Translation’s role in times of crisis

Translation’s role in times of crisis

Recent tragedies have highlighted the important role communication has in supporting victims of a crisis, both during and after an incident, not to mention the responsibility placed upon it in terms of prevention and reducing the overall impact when such an event is unavoidable. Given the diversity of local populations, particularly in cities, this is an important consideration in modern times. For example, 22% of London’s population – equating to 1.7 million people – don’t speak English as their first language. In fact, according to the 2011 Census, some 320,000 of the capital’s residents speak little or no English at all. While such diversity brings with it many reasons to celebrate, it can also create challenges for the authorities in supporting those in need during a crisis.

In this article, we take a look at three recent examples and consider how translation, or lack thereof, has affected the people caught up in an incident. Read more

ROI of Translation: 4 Ways Translation Makes Businesses More Competitive

Is translation just an expense to be minimized, or is it an investment? Of course, the answer depends in part on the situation. But considering how often potential customers ask our CEO why they can’t just use Google Translate instead of a professional translation company, it’s clear that some people are overlooking the value.

What’s the ROI of translation?  Here are 4 ways investing in translation can give your business an edge over the competition.

Get Found Online With Multilingual SEO

“If you build it, they will come.” That advice might have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams but it’s bunk when it comes to building websites.

It’s not enough to build a website, you also have to appease the search engine gods.  Then, and only then, will the customers come.

And as the rest of the world comes online, more and more people will be searching in languages other than English. If those people can’t find your site, they’re not likely to become your customers, now are they?

Keep in mind that search engines don’t like error-ridden, automatically generated translations, and users don’t like them either.

Attract New Customers By Catering to Unmet Needs

Whether it’s online or in person, customers almost always prefer to do business in their native language. Often, these language needs aren’t being met. And that gives savvy businesses an opportunity to differentiate themselves with multilingual content. Read more

Why Are There So Many Languages?

Why Are There So Many Languages? 

There are approximately 7,000 languages in the world today. But why? Why are there so many languages?

It’s an ancient question, almost as old as humanity itself.  Explanations for why people speak so many languages are common in myths from cultures around the world. The story of the Tower of Babel in the Bible is one well-known example, but there are many others.

The truth is, we don’t have an easy answer for why people speak so many languages. That’s probably because there isn’t one.  Instead, linguistic diversity is a response to a variety of different elements that we’re only beginning to understand.  We may not have an answer, but here are 6 factors that encourage new languages to form.

Language May Have Developed In More Than One Place

Did humans ever speak just one language? We don’t know. There are two schools of thought:

  • Monogenesis, which holds that all languages evolved from a single ancestral language as ancient humans migrated out of Africa.
  • Polygenesis, which holds that multiple ancestral languages developed independently, as did agriculture and the domestication of animals.

So there may have been quite a bit of language diversity right from the start. But even if there was a single common human language to start out, humans would still speak thousands of different languages. That’s because . . .

People Move, and Languages Change

The main reason why there are so many languages has to do with distance and time. Groups of people are always on the move, seeking new opportunities. And languages change over time, too. Even English. Do remember trying to read Chaucer for the first time?  English has changed so much over the centuries that it’s difficult for modern English speakers to “get” Chaucer without footnotes.

What happens when you combine these two factors? Groups of people who speak a common language get divided by distance, and over time their dialects evolve in different directions. After enough time passes, they end up speaking two separate, but related languages. Read more

8 Facts About Emoji Around the World for World Emoji Day

Monday was World Emoji Day. Over the past decade, these little icons have become essential to online communication. But how much do you know about them?

To celebrate, here are 8 facts you should know about emoji around the world.

Love emoji? Thank the Japanese.

Emoji were invented in Japan in 1999 by Japanese designer Shigetaka Kurita.

Why Japan? As Wired notes, linguistic and cultural factors may have played a role:

“Spoken, written, lived Japanese is rich with context, honorifics, and layers of meaning. Perhaps more than anybody speaking English or a European language could imagine, Japan needed some way to indicate the tone of a text.”

At first, emoji were confined to Japanese phones. But when Apple released the iPhone in Japan, the company soon discovered they needed to add emoji support to compete in the Japanese market. And when iOS 5 came out, emoji were suddenly easily available to iPhone users worldwide.

New emoji are approved by the Unicode Consortium.

How hard is it to come up with new emoji? Harder than you might think. In order for new emoji to be usable across different devices and platforms, they have to be approved by the Unicode Consortium.  The approval process can be difficult, and time-consuming, often taking a year or more.

69 new emoji were unveiled earlier this year, including a woman in a headscarf and 2 separate emoji of people in a sauna (one male, one female).  The people in a sauna represent Finland, of course, though the Finns would have preferred them to appear without the towel.  The “person with headscarf” emoji is the brainchild of a 15-year-old girl.  Read more

6 Ridiculously Bad Translations from Amazon Prime Day

If you’re an Amazon Prime junkie, I don’t need to tell you that Tuesday was Prime Day. Your bank balance is probably enough of a reminder. For everyone else, Prime Day is Amazon’s self-created sales holiday, with deals on just about everything.

Amazon itself excels at localization. And we’ve held them up as an example of a company that gets it right.

But that’s not always true of the third-party sellers that offer their products in the Amazon marketplace. Product descriptions are provided by the sellers, not by Amazon. All too often, the sellers lack either the will or the resources to make quality translations a priority.

And the results can be hilarious, as these 6 examples of bad Prime Day translations prove. Here are a few of our favorites:

That Amorous Feeling

I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to adorn their house with a “decorative fish net of strong Mediterranean Sea amorous feelings?” Read more

12 Powerful Translation Apps and Devices for Travelers in 2017

You’d love to see the world, but fear holds you back. You’re afraid of being isolated in a foreign country, unable to speak the language. How are you going to communicate? Charades? Well, stop worrying, and book those tickets! Here are 12 futuristic translation apps and devices for travelers in 2017 to help you get your point across.

This post was originally published in 2016. It has been updated for accuracy and to include new apps and devices. 

Best Translation Apps: Google TranslateTranslation Apps 1

When it comes to translation apps, Google Translate is obviously the elephant in the room — and for good reason. It supports more languages than the competition, and its comprehensive feature set makes it especially well-suited for travelers.

Languages: Google Translate offers varying degrees of support for 103 languages:

  • Type to translate: 103 languages
  • Offline support: 52 languages
  • Real Time Video translation: 30 languages
  • Camera Mode: 37 Languages
  • Speech-to-speech translation: 32 languages
  • Handwriting translation: 93 languages

See which features work with which languages here.

Cool Tricks: Translate signs, menus and other written content using your phone’s camera. Offline support for some languages, plus excellent integration with the Android operating system for translating text messages and websites.

Recently, Google added neural machine translation (NMT) for improved accuracy on some languages.

All this, and it’s free. Free is good.

How to Get It: Download it from the App Store or from Google Play.

Read more

Translation in Video Games

Translation in Gaming: You Must Defeat Sheng Long

Video games have come a long way in the past 30 years. The cinematic masterpieces offered today bear little resemblance to the pixelated classics that so many of us remember fondly from our childhood.

Gaming has become a huge global industry. There are believed to be up to 2.6 billion gamers in the world, with an estimated industry value of $128.5 billion by the end of 2020. The revenue from international video games surpassed that of the international film industry some years ago. Indeed, by 2013 it had reached more than double the revenue that the film industry commanded.

Video game translation

Video game translation plays a key role in the international sale of modern video games. Game producers’ enhanced budgets mean that they can afford top notch translation services in order to ensure that their offerings are word-perfect around the world. However, that wasn’t always the case, as one of the gaming industry’s most famous hoaxes reveals. Read more

Translation Gone Wild: 5 Translation Mistakes from 2017

Over the past year, machine translation has made significant progress. Tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are building powerful Neural Machine Translation (NMT) systems modeled after the human brain.

NMT offers improved accuracy compared to older machine translation systems. To hear the headlines tell it, that means all of our translation problems are solved. Who needs a human translator when you’ve got artificial intelligence?

But if that were true, we wouldn’t have these amusing translation mistakes to share with you, would we?

Google Can’t Translate the South African Parliament


Voice-to-text translation sounds amazing, in theory. Just speak into a microphone, wait a few seconds, and “Voila!” The system automatically translates your words, and you don’t even have to lift a finger.

And it is amazing when it works. But therein lies the rub. Regional accents and dialects can throw these systems off.

For example, the video above shows what happens when Google tries to translate a South African Parliament session.

Read more

Avoiding Poor Sales due to Flawed Label Translation

Avoiding Poor Sales due to Flawed Label Translation

This is a guest post from the team over at Globalvision Inc. They produce specialised software solutions for managing the packaging creation and artwork process.

As global sales opportunities continue to increase, in part due to the growth trend of emerging markets, companies continue to benefit from investing in international advertising and product exports. As well as adhering to packaging quality control regulations, which are often not clearly defined in developing countries; companies have to pay attention when adapting their offerings to the cultural and social customs of their international customers, as well as language use and verbal expressions. This is an extremely important factor when it comes to both branding and label translation.

Famous brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Milka, and The American Dairy Association have all learned about this the hard way. Due to an inadequate translation process and careless research, these companies have all suffered huge product recalls and sales losses at some point in their localisation history.

So, new brands hitting the global market should learn from the lessons the big guys taught us, instead of trying to promote and sell brands and products as you would within a domestic market, it is imperative to understand the cultural differences between countries that tend to prevent this from being a successful strategy. Read more

5 Ways Americans Have Ruined The English Language

July 4th is Independence Day in America. It’s been 241 years since that bunch of ungrateful colonists declared independence. You’d think we’d have learned to speak English properly by now.

Yeah, not so much. Here are 5 ways Americans are ruining the English language:

Incorrect Spellings

Americans have long been guilty of spelling abuse.  Thanks to 19th-century reformer Noah Webster,  we’ve dropped the original and proper “u” from words like “colour” and “favour.” And we’ve lost the “a” from words like “orthopaedics”.

But we’ll add these missing letters back at random, whenever we want to appear more sophisticated.

Come on, America, was it really that hard to write one extra letter?

Totesing

totesing

Get off my lawn!

Apparently, the answer to that last question is “yes.” Yes, it is.  Now, don’t get me wrong. Abbreviations have always been a part of how the English language evolves.  For example, consider words like “fab,” “babe” and “delish.”

But these kids today, man! They’ ve taken it to a new, and frankly ridiculous extreme. Or perhaps that should be “ridic.” Anyway, “words” like “obvi” (obviously) and “spesh” (special) appear to be taking over English, part of a trend some linguists have dubbed “totesing.”

This trend has spread to English-speaking millennials around the world, but at least one linguist who studies the phenomenon blames America for it. More specifically, California. Researcher Sravana Reddy told NRP that “It might have originated in that area and spread over because of Hollywood and TV.”

And as much as “obvi” makes me want to scream “Get off my lawn!”, apparently, the current wave of crazy-making abbreviations may have started with “hella.” Which means that younger me was part of the problem. Read more

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