Podcast: interview with Hassan Sawaf, Chief Scientist for SAIC Linguistics, on Machine Translation and the future of human translators 4

Here’s a new ProZ.com podcast (see announcement).

Machine translation (MT) technology is advancing at a rapid rate and this is a concern for many freelance translators. So this week I had the chance to talk to Hassan Sawaf, Chief Scientist for SAIC Linguistics, to learn what the future holds for freelance translators in his opinion.

You can listen to the interview here.

Interview highlights:

  • Have you ever wondered what the future holds for freelance translators and whether  Machine Translation will ever be able to replace human translators completely?
  • Are you unsure of how freelance translators can best use Machine Translation in their businesses?
  • Do you ever think about the challenges and dynamics of computational linguistics, and the future of the industry?

Listen to the interview and find out what is Hassan’s take on these subjects.

You can follow Hassan Sawaf on Twitter here.

I hope you like this interview.

If you have any suggestions for possible themes for upcoming podcasts you can send them to romina at proz.com or via Twitter @ProZcom.

To listen to previous podcasts, check the podcasts tab in this blog.

Thanks for listening!


Further reading:

SAIC Throws Down the Gauntlet for Hybrid MT

Podcast: interview with CJ Evans on the Center for the Art of Translation Reply

Here’s a new ProZ.com podcast (see announcement).

For some time now, I have been flagging interesting news about features and events  organized by the Center for the Art of Translation. I contacted CJ Evans, TWO LINES managing director, to learn more about the Center and the three programs it offers.

You can listen to the interview here.

Interview highlights.

CJ Evans explains that the Center’s mission is to promote cultural understanding and dialogue through international literature and translation, with programs in publishing, teaching, and public events in the San Francisco area where it is located. He currently manages the online publication TWO LINES, which has been going on for 18 years.

The center currently has three programs underway:

TWO LINES. It is an annual anthology of international writing in translation. TWO LINES offers writing from over fifty countries, giving readers access to renowned and emerging writers from around the world. Each publication is guest-edited by translator and writers. The publication features the translation on facing pages with the original and  a short introduction (around 500 words) by the translator introducing the piece and the writer and talking about the process of translating that piece. This is a translation-focused journal.

Two Voices. It is the event series in San Francisco. The program is a reading series that features international authors and translators, presenting thought-provoking literature from around the world. These events feature renowned translators such as: Pulitzer-Winning Poet and Translator Richard Howard, Mexican writers  Carmen Boullosa and Pura Lopez Colome and top American translators of Scandinavian crime novels, Steven T. Murray (aka Reg Keeland) and Tiina Nunnally. See the full list of events here.

Poetry Inside Out. It is the Center’s literary arts program that fosters imagination and builds student’s problem solving, critical thinking, and literacy skills through the translation and composition of poetry. Although this is taking place only in San Francisco, the Center is working on the syllabus to bring the program to a national level.

Who can participate in the Center’s activities? How?

There are two ways:

  • in person: in San Francisco, translators and the public in general can attend these events which are generally free.
  • online: there are also audio recordings for all the events. Those interested in hearing other colleagues talk about the craft of translating can check the list of audio recordings here.

CJ highly recommends the one  with Lydia Davis discussing her acclaimed new translation of Madame Bovary.

Translators willing to participate can submit articles to the journal (currently the Center is working on the next anthology. The center also has volunteer positions for younger translators to work in the Center’s office.

You can get in touch with the Center through its website, Facebook and via Twitter.

I hope you liked this interview.

If you have any suggestions for possible themes for upcoming podcasts you can send them to romina at proz.com or via Twitter @ProZcom.

To listen to previous podcasts, check the podcasts tab in this blog.

Thanks for listening!


Podcast: interview with Paula Meiss on the call for papers for 452°F feature about literary translation and comparatism 1

Here’s a new ProZ.com podcast. These podcasts are designed to provide an opportunity to hear the week’s news, highlights of site features, interviews with translators and others in the industry, and to have some fun (see announcement).

An interesting announcement about a call for papers on literary translation and comparatism was shared some days ago in the translation news section of ProZ.com. The announcement was really interesting so I contacted Paula Meiss, who is one of the founding members, editor-in-chief and translator coordinator of the journal, to learn more about 452°F and this call for papers.

Paula explained that 452°F is an academic journal of literary theory and comparative literature. It was created in 2009 by a group of young researches and university lecturers based in Barcelona, Spain. Its goal is to help pre-doctoral students start publishing their work and also function as a bridge between these young researchers and more established ones. Another goal of the journal is to spread the results of the research in other languages other than English so the journal also accepts papers for publication in Catalan, Spanish, Basque, Portuguese, Italian, Galician and French. Once articles in any of these languages are submitted they make sure the articles are translated into English, Catalan, Spanish and Basque.

Paula also talked a little about the team of translators and proofreaders of the journal. She explained that the team is open to all translators and proofreaders willing to participate as long as they are willing to collaborate once or twice a year translating one or two articles. Volunteers can send their CVs to proyectos@452f.com.

Regarding the call for papers for the journal’s upcoming issue  she explained that the journal works with monographic sections and the 7th issue will be dedicated to literary translation and comparatism. Even though the journal is not devoted to translation studies, for the 7th issue articles about the relationship  between literary theory and comparative literature as a discipline will be accepted. The lines of research that will be accepted are:

a.    Intersemiotic and interlinguistic translation
b.    Translation and censorship – comparative reception of translation
c.    Literary translations and traditions
d.    Comparative literary translations
e.    Literary translation and criticism

Towards the end of the interview Paula describes the benefits of participating in this type of journal and shares some details about how rewarding her experience has been so far.

You can listen to the podcast here: ProZ.com podcast, 2011-10-28

The deadline for submissions is January 31st 2012. You can find more information here.

If you have any suggestions for possible themes for upcoming podcasts you can send them to romina at proz.com or via Twitter @ProZcom.

To listen to previous podcasts, check the podcasts tab in this blog.

Thanks for listening!


Podcast: Interview with Lucia Leszinsky on the upcoming ProZ.com site guidance day
 and the Certified PRO Network virtual conference 2

Here’s a new ProZ.com podcast. These podcasts are designed to provide an opportunity to hear the week’s news, highlights of site features, interviews with translators and others in the industry, and to have some fun (see announcement).

As you may know already, the International Translation Day celebration at ProZ.com (Sep 26 – Sep 30) is around the corner. This year there will be a big celebration under the theme “Small changes, big results!” There will be five days dedicated to this virtual event — the Certified PRO Network virtual conference (Sep 26)
, the ProZ.com site guidance day
 (Sep 27), the Recruitment day (Sep 28), The Great Translation Debate (Sep 29) and the traditional Freelance translator virtual conference (Sep 30). This week, I interviewed Lucia Leszinsky, ProZ.com site staff member devoted to site guidance activities and ProZ.com Certified PRO Network coordinator, who is in charge of the organization of the Site Guidance Day and the Certified PRO Network Virtual Conference to learn more about these events.

I was specially curious about the site guidance event and Lucía explained that the ProZ.com site guidance event will be a day of presentations on how to get the most out of ProZ.com. It will include sessions and discussions on ProZ.com’s most popular features, tools and benefits, and attendees will be able to learn how to customize their profiles to meet clients in and outside the site, know more about getting started in translation or expanding their businesses by using the site effectively. During the event attendees will be able to also discuss about the most effective way to use the Blue Board to assess risk and how to use the KudoZ term help system to receive and give help with the translation of tough terms. This event will be about learning how to use ProZ.com for the attendees’ benefit and what is very important is that all ProZ.com’s registered users, members and non-members, are invited to participate.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Small changes, big results” so I asked Lucía what big results could attendees to the event expect by simply participating in this event. She explained that attendees will see how applying small changes to their ProZ.com profiles, or attending a short training session, or even checking potential clients’ contact details before taking on a project makes a huge difference when it comes to client contact and improving their businesses.

I also asked Lucía about the Certified PRO Network Virtual Conference planned for September 26, 2011 and she mentioned that this event will also be a day of presentations on professional promotion, translation tools, translator training and more. This is an event planned for professional translators so access will be restricted to members of the ProZ.com Certified PRO Network only.

Members of the ProZ.com Certified PRO Network who wish to attend this event can register also by clicking on “Register now” in the event page. Those site members that are not yet members of the ProZ.com Certified PRO Network are still on time to apply for inclusion into the network and take part in this event.

At the end of the interview I asked Lucía to mention three benefits that attendees can get from participating in these events and she did not hesitate to assert that ProZ.com virtual events in general offer attendees unparalleled access to educational content, networking and recruitment opportunities, and more, all within a rich and engaging online environment. She thinks they are a perfect opportunity to network with colleagues, meet clients, expand the knowledge of the translation industry, CAT tools, and other translation and interpretation-related topics. Attendees to virtual events can also meet the site staff virtually and receive personalized assistance with using the tools the site offers to network, improve their work, expand their businesses and have fun.

Listen to the interview with Lucía here: ProZ.com podcast, 2011-09-15

Feedback and comments are welcome. You can reach me at romina at proz.com or via Twitter @ProZcom .

Don’t forget to sign up for the events planned for the free ProZ.com’s virtual event series 2011. All these events are designed to celebrate International Translation Day so you cannot miss them!

Thanks for listening and see you at ProZ.com’s virtual event series 2011


Podcast: interview with Paula Góes about Lingua — Global Voices translation project 1

Here’s a new ProZ.com podcast. These podcasts are designed to provide an opportunity to hear the week’s news, highlights of site features, interviews with translators and others in the industry, and to have some fun (see announcement).

In searching translation news on the Internet I came across Global Voices. I noticed that many of the projects were very interesting and I was specially intrigued by its translation project called Lingua so I got in touch with Paula Góez, Global Voices multilingual editor to learn more about Global Voices and the Lingua project.

At the beginning of the interview I asked Paula how she got involved with Global Voices and she explained that she first trained as a journalist and worked as a TV producer. She felt at ease with the written word so she became a translator when se went to London in 2002. Searching for blogs about translation she found out that the Global Voices project in Portuguese had just been launched and after reading the manifesto she knew it was the kind of project with which she wanted to get involved. She started as a volunteer translator in 2007 and then she also started to write. She found that her job was coming in between her volunteering activity so she decided to become a full-time freelancer and was invited to join Global Voices as its multilingual editor. She explained that Global Voices is a community of more than 400 bloggers and translators around the world who work together to bring reports from blogs and citizen media everywhere, with emphasis on voices that are not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media. Global Voices was founded in 2005 by former CNN Beijing and Tokyo Bureau Chief, Rebecca MacKinnon and technologist and Africa expert, Ethan Zuckerman while they were both fellows at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. The idea for the project grew out of an international bloggers’ meeting held at Harvard in December 2004 and it began as a simple blog.

In addition to the main news room there are a number of projects which are mostly born from the communities. These projects include: Global Voices Advocacy, Rising Voices, and the one Paula finds most exciting — the lingua project, which is the translation project of Global Voices. When Global Voices started in 2005 it was only available in English and the communities felt the need to have it in more languages so in 2007 they started with 5 languages and now they have over 30 active sites with translations coming in every day. There have been 10,200 translations posted since January 2011. She also explains how lingua changed from being a translation project into being a multilingual newsroom and how this process came very naturally as the community grew and there were a lot of people who could both translate and write and create content in other languages. As the majority of bloggers and editors did not speak English as their first language it made sense to have them write in their native languages. They created a decentralized workflow, a multilingual newsroom, where a news is written in a language other than English and then translated into English. This means, for example, that a news can be translated from Spanish straight into French so that English becomes less of a dominant language and other languages take more space. They did this because it is easier for people to write in their own language and stories came out faster. And what is really important now is that, in oder to be a volunteer for global voices, you do not need to know English as you can write in your own language.

To get involved translators only need to get in touch. Global voices does not require a formal qualification but people in charge of translations should know the language they are translating from and should be good writers. There are many professionals performing this task now. It is a great opportunity for aspiring translators as it is a great way to practise and build a portfolio to show off. Those who would like to volunteer only have to get in touch. There is a form you can fill at the bottom of this page.

Listen to the interview with Paula Góes here: ProZ.com podcast, 2011-09-02

Feedback and comments are welcome. You can reach me at romina at proz.com or via Twitter @ProZcom .

Those interested in learning more about Global Voices and its Lingua project can check the bottom of the Lingua page and complete the form corresponding to the language of their interest. You can also follow Global Voices on Twitter @globalvoices.

To listen to previous podcasts, check the podcasts tab in this blog.


Podcast: interview with Rahzeb Choudhury about the upcoming “Great Translation Debate” 3

Here’s a new ProZ.com podcast. These podcasts are designed to provide an opportunity to hear the week’s news, highlights of site features, interviews with translators and others in the industry, and to have some fun (see announcement).

On September 29, 2011 TAUS and ProZ.com will host the Great Translation Debate online so I interviewed Rahzeb Choudhury, Operations Director at TAUS, to learn more about the ideas behind this debate and about the topics that will be discussed.

Before going into the details about the upcoming event I asked Rahzeb to explain briefly what TAUS does and describe its mission. He explained that TAUS aims to help people to use technology more effectively by informing properly about translation automation. They aim to help people improve their strategies for translation. TAUS’ mission is to increase the size and significance of the translation industry to help the world communicate better. He also explained that the idea for this event came up quite a long time ago, in December last year, as they were reviewing a series called translation in the 21st century where they covered what major companies were doing, the challenges and opportunities available for translation companies and a couple of articles on the changing role of translators. They wanted to continue on those topics because they are relevant so they thought the idea of the debate would open up the discussion. During the debate participants will be able to discuss a motion and vote for or against it and it is expected that this format will help create a lively debate.

I also asked Rahzeb about his opinion regarding translators and their changing roles. He said that in his opinion translators are vital for a successful and dynamic machine translation experience; translators are the source of quality translations, which often results in translation memories, and translation memories are a great fuel for creating the best in-class machine translation systems. He also indicated that translators play a complex role — as translators, post-editors, editors, terminologists, quality assurance advisers, etc. All this impacts on the role to play in machine translation workflows. Rahzeb believes translators will continue to be better than machine translation in many scenarios but they inevitably will want and need to shift their skills. This is normal in a lot of industries in which there is change or some sort of  revolution happening and it is important that translators are informed about translation automation in general. This debate will help in that process.

I was very intrigued by the concept of “interoperability” and Rahzeb explained it using very simple examples. He said that interoperability happens when you travel abroad and you can still use your bank card to cash your money in any cash machine or when you can use your mobile phone in other countries. This happens because the technology infrastructure supports standards protocols, standard information exchange formats and systems comply with these formats so then information can pass from one system to another seamlessly without losing value. In his view interoperability is important for the translation profession because it will make the industry more efficient and more capable. It will provide people with more choice of tools and access to cheaper tools.

During the debate the following topics will be discussed and presented as motions:

  • Translation automation is good for the translation profession
  • Interoperability is important for the translation profession
  • It makes sense for translators to share translation memories
  • Higher education courses prepare translators sufficiently for life in industry

These affect everyone in different ways so it is important that all players in the translation industry participate. The open format for the discussion that this virtual debate provides presents a rare opportunity to express everyone’s view. There will be constructive outcomes and everyone will learn from one another.

Listen to the interview with Rahzeb here: ProZ.com podcast, 2011-08-26

You can also check this article on individual translators and data exchange standards recently published by TAUS.

Those interested in participating in the Great Translation Debate on September 29, 2011 can register here. This event will be one in a series planned for the 2011 ProZ.com virtual conference week (September 26 – 30, 2011).

Feedback and comments are welcome. You can reach me at romina at proz.com or via Twitter @ProZcom .

To listen to previous podcasts, check the podcasts tab in this blog.


P.S. Sorry folks for the background noise!

Guest blog post: “Work/Life Balance as a Freelancer”, by Konstantin Kisin 9

This is the first in a series of guest blog posts on the T.O. by member Konstantin Kisin. Konstantin has some valuable tips on communication, negotiation with clients, productivity, and striking a balance between life and work (be sure to check out the interview with him in last week’s podcast as well).


“Work/Life Balance as a Freelancer”, by Konstantin Kisin

During the London workshop on Negotiation Skills, I asked the attendees to raise their hand if they felt they were “too busy” and more than 50% did. I then asked the group to answer the question of “How busy do you want to be?” and most people looked at me with a mixture of bemusement and disbelief!

You see, a lot of us think that the answer to this question is obvious: we “should” be as busy as possible. This belief is so ingrained that even when we notice the impact of being “too busy” on our lives (poor health, relationship problems, stress, mental and emotional suffering), we “get on with it,” “get through it,” “tough it out,” “try to stay on top of things” and so on.

As language industry professionals, we spend a lot of time with words and it can sometimes be useful to look at them very literally. Take the word “freelancer” as an example – whatever it means, one of the things it tells us is that a freelancer is someone who is free… or is she? Many of us become freelancers to enjoy the flexibility being your own boss can offer, and yet “having freedom” and “being free” are very different things. If you have the freedom to work your own hours but end up working 12 hours a day with little or no time off, you may not be as free as you think.

If there is one thing I know to be true, it is that the success of your business and your quality of life depend on the questions you ask yourself. Only if you can answer questions like “How much do I want to work?,” “What level of income do I want to have?” and “How do I need to change what I am doing to achieve this?” can you understand what you want and how to get there.

Many people who attend my webinars, presentations and workshops comment that the ideas we discuss apply to all areas of their lives, not just their business. This always delights me because I don’t believe you can separate the two, especially as a freelancer. Whether you are happy or unhappy, healthy or unhealthy, excited or bored, energized or tired, pleased or frustrated will affect how you treat your clients, how many mistakes you make, how you handle difficulties and misunderstandings, how motivated you are and all this determines how successful you are in your business.

In the next few blog entries and podcast interviews, I will share ideas and suggestions for achieving more of the balance you want in a way that creates more happiness, health, excitement, energy and freedom.

For now, I invite you to ask yourself these important questions and listen carefully to the answers.


Stay tuned for the next guest blog post by Konstantin, coming soon!

Konstantin has done in-person workshops on this and other subjects, and some of his presentations can be seen in on-demand video format: