what is technical translation

What is Technical Translation?

A Guide to Technical Translation for Manufacturers: Part 1.

It’s impossible to ignore the global nature of successful contemporary business and technology, the role translation has played in contributing to these sucess stories cannot be underestimated either. Taking steps to guarantee that your message and brand identity are communicable to a worldwide audience is a vital part of expanding your reach and client base, increasing your recognition and ensuring that your business is able to reach a position amongst the market leaders in your sector. One of the key growth sectors around the world is manufacturing and translation again has a key role in supporting its international development.

When working within the manufacturing industry, it is not at all uncommon for publications to contain a great deal of specialised language, this typically means technical writers are employed to ensure the highly nuanced concepts and technical terms are communicated as concisely as possible. In doing so, this significantly reduces the likelihood of critical misunderstanding of important documents (safety and compliance information is of particular note here) and the subsequent risks associated with such misunderstandings. The complications surrounding technical communication are amplified further when information is required to be understood by a diverse workforce that may not speak the same native language. So what is technical translation? Read more


How Climate Change Threatens Endangered Languages and Cultures 

“The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it.” ~Galadriel

The world is changing. First of all, it’s growing hotter. Ice is melting, seas are rising. And it’s not only animals and plants that are in danger. Human lives and homes are also at stake. Cultures and languages that stretch back thousands of years may soon vanish forever, along with the lands and ecosystems that once sustained them.

How is climate change accelerating language loss? Which endangered languages and cultures are most at risk? And what, if anything, can be done?

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12 English Words With Native American Origins

Monday was Columbus Day in the United States.  Traditionally, American schools taught children that the Italian explorer has a holiday because he “discovered the New World.” That’s not true, of course. But he did ignite a cultural exchange that shaped the world we live in today.

For example, Europeans discovered now-familiar foods like tomatoes and chocolate. Native Americans discovered hard liquor and learned to ride horses. The Europeans brought the deadly gift of smallpox. The natives gave them syphilis in return. The exchange went both ways … but the Native Americans invariably got the short end of the stick.

This pattern continued when it came to language. Many native languages were lost forever. But some words from indigenous languages live on today as loanwords. For example, check out these 12 English words with Native American origins:

English Words That Come From Algonquianmarmota_monax_ul_04

The Algonquian language family consists of about 30 languages spoken by Native Americans across the US and Canada.  Unfortunately, many of these languages are either severely endangered or extinct.  Did you know these four words were originally Algonquian?

Well, now you do.

Caucus:  Wikipedia defines a “caucus” as “a meeting of supporters or members of a specific political party or movement.”Although it originated in the British colonies, it’s used across the English-speaking world now.  It may originate from the Algonquian word for “counsel”, which is ‘cau´-cau-as´u’. Another possibility is the Algonquian cawaassough, which means advisor, talker, or orator.

Hickory: Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock … Thank the Algonquians for this old nursery rhyme, It wouldn’t be the same without hickory, which comes from the Powhatan word pocohiquara. Pocohiquara was basically hickory nut milk.  The next trendy nut milk at your local supermarket, maybe? Read more


Is Google Translate Really As Good As a Human Now?

Last week, Google released a new version of Google Translate that uses “Deep Learning” to reduce translation errors. The company claims the new process results in translations that are almost as good as a human translator.

But is it the real deal? Are human translators about to be replaced by machines? Can you now “just use Google Translate” for your business? Let’s look at what makes the new and improved Google Translate so groundbreaking, and whether or not it’s actually an acceptable substitute for a human translator.

How Is the New Google Translate Different?

The new-and-improved Google Translate takes a different approach from the current version. Let’s get to know our new robot overlords, shall we?

Previously, Google Translate worked by analysing texts one word or phrase at a time. However, the new Google Translate breaks them up into sentences to better determine their meanings. It’s also capable of understanding and analysing the relationships between words, to determine which possible translation is more likely to be correct.

Most importantly, the new Google Translate does all of this using a “deep neural network” of processors set up to mimic the human brain.  This network is even capable of training itself. In fact, it “learns” better if left to its own devices, without human programmers mucking things up. Read more

facts about ancient egypt

8 Interesting Facts About Ancient Egypt Revealed by Translation

Translation helps us understand people from other cultures, even if they vanished thousands of years ago. For example, consider the ancient Egyptians. Until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone allowed ancient Egyptian writing to be translated in 1820, all that we knew of them came from the writings of historians from other cultures. However, these accounts were often inaccurate.

Fortunately for us, writing was a vital part of ancient Egyptian culture. Once scholars were able to read what they left behind, they learned a surprising amount about how the ancient Egyptians lived.

Here are 8 interesting facts about ancient Egypt we learned from translation:

Why Scribes Really Ran the Ancient Egyptian Worldgd-eg-louxor-126

Writing was an essential skill in ancient Egyptian society.  To keep the empire running smoothly, they needed to write everything down, from the sacred (funeral texts, magic spells) to the mundane (contracts, legal documents). And yet, only about 1% of the population was literate.

Because of this, scribes became a privileged intellectual class. Their services were always in high demand. Sometimes, scribes even led large building and infrastructure projects. To quote one ancient text,  The Satire of the Trades,  

See, there is no office free from supervisors, except the scribe’s. He is the supervisor!”

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What The History of the English Language Reveals About Its Future

What will English sound like 50 years from now? Does the history of the English language contain clues about its future? Perhaps, and English purists are not happy about it.

A team of linguists from the University of York released a report last week that offers a glimpse into what some are calling a dystopian future: It’s the year 2066 and most of the UK’s regional dialects have disappeared. In London, spoken English has been heavily affected by foreign accents. For example, the “th” sound has been completely replaced by “f”, “d” or “v.” People say “fink” instead of “think” and “muvver” instead of “mother.”

Cue a rash of headlines and newspaper stories blaming foreigners for the imminent death of “the Queen’s English.” Like this one. And this one (“lazy” foreigners, no less!)

But wait … as it turns out, the term “The Queen’s English” (or “The King’s English,” depending on who’s on the throne) dates back to around the 16th century. Obviously, the English language has changed significantly since then. So who’s really speaking the “original” Queen’s English? At this point, not even the Queen herself.

Not only that, but the original “King’s English” was the result of just the type of shift that has “language purists” pulling their collective hair out (see “The Great Vowel Shift,” below.)

So, to the time machine! Let’s take a look at the history of the English language and a few of the many ways English has changed over time, along with what it might sound like in the future. Read more


8 Famous Translators From the Past and Present

Translators tend to live in the shadows of the writers and authors whose work they translate. But today is World Translation Day. That means it’s time for translators to enjoy their day in the sun.  To celebrate, we’re highlighting 8 of the world’s most famous translators. Which one is your favorite?

St. Jerome (347-420 AD)220px-caravaggio_st_jerome

St. Jerome was an early Christian scholar who translated most of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. His translation, known as the Vulgate, became the official Catholic translation of the Bible and was the only translation of the Bible in use for a thousand years.

As such, even Jerome’s translation mistakes had a tremendous influence on Western culture. For instance, there are countless pictures of Moses with horns on his head because Jerome translated the Hebrew “keren” as “grew horns” instead of “radiated light.”

St. Jerome is the patron saint of translators, and we celebrate World Translation Day on his feast day.

Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890)richard_francis_burton_by_rischgitz_1864

Let’s jump right from the sacred to the profane, shall we? Sir Richard Francis Burton was an “English explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat” (according to Wikipedia).

In other words, he was basically The Most Interesting Man in the World for the 19th century.

Sir Richard Burton didn’t always translate ancient literature into English…but when he did, it was usually something erotic and “scandalous” for the time. For example, he was the first person to translate the Kama Sutra into English.  He was also the first to produce an uncensored translation of The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. Other notable translations include The Perfumed Garden of the Cheikh Nefzaoui: A Manual of Arabian Erotology and the Priapiea, a collection of ancient Roman poems dedicated to “the rigid god.” Read more

Cinelistics: 30 Words & Phrases Popularised By Film

Cinelistics: 30 Words, Phrases and Neologisms Popularised by Film

Popular culture has always helped contribute to language development and been responsible for many little additions over the years. Cinema is one of the key delivery methods that has ensured new words and phrases have been given the chance of becoming adopted by a worldwide mainstream audience. While some may only have a fleeting period in the limelight, others become indoctrinated into everyday language long term. Here’s a list of a few of the all-time classics in no particular order, I can imagine a few of these have caused major headaches for translators and subtitlers along the way! Read more


Translation Hall of Fame

Have you ever wondered which book has been translated the most? Or who speaks the most languages, and exactly how many languages they speak? Wonder no more! We’ve put together a “translation hall of fame” to make it easy to find out the answers to these questions and more.  Read on to learn more about translation world records and other notable facts from the world of translation.

What is the Most Translated Book?bible_kralicka

The most translated book in history is the Bible. The entire book is available in 554 languages, which is more than any other book. Even more impressive, parts of the Bible have been translated into 2,932  languages.

It’s no accident, then, that International Translation Day is celebrated every year on September 30th, which is the feast day of the Bible’s first translator, St. Jerome.

What is the Most Translated Non-Religious Book?

The Bible has no competition for the world’s most translated  book. But if you excluded religious texts, the most translated book is Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio. 

Thanks to Disney, almost everyone is familiar with the story of the wooden puppet  who wants to become a real little boy. Want to read the original? It’s available in your choice of 260 languages.

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International Peace Day: How to Say “Peace” in 35 Languages

Did you know that 21 September 2016 is the International Day of Peace? The United Nations has observed this holiday since 1982. I daresay we need it now more than ever. Here’s how people are marking the occasion, and how you can join in.

How the UN Celebrates International Day of Peace

The UN celebrates World Peace Day by ringing the Peace Bell at its New York headquarters. The Peace Bell is a bell made up of melted-down coins that were donated from around the world, from every contintent except Africa. It was given to the United Nations as a gift from Japan in 1954. Japanese characters on its side spell out Long live absolute world peace 世界絶対平和萬歳.

Also, each year’s World Peace Day celebrations have a theme.  The activities for the year are centered around the theme. For 2016, the focus is on achieving peace through the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  According to the UN’s Peace Day website:

Sustainability addresses the fundamental needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Modern challenges of poverty, hunger, diminishing natural resources, water scarcity, social inequality, environmental degradation, diseases, corruption, racism and xenophobia, among others, pose challenges for peace and create fertile grounds for conflict. Sustainable development contributes decisively to dissipation and elimination of these causes of conflict and provides the foundation for a lasting peace. Peace, meanwhile, reinforces the conditions for sustainable development and liberates the resources needed for societies to develop and prosper.

Meanwhile, according to UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon:

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people. They are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success.”

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