Where is Machine Translation Heading?

Is machine translation (MT) advancing in leaps and bounds or is it going nowhere? Who uses machine translation technology and are they finding it useful?

Machine translation technology has been around for quite a while now and one would have thought that it would have become sufficiently advanced enough that professional translation services would be taking advantage of it. That doesn’t seem to have happened and MT is somewhere in a middle of the road situation. It’s advanced enough so that it can be used for amateur translation and take out some of the load from the work of professional translators, but isn’t yet good enough to replace human translation for anything which is technical or official in nature.

Improvements in machine translation software and technology lie with software engineers and software developers. They are in a bit of a quandary because there is a certain amount of doubt about the eventual goal of machine translation. Where is it going? What will it be able to do in say 10 or 20 years time?

The advantages of a fully automatic translation tool for any sort of translation services in Australia or anywhere else in the world are obvious, but can MT ever replace the depth of knowledge of a human translator?

Those who work for professional translation services do not have the time to refine machine translation vocabulary and grammar abilities. Time is money and they depend on their own skills to convert text from one language into another as accurately as possible. At present, even the best MT translations need significant post translation editing and proofreading. Granted, that’s true for any translation task. Woe betides any translator who thinks their raw translation is good enough for a client. The better the editing and proofreading, the more accurate the final translation and the more likely there will be a good working relationship with the client and repeat work.

MT is fine for personal use, especially when someone is browsing a website in a language they don’t understand or when they are travelling or communicating with a stranger. It’s certainly not perfect, but perfection is not the issue. You can’t always wait for a translation to appear just when you want it and there’s not always a suitable bilingual person around to interpret something for you and anyway perfection isn’t always necessary every time.

With the trend towards the internationalisation of business and the growing need to communicate across borders quickly and efficiently there is a huge incentive to improve machine translation technology. No-one can predict just where the technology will be and how much it has replaced human translators in the near to medium term future.

What are the Differences Between UK and US Styles of Translation?

There is always an element of doubt as to whether a non-native translator is able to produce the same quality of translation as a native translator of a language and this rings true when it comes to the translating of different versions of English. Even though English originated from one source it is now a language that is used by cultures who do not have the same cultural affiliation to the language as the original native speakers.

Often a translation service in Melbourne will remind its translator to translate into US English, not UK English. This doesn’t bring about any special problems as long as the translator remembers to set the spell-check feature on his or her computer to US English. Of course, most competent professional translation services should know most of the features of both languages with the commonest difference being some spellings where in US English certain letters are omitted. There are also other less obvious differences such as the way the day and month are ordered when written in a document.

Further differences are typically to do with word usages such as in an employment context whether ‘staff’ or ’employees’ should be used. Normally, these uncertainties can be resolved by undertaking a Google search. The use of adjectives are important too as what the UK English user may feel more comfortable with may not apply to the US counterpart. Words like the use of splendid or superb come up from time to time as do fantastic or excellent.

When using language in either the US or the UK context any translation should flow well and fit into its context seamlessly without any distraction to the reader. When it comes to translating in the business context US and UK readers will understand the English used but the right English operates better in terms of register and tone.

If you go to the BBC website and you find an article that doesn’t fit the bill when it comes to UK English usage but reads as American English you will undoubtedly notice it and may feel uncomfortable. However, if the same article was to appear in the New York Times then you would probably feel completely different.

When I was visiting Miami recently I was wondering for a time why people kept asking me to repeat a request for a cup of coffee. After quite a time, I discovered that when I said ‘May I please have a cup of of coffee’ it just wasn’t specific enough and what they wanted to hear was ‘Can I get a cup of coffee?’

When you don’t do your language research properly as a translator you may found your final translation is put in the wastepaper bin, the trashcan, put out with the garbage in a refuse sack which is put in the dustbin.

Web Marketing Tips for a Small Translation Service

There are still some businesses that only operate in specific local regions, as the type of product they sell is demanded only in that market, or that product can only be provided there. You find this mainly in service industries such as plumbing, electrical and refrigeration.

You can’t fix a consumer’s home plumbing system via teleconference because, obviously, a worker needs to be at a physical location to complete the job.

The good news is that this restriction doesn’t exist for a variety of industries, for instance a small translation business. Translators can tap into global markets by promoting their services using the most modern techniques. Then, when a project arrives in their inbox it can be completed and returned to the client in the same way as it was received.

This year there is an unprecedented opportunity for online marketing services, especially with the rise of wearable devices that keep people on the move and connected 24/7. Just a simple glance at a smartwatch on the wrist is enough to bring you as close as you could possibly get to your customers in this digital world.

Smartphones are constantly switched on and people are spending up to two hours each day browsing mobile sites. With all these electronic devices available, keeping people informed, the consumer picks out content that catches the eye and this is where the skilled marketer can get ahead of their competitors.

When an online visitor reaches your website, by clicking a link or making a search on a search engine, they expect to see something eye catching and simple to use.

A translation company could use a variety of marketing techniques to instantly communicate the value of their service, such as showing testimonials from happy clients, providing examples of successful translation projects in all the most important languages, maybe even an online chat facility where potential clients can ask questions.

Over the past decade, for all businesses, a strong online web presence has been a great marketing tool but now it’s more important than ever to have a functioning website and this key digital asset can make or break any business.

You should also think about securing promtions off your website. Ask the question, “what types of businesses are already working with my next best customer?” A translation service might partner with marketing agencies, global attorneys, or market expansion consultants to offer translation services to their customers who may soon need to localize their expertise.
Offer to write guest blog posts for your partners, potentially in multiple languages, to help your partners while at the same time securing casual introductions of your business all around the globe.

Localization is a key opportunity for a translation company to showcase its product. With all the skills and knowledge of translation there is no better time than now than to reach out to global clients wherever they are in the world.

Research has indicated that people are far more likely to buy a product if the website is in their own language. So, in result, translating your small business website into some of the key world languages will mean you will attract international clients.

Going Global With the Help of Translation Services in Australia

Professional translation services in Australia have sprung up in every major city to cater to the demand for a huge range of document and website translation services. Part of this demand comes from the number of migrants, either temporary or permanent to Australia who need some, or all, of their important documents like birth, marriage certificates, qualifications and employment records translated by certified translation services to meet requirements for employment and immigration.

Probably more important in the long term is the increasing demand for translation services in Australia to meet the demand for the growth in global business. Many businesses right around the world have recognised that their potential profits could grow immensely as long as they could market their products and services in such a way that customers could understand exactly what was available and why they should buy them.

Not so long ago, the general attitude of many nationally based businesses was they should confine themselves to dealing with customers at home, as the prospect of trying to communicate with potential customers overseas seemed to be too difficult.

The growth of electronic communication and the almost global access that most of the world’s citizens have to the internet has changed the commercial environment completely.

Now, a Chinese business can sell to the world, whether it has business partners elsewhere in the world or not. However, it is unlikely to be very successful unless what they are selling is understood by the millions of people who cannot understand Chinese!

The same story is repeated right around the world. Australian businesses that wish to sell to the world must use translators who are experienced in the field that the business is involved in. Similarly, Australia and the Pacific Rim countries are important markets for hundreds of businesses elsewhere in the world. Many of them have their bases in nations where English is not the main language, so again these businesses must use professional translators to translate their websites, marketing material, legal documents, business documents and so on.

Most businesses would be wise to choose certified translation services such as NAATI accredited translators in Australia to guarantee that the translation services they use are of an acceptable standard.

Is Your Brand Name Global? Nailing Brand Name Translation

Few companies around the world are unaware of just how important it is for their brand to be recognised on a global basis. Even if everything about a product has to be carefully translated and localised so that its qualities are appreciated, keeping that brand name instantly recognisable and appreciated is so important.

It doesn’t take too much effort to remind ourselves of successful global branding. Take Coca-Cola or Pepsi for instance. The brands are recognised right around the planet – even in the most remote spots and everyone knows that it means a fizzy, sweet drink. The global branding means that the product is often chosen by preference when having to make a choice between the brand and an unknown or untested brand that may actually be better.

While global brands are probably most familiar when they are attached to things that can be consumed, they are important with a very well known type of product. Ask someone from South America or Central America what Toyota or Honda is and they will tell you, even if they are the only Japanese words they know!

One of the best things about a global brand is that it doesn’t have to be translated. The effort is getting your brand recognised globally – not changing it. This is where the quality of a good NAATI translation service comes into play – it is the ability of the translation provider to convey your product in such a way that it will make your brand recognisable.

Occasionally, adopting a global brand doesn’t work and this may mean changing the brand name for a more suitable one. This usually happens by accident when the brand name means something totally different in the target language. It could have a funny connotation or be offensive or just faintly off-putting. Getting a translation service in Sydney or whichever city is most convenient that has real experience of the target culture should avoid these sorts of embarrassments for any new company wishing to expand globally and get exposure for its brand.

Why you Shouldn’t Expect your Smartphone to be a Serious Translation Tool

In this age of universally available and technologically sophisticated communication, it may be tempting to fall for the hype that some translation app promoters appear to promise. Just imagine, you may think, how you could cut down on translation costs by doing everything yourself. Just arm yourself with one or another translation app which has come on to the market and you can dispense with that expensive professional translation service you were first considering.

Unfortunately, no translation app can yet match the quality of a professional human translation service if the sort of text you want translated is crucial to your business.

The reality is that translation apps generally translate text word for word and are incapable of considering the context of a phrase or paragraph. There are some apps that have been designed and promoted by people who have never bothered to learn any other language except their own and have absolutely no idea of the intricacies of translation.

The worst thing that can happen if these sorts of translation apps are used too widely is that words are translated too literally and become meaningless or even cause offence in the target language.

Admittedly, there are occasions for which a professional translation service in Sydney or other Australian city is not necessary. Translation apps are quite useful for the sort of communication you are likely to use while on holiday, especially if you are travelling to somewhere on a one off basis and there is no benefit in the long term in learning the local language. A lot of these new smartphone apps will allow you to communicate on a rudimentary basis and get by even if from time to time you may be confronted with incomprehension when the app spits out phrases which have been mistranslated.

If you are travelling on business, then relying on a translation app is trickier as the fate of your business trip may be dependent on effective communication. It is best to take with you copies of any important documents that you need translated by a professional translation service and make use of a local interpreter if you have a lot of verbal communication to do.

So do translation apps have any value at all and are they getting better?

The answer is yes to both questions: take Google Translate, for instance. You would be very unwise to use it, despite it being a free service, to translate your important legal documents, but for casual travel it at least tries to use contextual translation rather than rely totally on word for word translation. Some of the new apps do have large vocabularies and have the advantage of being able to be used away from an internet signal, which can cut down on phone and roaming charges, so the conclusion is that smartphone apps have, at least at present, limited use whenever the translation needed is not critical or too important.

Balancing Campaigns in your Global and Local Markets

Global marketing of a product does not mean that the product is just marketed to the global market – the local market must be considered and maintained at the same time.

It is just as important to understand the needs of your local market as the global one and develop a suitable approach to the marketing of your product. You understand far more easily how your local market behaves than a market in an overseas country. Your local market is ready and waiting for you to approach them with a new product line. You can promote it easily in the language that you both understand.  You know what medium of advertising works to attract your local customers whether it is a television campaign, a shopping mall marketing event or a street event where prizes are given away as a promotional stunt.

Going global and reaching out to customers far and wide is a complex undertaking. You have to learn what sector of the global market you are targeting. It might differ from the characteristics of you local market. You will have to get a team of NAATI translators on the job translating you product into suitable languages with appropriate style and tone to suit your global customers.

For global marketing to work you have to have a  global team out on the job learning about your potential market so that the certified translation services you choose to do your translation work know what calibre of language to use in translations.

Most important is being actively involved in any marketing approach so that you are aware of any problems that may arise including the monitoring of any immigration translation services you use to help you get across your marketing messages to your potential customers.

When a marketing campaign has been completed, whether to your local or overseas customers, it is important to call a meeting to appraise the campaign so that any mistakes can be corrected before any future campaigns are initiated.

What’s Going On in July 2015 for Global Translators?

The world is in constant change and the translation industry is no exception. Translators, whether they are accredited NAATI translators, or any other translators who provide essential translation services in Australia need to keep abreast of developments in the sector. Every month there is something going on somewhere in the world which provides an opportunity for translators operating in the challenging second decade of the twenty first century to learn something new or just make contact with fellow translators.

July 2015 is the month in which a key translation conference is being staged in Brazil, called IATIS 2015. The conference is open to all translators, wherever they are based in the world, who are prepared to make their way to the conference venue. The conference’s theme is “Innovation Paths in Translation and Intercultural Studies”. The conference’s theme recognises the new and evolving challenges in what is an increasingly globalised world to intercultural studies and translation.

The conference organisers recognise the fact that society world-wide seeks out new technologies so that a whole diverse set of information and meaning can be exchanged, created and spread around effectively. The conference seeks to discuss and discover the innovative insights and solutions which provide answers to the challenge of this ever present search.

The term “innovation” used in the conference theme is used in its broadest sense. It doesn’t just include all those technological developments which have affected communication so much over the last few decades, but includes cultural and social practices and interactions as well, particularly those that affect translation and intercultural discourse.

The conference will be a broad based one and will include a huge number of different topics which conference participants can choose from. Some of these are listed below, although the full list is much longer.
Conference topics for IATIS 2015, July 2015

• Interaction of translators and interpreters with and through technology
• Innovative approaches to multilingualism, translation and intercultural studies
• Innovation in approaches to the use of style in translation
• Innovation in media accessibility and audiovisual translation
• The use of IT in translation
• Recent perspectives on the relationship between translation and literature

Tokyo is Ready For the Translation Challenge at Olympics 2020

Every Olympics event has to deal with a multitude of languages, but Japan is already prepared well in advance for its own contribution to the world’s greatest sporting event in 2020. In 2014, NTT DoCoMo, the main Japanese mobile phone provider, has created a translation app called “proproJspeak”, which has the capacity to translate into English spoken Japanese. The app doesn’t just handle those two languages but can also interpret French, Chinese, Thai and German, too.

An app which has been called ‘VoiceTra4U’ has the ability to translate Japanese into languages like Sinhala, Urdu and Dzongkha. The Tokyo based National Institute of Information and Communications Technology was the founder of the app. Translation machines are not well known for their accuracy as their grammar is of doubtful quality, but translating conversations at a simple level can be quite useful. Basically, for simple everyday conversation you don’t need a quality service like a NAATI translation service.

The Japanese government knows full well the limitations of machine translations, so they are also currently training human translators which will add that personal touch. The interpreters will help visitors as well as foreign athletes. A multilingual call centre is to be made available at no charge for cab drivers, hotels and restaurants to use. Public transportation such as buses will be equipped with displays which will be multilingual and street signs are to display their names in English as well as Japanese.

Many people are put off travelling to countries like Japan because of the difficulties with understanding the Japanese language. Tokyo Governor, Yoichi Masuzoe, is set to change that image and not just by making the Olympics more accessible in terms of language but he has the aim of increasing the number of travellers to Japan from the 2014 level of 13 million to 20 million when 2020 is reached.

This is great news for international travellers who have not yet mastered the Japanese language or, more likely, never will master the language, as they will have at their fingertips so many sources for meeting their translation needs that whether they are travelling for business or leisure there will be no obstacles to communication.

Swedish is One of the Official Languages in Finland

In Finland, most people speak Finnish and English but there is another language called “Finland Swedish” that is also spoken. While the majority of Finnish citizens speak Finnish as a first language, a significant minority also speak a dialect of Swedish, either as a first or second language. Most Finnish people, like many Scandinavians, have a good understanding of English and find it easy to travel in English language countries like Australia. However, the picture changes when any official documentation is required. Generally, any Finnish person seeking to apply for jobs in Australia or for a visa will be required to produce a number of documents, which will probably be in Finnish or Swedish.

If you are thinking of coming to work in Australia and your native language is Finland Swedish you will need the skills of a NAATI translation service. NAATI translators provide translation services that ensure the translation matches the necessary requirements to gain permission to work in the country. Generally, finding a Finnish English translator is not particularly easy, but any Finnish person who has documents in Swedish will probably find that they will find adequate document translation services, either in their own country or in Australia itself.

Studying the geography and history of the two countries it doesn’t take much of an imagination to believe that the Swedish language would be quite widespread in Finland. At one point in time, Finland was even incorporated into the territorial boundaries of Sweden. Finland’s proximity to Russia meant that the country was always under pressure in relation to language preference but in the end adopted Swedish, which was given official status in the then independent Finland.

When it comes to a professional translation, Finland Swedish is not identical to the Swedish that is found in Sweden, so if any certified translation services are required, the translator needs to be able to understand the nuances between Finland Swedish and the Swedish spoken in Sweden. Grammatically, not many differences will be found between the two languages, but the vocabulary differs somewhat due to the evolution of the language Finns that speak Swedish are small in number in Finland but there are sufficient speakers to mean that under Finnish law it shares the same status as Finnish.