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TED Conference Talks Now Available in Multiple Languages

TED (Technology-Entertainment-Design), the annual conference that brings together influential people from the areas of technology, entertainment and design, is now offering translated videos of speeches and performances from its conferences. According to the Huffington Post, “the TED Open Translation Project is one of the most comprehensive attempts by a major media platform to subtitle and index online video content. It’s also a groundbreaking effort in the public, professional use of volunteer translation.”

One of the most distinctive features about this project is that it allows volunteers who visit the site to translate talks into their native languages, with no restrictions as to which languages can be used. To get the project started, a small number of talks were translated by professionals into 20 different languages, but from then on, volunteers took over. Now, the project has over 300 videos translated into 42 different languages and more are being added everyday.

The languages of the translations range from languages as dominant as Mandarin Chinese to languages like Kirghiz, which only has about 4 million speakers. The translations are available in the form of subtitles, shown on the bottom of the video player, and as transcripts. The transcripts are interactive-you can use them to select the part of the video that you’d like to play back.

Other than the sense of satisfaction that comes from doing a good thing, what’s in it for the volunteers? The volunteers who translate these videos get credited for their work, and set up profiles on the TED site. So, if you volunteer to translate, you get the ability to promote yourself on an established website.

All in all, this is a cool project. The videos make the knowledge exchanged at the TED conferences available to everyone, and the translations mean that more people across the world will benefit.

Scots Gaelic Gets EU Recognition

Scots Gaelic has been approved for use in EU meetings in a new memorandum of understanding, according to the BBC. The move is an important step forward for Scots Gaelic,although it still does not have the status of an EU “official” language like English.

In addition to being used in meetings, Gaelic speakers can now write to the EU in Scots Gaelic and get a response back in the same language.

In Scotland’s 2001 census, about 58,652 people reported being able to speak Scots Gaelic, while an additional.33,748 were able to understand it.

The Scottish Government will be footing the bill for the costs of translation for EU meetings and correspondence as part of their efforts to increase the use of the language in Scotland.

Use of Scots Gaelic, has declined significantly, especially over the past 100 years.  For example, according to Wikipedia, in 1911 there were 183,998 Scots Gaelic speakers. Also, in 1991 there were 7,300 more Scots Gaelic speakers than there were in 2001-a decline of 11 percent over 10 years!

In the BBC article, Scottish Culture Minister  Mike Russell commented on the news, saying, “This is a significant step forward for the recognition of Gaelic both at home and abroad and I look forward to addressing the council in Gaelic very soon.”
“Seeing Gaelic spoken in such a forum raises the profile of the language as we drive forward our commitment to creating a new generation of Gaelic speakers in Scotland.”
In honor of the occasion, here are some common words and phrases in Scots Gaelic, along with their English translations:

Halò: Hello
Ciamar a tha thu: How are you?
Madainn mhath: Good Morning
Feasgar math: Good Afternoon
Oidhche mhath: Good night
Dè an t-ainm a tha ort?: What’s your name?
Slàn leat : Goodbye
Slàinte: “Health,” usually used as a toast, like “cheers.”

Mel Gibson’s Next Movie to Be Shot In Old Norse

Mel Gibson is making a Viking movie. The movie doesn’t have a title yet, but William Monahan is writing the script, and it will star Leonardo DiCaprio. Oh, and the movie will be shot entirely in period languages. That means Leonardo DiCaprio will most likely deliver his lines in Old Norse or perhaps Old English (depending on whether he’s playing a Viking or an inhabitant of a town that is being pillaged by them).

Apparently, for Gibson, the idea of making a Viking movie in Old Norse isn’t a new idea. He told Collider.com that “The very first idea I ever had about making a film…my first thought about ever being a filmmaker was when I was sixteen years old and I wanted to make a Viking movie.  And I wanted to make it in Old Norse.”

Meanwhile, on CHUD.com, he explains the rationale behind using the languages of the period for the movie:

“I want a Viking to scare you,’ he said gleefully.’I don’t want a Viking to say, [Tony Curtis style] “I’m going to die with a sword in my hand.”  I don’t want to hear that.  It pulls the rug out from under you.  I want to see somebody who I have never seen before speaking low guttural German who scares the living shit out of me coming up to my house.  What is that like?  What would that have been like?’

Some of the movie will no doubt be in Old English, but don’t expect to be able to understand any of it without subtitles. To give you an idea of how different Old English is from the language we speak today, here’s a sample from Beowulf (via Wikipedia):

Hwæt! wē Gār-Dena in geār-dagum,
þeod-cyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.

In the modern English we know and love, that translates to:

Listen! We have heard of the glory of the Spear-Danes, of the kings of the people, in the days of yore, [and] how those princes did deeds of glory.

It will be interesting to see these ancient languages on the big screen.

Android Market

Google’s Android Market Isn’t Speaking Customers’ Language

When designing a website, users generally prefer it when everything “just works.” Unfortunately, when it comes to translation, trying to guess their needs can backfire if you don’t guess correctly.

That’s a lesson that Web behemoth Google is learning the hard way.  Google just unveiled its new Android Market website last week, hoping to entice customers with Android phones to purchase more apps with an improved shopping experience. Read more

Translation On The Silver Screen

These days, movies and even TV shows are expected to play for a global audience. However, translating them is often as difficult as translating literature. So much of what makes a successful film or TV show “work” is rooted in local culture. For example, consider Disney’s recent worldwide release of “Cars 2.”   Rick Dempsey, senior vice president of Disney Character Voices, told Forbes that “Mater”, one of the most popular characters, was also the most challenging to translate:

“Mater’s kind of a redneck, but that means nothing to anyone overseas because they don’t have that particular vocal culture. So we had to figure out what region of Germany, for example, has more of an uneducated population without being offensive.”

Another challenge is that even in countries that speak the same language, words can vary in meaning and connotation. So, trying to translate from one widely spoken language to another, like from English to Spanish,  requires in-depth knowledge of how the language is used in all of the countries that speak it. It’s much more difficult that it appears to outsiders. For example, Elena Barciae, who translates English films into Spanish versions aimed at Central and South America, told Forbes:

“The more slang, the harder it gets because slang tends to be very localized. Simple words are affected, too. `Bicho’ means bug everywhere except Puerto Rico, where it’s a slang word for a part of the male anatomy. That wouldn’t go over too well for the title of `A Bug’s Life,’ would it?” Read more

Brand Name In China

Thinking of moving your business to China? A word to the wise: hire a skilled translator! As a recent article in the New York Times points out, translating a business name into Chinese requires

much more than Google Translate; you also need a deep understanding of the nuances of Chinese culture to avoid utterly humiliating yourself.

As the Times explains:

“More than many nations, China is a place where names are imbued with deep significance…Given that China’s market for consumer goods is growing by better than 13 percent annually — and luxury-goods sales by 25 percent — an off-key name could have serious financial consequences.” Read more

Translating Fast Fashion

We recently developed a solution for a very large European retailer to help them to localise/translate all of their packaging for their dynamic range of clothing.

The challenge in this space is to provide translation that is ‘on trend’, error free and makes best use of all the previously translated material, which helps to dramatically lower the unit cost per word to translate. When we reviewed the existing translation solution we found that the translation was being stored on a shared excel sheet in head office.

The theory was great, if they’d translated something once then that translation could be re-used for future packaging at (virtually) zero cost. But in practice it meant that no one was responsible for the data and the spreadsheet had to be emailed around people outside of the ‘loop’. Comments and suggestions were not imported into the master list, the context of the translation was often wrong and the quality of the translation never really improved over time. Read more

what-is-legal-translation

What is Legal Translation?

The term legal translation refers to the translation of any text used within the legal system. As documents used for legal purposes are generally required to be submitted in the official language of a relevant jurisdiction the term can encompass a wide variety of texts including, but not limited to, witness statements, legal rulings and precedents, filed patents, transcripts, official reports, financial documents and identity documentation. A wide variety of other sources of information can also be subject to legal translation depending on their contextualised relationship to legal proceedings. For example the Will and testament of an expatriate may be subject to translation into the language of the jurisdiction in which they have died in order for a probate lawyer to begin the process of executing the instructions contained therein. Generally legal translation services are only undertaken by those with specialist knowledge as mistranslations, especially of contracts, can carry significant financial and legal consequences.

The means of regulating legal translators vary from country to country. In many countries specific degrees are offered in Legal and Business Translation. Some states (such as Argentina and Brazil) require the use of state-certified public translators whilst a majority of states, including Spain, Sweden and The Netherlands stipulate that legal translators swear legal oaths and are centrally regulated and examined in order to ensure proficiency and good practice (this is also known as a sworn translation). Furthermore other legislations (such as Italy) require legal translations to be notarised (i.e. certified) by a relevant legal professional. Read more