Machine translation: Cause or solution of all evils? 2

Federico Gaspari, author of this guest post series

Federico Gaspari, author of this guest post series

Meet Federico Gaspari: ProZ.com professional trainer, conference speaker, and the author of today’s guest post.

Federico is an associate professor of English linguistics and translation studies at the University for Foreigners ‘Dante Alighieri’ of Reggio Calabria, Italy. After graduating in translation studies from the University of Bologna at Forlì, he completed an MSc and a PhD in machine translation at the University of Manchester, and has held lecturing and research positions at the Universities of Manchester, Salford, Bologna at Forlì and Macerata. His teaching and research interests include translation technologies, especially those related to machine translation, post-editing and translation quality evaluation, as well as technical and specialized translation, translation theory, corpus linguistics, corpus-based translation studies and English linguistics.

This is the first post in a two-part guest blog series by Federico on machine translation and post-editing. The second post can be found here: “Post-editing: Blessing or curse for translators?


It is no surprise that machine translation (MT) is a hot topic that polarizes opinions, especially in online communities of translators, interpreters and language professionals such as ProZ.com. However, the way in which the debate on MT has developed, especially on the Internet, is quite surprising and interesting: in the last decade or so, the discussion has moved from the feasibility and viability of translation technology to its potential applications in everyday scenarios, as a tool to address real multilingual communication needs. This in itself shows that MT is making progress and perhaps it is now time for mature reflection, leaving aside prejudice and misconceptions, primarily for translators and language specialists, who certainly are more directly affected by MT than anyone else. As an MT researcher and trainer, I take a special interest in the public debate on translation technology: here I would like to comment on a selection of recent online news stories and blog posts on the topic, discussing their relevance to professional translators.

The ever-present MT howlers

One constant in the media seems to be the regular coverage of (bizarrely often sex-related) MT ‘howlers’, whereby innocent food festivals, decent bank transactions and respectable research projects fall prey to embarrassing failures in multilingual communication, invariably featuring surreal sexual imagery: prudery may be the ultimate weapon of staunch MT opponents. No language pair or text type seem to be immune from suggestive innuendos and dirty references that are unwittingly gained in machine translation.

Whatever one’s view of MT may be, and without disputing the entertainment value of these news stories, it seems legitimate to wonder how common such spectacularly saucy mistakes must actually be to make the headlines of well-established newspapers and widely read blogs, particularly vis-à-vis more dignified and reasonable (if still imperfect) uses of translation technology. If one were to uncritically accept the implied message of these recurrent news reports, then MT would appear to be the cause of (nearly) all evils; and perhaps also the reason for impossible interlingual communication and for the lack of intercultural understanding, due to the abundant porn references randomly cropping up in MT output. This negative bias is reminiscent of the die-hard criticism that has consistently denied the feasibility of MT since the 1950s, focusing attention on (often apocryphal) stupid mistakes.

Not all doom and gloom

quotes2At the opposite extreme of the public debate on MT one finds a deterministic and almost messianic view of translation technology, typically held by those who present it as the solution to (nearly) all evils of today’s interlingual communication in an increasingly globalised world – not surprisingly, this rosy picture is often painted by those who have a vested interest in translation technology being funded, or sold, or both. These MT enthusiasts stand in the long, and mostly noble, tradition of visionaries, researchers, developers and entrepreneurs who have contributed to the improvement of translation technology in small incremental steps over the last 6 decades, through many ups and downs. In my view, the current online public debate on MT is more a testimony to the gradual successes of the exponents of this pro-MT camp, than to the farsightedness of MT’s intransigent detractors.

While I certainly do not subscribe to the rather simplistic view that MT can bring an end to all evils, and I even have my own doubts that it will ever, rather more modestly, enable faultless communication across all language barriers and cultural borders, I find it quite interesting that translation technology is increasingly discussed in unprecedented contexts – one doesn’t have to scour the Internet far and wide to come across recent blog posts written by authors with various backgrounds (computer scientists, linguists, lexicographers, language teachers, industry analysts and all-round know-it-alls), where it is claimed, for example, that: MT undermines the dominance of English as the world’s lingua franca; MT makes language learning obsolete; MT is detrimental to the preservation and survival of minority languages. To my mind, these arguments concerning the sociolinguistic, educational and cultural impact of MT suggest that, for better or for worse, translation technology is playing a far-reaching role that hardly anybody would have predicted before the turn of the millennium.

What do translators think?

quotes3Online news stories and blog posts discussing these topics attract a wide range of comments, reflecting a variety of opinions. I find it striking that people from all walks of life have strong views on these issues, which are relatively new in the public debate on technological progress, and have to date received scarce attention even in the relevant scholarly literature: while a few of the authors and commentators are experts with proven credentials in the field, lay members of the public represent the majority of those who exchange views on such exciting new topics surrounding MT on the Internet. And their opinions are hardly ever balanced or nuanced, but almost invariably polarised between contemptuous criticism and idealist enthusiasm: there is very little room to critically review different points of view, let alone to discuss doubts.

Translators are becoming more involved in discussing MT-related issues, and I for one welcome their growing engagement with these topics that capture the public’s attention. While it is perfectly understandable that professional translators are among the most vocal critics of MT, they are also the ones who would benefit the most from a thorough understanding and a reasoned discussion of the pros and cons, potential and limitations of translation technology, steering clear of sensationalist drivel. The ProZ.com community has always been at the forefront of technological developments in the translation profession, offering a platform where practitioners and trainers can openly exchange their views on relevant, if at times controversial, topics. I would argue that keeping abreast of the latest trends in MT is vital not only for today’s translator training, but also, and perhaps more crucially, for professional translators’ lifelong learning and continuing professional development going forward. The ProZ.com community can play a vital role in sustaining an informed debate on the impact of MT on professional translators and in providing them with valuable training opportunities in this area.


eventsInterested in learning about the benefits of using machine translation in your work? Federico offers several ProZ.com training courses on the subject, including two upcoming live sessions:

Turn Machine Translation from Foe to Ally on January 25th at 14:00 GMT

Maximize Your Productivity with Effective Machine Translation Post-Editing on February 8th at 14:00 GMT

Stay tuned for the second part of this guest post series, “Post-editing: Blessing or curse for translators?”, to be featured soon.

Do you use machine translation professionally? Why or why not? Add a comment below or tweet your response to @ProZcom

Guest post: Expanding the translation industry through crowdfunding with the Win-Win Project Reply

Today’s guest post author is Reginaldo Francisco, a professional translator working in English and Italian into Portuguese, working primarily in the literary field as well as with texts pertaining to quality management, compliance, people management and technology. He has a bachelor’s degree in translation from the São Paulo State University (UNESP) and a master’s in translation studies from the Federal University at Santa Catarina (UFSC), in Brazil. As a ProZ.com professional trainer, Reginaldo teaches courses and gives lectures on the translation industry, mainly on the use CAT tools. He is, in conjunction with Claudia Zavaglia, co-author of the book Parece mas não é: as armadilhas da tradução do italiano para o português (in English: It seems to be but isn’t: Traps in Italian-to-Portuguese translation).


Reginaldo Francisco, founder of the Win-Win Project

Back in October, Pieter Beens published a post here in ProZ.com’s blog about five examples of crowdfunding initiatives related to the translation industry. Now I am going to talk about a project he did not mention — indeed, he could hardly have known about it as it had been launched only a few days earlier — which has everything to do with crowdfunding and translation: the Win-Win Project.

Pieter explains that “crowdfunding websites act as a platform where innovators meet ‘backers’ – people who have the money and will to invest in innovations.” To talk about Win-Win, however, I would rather quote the definition found at Wikipedia: “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people […]. Crowdfunding is a form of alternative finance, which has emerged outside of the traditional financial system.”

In fact, the Win-Win Project is all about crowdfunding and translation, since its aim is precisely to create a crowdfunding platform specifically for translations. The motivation behind it is to be an alternative solution to some unpleasant — often unfair — aspects of the existing translation industry. As I already discussed here, individuals in general can’t afford professional translation services on their own, so they are stuck with options like machine or amateur translations. Professional translators, in turn, can only work for those who can pay their price, i.e., mostly companies, often translating materials that are not that interesting (manuals, contracts and the like) and often under pressure from their clients to do more in less time for lower pay.

If we think about the huge amount of information available nowadays on the Internet, it is easy to conclude that most of this content remains available only in one language and thus inaccessible to those who don’t understand it. Thousands of people would like to gain access to articles, papers, blog posts, news items, reports and other texts in their own language, but they can’t afford to pay for quality, professional translations. So everybody loses — professional translators included.

What Win-Win Project highlights, however, is that, even if people can’t afford translations individually, together they can! And that’s what we want to make possible through Win-Win: a crowdfunding platform to enable people to easily join together to pay for the kind of quality translations that only professional, human translators can provide. The process is simple, explained in four steps in our introductory video:

  1. A translation project for a text available online is created on the Win-Win site by someone who would like to see it translated. The project creator gives the website address of the text and indicates the amount he/she can contribute to pay for the translation. Win-Win then contacts the content owner for consent; if approved, the project is announced, indicating the contribution from the project creator and calling for other people to contribute.
  2. Those interested in getting the content translated can contribute to its funding with any amount they choose. The content owner, the project creator and the contributors can all promote the project through social media or other means to find more potential contributors, and the website where the original text is located can also provide a link to the project at Win-Win.
  3. When the amount raised is enough to fairly compensate his/her work, an experienced, professional translator takes on the project and produces a high-quality translation of the text. Win-Win will maintain a directory of professional translators with experience and proven competence who will be allowed to take on projects involving their language pairs.
  4. Once the translation is completed, it is published on Win-Win site, along with a link to the original content in the source language. The translator receives the amount raised from contributions, and the content owner can put a link on the original site pointing to the translation.

So does this mean that people pay only what they can afford to, and yet translators are well-paid? Exactly! It harnesses the kind of magic that Internet connecting power has made possible through crowdfunding. It’s a real win-win situation for everybody:

  • translators are well-paid for their service and have the freedom to select projects of their interest, according to their availability and specialties;
  • the broader translator community gains more visibility as Win-Win projects highlight the value of human, professional translation;
  • contributors get precise, high-quality translations while paying much less than if each of them had to pay the total sum of a professional translator’s service;
  • the owner of the original content has it published in other languages, and the Win-Win translation project promotion can attract more visitors to his/her site;
  • Internet users in general gain access to more content in their languages, which helps spread ideas and knowledge through a more multilingual web.

But the Win-Win Project is about crowdfunding in another sense as well: to become a reality, setting up the Win-Win platform also depends on the success of this crowdfunding campaign. We need to raise the amount necessary to pay for the system development, website design and other expenses to get Win-Win up and running, and no other funding strategy could better match the project spirit than crowdfunding. But we now have very little time left, until December 15, to achieve our campaign goal (BRL 65,000 — roughly USD 17,500); otherwise, Win-Win will remain only an idea, at least for the time being.

Since translators are the ones who will benefit most from the new market niche that Win-Win proposes, I hope many of you reading this now will be interested in learning more about it and contributing to make it real. It is possible to contribute from anywhere in the world using PayPal. In addition, you can also help by spreading the word about Win-Win to all your contacts — the campaign, including the videos in it, are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, so you can share it with anyone who can understand one of those languages!

The stakes are high — expanding the translation market, democratizing access to quality translation, building a more multilingual Internet. But together we’re a crowd! Help make it all possible!

winwinproject


I hope you enjoyed this post, and thanks to Reginaldo for sharing it with us! See a related guest post on crowdfunding initiatives in the translation industry here: 5 exciting examples of crowdfunding for translation

Questions? Comments? Feedback can be posted in the comments section below or via Twitter @ProZcom

Guest podcast: Sharing the small world of interpreting through podcasts Reply

LangFM won this year's best interpreting-related podcast.

Alexander’s LangFM series won this year’s best interpreting-related podcast.

In keeping with our guest blog series from winners of this year’s ProZ.com community choice awards, it’s only fitting that we feature the recipient for best interpreting-related podcast with, well, a podcast. Alexander Drechsel, whose LangFM series won the award in this category, is a professional conference interpreter working for a large European institution. He regularly blogs about language, interpreting and technology, particularly Apple and Android tablets.

In this guest post, Alexander discusses the increasing popularity of podcasts among language professionals, and offers a few worthwhile podcast listening suggestions of his own.

Click on the play button below to to give this guest podcast a listen:

Direct link to podcast: https://blogproz.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/proz-podcast-1.mp3


alexander_drechselI hope you enjoyed this post, and many thanks to Alexander for sharing it with us!

Be sure to check out the LangFM podcast series to hear more from Alexander as he talks to fellow interpreters about their careers in languages, as well as their passions beyond the confines of the booth. You can also find Alexander on Twitter as @adrechsel, his personal account, and as @tabterp, where he shares all things related to using tablets for interpreting.

This is the third post in a series featuring recipients of this year’s ProZ.com community choice awards. See the previous posts in this series here:

Guest post: How to practice interpreting? Stop interpreting 4

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Andrew won the community choice award for best interpreting-related book.

Experienced interpreters and students alike may be able to learn some valuable tips in today’s guest post from ProZ.com community choice award winner Andrew Gillies. Andrew is a freelance conference interpreter and trainer working from French, German and Polish into English at the European Parliament, the European Patent Office, the European Space Agency, the European Commission, and for private clients. He has been training interpreters since 1999 in universities throughout Europe: at the University of Łódź, WLS Warsaw, UJ Cracow, UAM Poznan, FHK Cologne, ISIT Paris and EMCI Lisbon, and for the European Parliament in Brussels. He also trains interpreter trainers for AIIC.

Andrew has published a number of books and articles on conference interpreter training, the most notable of which being Conference Interpreting: A Student’s Practice Book, which won this year’s community choice award for best interpreting-related book. In this post, Andrew shares some interesting strategies for practicing interpreting by not interpreting.


In this short post I’d like to show why interpreting is not necessarily the best way to improve your interpreting and suggest a few ways of practising that are not interpreting.

andrew_gilliesIt’s natural enough to think that best way to improve your interpreting is to interpret. Student interpreters might think so for a number of reasons – 1) they’ve done very little of it so far; 2) they’re told repeatedly how important experience is in interpreting; 3) they want to interpret as much as possible because they like doing it. Professionals on the other hand may think that all the interpreting they are doing in the course of a working week is enough to bring continued improvement of itself.

However, interpreting is not the ONLY way to improve your interpreting. And indeed, when practise means only interpreting it’s not even the best way to improve any more.

“How expert one becomes at a skill has more to do with how one practices than with merely performing a skill a large number of times. An expert breaks down the skills that are required to be expert and focuses on improving those skill chunks during practice or day-to-day activities, often paired with immediate coaching feedback.” This quote is Wikipedia’s description of the work of psychologist K. Anders Ericsson – a pioneer in the field of deliberate practice. Ericsson is not specifically talking about interpreting, of course, but it still applies, based as it is on some sound empirical evidence.

So what does that mean? Well let’s take an everyday analogy: my Great-Uncle drove a car every day for 60 years – so he had plenty of experience – but he was a bad driver and never got any better at it because 1) he wasn’t trying to get better; 2) he didn’t practice the things he did less well, like changing gear, in isolation and 3) he certainly didn’t ask for any feedback on how he was driving! (He did give a lot of ‘feedback’ to other drivers, but that’s another story!)

So can interpreting be broken down into sub-skills and how can we address them individually? Well this is only a short post, so let’s stick to consecutive interpreting.

Daniel Gile identifies the following sub-skills for consecutive in his book Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator Training: Listening, Analysing, Memorising, Taking notes, Coordinating between sub-skills in a first phase and then in a second phase, Speaking, Reading notes, Recalling information, Monitoring your production.

Any of these skills can be practised in isolation, without actually interpreting. You just need to find the right exercise. And the practice will impact positively on your future performance of the whole interpreting skill.

Let’s take ‘analysis’. Speeches are not uninterrupted streams of consciousness (despite what we sometimes might think!) The speaker will have created a speech with distinct sections separated by topic, chronology, line of argument etc. Identifying those sections is a useful part of the analysis sub-skill in consecutive (and also simultaneous). And it’s a skill that can be practised without interpreting. For example by only listening to a speech and indicating when you think the speaker has moved on to a different part of the speech. The classic exercise is to count the sections on your fingers¹, but you could equally note down one word per section². You can also work from the transcript of a speech³. (First ask someone to remove all the paragraph breaks from the transcript so the speech is just a block of text. Then read the speech and hit ‘return’ wherever you think it moves on to a new section). And for each of these exercises compare your version with a colleague or a teacher. After all, if you can’t identify these sections when only listening, or when reading a text, how will you recognize and communicate them when interpreting?

Another related exercise⁴ practises your understanding of how the parts of a speech fit together. Get a colleague to print out a short speech, or part of a speech (5-10 paragraphs). Ask the colleague to cut up the speech – so you have one paragraph on each piece of paper – and shuffle the bits of paper. Now your job is to read the different parts of the speech and put them back in the right order. You will notice – because the exercise forces you to notice – that certain elements of language and information exclude or impose a certain order of the sections. You will start recognize how a speaker signals a new section, or how two sections relate to one another, or how speeches self-reference. That in turn become very useful to you when you are interpreting and better understanding these things yourself will help you communicate them better to your listeners.

conference_interpretingProfessionals may feel that basic exercises like these are too simple for them. But it’s worth trying them out to check that is the case. If it is, then instead of isolating a sub-skill entirely they can focus on a sub-skill while interpreting⁵. For example, by setting a goal as a complement to the interpreting task. Something like, ‘today while interpreting I’m going to focus on clearly separating the sections of the speech for my listeners’. Then record and listen to yourself to see if you managed to do that. Focusing on a sub-skill in this way is also more effective than simply interpreting without any specific goal.

To conclude I’d like to make one more important point and again abuse the example of my (fictional) Great-Uncle to do so. As I said earlier, his driving didn’t improve because he wasn’t trying to improve it. Most student interpreters are trying to improve already, so part of the battle is won. My Great-Uncle though had another issue. He wasn’t trying to improve because he mistakenly thought he was doing it just-fine-thank-you-very-much. Interpreters can make the same mistake. Don’t be one of them! There’s always room for improvement, so keep practising, and thinking about how you practise, long after you graduate from interpreting school!

These exercises, and more, can be found in Andy Gillies’ book, Conference Interpreting – A Student’s Practice Book with the following references – 1 C31; 2 C103; 3 C39; 4 C40; 5 A5.


Many thanks to Andrew for sharing this post with us.

Interested in learning more tips on honing your interpreting skills? Be sure to check out Interpreter Training Resources, a website dedicated to this subject. Conference Interpreting: A Student’s Practice Book is also available for sale via Routledge and on Amazon.

This is the second post in a series featuring recipients of this year’s ProZ.com community choice awards. The first post in this series can be found here:

Guest post: Teaching translation project management 2

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Nancy’s e-book won this year’s award for best translation-related book.

As promised, I’m happy to present the first installment of our guest blog post series featuring recipients of this year’s ProZ.com community choice awards. First up is Nancy Matis, who won the award for best translation-related book for her e-book entitled How to manage your Translation Projects. The print version, available in French, can be purchased here.

Nancy has been involved in the translation industry for about 20 years, working as a translator, reviser, technical specialist, project manager and teacher, among other roles. She currently manages her own translation company based in Belgium and teaches translation project management at four universities. She has conducted seminars at numerous universities on this subject across Europe, and has also been involved in designing and evaluating training materials for future translators and project managers.

In this guest post, Nancy discusses some techniques she uses in teaching translation project management to her students, and explains why this is a useful skill for project managers and translators alike.


TPM_checklistTeaching Translation Project Management (TPM) is really thrilling. One of the aspects I most enjoy is that the majority of my students are highly interested in this topic. The challenge lies in the breadth of the subject and the wide variety of translation requests it encompasses. Every project is different, every company (whether an end client or a translation agency) has its own management methods, and every project participant has their own concerns depending on the role they play.

The way I approach TPM with MA students is to describe the theoretical life cycle of a translation project, and in-between, to add as many counter examples as I can. The goal is not to teach them just one way of managing their projects, but to open their minds to this vast area while pushing them to know how to adapt to any situation, as project managers or translators, and as employees or freelancers.

TPM is not only useful for future project managers. All participants in a translation project have to manage their own tasks. That’s why it’s essential to include concepts that apply to all of them and to target explanations at specific job profiles.

For instance, the subject that students find the most appealing in the main is pricing. I usually start by showing them several examples of price grids and explaining that, as project managers working in translation agencies, they will probably have to refer to grids to prepare new quotations. This gives me an opportunity to illustrate any rate variations based on source and target languages as well as the project domain (legal, medical, economics, etc.), style (technical, marketing, etc.) and category (documentation, software, multimedia, etc.), and the tasks involved (not only translation and revision, but also desktop publishing, illustration mock-up, testing, etc.) according to their level of
complexity. From there, we explore how translation companies establish their rates and how these future professionals can define their own and present them in a customised price grid. We talk about prices based on estimated costs and briefly introduce the notion of gross margin. Afterwards, we check in detail how to set up rates based on expected productivity. At this stage, we discuss profitability, which gives us the chance to think about what is and is not acceptable. Depending on how much time I have with the class, we can then go as far as drawing up tables with multiple productivity metrics, several expected hourly (or daily) fees and the resulting word rates. We can do this for translation alone, deciding whether to integrate the use of CAT tools (or even machine translation) or not, or we can include other linguistic steps in the calculation, such as revision and LQA (linguistic quality assurance). Sometimes, we repeat the process for some technical tasks, for example DTP (desktop publishing), focusing on rates for units such as pages and illustrations. We can also end the topic by discussing when we should apply extra charges and increase unit rates, or even debating whether the price reductions some clients require are legitimate.

The goals of this approach are multiple:

  • Make the students understand how rates are set up in translation companies.
  • Prepare them to fix rates as freelancers (even when subcontracting to others).
  • Enable them to decide if they can accept the rates imposed by some clients or translation agencies.

During the course, I teach most of the other TPM topics (project analysis, quotation, scheduling, launching, monitoring, closing, etc.) in the same way, i.e. from various perspectives to ensure I cover as many roles in as many project types as possible. I don’t generally limit myself to successful cases since, whenever possible, I share my experience of some project failures too so we can analyse how these situations could have been avoided. This helps students become aware of the importance of risk management. Examining a range of cases is certainly the most enriching side of teaching project management. As I work in parallel on new projects in my other day job, I can constantly update the examples and exercises I give my students. That’s why the Translation Project Management programme is constantly evolving.


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Nancy Matis, author of this guest post

Thanks for sharing this post with us, Nancy!

For those interested in learning more about this topic, be sure to check out Nancy’s website, which is dedicated to the subject of translation project management, at: http://www.translation-project-management.com/

The How to manage your Translation Projects e-book is also available for purchase in the ProZ.com books section: http://www.proz.com/books/91/How-to-manage-your-translation-projects

Stay tuned for upcoming guest blog posts featuring winners of the 2015 ProZ.com community choice awards. Feedback on this blog post and suggestions for future posts can be made below or tweeted to @ProZcom

Guest post: 5 exciting examples of crowdfunding for translation 2

In addition to his work as a freelance translator and copywriter working in English to Dutch, Pieter Beens is also an active blogger and a ProZ.com professional trainer.  In this guest post, Pieter sheds some light on a few interesting crowdfunding initiatives pertaining to the language industry.


Pieter_BeensThe translation industry is full of innovative technologies and groundbreaking trends, like the logic that CAT tools improve our efficiency and the introduction of translation engines. A new and innovative trend that has emerged outside our industry is the idea of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding websites act as a platform where innovators meet “backers” – people who have the money and will to invest in innovations. In the translation industry, innovations have traditionally been backed by investments from outside the industry, e.g. companies developing CAT tools and related software have not traditionally asked translators for funding. With the rise of crowdfunding projects however, an approach between innovators and backers seemed to be developing within the industry. In this blog post I share 5 interesting examples of crowdfunding initiatives taking place in the translation industry.

Slate Desktop™ – Funding a translation engine
slate-desktopThe most important and groundbreaking current crowdfunding project for translators is Slate Desktop™. This project is already under development and therefore crowdfunding is not necessarily to gain money, but to get some insight as to the support from industry professionals for this initiative. Slate Desktop™ is a piece of software that uses your own translation memories for machine translation. The software requires big TMs (preferably more than 100,000 segments) to learn your tone and style. Once it analyses the content of the TM, you can connect the software to any major CAT tool and use it to machine translate your texts.

This project was developed by industry professionals and has some major benefits. I wrote an analysis on some advantages and drawbacks of Slate Desktop™ at http://www.vertaalt.nu/blog/slate-desktop-opportunities-and-threats/. You may also be interested in reading about some of the practical aspects of Slate Desktop™ in Emma Goldsmith‘s blog post, “Slate and big TMs: the perfect combination?“.

The campaign currently needs only 10% in 10 days, so hurry up and join the forces. People who back now will receive a 40% discount on the purchase price now and a perpetual 40% discount on future upgrades.

Learning language on the loo
It’s not a secret that we need to have a shorter or longer break every now and then. Visiting a toilet is a great idea to get some rest and do some necessary things. People who cannot miss an email can take their tablets with them, but if you want to learn a second language the project “Language and educational books on tissue paper” can be helpful. The people behind this project are looking for funds to produce toilet paper with educational books and languages. Great if you want to unite the useful and the pleasant. The project still needs some backers: it has currently only raised 55 USD from the total 90k they need.

Crowdfunding game and book translations
When you search Kickstarter or Indiegogo for translation projects, you can find a multitude of book translation projects. People either don’t know where to get their books translated or simply want to know whether there is a market for their favorite book in their native language. That principle applies to game localization as well. Square Enix, a Japanese developer of computer games, is looking at opportunities to make fans of the games funders for localization projects. That’s an interesting development and many fans will certainly back localization projects for their favorite games. One benefit is that developers and book fans will spend the money for a quality translation/localization instead of looking for the cheapest translator or for fans who don’t master a language but who like to be part of the localization team. So crowdfunding this way offers some options for professional translators as well.

learnlanguageLearning a language by playing
Another crowdfunding initiative to teach languages was the project “Learn Spanish OR Japanese by Playing a Game”. This project was funded by 133% and has already been developed. In order to play, users need to scan a playing card with their mobile phone. The smartphone then shows a video with a native speaker saying a certain phrase. If the translation is unclear, users can tap a button to see the information they need. During the game, the players help each other speak Spanish or Japanese, using only phrases in the respective language. They can also use sounds or gestures. After a phrase is learned, it is placed in the middle of the table and made available for a “challenge round”. In this round players challenge each other to independently generate the phrase. The Spanish version is for sale here.

Saving a language
An entirely different type of project is “Help Save the Haida Language”. This is a personal project to save Xaayda Kil, a language that is spoken by a select group of inhabitants of Canada. As the organizer of the crowdfunding campaign puts it: “The language is a Canadian cultural treasure, and it is in danger.” Xaayda Kil is spoken fluently by only a few dozen people, many of whom are in their 70s and 80s. The project is meant to get funding for local organizations that are trying to save the language. This initiative may only be relevant for a small group, but it is important from a cultural perspective. The success of the campaign (it was 275% funded) makes it clear that there is even a perspective for endangered languages.


You can find Pieter on the web at Vertaalt.nu, and on Twitter @vertaaltnu

For a list of on-demand training sessions offered by Pieter on ProZ.com, visit: http://www.proz.com/translator-training/trainers/1273/courses

As always, questions, feedback and suggestions for future posts can be posted in the comments section below or via Twitter @ProZcom

Guest post: The lesson I learned as a financial translator 1

Today’s guest blog post features ProZ.com professional trainer and conference speaker Francesca Airaghi, who was kind enough to share some words of wisdom on her experience as a financial translator and entrepreneur. Francesca provides specialized English-Italian translations to financial companies, asset management companies, investment funds, banks, financial communication companies, law firms and international corporations.

You can find Francesca on the web at http://www.francescaairaghi.it/, or on Twitter @FranAiraghi


Francesca AiraghiYou probably all know somebody who lost his job, could not pay her mortgage any longer, or lost one big client in the wake of the GFC, the notorious Global Financial Crisis. Many companies were affected by the credit crunch and the economic slowdown in numerous countries. However, some used the financial and debt crisis as an excuse not to invest in innovation, not to pay suppliers, or to stand still.

If there is something I have learned in more than 20 years as a financial translator and entrepreneur, and also in my personal life, is that crises may be hard, but they offer the great opportunity to think about what we wish and want to do in the future. If we are able to change, as an individual and as entrepreneurs, we will succeed. Crises convert into opportunities to innovate, to learn new skills, to open new doors. Companies that are ready to change – adapt, innovate, and look forward – succeed. Those that stand still are poised to struggle.

In business, and specifically in the financial and banking industry, international regulators and national governments set new rules to reduce risk and increase transparency, minimise future bail-outs, make financial systems more stable and resilient. New regulations were introduced affecting banks, companies, taxes, markets. Grexit, Brexit and Quantitative Easing are common expressions in the news we read every day.Quote_Guest_Post

New rules and developments brought about an increase in translation volumes. Companies go global in order not to succumb. They translate websites, leaflets, annual reports, press releases. Consequently, translation volumes in the financial sector increased a lot. Financial statements have also doubled in length over the past 16 years, according to Deloitte. People want to read information in their native language before buying a product, especially if it is an expensive product or services, like investment funds or insurance policies (Don’t speak my language? I won’t buy your financial services).

Financial translation is a profitable specialisation, though it often scares many colleagues. People usually believe it is too complex and abstract. On the contrary, it is down-to-earth, and financial translators must keep constantly informed and up-to-date.

In fact, financial translation is a very wide subject and comprises so many sectors and sub-sectors affecting all our lives. Finance includes investments of course, but also annual reports on the company’s results, as well as economic news, and press releases on the launch of a new product or a new CEO. Risk management, conflict of interest, letters to shareholders, market commentaries and outlook belong to the financial translator’s daily agenda. Moreover, corporate law is strictly connected with many financial documents.

I would say that the 3 key areas of financial translation are:

  1. Economics: regarding production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services
  2. Accounting: communicating the company’s performance to shareholders and the public
  3. Finance: investment funds, capital markets, Stock Exchanges, asset management

Good financial translating requires good understanding of financial concepts. Though this is not enough. The language of finance is a special language, informative and emotional at the same time. You need to move from theory to practice and learn how to write financial news and market reports.

Unfortunately, there is lack of professional training in financial translation, especially in some language combinations. People attending my webinars often confirm that training provided at schools and institutions is often academic, not at all practical. They find it difficult to start as financial translators. Some have a financial background but lack the basics of translation, some studied translation but lack the basics of finance. From the mentoring requests I have received in the last couple of years, newbies report the lack of practical advice to become a financial translator, as for organisation (time management and project management), planning (jobs are always urgent in this niche), and reliable resources (the Internet is full of fluff), while the best way to learn is through exercise and practice.

I believe that expert colleagues should share their “practical” real-life knowledge regarding specialisation, rates and client management, to the benefit of translators’ visibility and the entire community of professional translators. Why choosing conflict and isolation when we can collaborate, share, respect and learn from each other?prozcom_training

If you wish to become more confident in translating finance and economics, you can join me in October and November at my webinar series on ProZ.com!

Join me at the Financial Translation Hub page I have just started on Facebook to develop a community of financial translators addicted to continuous learning.


Many thanks to Francesca for sharing this guest post with us!

If you’re interested in learning more about financial translation, Francesca offers a number of valuable on-demand and live sessions on the subject in both English and Italian: http://www.proz.com/translator-training/trainers/1184/courses

Francesca will also be a speaker at the upcoming ProZ.com 2015 regional conference in Modena, Italy, with a session on market trends towards “real time” translations. You can learn more about this event and register to attend here: http://www.proz.com/conference/661

As always, questions, feedback, and suggestions for future posts are welcome. Just post in the comments section below or get in touch via Twitter @ProZcom