Archive for the ‘Language technology in general’ Category

A new blog for localization geeks – espell labs blog

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

The world of language is full of technology – at least so in the area of localization and business translation. And, consequently, it is a fantastic playground for the geekily inclined. Most translation service providers maintain a small zoo of CATs and larger ones even employ professional CAT herders. Internal processes need to be automated and re-engineered to stay on top of the competition in an era of grossly underpaid translation services and not-so-generous profit margins.
In come the language-loving nerds to save the world. And some even write blogs, such as the newly started espell Labs blog. Have a look here.

Having fun with Google translate

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

By now it probably has become common knowledge that you can use google translate to entertain yourself with some beatbox sounds. The google translate blog points to a few other very creative uses of the tool, such as ordering food in Hindi, singing a Taiwanese song, understand what your pet has been trying to tell you.



I’ve been reminded of my old linklist of open-source tools for translators

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

The website, run by a German publishing house, is one of the most important sources of information for all things IT in Germany. They are also the makers behind the magazine “C’T” – a near must-read for German IT professionals. I am mentioning this here, because I have recently noticed that they have published a good article on open-source software for translators:

One of the links on the second page of the article points to my old link collection of open-source software, tools, and utilities for translators (also in German: DE). There is a reason why the site with the link collection isn’t active anymore and has been replaced by this blog: I haven’t had the time to properly maintain the list for the past few years. A lot has happened since it was last updated. However, quite a few of the links are still valid and the reader might discover something valuable. So, have a look around.

(And whenever I find the time, I will convert the stuff to a Wiki so that the maintenance work doesn’t rest on my shoulders alone :)   )


So, your manager / your colleagues / your partners want you to use Google Translate to save time and money?

Monday, March 28th, 2011

There are probably quite a few translation and localization managers out there, who often have to fend off that “idea” to use machine translation. Colleagues or managers look at the likes of Google Translate and they look at the time and money spent on creating human-made translations – and suddenly machine translation seems like a fantastic option.

Translation guy has a few insights on this in his recent blog post.  As usual, the post is well written, insightful and does not shy away from critique. There are many other examples of machine translation gone wrong, such as the infamous “translate server error“.

In essence, there are four use cases at present where machine translation does add value:

- so-called “gisting”, i.e. if you want to quickly and roughly understand what a text in a certain language says;

- translation of highly controlled and structured source content (e.g. weather reports or virus warnings); cf. “controlled language“.

- pseudo-localization, i.e. testing a piece of software with regards to internationlisation or localisability.

- translation of content that wouldn’t otherwise get translated: this is a grey one, though. It certainly doesn’t apply to highly visible or printed content. You might want to use MT on support cases or forum posts, but they should be clearly labeled as having been translated using MT.

If someone thinks that you should use MT for anything else, simply provide them with a few examples, back-translations etc. This will quickly change their minds. Or refer them to the comment to this post which is a back-translation from this post translated into German and then English again using google translate.


Comment on the Mashable blog post “10 Ways to Turn Your Local Business Into a Global Success”

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

I have just read a blog post on Mashable with the intriguing title “10 Ways to Turn Your Local Business Into a Global Success“. The author mentions several good points, some of which are not immediately obvious. For instance, allowing for Bidi languages, such as Arabic and Hebrew, in your web layout or respecting local preferences for payment systems.

However, the first item on the list I have to disagree with. The author advises to quickly translate a business’s website on the cheap, using services like myGengo or machine translation. With more than 10 years localization experience under by belt and the last three years dedicated to web localization, I can tell for sure that this is a recipe for disaster. Marketing-oriented web copy does not lend itself easily to MT. MT is usable for translating highly controlled source text or for the purpose of gisting, but not much more. Besides, there is a lot more involved than just translating the text when localizing web content. There are editing and review steps, web production, and other technical work.

Web localization is a complex craft that should not be diminished by suggesting that it could be achieved quickly and cheaply in the manners described by the author, while achieving results that provide professional quality. Maybe the blog post really is about only “9 Ways to turn your local business into a global success” and “One sure-fire way to turn your local business into a global failure.” IMHO.