Saturday, November 20, 2010

Equal Rights, Unequal Pay

I read with interest the address by Joris de Bres, Race Relations Commissioner, at the Annual General Meeting of Interpreting New Zealand, Multicultural Services Centre, held in Wellington on the 17th of this month.

The right to an interpreter is enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: “to have the free assistance of an interpreter if they cannot understand or speak the language used in court (Article 14.3(f)). So is the right to legal representation. Otherwise, it amounts to the miscarriage of justice, which is a grave offence.

A lawyer in Australia charges over $200.00 just to look at you for an hour. An accredited, qualified court interpreter in Australia, after all things get factored in (travel time, delays, etc), is paid a paltry $16.00 per hour before tax. Both are professionals, both have qualifications. The diffrence? One is employed by himself (or a large law firm), while the other is employed by Australia's only employer - the Government - via a host of decent and not so decent agencies.

Talk about monopolisation!

Plus, there is no union to represent community-sector interpreters. So no access to legal redress for all sorts of other abuses that come bundled with low pay: no debriefing, harassment and intimidation of interpreters, no parking dues, often no travel fee, and no paid CPD opportunities. And then the one and only employer has the temerity to pay thousands of dollars to pack agency owners and so-called "end users" (still Government) for a whole day of fruitless discussions about the lack of retention of interpreters (or good ones at least).

Is it so hard to fathom, or is our public service slightly intellectually disabled?

Friday, July 30, 2010


First we had Dubya.. Now we have Wasilla.

"Now, some of you may think Sarah introduced “refudiate” to our common language last Sunday, when she tweeted Manhattan’s Muslims, begging them to “Pls refudiate” plans to build a mosque two blocks north of the Ground Zero.

You would be wrong.

Mama Grizzly actually gave the “word” its out-loud debut about a week before, when she bounced it off her fellow Fox News heavyweight and conservative stud muffin, Sean Hannity.

Sarah was opinionating, via live-feed from her kitchen overlooking Russia, calling on the Obamas to “refudiate” the NAACP’s charge of racism in the leadership of the Tea Party movement."

Peter Gelzinis from Boston Herald

Refudiate the fact, please, that something is very wrong with education in the USA if someone like Palin can become a politician. PLEASE??

Left or Right, East or West?

Prof. Lera Boroditsky on how language shapes thinking (or is it the other way round?). Absolutely must read! Read the comments, they are as good as the article, if not better.

  • Russian speakers, who have more words for light and dark blues, are better able to visually discriminate shades of blue.
  • Some indigenous tribes say north, south, east and west, rather than left and right, and as a consequence have great spatial orientation.
  • The Piraha, whose language eschews number words in favor of terms like few and many, are not able to keep track of exact quantities.
  • In one study, Spanish and Japanese speakers couldn't remember the agents of accidental events as adeptly as English speakers could. Why? In Spanish and Japanese, the agent of causality is dropped: "The vase broke itself," rather than "John broke the vase."

What happens in interpreting, then, when we need to bridge the east with left, or the few with five?

Cultural Translation - Not an Easy Bid

In Australia's professional LSP sector, the standard (and of course lazily comfortable) response to the question "Can translators be cultural advisers?" is "No". Too much responsibility is attached to trying to explain cultural issues A to a member of culture B, especially if B is a much more powerful and sort of mainstream culture, and A is a minority, often refugee (economic or otherwise) sub-culture. It is so much easier just interpreting words, usually making the discourse of the dominant language into something utterly alien and alienating in the receiving language.

I don't agree with this stance. A language is a vital vehicle of culture, it does not exist in a vacuum. Whether interpreting or translating, some things need to be "footnoted", explanations need to be added. It enriches both parties. But I agree it is hard.

I have been following this guy for a while now, and I am full of admiration for what he does. And today I came across another bunch of "lingovists" (language activists) from India - Video Volunteers. Their main issue, of course, is that India is a subcontinent of many cultures and many languages. And it is a subcontinent of many voiceless people.

How do you give a voiceless community a voice? You interpret and translate what they say into the language of the dominant discourse! Bravo..

Are we creating our own 'voiceless' communities by refusing to be cultural brokers?? Listen to Ted talking about what translation is REALLY for:

More on the GIGO Syndrome

I love Barbara Jungwirth posting on writing source text in "grammatically correct, clear structures free of spelling and punctuation errors" so as to facilitate the translation process, instead of getting the "Garbage In, Garbage Out" syndrome.

Barbara writes: "I was initially surprised at how frequently source text -- even fairly lengthy white papers and similar types of text -- appears not to have been proofread, let alone copy-edited. After reading a couple of books on technical and business matters recently, I am no longer surprised. Even books being printed and sold in bookstores don't seem to undergo much of a quality-assurance process any more. A case in point is Tamar Weinberg's "The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web", which I am in the process of reviewing for an upcoming issue of the Society for Technical Communication's magazine Intercom, which contains quite a few instances where sentences seem to have been hurriedly revised and fragments of the sentence's previous incarnation left behind or too much taken out. So if books aren't proofread any more, what can we expect from internal industry papers or instructions?"

Surprised, eh? I have a few books on translation studies that were published by very respectable institutions, and which contain errors. It is human to err. It is unprofessional to write slovenly, however. However, since the generation currently coming into force as editors and writers grew up on cut-and-paste, SMS and the Microsoft spell-checker, and without the benefit of being taught any serious usage of English at school, we can only expect to see more of this.

It is the translator's job to "leave source text errors in the source text" and provide a clean translation. Provided, of course, the translator knows an error when they see one. SMS your professional body for advice, maybe?

Barbara states, correctly: "However, such poorly written source text not only hampers the flow of reading, it often also adds ambiguity to the text. After all, if there are two conjunctions when only one should be present, which of the two did the author intend to use?"

I just smiled.

Ambiguity is now called "creativity" and "innovation" in language. Rules are BAD. And for someone to understand what one conjunction versus two mean in a text, they must be my age :-)


For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

The US Government Still "doesn't get it"

The Government Accountability Office reported on Thursday that Federal agencies must do more to improve employees' foreign language proficiencies.

David Maurer, director of GAO's homeland security and justice team said that DHS, in particular, has failed to take a comprehensive approach to assessing the foreign language capabilities of its employees and addressing any shortfalls despite several critical GAO reports. Jeff Neal, chief human capital officer at DHS, acknowledged the department does not have an overarching plan or program for foreign language skills.

"An effective program must be dynamic and responsive to changing situations," Neal said.

(Source: Government

Couldn't the same be said of any English-speaking business trying to enter foreign markets? All this money spent on copywriting, advertising and business meetings is going to waste if the produced materials do not actually address the target audience - that is, their potential clients and business partners.

And yet, when it comes to budgeting, the beneficial, intelligent use of language services comes as a not-so-high priority. Instead, business tend to depend on locals to tell them what to do. A bit like going to the barber to have your tooth extracted, if you ask me.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Predicting the Nakba in an Israeli Novel

A book I would love to translate (are you listening, Alon?) into Arabic. A book that MUST be translated into Arabic, and translated well.

House of Rajani (Harvill Secker - Random House UK), takes place in 1895 Jaffa. It records the diaries of Salah Rajani, a 12-year old Moslem child cursed with prophetical powers who foresees the rising of the Jewish state; and of a 27 year old Jewish colonist, new to the city of Jaffa, who takes both Salah's mother and their house.

Arab Israelis – among them Radio Cairo correspondent Khamis Abulafia and politician Ahmed Tibi – have called the book "riveting" and claim to find an echo of the Palestinian narrative embedded within.

The House of Rajani was awarded the Sapir prize in 2009, but two weeks after the public announcement on Television, the award was withdrawn due to allegations of a conflict of interest.

Alon says that the main catalyst to write the book came from a deja vu feeling: "The initial catalyst for writing it came from a scene I envisioned one day as I sat in a Tel Aviv café: all at once I stripped the present reality of its clothes – the Bauhaus buildings, the uniquely Israeli window blinds, the ugly air-conditioning units, the ficus trees, the asphalt sidewalks, the low stone walls – and I could picture the orchards and groves and prickly pear cactuses of the Palestinians who had lived there in the past. I shuddered, and at that moment I decided to try to pass that feeling along to my readers in a historical novel about Tel Aviv's Palestinian past and about the first wave of Jewish immigration."

An expert from the novel can be read here.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Being Fast

Ken of the 1-800 Translate company is blogging about Speed.. not the kind that makes you unwell, but the kind that makes you productive.

"You’ve got to do it right, but you’ve got to do it fast too. How fast? It all depends. Most translators in most languages can do somewhere between 2500 and 3000 words per day. That works out to about 300 words per hour. That’s unique words, now, so if the materials to be translated have a lot of repetition (say 50%), then the translator is effectively translating 5000 words instead of 2500 (...) Terminology management, machine pre-translation, and lots of other stuff can push those numbers much higher (...) Edit and proof take more time, say around 1000 words per hour, each, depending on the quality of the original and the talents and diligence of the editors. Traffic becomes a concern, too, in that the document has to be scheduled and assigned to the appropriate linguist by the appropriate project manager or language manager. So all the expectations we have for words per hour get tossed out the window if the one-and-only language manager is backed up or simply having a bad day. "

When all else fails, Ken throws in more translators, but complains that we are like cats, that is, there is more than one way to skin us. Thanks, Ken. I agree that as a bunch of professionals, we find it difficult to agree on anything, starting from translation theory and ending with which style manual is best to use. Don't worry, though - if the automation market keeps growing at the speed it does currently, our own productivity will kill all cats in the linguistic neighbourhood. That achieved, your only worry will be software crashes.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Weaving Trust

Here is an excerpt from a recent interview with Mark Tappling, the CEO of Language Weaver, a venture-backed firm which develops language translation software:

"What we've discovered on the commercial business side, is that there is a massive need for translation of digital content on the Internet. But, because of the large volume of digital content out there, most of it simply is not being considered for translation, because there's just not enough money, people, or time. That said, we made an entry into the commercial market in the digital content space. In order for that to be credible, we found that there was a lack of trust--most people do not think translation software works well enough to be commercially viable. Our strategy was twofold--one, was to go out and get brand name customers, and to translate their content to such a high quality, with no human oversight, that they'd be willing to post that on the internet. We've been able to achieve that (...) The second thing we needed to do, was to engage our users trust. In order to do that, they needed to know when a translation was good or bad. So, we established a patented algorithm--a trust score--which automatically ranks a translation from 1 to 5, five being great, one being poor, so that a customer can determine the trust of that. We calibrated that to our customers own, native speakers, who scored them, so that everyone has trust in the score. That has taken the risk out of the conversation, because we only ask customers to pay when the translations are good."

Is that bit about "no human oversight" giving anyone a chill? If their MT is such high quality, how come Google is struggling? Something is telling me that their average score is around 3/5 and that they sort of provide a tiered system: if it is mediocre, we will get it reviewed by humans, unless of course you are happy with being mediocre in language X (which most of their clients would be, since any language other than English is an enigma and for a pragmatic English-speakers, enigmas are best left at mediocre levels). So close enough is good enough, and if their algorithm produced "3" is 30% better than the "5"s of other MTs, they aren't doing bad.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Marian Schwartz Interview

Boston Globe interviewed Marian Schwartz, the Austin-based acclaimed translator of Russian fiction, history, biography, and criticism. Her most recent translations include Ivan Goncharov’s 19th-century novel “Oblomov” and Olga Slavnikova’s futuristic novel “2017.” Schwartz is also the principal English translator of the works of Nina Berberova.

Schwartz started by defining a "good" translation as one which "readers like". With my due respect to all readers of various temperaments, IQs and levels of intelligence - the fact that I love fries does not make the fries a health food item. I read Bulgakov's books both in Polish (which is a close relative of Russian) and Arabic, so I knew a bit about the hazards of translations before I landed the Glenny English version - and so I can say that the English boo in question shares a title with Bulgakov, and that's where the story ends.

Schwartz also states that in her opinion a translation cannot be bad when it gives people access to works that they would never otherwise have read. But are they actually reading the book they would have read if they could, say, read French, or Spanish, or Arabic? Or is it a book written by the translator and passed under the pseudonym of some foreign dude with a literary reputation? If I say "I am hungry" and Ms Schwartz translates it as "Sam is experiencing stomach pain and would like a steak" - is that representing faithfully what I said? I know she wouldn't - she is too brilliant a translator for that. It is just a rhetorical question, and I hope Marian was not watering down her IQ because this was a newspaper interview!


For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

When a PC Validates Your Language...

Back to Dr. David Harrison and endangered languages - Harrison believes language revitalization will be one of the most important trends in linguistics over the next couple of decades, and he believes companies need to get on board.

He is calling on technology companies, such as Microsoft, to help kids engender language. "The Microsoft Local Language Program can empower indigenous communities from the very moment when children in those communities first encounter a technology. It is a powerful thing for children to see their native language on a computer or on cell phone in a high tech medium. It validates the language and encourages them not to abandon the language. It shows them that their language is neither backwards nor obsolete and that it has use in the modern world and has value.”

It used to be different.

When I was growing up, the value of my language and its prestige came automatically as the result of the culture enshrined in it. I had Polish, Yiddish, English and Arabic spoken at home, then picked up a bit of Russian at school. None of the speakers of these languages needed the worth of their language validated by some PC.

It worries me immensely that kids now need to see their lingo on a hand-held phone screen to believe that it is OK to learn it. Amidst the many extinctions I am surrounded with - species of plants and animals, human languages, humanities subject at undergraduate level, common sense and politeness - here comes the extinction of the human wetware.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Open Source Corpora from Meedan

I wrote about the Meedan Project just a few weeks ago. The site has been launched, and although the translations are not brilliant, they are readable and make sense.

Meedan had originally planned to use the Worldwide Lexicon (WWL) project's open source system, but right now we're using IBM's Machine Translation engine and the IBM Transbrowser" -- a browser-based tool for creating a translation layer on the web.

Meedan's data -- its 'translation memory' of over 3m words -- is available to other translators. George Weyman, Meedan's content and community manager, says: "the translations that are done with the Transbrowser are part of our agreement with IBM that makes sure all those translations are open source."

The 'translation memory' is important because having a corpus of texts in two languages allows you to apply statistical techniques to improve a translation engine. The whole translation memory is downloadable from

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Arabic Kaput in the Gulf?

Hard to believe, but it seems that it could be true. In United Arab Emirates, 80% of the population are expats, and Arabic is trailing behind English and Hindi in the fields of business, finance and education.

Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait are all in the same boat, with governments bewailing poor Arabic language skills on one hand, and funding higher education in English on the other. Is that a smart move?

Blame is also placed on the primary and secondary education, with students arriving in uni incapable of writing in any language whatsoever.

To read more, visit the Global Post.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Revisiting Sacred Texts

The British Guardian asks if the spirit of the original religious text can be adequately conveyed in a different language.

Alexander Goldberg compares this seeking for the original to translate to interpreting art. And since "G-d is good at Hebrew", the knowledge of the original Torah is of paramount importance to Jews - except that Biblical Hebrew is sort of dead, and Aramaic is best spoken by the Iraqi Christians - not the best candidates for translating the Torah into English! The question then becomes who has the sufficient knowledge or who has the power to interpret.

Dr Usama Hasan, a senior lecturer at Middlesex University, tells a story of misrepresentation that made me smile: "When I first participated in electronic discussions about religion as an undergraduate about 20 years ago, I began all my posts with, "In the name of God." This was the standard translation of bismillah, a phrase that prefixes all 114 chapters of the Qur'an bar one, and by which Muslims start all kinds of daily activities (...) One of the other students responded with, "In the name of myself, since I can't speak for God … " Whilst other colleagues asked him to apologise, fearing that another humourless Muslim would be offended and disengage, I was creased with laughter. But I took his point, and ever since that exchange I have tended to use the prayer-like "With the name of God" for my own correspondence, reserving "In the name of God" for translations of the Qur'an. This illustrates the difficulty of dealing with nuanced religious texts."

Language is a vehicle of meanings, and one of the arguments cited to support the disputed existence of mentalese, in which we allegedly think, is precisely the possibility of translation between languages. For Dr. Hasan, "the best translation of the Qur'an is in the language of action."

Heather McDougall, a music teacher with interest in comparative religions, maintains that in the beginning was Logos, and then it got translated into "word", "reason" or "intellect". Logos is a difficult concept to translate, a bit like the Na'avi "I see you". She then talks about mistranslations of the Revelation of St. John by certain door-knocking groups. But any translation is an interpretation, and any interpretation is by default subjective. Some see the Lamb. Some see the FBI. Some see Bin Laden.

I tend to see Bedlam. That, too, is subjective.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Translating Surveys

Jeffrey Henning of VoVici has a series of excellent articles about preparing multilingual surveys and questionnaires. He does not start at the translation process, but goes further back and concentrates on designing. His advice:

(1)The biggest mistake you can make is to assume that you simply have to translate the English questionnaire into other languages.

(2) When you think about the problem as one of localization, you realize that you need different editions of the questionnaire for different markets.

(3) Write the master questionnaire with translation in mind.

(4) Design the questionnaire up front to minimize open-ended questions.

(5) A survey translation is not just a translation of the survey itself.

(6) Don't submit the master questionnaire for translation until it is "final final".

(7) Back translate the survey into the native language of the survey author.

And the DON'Ts?

(1) Do not use free translation software.

(2) Don't give it to someone who is not a professional translator.

(3) Don't be in a hurry. Give it plenty of time.

(4) Don't be stingy on back-translating.

(5) Don't under-budget. It costs.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

The importance of Multilingualism

"Multilingualism, which can be defined as the harmonious accommodation of different languages spoken within a common space, therefore becomes an essential component of educational and cultural policies, to which attention must increasingly be paid," said Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, in a statement on the occasion of International Mother Day Language 2010.

"At the same time, the learning of foreign languages and, as a result, the individual ability to use several languages encourages openness towards diversity and understanding of other cultures. As such, it must be promoted as a constructive and structural element of modern education."

Because of the increased pace of communication in our globalized world, translation is enjoying a level of growth unprecedented in the history of humanity, Bokova said. "For it to become a genuine tool for reciprocal dialogue and knowledge, we must promote a more diversified and even more balanced context of cultural and scientific exchange.

"Multilingualism, the learning of foreign languages and translation are three strategic axes for the language policies of tomorrow. On the occasion of this 11th International Mother Language Day, I am appealing to the international community to give the mother language, in each of these three axes, its rightful, fundamental place, in a spirit of respect and tolerance which paves the way for peace," Bokova said.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

An Introduction to Literature in Arabic

L.D. Mitchell (book collector, professional librarian, author, photographer) did everyone a great favour by posting a ten part introduction about the literature in Arabic that any serious reader should have on their shelves.

Given the enormous debt that Western Europe owes to Arab scholarship, it is puzzling why the Arab world's own native literary traditions remain so poorly known and understood in the West.

I have written often about contemporary Arab writers whose works are being translated into English (Humphrey Does It Again, Darwish Celebrated in Film, Arab Literature Breaks Taboos - in Translation, On Translating Arabic Literature, Taha and Adina - Translating the Other, From "Religion Dispatches" - Translating Rumi], but Mitchell takes us on a journey from 1001 Nights to Naguib Mahfouz, touching on folklore, religious texts and science, then stopping long at poetry, moving on to compilations of Jahiz, Maqdisi and the globe-trotter Ibn Battuta, biographies of the Prophet and other greats, Ibn Khaldun's seminal work on sociology and the histories of Tabari.

Mitchell says that his mini-introduction would not improve the general ignorance of the subject much, partly because of the frustrating lack of English translations. rest assured, my dear librarian, that there is a similar frustration among the Arabic-speaking generation Y and Z who no longer use classical Arabic and cannot comfortably link to Tabari, Ibn Battuta or Jahiz. Modern translations from 7th-12th century Arabic to Modern Standard are either non-existent, or very few and far between. Add to that high levels of illiteracy, censorship, and rote-learning. I read my first 1001 Nights in Burton's translation, not in the original Arabic, although the whole set was adorning our bookshelves when I was growing up.

What books in Arabic get to see the light of the English presses also depends on which political buttons are pushed, as Youssef Rakha writes in his article "A literary prize fight: politics and the International Prize for Arabic Fiction".

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Google Translates Pictures into Information

To learn more about the newest gadgeting Google is doing, read their blog!

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Measures to Protect Arabic in ME Media - and what it means

(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Media figures and field experts called Wednesday for protecting the elements of the Arabic language, as a basis for the region's identity and culture.

Participants in the seminar on 'The Role of Media in Serving the Arabic Language', held by the Arab Center for Educational Research for the Gulf States, said in their recommendations at the conclusion of the three-day event that classical Arabic should be used in official letters and communication between government bodies.

Moreover, they called for making the Arabic language a primary subject taught at all school levels, and to make it compulsory in all mass media colleges, whether in public or private universities.

It also called for selecting editors based on their competence in the language, and for media institutions to coordinate efforts to create programs that focused on the Arabic language.

It also encouraged making children's programs in classical but simple Arabic.

The event saw the participation of media figures, as well as language experts and representatives of education ministries from around the Arab world.

What this means is that if you have been dealing with the Arab Gulf countries, or you are planning to, you will meet with more stringent demands on having your transactions (legal, business, financial) done bilingually, if not fully in Arabic. And because the mood in the Gulf has been very "linguistically and culturally sensitive" over the past few months, cutting corners in the quality of your paperwork by using online translation tools or bilingual non-specialist might just land you in more trouble.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

One more language goes the way of the dodo..

Very sad indeed.

CNN reported on February 5th the death of Boa Sr, 85, the last speaker of Bo. the language which she grew up with, which is said to have evolved over 65,000 years on Andaman islands is officially extinct.

Stephen Corry, the Director of Survival International - a London-based group, which works to protect indigenous peoples - said Boa's loss is a bleak reminder that we must not allow this to happen to the other tribes of the Andaman islands.

According to UNESCO, at least 240 languages have died since 1950. That's a cultural extinction rate of one language every three months over the last 60 years. Worse news is that the language mortality rate may be accelerating dramatically: worst-case scenario is an extinction rate of a language death every ten days between now and the year 2100.

Greg Rosner writes about this and the similarity between human DNA and languages. There are 6700 languages spoken today, he says, half of which will become extinct in about 25 years. While all humans have 99.9% the exact same DNA, that point one percent carries billions of variations which make up all our different physical (and possibly other) traits as humans. Those differences have been mutating and diverging in modern humans for only about 150,000 years. Which means that the Bo language evolved prior to modern humanity. Fossil record and DNA evidence seems to indicate that all hominids died out 60,000 years ago, with the exception of a small population of humans living in eastern Africa, some 65,000 years ago!!

Language and DNA both evolve, mutate and in many cases, die out. When populations of people live in isolation for long periods of time, (say, a thousand years) their language changes and so does their DNA.While languages and DNA change with different rates of time, it has been natural for both to evolve and adapt into amazing differences. Grammar, syntax, style, spelling. Dialects evolve.

Every time we lose a language we lose human experience, creativity, and a unique perspective of ourselves and the world. We are all weaker every time it happens.
There is something we can do about it--and it's not only a matter of protecting and promoting our own mother tongue. Language and cultural experts tell us that the best way to protect human cultural diversity is to celebrate and share it. Celebrate our own language, yes, but also learn and respect the languages of others.

There is a website where you could learn more about endangered languages.


For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Kill the Russians??

From the Globalisation Group - a hooter as usual:

A few months ago, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was released and began setting numerous world records for video game sales. Unfortunately, the game also received negative publicity for including some frustrating mistranslations.

At the center of the issues is the "No Russian" scene, in which [the character] Vladimir Makarov is supposed to tell the player "Remember, no Russian." In the story, this is a straight-forward message: as a Russian nationalist, he doesn't want his men speaking Russian as they kill civilians. But in Japanese, it was apparently translated to, "Kill them; they are Russians."
The result was that Japanese players were shooting the wrong characters in the game, causing the players to prematurely see "game over" flash on the screen. Note translator: be a little extra cautious whenever translating an order to kill or "game over" may not be the worst consequence of your actions. Fortunately, Modern Warfare 2 has been very highly anticipated, so all the publicity enabled confused Japanese players to quickly identify the problem and adjust accordingly. If only everyone could recover so quickly from such translation errors...

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Proz responds to ridiculous translation offers from agencies

Changes to be made to the job posting system

"Huge movement, the biggest yet seen in this profession.. thousands of people supporting the petition.."

A petition concerning the job posting system ("A Translators' Petition Concerning's Job Policies" was hosted online at in February 2010. The stated purpose of the petition was to urge to revise its job-posting policies. In the space of less than four days, 844 translators and interpreters signed the petition.

In response to the petition, staff announced that changes would be made to the job posting system:

"1. The pricing field will be removed from the job posting form.
This change is consistent with the fact that the individual translator is in the best position to determine what he or she needs to charge to deliver the quality required on a particular job.

2. When consistent with member preference, posters will be given an opportunity to specify a budget range (after having posted).
An option to enter budget information will appear, with a suitable explanation, when among those who meet the specified criteria there are one or more members who prefer to take budget information into consideration when deciding whether or not to quote.

3. Even when a client budget range has been specified, it will not be published by default.
Client budget ranges will be accessible only to members who (1) have expressed a preference to consider client budgets, and (2) meet the specified job criteria. (This eliminates the possibility for the job posting system to be used to "popularize" low rates.)

4. More information -- supplied by the community -- will be made available concerning the price of professional translation.
In the void left by the decreased publication of poster positions on rates, guides entitled "Determining what service you need and what it will cost" and "Determining your rates and fees as a translator", will be introduced. These guides, linked to from the job posting and job quoting forms, are already being built by the community in the wiki. (Please consider contributing.)
Together with the guides, real-time data on rates charged by members will be made available for reference by job posters and those quoting. (This will be the topic of further notices in this site area.)

5. A means will be provided, and job posters will be encouraged, to enter more detailed information in job postings.
To quote accurately, jobs have to be posted in sufficient detail. Encouraging job posters to enter as much detail as possible becomes more important with these changes.

6. A means will be provided to enter more detailed rates information in profiles.
Profile owners will be given a means of entering more detailed rates information, such as premiums for rush jobs, etc.

7. The prominence of the job posting system will be reduced overall, with higher priority given to the directory.
The directory has proven to be a much better source of new clients for professional translators.

8. An addition will be made to the professional guidelines on the topic of rates.
Proposed addition: "Professionals: ... set their rates at levels that allow them to deliver, on an ongoing basis, the quality levels that their clients require"

9. Efforts will be made to stimulate industry-wide cooperation to support the livelihood of professional translators.
Several ideas for how to approach this have been considered, but at a minimum, links to groups that are active in this area will be maintained. Please share information related to any groups or individuals that you know that are active in this area.
Of particular interest would be those active in the following areas:
  • differentiation on the basis of quality
  • establishing a more direct correlation between quality and price
  • techniques for boosting productivity
  • marketing / negotiation / business skills for translators
Note that although these have been areas of focus in events and trainings for some time, there is ongoing demand for training on these topics in various areas and languages. If you have developed programs in these areas, and would like to deliver trainings or sessions on these topics, please make a proposal via support ticket.

10. A host of other steps, both technical and social, will be undertaken. Updates will be posted here.

Note: The above changes will be implemented as soon as development can be carried out. More detail on each of these points, and notice of additional measures, will be posted on an ongoing basis. To be notified when changes are made to this page, subscribe below.

The Proz Founder and CEO, Henry Dotterer, has responded to the petition. You can watch the response here.


For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reading List for the rest of 2010

The 2010 Best Translated Books:

Ghosts, by César Aira (Argentina)
Translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews

The Twin, by Gerbrand Bakker (Netherlands)
Translated from the Dutch by David Colmer

Anonymous Celebrity, by Ignácio de Loyola Brandão (Brazil)
Translated from the Portuguese by Nelson Vieira

Wonder, by Hugo Claus (Belgium)
Translated from the Dutch by Michael Henry Heim

The Weather Fifteen Years Ago, by Wolf Haas (Austria)
Translated from the German by Stephanie Gilardi and Thomas S. Hansen

The Confessions of Noa Weber, by Gail Hareven (Israel)
Translated from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu

The Discoverer, by Jan Kjærstad (Norway)
Translated from the Norwegian by Barbara Haveland

Memories of the Future, by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (Russia)
Translated from the Russian by Joanne Turnbull

Rex, by José Manuel Prieto (Cuba)
Translated from the Spanish by Esther Allen

The Tanners, by Robert Walser (Switzerland)
Translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky


For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

The EU is taking the first step towards setting the right to an interpreter directive

THE EUROPEAN Commission has proposed minimum standards for interpretation and translation for suspects standing trial in a country where the language is not their own. The proposed legislation is designed to help people to get a fair trial anywhere in the EU, even when they cannot understand the language of the case.

The need for standardised procedural rights and the barriers which can lead to unfair convictions during judicial proceedings in other EU countries have been highlighted by a number of real-life cases. These include an Italian tourist involved in a traffic accident in Sweden who was not allowed to talk to an Italian-speaking lawyer during trial, and a Polish suspect who could not see written translations of evidence used against him in a French court.

The proposed new Directive replaces a Framework Decision on interpretation and translation rights in July 2009, which became void upon the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on December 1st, 2009.

On November 30th, 2009, EU governments asked the commission to put forward proposals on a “step-by-step” basis to establish EU-wide standards for a series of procedural rights. The commission is thus turning the proposed Framework Decision into a Directive.

This proposal is the first step in a series of measures to set common EU standards in criminal cases. The Lisbon Treaty enables the EU to adopt measures to strengthen the rights of EU citizens, in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The proposal strengthens citizens’ rights to interpretation and translation in three ways: interpretation would have to be provided for communication with lawyers as well as during investigations – such as police questioning – and at trial; the proposal covers written translation of all essential documents such as the detention order, the charge sheet or indictment, or vital pieces of evidence; citizens must have the right to legal advice before waiving the right to interpretation and translation; translation and interpretation costs will have to be met by the member state, not by the suspect – irrespective of the final decision.

“We are taking a first important step towards a Europe where justice knows no borders. Nobody in the EU should ever feel that their rights and their protections are weakened simply because they are not in their home countries,” said vice-president Viviane Reding, the EU’s commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship.

The Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings, proposed by the commission, will be the first Directive to strengthen criminal justice since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at .

On translation and belonging

I remember a discussion a few years ago with one of my colleagues from Cairo, a high caliber Arabic<>English translator, about the English version of Naguib Mahfouz trilogy.

I happen to know the translator of that work. I also happen to have read Naguib in Arabic, and then in English.

My friend said one thing that I could not disagree with: although technically very good, there was no Cairo in the English translation. At least not the Cairo both her and me spent such a long time in.

The Cuban-American writer, Gustavo Perez Firmat, says in one of his poems:

The fact that I

am writing to you

in English

already falsifies what I

wanted to tell you.

My subject:

how to explain to you that I

don’t belong to English

though I belong nowhere else.

Translating culture is a very hard task, and the more the source and target cultures differ, the harder it becomes to bridge the gap. Naguib in Turkish, or Farsi, would probably be more Cairene than Naguib in English or Swedish.

The way around it would be to limit literary and cultural translations to bilingual people who either spent their childhood in the source country, or come from bi-cultural families. Then again, being bilingual, or even bi-cultural, does not make you a brilliant translator. So maybe we could employ them as some sort of consultants to the translator?

Just dreaming aloud..

(Thanks to Patty Ball and The Quad)

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Learning Japanese on the Field

I am not into sport at all, but the following article is about what motivates people to learn another language.

Tommy Manzella is a US baseball player, a shortstop for the Astros. The shortstop is often considered the most dynamic defensive position in baseball because more balls go to the shortstop than any other position.

But he still has time for his index cards. On his team is Matsui, the veteran Japanese second baseman who's in his third year with the Astros. Matsui can speak some beginner English, but Manzella wants to learn to speak to him in his own language. So he is working with Matsui's interpreter and jots down a few words every now and again. He is not aiming at being fluent - he just wants to be able to communicate.

I give him Kudos for that. Most of the words he has learned are at least baseball-related and concern defensive positioning on the infield or the best way to feed balls to Matsui while covering second base. He's also learned some numbers and question words.

What got him into it? A former team manager who worked in Japan told him "it goes a long way as far as your relationship if they see you, not only them trying to make an effort to learn your language, but you making an effort to learn their language. That's the kind of people they are. They show that as a sign of respect. "I was thinking that might be a good idea [to learn a couple words a day]. I think it's good to try to learn a new language because you never know when you're going to need it. I've got a situation here where I have someone I can go to every single day and say, 'Hey, is this right?' and he can help me out. If you wanted to do that normally, you'd have to pay a lot of money to have that kind of a system."

Sign of respect. You never know when you might need it. And it doesn't just apply to the Japanese. It applies to everyone. So if you are doing business (or just playing golf) with someone who is not from an English-speaking background, it pays to know the lingo.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Bravo, Grossman!

The typical translator's status can be likened to a ghost writer's — an appendage obscure and underpaid. Like ghost writers, they often receive flat fees and no royalties. Reviewers often overlook them or faintly praise them — and this drives Grossman crazy — for "ably" translating the original text.

"`Ably translated,' compared to what?" asks Grossman, whose "Why Translation Matters," a brief, forceful defense of her profession, is being released by Yale University Press. "The reviewer clearly doesn't read Spanish. How would they know if it is ably translated? They quote long passages to indicate the style of the writer and never credit the translator."


Grossman would know: she has translated such works as Miguel de Cervantes' 'Don Quixote' and Gabriel Garcia Marquez' 'Love in the Time of Cholera'.

In "Why Translation Matters," Grossman writes of taking on the opening phrase of the first chapter of "Don Quixote," among the most famous words in Spanish literature: "En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme," which in an earlier English-language edition was translated into, "In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind."

Grossman worked on the phrase by reciting the Spanish to herself, "mantralike." She reached for the right mood and rhythm, to recapture how it struck those who read "Quixote" centuries ago. She pondered the word "lugar," which can mean either village or place. The words came to her, like lyrics to a song: "Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember."

Grossman, who turns 74 in March, is curly haired and plainspoken, her voice still flavored by her childhood in a Yiddish-speaking neighborhood in Philadelphia. She had an early interest in languages — although she hardly remembers a word of Yiddish — and by high school was thinking about becoming an interpreter, "which suggested travel, exotic places, important events, world-shaking conferences at the United Nations," she writes in "Why Translation Matters."

Why Translation Matters argues for the cultural importance of translation and for a more encompassing and nuanced appreciation of the translator’s role. As the acclaimed translator Edith Grossman writes in her introduction, “My intention is to stimulate a new consideration of an area of literature that is too often ignored, misunderstood, or misrepresented.”

For Grossman, translation has a transcendent importance: “Translation not only plays its important traditional role as the means that allows us access to literature originally written in one of the countless languages we cannot read, but it also represents a concrete literary presence with the crucial capacity to ease and make more meaningful our relationships to those with whom we may not have had a connection before. Translation always helps us to know, to see from a different angle, to attribute new value to what once may have been unfamiliar. As nations and as individuals, we have a critical need for that kind of understanding and insight. The alternative is unthinkable.”

Throughout the four chapters of this bracing volume, Grossman’s belief in the crucial significance of the translator’s work, as well as her rare ability to explain the intellectual sphere that she inhabits as interpreter of the original text, inspires and provokes the reader to engage with translation in an entirely new way.

The full interview with Grossman can be read online. The book can be purchased directly from the publisher's website.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Get a Piece of That Cake, Quickly

Is your company doing business with the Arab world?

The Google CEO, on a visit to Riyadh, predicted that the Kingdom would have a bright future because of its large young population. He said the Arabic content on the Worldwide Web was expanding by the day. "The Internet Arabic content will increase further due to the presence of a large Arab population estimated at 300 million," he said, adding that Saudi Arabia would have a big role to play in expanding Arabic content on the Internet. According to statistics published in 2009, 48 million Arabs use the Internet.

Google International has two offices in Egypt and Dubai but no presence in any other Arab country. It has introduced Arabic language in its search engine and provides translation services from different languages to Arabic. But be careful - Arabs are very touchy about their language. After all, the language is sacred because the Koran came down in it. So Google-type mess of machine translation is a very sure way of making unhappy and offended clients.

If you are doing business with the Arabic-speaking world, it is time to localise at least the most important parts of your website NOW. For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at .

Tell Tells All About Neosales

Are you still thinking of lunches and coffees (or maybe something stronger) to clinch that sale with your new direct client? Think no more.

According to Roy Tell from Applied Languages, your website and the technology it uses will now take place of the preliminary chitchat and the martini, because business people do not have the time to engage in business lunches. I don't concur, but I live in Australia, and we are mad about lunches (we don't have martinis). However, lots of what Roy says is true:

1. Globalization: “Information will find you [and] will connect everyone in business, customers—everywhere, and all the time…Entirely new business models, supply chains, customer care networks, markets and industries will be born from this always-on global connectivity. —Get ready now for this shift.” Institute for Global Futures, Global Trends Report 2009

2. Translation technology is changing the localization industry: “Google leaps language barrier with translator phone and [Google] has already created an automatic system for translating text on computers, which is being honed by scanning millions of multi-lingual websites and documents.” (Times Online-UK, February 7, 2010)

3. Traditional sales techniques no longer work: “Consumers frequently consult search engines and websites before heading for the store. This trend will accelerate.” Why Traditional Sales Techniques No Longer Work Well, Marketing Turnkey Systems, August 18, 2009

Which means, in short, that if you don't have a website that is localised, informative and easy to use, you are lagging behind in marketing. More importantly, you may never get the chance to actually talk to the client if they are not "turned-on" by your website.

So Roy is predicting a "translation Apocalypse" end of this year (I want to see that), because "from how we can now access information, to how we evaluate what we read, technology is facilitating the translation of this information and helping us reach that Tower of Babel stage where we once again all speak one “virtual” language. The entire Translation Industry is going to see dramatic changes, and only the companies that are prepared to integrate technology are the ones who will survive (...) Selling in this changing landscape, whether it is translations or anything else, will require a fundamental paradigm shift. Traditional sales approaches will be thrown out, old methodologies scrapped, and a Gestalt-type sales approach is embraced."

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at .

Each language is a unique world of thought

Languages are not only tools of communication, they also reflect a view of the world. Languages are vehicles of value systems and cultural expressions and are an essential component of the living heritage of humanity. Yet, many of them are in danger of disappearing.

UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger tries to raise awareness on language endangerment.

The editor in chief is the Australian linguist Christopher Moseley. According to him, we have to care about language preservation "because each language is a uniquely structured world of thought, with its own associations, metaphors, ways of thinking, vocabulary, sound system and grammar – all working together in a marvellous architectural structure, which is so fragile that it could easily be lost forever."

In Australia, for instance, there are active and successful campaigns to revive the use of languages that were regarded as dead for generations, but turned out to be only ‘sleeping’. In New Zealand, the Maori language has been rescued from near oblivion through the scheme of ‘language nests’ – nurseries where the language is passed on to young children.

This third edition of the Atlas is new in at least three important ways. Firstly and most obviously, it is being published in two different formats: an on-line version as well as a printed version. The on-line version is an important new development, and is based on Google Earth maps, with the location of each endangered language, no matter how small, pinpointed as exactly as possible on the maps, which can be filtered to any desired scale and level of detail.

Secondly, for the first time the Atlas is giving a comprehensive coverage of the whole world. The previous two editions gave only a sample from some continents of the state of threatened languages, but this time we have been careful to cover every language, and, as before, to show the level of endangerment, from “Unsafe” down to “Moribund” with a system of colour coding. The UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, freely available, aims to provide speaker communities, policy-makers and the general public with state-of-the-art knowledge, continually updated by a growing network of experts and community members. The online edition of the Atlas includes all of the information in the print edition and much more.

And thirdly, the Atlas is available in three languages: English, French and Spanish, with possibly more translations to come later.

Below is the Table of Contents:

Preface, p. 4
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

Introduction, p. 8
Christopher Moseley

Cartographic representation of the world’s endangered languages, p. 14
Christopher Moseley

Sub-Saharan Africa, p. 20
Matthias Brenzinger and Herman Batibo

North Africa and the Middle East, p. 26
Salem Mezhoud and Yamina El Kirat El Allame

Europe and the Caucasus, p. 32
Tapani Salminen

Western and Central Asia, p. 43
Hakim Elnazarov

North-east Asia, p. 48
Juha Janhunen

India and the Himalayan chain, p. 59
Stuart Blackburn and Jean Robert Opgenort

South-East Asia, southern China and Taiwan (China), p. 64
David Bradley

Greater Pacific area, p. 74
Darrell T. Tryon

Australia, p. 79
Michael Walsh

South America, p. 86
Willem Adelaar

South America: Andean region, p. 95
Marleen Haboud

Mexico and Central America, p. 103
Yolanda Lastra

United States of America, p. 108
Chris Rogers, Naomi Palosaari and Lyle Campbell

Canada and Greenland, p. 113
Mary Jane Norris

Contributors, p. 122

Bibliography, p. 125

Index, p. 137

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Monday, March 15, 2010

Literature, translation, globalisation

"The Dull New Global Novel" essay by Parks in the NY Review of Books poses the hypothesis of "boredom" and "dullness".

The new "global" novel, written by someone in country X but intended for audiences from all over the world, will be boring by default because, as Parks says, "From the moment an author perceives his ultimate audience as international rather than national, the nature of his writing is bound to change. In particular one notes a tendency to remove obstacles to international comprehension. Writing in the 1960’s, intensely engaged with his own culture and its complex politics, Hugo Claus apparently did not care that his novels would require a special effort on the reader’s and above all the translator’s part if they were to be understood outside his native Belgium. In sharp contrast, contemporary authors like the Norwegian Per Petterson, the Dutch Gerbrand Bakker, or the Italian Alessandro Baricco, offer us works that require no such knowledge or effort, nor offer the rewards that such effort will bring. More importantly the language is kept simple. Kazuo Ishiguro has spoken of the importance of avoiding word play and allusion to make things easy for the translator. Scandinavian writers I know tell me they avoid character names that would be difficult for an English reader."

Mr Parks is making assumptions not born out by facts: that the "international" readership is dumb, and that translators can't translate literature.

The fact that there is a global market for any novel (witness Dan Brown and Rowlings) is in itself fully dependent on the existence and high skills of literary translators. Parks is saying that if it can be translated it isn’t literary — or the truly literary parts of literature are those parts that can’t be translated.

Except that we cannot ever agree on what is and what is not "truly literary". The way things are going, I am finding lots of post-modern novels in general incomprehensible in my native English, and I don't envy any translator the task of having to convey the already opeque language into another. Meaningless mambo-jumbo in English is not truly literary - it is literary mambo-jumbo. I could give a long list of examples, but I would run out of space, and court defamation lawyers.

That which can be translated is the essence of literature. Every translation is a witness to the unidentifiable beauty of Language.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Bartleman, proudly anglo-Québecoise

I am trilingual. So Bartleman's story made me smile, appreciate and bond...

Currently living in Squamish BC, Bartleman is a proud Canadian athlete who has come to understand the importance of French/English bilingualism. “I am a big supporter and enthusiastic proponent of Canadian bilingualism, a subject that is often treated with a lot of contempt and mockery out here in Western Canada,” she writes in her blog.

Originally from Montreal, Bartleman grew up in an English-speaking home and is the oldest of four children. In her early years, her family moved to Alberta where she attended a French immersion elementary school. Growing up, she didn’t understand the full scope of her parents’ insistence on bilingualism and like most children, didn’t care for French in school.

Around age 11, she and her family moved back to Montreal where she attended an English high school. “It’s different when you’re in Montreal once you get to high school. You go to French class in high school in Montreal and sure you might hate it, but then you go out with your friends who are French or who speak French and it translates right . . . no pun intended.”

While Bartleman went on to pursue her life’s passions, she began to understand her father’s insistence on her learning Canada’s other official language. As she travelled across the country, she noticed that a whole lot of people speak French in Canada. “I go other places in Canada and meet all these francophones and I think it’s really cool.”

As she started participating in international competition, Michelle understood the importance of her second official language even more, meeting other athletes from around the world, making friends and picking up other languages in the process!

“I recently had this enlightenment, after speaking at the Jour de la francophonie where there were all these BC francophones,” she says. “I had the realization that I’m their counterpart. I’m an anglophone Quebecer, an anglo-Québecoise.”

As guest speaker, Bartleman delivered her speech in French. Some other speakers were unable to deliver their speeches in Canada’s other official language. She describes this in her blog: “I couldn't understand why the francophones, on their day, were still pandering to the anglos. And then it struck me. The BC francophones at this event get it. They understand the give and take needed to perpetuate understanding and appreciation between different cultures. They realize that, even on their day, they need to respect and accommodate anglophones in they same way that they as francophones hope to be accommodated and respected every other day of the year.”

Hard Marketing Blooper

One would have thought that writing a press release for your translation business is precisely the activity that will showcase these linguistic skills. As such, I find it difficult to consider the snippet below as anything else but a blooper (machine translated??)

Are you looking for someone who would translate your business letters for English and Spanish translations?? Finding a language expert is not an easy task. One has to really work harder to get a good translator as learning and translating a language is a difficult task and there are only few experts available in the market. Don’t worry we don’t want to scare you but this is ground reality. Just chillax!! we have some exciting offers which would leave your mouth open. We at now introduce best translation services especially for English translation and Spanish translation.

"Translate for translations?" Sound like a book title - maybe there is also "translate for car mechanics", "7 Days to Translate for New Mums" and so on? And how "harder" do you need to work to find an expert (in Spanish, there are a few score thousand good translators). The term "harder" bring weird connotations - what are these guys into? "Harder" and "Chillax" go together well.. first you go harder then you chill an ax? Exciting comes at the wrong sequence, though - one usually gets excited, harder, mouth open then chills.. Especially with the photo that this ad carries.

The ad further requests that the reader "just close (..) eyes and give us once chance to deliver". Oh, boy! I would have to close my eyes to have the guts to hand them my work.. once!

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"In Fact"

Another freelancer not to be added to my list of potential contractors:

Dear sir:
In fact I am a freelance translator from Yemen (Arabic native speaker)who has a university degree in translation and English literature. I can translate from English to Arabic. I have three years of experience. And I am doing my master degree in Transaltion . In fact I am wondering if I can join your team as afreelance from- home transaltor; I won't take much ( 25$ per 1000 word). Being ready to take such fees doesnot mean that I am not a good translator, for you can test this yourself. Iwill send you My C.V and a sample of my translation once I get a reply.
wish you contaced me.

(a) I am no Sir - he didn't do his research
(b) 25 bucks per 1K words does not inspire confidence, neither do his typos. Maybe he types 1K words per 25 seconds?
(c) Since he wished I contacted him, he obviously was aware it was a mere wish - in fact, he only stayed in my inbox long enough to be blogged here.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

The Dam

This is apparently an actual letter sent to a man named Ryan DeVries regarding a pond on his property. It was sent by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality, State of Pennsylvania . This guy's response is hilarious, but read the State's letter before you get to the response letter.

SUBJECT: DEQ File No.97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Lycoming County

Dear Mr. DeVries:

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity:

Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.

A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department's files shows that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated.

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2009.

Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action. We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.

David L. Price
District Representative and Water Management Division.

Here is the actual response sent back by Mr. DeVries:

Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Lycoming County

Dear Mr. Price,

Your certified letter dated 12/17/07 has been handed to me to respond to. I am the legal landowner but not the Contractor at 2088 Dagget Lane , Trout Run, Pennsylvania .

A couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood 'debris' dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond. While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of natures building materials 'debris.'

I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.

These are the beavers/contractors you are seeking. As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity.

My first dam question to you is:

(1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers, or

(2) Do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request?

If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued.

(Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated.)

I have several concerns. My first concern is, aren't the beavers entitled to legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation -- so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer. The Department's dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event, causing flooding, is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling them dam names.

If you want the stream 'restored' to a dam free-flow condition please contact the beavers -- but if you are going to arrest them, they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being unable to read English.

In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam rights than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond. If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers' Dams).

So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until 1/31/2009? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them.

In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real environmental quality, health, problem in the area. It is the bears! Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! The bears are not careful where they dump!

Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.



For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

A Linguistic Joke for the Sophisticated

Prince Charles is visiting an Edinburgh hospital. He enters a ward full of patients with no obvious sign of injury or illness and greets one.

The patient replies:

"Fair fa your honest sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin race,
Aboon them a ye take yer place,
Painch, tripe or thairm,
As langs my airm."

Charles is confused, so he just grins and moves on to the next patient. The patient responds:

"Some hae meat an canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat an we can eat,
So let the Lord be thankit."

Even more confused, and his grin now rictus-like, the Prince moves on to the next patient, who immediately begins to chant:

"Wee sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
Wha' sich a panic in thy breastie,
Thou needna start awa sae hastie,
Wi bickering brattle."

Now seriously troubled, Charles turns to the accompanying doctor and asks "Is this a psychiatric ward?"

"No," replies the doctor, "this is the serious Burns unit."

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

How Do You Want to Look in Translation?

If you’re seeking to translate any kind of business documents, marketing materials or web pages, it is important that you obtain an accurate English to Arabic translation from the beginning. Using automatic text translators or a button on your toolbar that instantly translates a web page into Arabic might be very tempting, especially from the cost point of view, but these translations are not fit for public view, because although some of the words may be translated accurately, the meaning of your message most probably won’t.

Your document or website represents your business and reflects it to the international client base. Any mistake made or left behind by an automatic translating software or an inexperienced human translator can cost you lots of future business.

This is why it’s important to choose the translator you are giving your business image to very carefully.

Here is how:

* Always ensure that the professional translator of your choice is native in the language you want to have your documents translated into, except in the rare situations where that person is fully fluent in both the written and spoken forms of both the source and the target languages.

* If you’re looking at promoting your service or product to Arabic speaking North Africans, you shouldn't use the same vocabulary used in, say, the Arab Gulf. Although written Arabic is pretty standard, cultural differences do exist and you will not come across as someone who has done a thorough research of your proposed market place overseas.

* Do you really need the whole of your documents translated? Most translators charge by the word or page, so it does make sense to utilise images - a picture is worth 1000 words. Instructions, for example, could be pictured, and you may consider using the services of a graphic designer who can provide accurate pictures, and thus reduce your translation costs. Just ensure that your graphics are not considered offensive by your target clients.

* Compare the subject matter and technical content of your documents to the proposed translator’s qualifications. Translators specialise and not everyone can translate legal or medical documents. Terminology associated with these fields is very precise and mistakes in translations could result in serious consequences.

* Quality is not cheap. Reading and translating your documents takes time. A translator can only do so many words per day, so be wary of claims to be able to translate 50,000 words per day. Such work will for sure lack quality and won’t be worth the money you spend.

* Don't give your translators documents that are unedited and unfinalised, because any last minute changes to the initial document will result in additional proofreading to ensure that their incorporation in the final translation, the consistency of terminology, etc.

* A good translator doesn't shrink from approaching you with questions and suggestions about possible improvements to your original text in terms of spelling, grammar and sentence structure, or meaning of certain terms. A know-all is a sure fire way to disaster.

Investing money and time in ensuring a properly done translation will save you grief and cash later in the business interaction with your target market. The translated documents will work FOR YOU instead of AGAINST YOU. Remember, this is YOU in translation - what do you want to convey?

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Google Chrome Translation Software

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

KIT, lip-reading, and a multilingual mobile phone

From AFP 02/03/10

It has happened to almost everyone. You are sitting on a train or a bus and someone right next to you is annoyingly shouting into his or her mobile phone.

­Researchers at Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have developed a method for mobile phones to convert silent mouth movements into speech. The technology is based on the principle of electromyography, that is the acquisition and recording of electrical potentials generated by muscle activity. This muscle activity is measured in the face and converted into speech.

The user can speak into the phone soundlessly, but is still understood by the conversation partner on the other end of the line. As a result, it is possible to communicate in silent environments, at the cinema or theater, without disturbing others. Another field of use is the transmission of confidential information.

"We currently use electrodes which are glued to the skin. In the future, such electrodes might for example by incorporated into cellphones," said Michael Wand, from the KIT.

The technology opens up a host of applications, from helping people who have lost their voice due to illness or accident to telling a trusted friend your PIN number over the phone without anyone eavesdropping -- assuming no lip-readers are around.

The technology can also turn you into an instant polyglot. Because the electrical pulses are universal, they can be immediately transformed into the language of the user's choice.

"Native speakers can silently utter a sentence in their language, and the receivers hear the translated sentence in their language. It appears as if the native speaker produced speech in a foreign language," said Wand.

The translation technology works for languages like English, French and Gernan, but for languages like Chinese, where different tones can hold many different meanings, poses a problem, he added.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

Meedan Bridges Language, Culture

From Robert Lukes, Dakota

A new website was launched last month with the intention of providing a means of communication between the Arabic- and English-speaking worlds. Meedan, the Arabic word for "gathering place" or "town square," is meant to symbolize the old town squares where people would gather together and discuss community issues.

Arabic-language websites have been fairly unrepresented in the internet, but this is set to change in the near future. Vinton Cerf, a vice president at Google, estimated that the number of Arabic-speaking internet users in the Middle East will increase by 46.4 percent in the next three years, creating a great opportunity for increased communication between people across the planet.

The method for this breakthrough is a computer translation program that translates articles, blogs, and comments into the language of the reader. This automated translation is augmented by a team of experts and reader contributions-not unlike Wikipedia-to fix any inaccuracies in the computer translation.

In this way, Meedan intends to break through the familiar narrative of conflict between peoples. Through creating an online community, the people behind Meedan hope to bring the people into direct communication with each other. Much has been said about the gap in understanding between the English-speaking world and the so-called 'Arab street.'

More information, can be found at

I just hope they don't start some war by using translation software for this praiseworthy project.

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at