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ADVANTAGES AND RISKS OF PARTIAL TRANSLATIONS

Advantages And Risks Of Partial Translations

By José Lázaro da Silva

I have worked as a professional translator for over twenty years in São Paulo, Brazil, and sometimes I feel that the translation work is not what it used to be.

In the good old days, a translator would receive a full text of a report, article or communication and would try to produce an exact version of the piece in the other language. By having the entire original, the translator would be able to understand the matter very deeply.

In the case of a contract, he would know whether the translation requestor would be the seller or the buyer, and would know whether the contract was to be used in a single transaction or would be a template for all customers. The translator would be able not only to produce the most convenient translation considering those differences, but also to send useful suggestions to the requestor about changes to make the contract more advantageous, or at least less prone to misinterpretation.

This situation of having a full text to translate, fortunately, has not completely disappeared from our reality. I sometimes get a full text and have that satisfaction of being able to do a good, or even excellent, job.

But this ideal situation is becoming rare. What is happening now is that each translator usually gets only a fraction of the original.

Why is that happening?

Sometimes it is a matter of urgency, and the final customer cannot wait the time it takes a translator to produce 100 pages, and then 10 translators are called to do 10 pages each.

The result will come ten times sooner, but I hope the customer has been duly forewarned that the quality will be somewhat lower. Each translator may have translated in a different way that highly important document name, process name, or project name. The reader (if nobody has made nomenclature adjustments for the entire translation) will wonder whether chapter one and chapter two are talking about different matters or the same thing.

Splitting an original to various translators, in my opinion, is not the worst source of problems, however.

In this age of high-speed computers and cheap memories, agencies are storing huge numbers of words and expressions and their translations into several languages.

The result is that agencies feel that they no longer have to pay translators to translate full texts. They command computers to translate everything they can and send to human translators only what their systems cannot handle.

I have noticed this development occur with an agency for which I had worked for many years. They started sending me isolated paragraphs, sometimes loose sentences, instead of full documents.

Translating Partial Texts

Partial Translations of texts was more troublesome, due to the lack of sufficient context, but most importantly because the small pieces had a high rate of rare words and difficulties in general. The only thing I could do was to tell them that, to translate uncontextualized sentences and phrases, I would have to charge more. They offered to triple my per-word rate. With computers doing the bulk at virtually no cost, no wonder they could make me that offer.

Of course, I accepted the triple-play offer, but sometimes I wonder whether all the small translated pieces really match the texts they will be inserted into. I do my best to guess the contexts but, without reading the entire original, I can never be sure. Language is something unpredictably varied, and grammar, as well as meaning, are aspects that play important factors incorrectly matching loose bones to create a skeleton. If the matching of the little pieces is done by a clerk, not a skilled linguist, mismatches will occasionally be visible to the readers, and that can be sufficient reason for the final client to start looking for another translation agency.

CAN MACHINES BEAT HUMAN TRANSLATORS?

Can Machines Beat Human Translators?

Many translators, maybe most, are concerned that their profession will not last many years. They have been following the progress of machine translation and believe that sooner or later computers will translate with a quality comparable to that of a professional translator, and at lower costs, thus bringing unemployment to all human translators. Are they excessively pessimistic? Is there a limit to the quality that computers will be able to achieve?

Most translation programs are already able to translate texts where what is required are simple word replacements plus adherence to grammar rules for word positioning and verb endings.

Are those translations good enough?  If you do not require a high-quality text and will be happy if you can understand the basic ideas of the text, the translation will be accepted, especially if you consider that you can get it at no cost through the internet.

If the original text is not so simple, and has some less common expressions, or uses words with their secondary meanings, then the translation may, at some points, provoke some laughs. (Maybe that is not a disadvantage at all but an advantage since most Hollywood comedies nowadays make us think about social problems rather than laugh about them!)

Machine translation designers have been expanding databases in the hope that the translations will near perfection if computers are fed with millions of expressions. However, that is only partly true.

Good Translation

A good translation does not depend only on recognizing expressions and translating them. The translator either the human translators or machine translation must understand the ideas behind the words. The reason for this necessity is that many words have more than one meaning, and, therefore, more than one translation in a foreign language. Thus, the only way to translate such words correctly is by understanding the context. (For example, the Brazilian word manga is either a sleeve or a mango, depending on whether we are talking about clothes or about fruits).

So far no one has tried to make computers really “understand” anything. When a computer reads “I have killed my mother” it has no idea whether that was a bad action or a praiseworthy action.  There are ways to teach computers to understand and judge what they read, but as far as I know, nobody has started research on this. It would be a mighty task, since the computer’s vocabulary would have to be complete with definitions usable by the machine, including word ratings in terms of goodness, advantage, etc.

As a translator, I would be pleased to take part in that sort of project, even if its success can someday doom my profession!

Humans, please comment before machines start sending in their ideas!

Cevirmenlik bir meslektir

GENC ARKADASLARIMIN COGUNDA GORDUGUM BiR EGiLiM DiKKATiMi CEKTi. BELKi ESKiDEN AYNI DURUMDA BEN OLDUGUM iCiNDiR. BU iSE GiRENLERiN ONEMLi BiR BOLUMU YAPTIKLARI iSi BiR MESLEK OLARAK GORMUYOR. iSLERiNDEN EMEKLi OLANLAR, “DUZGUN” BiR iS BULANA KADAR iDARETEN CEViRi YAPAN UNVERSiTE MEZUNLARI, YURTDISINDAN GELiP YABANCI DiL BiLDiKLERi iÇiN CEViRi YAPABiLECEKLERiNi DUSUNENLER, UNiVERSiTE BiTENE KADAR HARCLIGINI ÇIKARMAK iSTEYEN OGRENCiLER PiYASADA COGUNLUK DURUMUNDA. BU YUZDEN DE NE iSVERENLER (BUROLAR VE SiRKETLER), NE TOPLUM, NE DE BU iSi YAPAN INSANLAR CEViRMENLiGi GERCEK BiR MESLEK OLARAK BAKMIYOR.

BENiM VE CEVREMDEKi BiRKAC ARKADASIM GiBi BU iSLE GECiNEN, BUNU MESLEK OLARAK GOREN AZ SAYIDAKI KiSi DE MAALESEF BUNLARIN ARASINDA KAYBOLUP GiDiYOR. MESLEKi BiR ORGUTLENME OLMADIGI SURECE BU DURUM DEGiSMEYECEK, HATTA DAHA KOTUYE GiDECEK. TURKiYE’DE HAMAMCILARIN, TESiSATCILARIN, PAZARCILARIN, MiNiBSCULERiN BiLE DEVLET TARAFINDAN MUHATAP ALINAN DERNEKLERi, MESLEK BiRLiKLERi VAR. AMA CEViRMENLERiN, HATTA CEViRi iSLETMELERiNiN BiLE HiCBiR KRiTERi, STANDARDI, YAPILANMASI YOK. BUNLARI DA GECELiM. EN BASiT BIR MESLEGE BASLAMAK iÇiN DiPLOMA, SERTiFiKA YA DA CIRAKLIK EGiTiMi GEREKiRKEN, BELLi DURUMLARDA BiRCOK iNSANIN HAYATINI ETKiLEYEBiLECEK YA DA TEHLiKEYE SOKABiLECEK METiNLER ÜZERiNDE CALISMAK ÜZERE BU MESLEGE GiRMEK iSTEYEN GENCLERE USTA BIR CEViRMENiN YANINDA EGiTiM OLANAGI VEREN BIR YAPI BiLE YOK. EVET, MUTERCIM TERCUMANLIK BÖLUMLERI VAR, FAKAT BU ANA KADAR ORALARDAN MEZUN OLUP DA TATMiN EDiCi KALiTEDE CEViRi YAPABiLEN HiC KiMSEYE RASTLAMADIM. BURALARDAN MEZUN ARKADASLARIMIN HOCALARI HAKKINDA ANLATTIKLARI SEYLER GERCEKTEN iNSANI HAYAL KIRIKLIGINA UGRATIYOR. CEViRMENLER iS KAPMAK iCiN SUREKLi FiYAT KIRIP BiRBiRiNi BOGAZLAMAYA, CEViRi BUROLARI SAYFA BASINA 6-7L?RA GiBi KOMiK FIYATLARLA CEViRi YAPTIRMAK iCiN SOKAKTAN CEViRDiGi iLK ADAMA iS VERMEYE DEVAM ETTiGi SURECE, BUGUNLERi BiLE ARAYACAGIMIZDAN HERKES EMIN OLSUN. AVRUPA’DAKi CEViRMENLERiN KAZANCLARINA BAKIP LANET EDEN ARKADASLAR DA ONCE ORADAKi CEViRMENLERiN CALISMA SEKiLLERiNi, MESLEK ORGUTLERiNi, HARCADIKLARI EMEKLERi iNCELEYIP OYLE YORUM YAPSINLAR. AVRUPALI DUZGUN BiR CEViRMENiN BiR SAYFANIN CEViRiSi iCiN BAZEN 1 SAAT HARCADIGINI BiLSiNLER. EV GECiNDiREN BiR CEViRMENiN GECiNMEK iCiN iHTiYAC DUYDUGU PARA EN AZ 3.000 TL OLSA, SAYFA BASINA 6 TL ALDIGINDA AYDA 500 SAYFA CEViRi YAPMASI GEREKiR. BU DA HAFTADA 125 SAYFA EDER. HAFTA SONLARINDA CALISMADIGINI VARSAYARSAK SAATTE YAKLASIK 3 SAYFA CEViRi YAPACAK DEMEKTiR. BU DA HiCBiR ARASTIRMA, KONTROL, DUZELTME YAPMADAN CALISMAK DEMEKTiR. BASiT BIR HESAPLA DURUMU GORUYORUZ. TABii BUNA iSLERiN HER ZAMAN DUZENLi BiR SEKiLDE GELMEDiGiNi VE BAZEN YIGILMA OLDUGUNDA SAATTE 6-10 SAYFA CEViRi YAPILDIGINI EKLEYELiM. KALITEYI GECTIM, AZ BUCUK ANLASILIR BiR CEViRiYE ULASMAK BiLE MUCiZE OLACAKTIR. NiTEKiM DE OYLE OLUYOR.

21 YILLIK MESLEK HAYATIMDA iLK KEZ SON 2 SENEDE GENEL FiYAT ORTALAMASININ TUM TURKiYE’DE GERiLEDiGiNi GÖRÜYORUM. VE SANIYORUM YAKINDA CEViRMENLiK DE TAKSiCiLiK GiBi BASKA HiCBiR iS YAPAMAYAN, NiTELiKiIZ iNSANLARIN GiRDiGi BiR ALAN HALiNE GELECEK (BU ARADA TAKSiCiLER ODASI DA VAR, HATIRLATIRIM). ELBETTE BU DURUMDA BiLE TAKSiCiLiGiN YUZUNU AGARTAN PROFESYONEL, YARDIMSEVER, SASIRTICI DERECEDE KiBAR TAKSiCiLERi TENZiH EDERiM).

KENDiNi GELiSTiREN, DÜNYA STANDARTLARINDA CEViRi YAPAN VE BU iSi HAYATINI KAZANACAGI GERCEK BiR MESLEK OLARAK GÖREN VE UZUN SURE YAPMAYA KARARLI MESLEKTASLARIM DA ARTAN BIR HIZDA YURTDISINA ACILARAK TURK CEViRi PiYASASININ KOPUYOR, DURUMUN HER GUN DAHA da KOTULESMEiNi UZULEREK IZLIYOR. SONUCTA iSiNi iYi YAPAN iNSANLAR HER YERDE TAKDiR EDiLiYOR VE iS BULUYOR. DiGERLERi iSE KUCUK HESAPLARI iCiNDE BOGULUP YOK OLMAYA MAHKUM.

Translation challenge

Software-developments as windows 7.0 places translators for an exciting challenge

About software localization…

About software localization…

WITNESS OF A PRACTICE:

While working in the software localization field for a big IT company, I figured out how sometimes translators can’t avoid bad translation renderings. I  found out that software strings are translated out of context, the mainly visual context in this case. Once the translation was passed onto engineers, ‘words’ were assembled to the software itself and just a quality review used to follow this stage of the process. At this stage, translators were not allowed to correct so many things  (as the main work was already done), while, instead, a lot of errors were spotted when words were finally associated to menus, windows, etc.

Someone said that the translator is a rational agent aware of and controlling his actions and that he/she surrenders to external coercion only if his/her reason decides that it is the wisest thing to do.

I don’t agree with such an out-of-date and topical thinking.

Spirit-channeling

I was reading an article drawn from a translation magazine where the translators’ job was compared to a spirit-channeling action. I found it very interesting from an ideological point of view. Both translators and mediums step aside and let the author of the source text speak through them; they speak in her/his own voice!

I just wanted to share with you this wonderful image that, apart from being very theoretical and philosophical, it fills us translators with optimism and valuable reasons to dedicate ourselves to this job- we do something important, uncommon and unique. People really need us!

Translation Services and Technology

Best Translation Services and Technology

“A renewed international effort is gearing up to design computers and software that smash language barriers and create a borderless global marketplace.”

– Steve Silberman

The rate at which technology is growing in virtually every sphere of human activity today is mind-boggling to say the least. During a video conference, you can see people located at the other end of the globe on screen, and it will appear just as if they are located right across the table from you in the very same room! The possibilities are endless. So it’s not hard to imagine a situation where your speech or written document, gets instantly translated into different languages so that the rest of the globe is able to instantly understand what you communicate. Machine translation services using appropriate software is aimed at just such an objective.

As Gary Anthes says in the Computerworld issue of August 13, 2007: “Language translation software isn’t likely to allow you to lay off your bilingual staffers — at least not right away. But applied with discrimination and lots of preparation, translation service tools can be fantastic productivity aids.” Applying computers to the task of translating texts between language pairs has been the endeavour of tech wizards in recent years. They have perhaps found the technique to be useful in certain specific domains like software, where text is repetitively used throughout the document, but this cannot easily extend to many other fields like literature and the sciences, the legal and financial areas.

If only it were possible to achieve that ideal match of phrases and idiomatic expressions between languages, it would be a boon to businesses and to scientific thought as there would be an infinite number of resources available to people from every walk of life.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the likelihood of this ever becoming a reality can only be a distant dream. The reason for this is that language has been developed over centuries of usage, and each human has his or her own unique way of using language to express ideas. The use of software in language translation services is limited because the output is always based on the input received and no two persons would even by accident use the exact same words or phrase to describe a situation or give expression to a thought.

Even dictionaries are being constantly being revised and updated as languages evolve. Thus the prospect of building and constantly updating a database with trillions of exceptions to the regular usage and rules of any given language, and then cross-matching them between hundreds of languages and thousands of dialects that now exist, can only be in the realm of wishful thinking!

The creativity of the human mind is so limitless that to attempt to bring in figurative and literal accuracy to a translation service project requires a thinking human mind that applies itself diligently to the task. Today, the demands of business, science, technology and even philosophical thought, are so exacting that the essence of the text must be captured in its entirety by the translator so as to be able to render a faithful interpretation of the original thought.

Translation service providers who offer quality services are generally mindful of this requirement and have on their panel subject experts who can deliver the best possible translation results between the given language pairs. The context, the subject matter and area of expertise are all important factors that a translator will take into account while using his special talents to perform a translation services job to the complete satisfaction of the client.

Techniques of Legal Translations

Best Techniques of Legal Translation

Legal translation is the translation of texts within the field of law. As the law is a culture dependent subject field, legal translation is not a simple task. Only professional translators specializing in legal translation should translate legal documents and scholarly writings. The mistranslation of a way in an agreement, for example, could lead to lawsuits and loss of money.

When translating a copy within the field of law, the translator must maintain the subsequent in mind. The legal method of the source text is prepared in a way that suits that ethnicity and this is replicated in the legal language; in the same way, the target text is to be read by someone who is familiar with another legal system and its language.

Professionals in Legal Translation

A professional in legal translation must be a linguist, a legal intellectual and a bit of a willing detective so that he is able to glean the finer points out of any text. And he should also be capable of researching how to describe legal concepts expressed in the source language of a document that may not even have an equivalent in the language or legal system of the target text.

In the very first stage, the translator must decipher the source text and reconstruct its meaning in the target text. In numerous cases, there is some restriction for the translator to finding a functional comparable for a word or phrase or a parenthetical clarification because an accurate translation is impossible.

Legal Texts Translators

Translators of legal texts often seek advice from law dictionaries, especially bilingual law dictionaries. Care should be taken, as some bilingual law dictionaries are of poor quality and their use may lead to mistranslation.

Every legal translator should maintain some rules when they translate something. The translation must be taken from original copies and should be translated completely and accurately. It should approximately follow the format and layout of the source text. The translator cannot change any name of people, titles and marks of nobility, not even the spelling of that name. It should be taken from an original document.

Expert Legal Translator

An expert legal translator should also know that even within the legal field there are entirely separate vicinity of law that entails specific translation techniques: a contractual text has little in common with a determination, an administrative certificate, a judicial decision or a statute, to name a few examples. The translator knows that he or she must consult not only a monolingual legal dictionary, but also a dissertation regarding the subject matter, and that bilingual dictionary while useful, should be used with vigilance.

Apart from terminological lacunae, or lexical gaps, the translator may focus on the following aspects. Textual conventions in the source language are often culture-dependent and may not correspond to conventions in the target culture. Linguistic structures that are often found in the source language have no direct equivalent structures in the target language. The translator, therefore, has to find target language structures with the same functions as those in the source language.

When faced with international arguments connecting different languages and legal structures, legal adviser and their clients would be well recommended to obtain the services of translators able to successfully viaduct the divide of legal systems, as well as language and culture, in order to provide literate rather than literal translations.

http://articles-hub.net/2010/01/techniques-of-legal-translations/

News – latest translation softwares around

Latest Translation Software Around

I’ve just read in a NY Times article published in November that IBM is working hard on a new translation software – called n-Fluent – which sounds interesting. On IBM’s website you can find detailed info about it: the development process of the software apparently involved 400,000 people, that is, IBM staff worldwide, and n-Fluent should really be smarter and able to deal with idiomatic expressions etc. I just hope it is MUCH better than IBM’s Translation Manager, which probably is the worst-ever released translation software to date, according to my experience and to my colleagues as well.

In the meanwhile, I subscribed to receive “useful localization tips and funny bloopers” (so it says) from another company. I’ll let you know soon whether it is really useful&funny. This is the link.

What really seems to be interesting, though, is Clay Tablet, the collaborative translation tool, version 2.5: here’s some general news and the homepage. Clay Tablet connects to corporate databases as well as translation vendors, reaching an impressive 210 million translated sentences. Is anyone ever used it?

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