Translation News: 7 Stories To Read Today

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No time to keep up with all the news in the translation industry? No worries- we’re here to help! Here are 7 recent language and translation news stories for you to read today.

New Languages for Google Translate

Google Translate added 13 new languages last month, including Scots Gaelic,  Amharic, Corsican, Frisian, Kyrgyz, Hawaiian, Kurdish, Luxembourgish, Samoan, Shona, Sindhi, Pashto and Xhosa. This brings the total number of languages available to 103.  Impressive? Yes, but there’s still a long way to go. For more details on what’s still missing, see 8 Surprising Languages Not on Google Translate.

In a post on the Google Translate blog announcing the new languages, Google Translate Senior Program Manager Sveta Kelman explained how the company chooses which languages to include:

So what goes into adding a new language? Beyond the basic criteria that it must be a written language, we also need a significant amount of translations in the new language to be available on the web. From there, we use a combination of machine learning, licensed content and Translate Community.

Siri Doesn’t Understand Your Accent

If you come from an area with a distinctive regional accent, Apple’s virtual assistant may have a difficult time understanding you. According to the Guardian, she stumbles when confronted with voices ranging from an Australian accent to an Indian accent to the distinctive “Texas twang.”

And according to Scottish computer scientist Alan Black, people are changing the way they talk to adapt:

“People speak to machines differently than how they speak to people. They move into a different register. If you’re standing next to somebody in an airport or at a bus stop or something, you can typically tell when they’re talking to a machine rather than talking to a person.”

That Word Doesn’t Mean What Louis van Gaal Thinks It Means

At least we hope not! As reported on Independent.IE, the Manchester United manager told reporters he urges his players to be “horny” when it comes to winning games:

“You are right,” Van Gaal said while responding to a journalists question about the team’s desire, “Your word is fantastic. Desire, hungry, and a lot of times I use the word horny to my players.”

 Paging human resources…

ELIA’s “Together” Conference Unites Language Service Providers and Freelancers

On the 11th-12th of February, the European Language Industry Association held its “Together” conference in Barcelona. The conference brought freelance translators and language service providers together under the same roof for food, drinks, networking and presentations.

Couldn’t attend? Catch up on what you missed with write-ups from Claire Cox Translations and Surrey Translation Bureau.

Google Translate Mangles Adele’s “Hello”

Need something to brighten your day? Check out this rendition of Adele’s “Hello,” with lyrics courtesy of Google Translate!

We all should know by now that you get what you pay for when you use Google Translate.  The automatic translations it generates are always awkward and frequently inaccurate. Ask it to translate its own translations, and those little inaccuracies start to compound. But there is a silver lining: the resulting gibberish can be quite entertaining, especially when set to music!

For example, in the Google Translate version of “Hello,”  “There’s such a difference between us” turned into “There is conflict between the United States.” Possibly the best part, however, is when “Highs, highs, highs” becomes “thigh, thigh, thigh.”

A Machine Translation Controversy in Canada

Canada’s government is getting its own machine translation service, and their public service union doesn’t like it one bit. Development of the machine translation system, called Portage, was a decades-long effort. As with most machine translation, however, it still has problems with idioms like “raining cats and dogs.” When the Canadian Association of Professional Employees tested that phrase as a publicity stunt, Portage failed. It translated the idiom literally.

What with all the news articles declaring that robots are coming for human translators’ jobs, it’s no surprise people are nervous.  That said, according to Translation Bureau CEO Donna Achimov, the tool was not built to replace humans:

She said, “I have to be clear about this: This tool never is meant to replace professional translation. It’s not meant for any material that goes out to the Canadian public.”

She further explained the Bureau’s new MT-human hybrid model, saying that Portage helps improve official language by harnessing previous translations and that it actually links to a human translator. “When you’re typing something and you want to translate it officially, you actually get a direct link to a translator at the Translation Bureau.”

Any Canadian translators want to chime in on this story? We’d love to here your thoughts!

What stories did we miss this month? Let us know in the comments!