reports and essays always end with a conclusion or a summary. You just repeat what you say in a more general way.

So what is the hardest part of translation process? I do not know if there is an answer of this question. However, the first pages are the hardest ones for me. I just want to know which parts put a strain on you.

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Character Limit is Good for a Language


Twitter. You only have 140 characters. So many times, I rewrite the sentences in a different way or paraphrase what I am trying to say. When you have limits, you go one way around. You have a more concentrated message only in one sentence. I think this enriches a language. Some may call all the abbreviations (like lol, asap etc.) ‘erosion of language’, however, we cannot ignore that language is flexible and changable. The change does not have to be in a bad way. 3 years ago, I was asked to write texts but with exactly 1000 characters. It was really hard because I felt under a great pressure. After some time, I realized that the character count was not bothering me anymore. I could rephrase the sentences in a very short time. Limitations have disciplined my language and this contributed a lot to my translations. You just learn how to play with your language, which is what you need as a translator. Noam Chomsky agree with me. Here is the proof by Rebecca Greenfield:

“Contrary to all the LOLs, emoticons and hashtags happening in feeds across the Twittersphere, Twitter isn’t destroying the English language, it’s making it better. The medium only allows for 140 character musings, lending itself to abbreviations that don’t exactly follow conventional spelling or grammar rules. Linguist Noam Chomsky finds the whole thing appalling, calling it “very shallow communication” in an interview with DC blog Brightest Young Things. “It requires a very brief, concise form of thought and so on that tends toward superficiality and draws people away from real serious communication … It is not a medium of a serious interchange,” he told Jeff Jetton. But while a few language snobs are in Chomsky’s camp, the rest of the linguistic community doesn’t exactly agree. Read more, click here.

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Does Machine Translation Take Longer than Human Translation?

I am always talking about a term: ‘translation editors’. In my opinion, today’s ‘translators’ will change into ‘translation editors’ considering the advances in machine translation. However, I have read an article and the author is more pessimistic than me! The focus of her article is the current situation of translation agencies. She thinks some translation agencies are unreliable because they use machine translation. This is not the case in many translation agencies of course. That’s why you should be careful while choosing an agency. Agencies, like AIM Consulting,  offer the full services -not just translation but also a second round of editing and then a third round of proofreading. That’s the way it should be. Other than translation agencies, she is also talking about post-editing and how machine translation fails when the source text does not have a neat and simple grammatical structure. S/he has found this comment on web, which is quite right: 

“I was with a company back in 1995 that sold consumer translation software for PCs, and they marketed it as something magical: input an English business letter or marketing brochure’s text, and out comes a French or Spanish version. So simple, so inexpensive. No more expensive human translators.  But linguists laughed at the French and Spanish output which was often not only inaccurate, but offensive. Then they thought up the idea to combine machine translation (MT), as it is commonly-called, of business text, often marketing materials, with a low-paid, non-trained cadre of foreign language speakers, not translators, for a service offering to produce faster, accurate translation, but it turned out that this was not a faster process since even those linguists could not quickly “post-edit” poor quality machine translation of marketing content. It takes longer and is much more difficult to do that than just translating manually. Here we are years later facing the same issues. Most marketing material is not written with translation in mind, and contains abbreviated, “jargony” English language that is nearly impossible to translate accurately by machine. “Robo translators” can only work if the source language is carefully controlled, written in a simple grammatical style, and key term dictionaries are developed in advance that  can be used to handle a company’s specific terminology. The “crowdsourcing” model for translation for business purposes is a disaster waiting to happen in my opinion. For a global business, a careful, well thought out, culturally appropriate, quality localization project cannot happen magically with “robo translators” and volunteers.”

And conclusion:

So, why the ‘most’ translation agencies suck? Because it is not about human translation any more. Just learn from the example of Fortune 500 companies and try to understand why they don’t trust your “human” translation offerings. It’s a boiling soup, ladies and gentlemen. It’s time for a wake up call, or you’d be part of statistics.”

For the rest of the article, click here.

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Now, We Have a Long List of Movies

4 days ago, I posted an article on the movies about translation and interpreting. On Linkedin and Facebook, I got many responses and now, we have a long list of movies and full of new thoughts! Everybody is agree on our experiences can make a good movie 🙂 Even a friend said, my experiences are way too much for a movie… There should definetely more movies about translation but I do not know how the scenarists will hear us. Here is the new list, including the one I mentioned. Some may not be directly related to translation but the communication is largely carried out with the help of a ‘mediator’ (which happens to be translators or interpreters in many cases):


1. Lost in Translation: This is the best known movie in this area.

2. The Interpreter: It highlights the dangerous part of interpreting.

3. The Translator: One of the friends said this but I could not find a decent information about it.

4. Plus One: A Russian friend said it is Russian movie about translation.

5. The Woman with the 5 Elephants

6. Inkheart

7. Spanglish

8. The Translator

9. Fresh Suicide

10. Tradurre

11. Je l’aimais

12. El Pasado

13. Short the Translator

14. Chinglish

15. “Although the movies are not exactly about translation, translators/decoders play an important role in many movies. I can think, for instance, AVP, where a specialist was needed to read the signs left by an ancient culture. Indiana Jones also has some interesting sign/language reading, and Da Vinci Code. There are more, of course, but those came to mind. ”

16. And a funny Youtube video:


I hope we will see more movies about translation in near future. Thanks for your comments and contributions!

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Movies about Translation & Interpreting


I do not understand why there are few movies about translation and interpreting. Indeed, every translation is a kind of new adventure for the translator. You are always alone with your text. There are only dictionaries, language forums and the e-mail addresses of a couple of friends. Once you open your text, you enter in a completely (almost completely let’s say) new world. Especially if you are a freelance translator, the text may be about anything. When you finish translating, you learn many things about that subject. Sometimes, only one unknown word may teach you a whole concept. You have to search many wikipedia-wise websites to learn about the concept so as to translate the word. Even this process of searching can make a movie 🙂 On our Facebook page, we started a discussion on the movies  about translation. We got results but they are really few:

1. Lost in Translation: This is the best known movie in this area.

2. The Interpreter: It highlights the dangerous part of interpreting.

3. The Translator: One of the friends said this but I could not find a decent information about it.

4. Plus One: A Russian friend said it is Russian movie about translation.

If you know more, you can let us know 🙂

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Interpreting Classes

It is my 3rd year in the university (+prep class and erasmus year: it makes 5 🙂 ). This year, we started taking interpreting classes, which is a very new thing to us. With every class, I am getting further away from interpreting. There is a huge stress on your shoulders during the interpreting practices in the class. You definetely lose some part of the next sentence while translating the previous sentence. I think it is totally different from translation. Compared to interpreting, translation is almost stress-free because you generally have enough time to think. Besides, you can always consult to a dictionary. I have found an interesting article showing how painful the interpreting process is. The article also talks about the interpreters. Here is the introduction part of it. You can read the rest of the article by clicking the link at the bottom:

“Have you ever sat down in an interpreter’s booth, put on the headphones and tried to interpret the incoming speech? I did when I was a young and rather naive student who thought that being bilingual meant one could interpret simultaneously. No sooner had I started that problems arrived. As I was outputting the first sentence, the second one was already coming in but I hadn’t paid enough attention to it. I remembered its beginning but not its ending. Very quickly I fell behind and I just couldn’t say anything more after a few minutes!

Many years later I still remember the scene vividly and because of it, but also because of my own research on the perception and production of speech, I have the utmost respect for interpreters and the training they have to go through to do their job well.

Interpreters come in various types (community, conference, sign language) and interpreting itself is diverse in that it can be consecutive or simultaneous. I will take two extreme cases of interpreting that differ on many aspects including age: bilingual children who act as interpreters and adult simultaneous interpreters (…) Read more

See different types of interpreting.

Differences between translation and interpreting.


Van earthquake and community interpreting.

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Pancake People and Online Dictionaries

I always get lost in metro stations. There are at least four exits. I cannot ever find the right one and try others as usual. Although I have made this mistake many times, I just cannot remember the right exit. One day I was with my friend and he said: “It is because we do not need to memorize the information. Internet teaches us how to reach the information, not to keep it in our minds because whenever we want, we can ask someone (the way in the metro) or we can google and find any information we are looking for.”

Today I read an article saying Richard Foreman made up a term for the ones like me: pancake people.

Here is what he said in NY Times 6 years ago:

“But today, I see within us all (myself included) the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self-evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the “instantly available.” A new self that needs to contain less and less of an inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance – as we all become “pancake people” – spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.

Will this produce a new kind of enlightenment or “super-consciousness”? Sometimes I am seduced by those proclaiming so—and sometimes I shrink back in horror at a world that seems to have lost the thick and multi-textured density of deeply evolved personality.”

After reading all these, I understood why I cannot memorize the words any longer. The reason is ‘online dictionaries’. Many of us find them very useful. They are fast, easy to use… However, they make our brains literally ‘lazy’. The fact that the meaning of any word is only one click away puts away the necessity to memorize it. In high school, I did not use online dictionary and I still remember the words that I learned during those years. Now, we do not spend any time and effort to reach the information and our brains get the things we learn via internet as useless. I have no idea what to do about this situation because even writing this, I used an online dictionary and Google to check the spelling!

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