Tuesday, January 26, 2010

GIGO and Marketing Jargon

I am immensely grateful to Lauren Nemec from Applied Languages for the posting on why it is almost impossible to translate marketing crap from English into other languages, especially ones where obfuscation is not a measure of intellectual agility.

A few years back we landed a project for a tourism authority who wanted to "sell" what their area offered to the Arab World. They hired a copywriting company full of young heads and a month later we were presented with 80 pages of "young-head-Aussie" text.

Everything was "unique". And I mean EVERYTHING. Like, each sunset was unique. The sands on the beach were unique. You shopped in a unique atmosphere, buying unique clothes in unique boutiques, sipping unique coffee in unique cafes on unique streets lined with unique trees. And so on, and so forth..

And then there was the very relative, totally undefined term "fun". Getting wet on a unique waterslide was fun as was drying in the similarly unique air funnel. Eating out is fun. Driving down to Brisbane on the congested motorway was "fun". Kids were going to have fun and so were adults, and the dog and the cat.. and your wallet, I assume.

Amazing. Wonderful. Indescribable (how can you write about an indescribable entity, let alone translate it?)

As Nemec says in her blog, it was meant to impress. I translated. The agent in the Middle East read it, convened a phone meeting, and said very clearly: "The translation is very good. Change your copywriters. The English copy is crap."

The error that many companies in the English speaking world fall into is that they think they can smother opposition by the sheer amount of incomprehensible jargon. That might well work for some at the local level, mostly those who speak the same GIGO dialect. But when you translate your materials to Arabic, Polish, or even German (just to mention a few of the ones I know), information is paramount. Information, and cultural sensitivity.

The unique young-heads at the copywriting company did not even bother to think whether what they were saying would be acceptable, let alone attractive, to the Arab audience. So they put in bars and nightclubs as attractions - unique, mind you, until your third glass of whiskey, after which all nightclubs look the same. They marketed open air saunas for both sexes, and marriage ceremonies atop an air balloon. They waxed lyrical (amazing, unique, etc) about wine tours and working dog shows. And, to make things worse, they did not actually explain what all this was about.

I wonder how many of us would pay heavy money to go somewhere overseas for the sole purpose of watching sunsets, get mud baths, and spend the night in a night club drinking. Heavy money, because Arab tourists come over with wives (often a few per one male) and a progeny line the size of a football club. They come mostly to shop. Singapore is cheaper, and their Tourism Board material actually INFORMATIVE (we know, we did it). So Australia loses potential tourism income because we just can't think in other people's ways. It is all unique, mind you.

Someone out there needs to write a cross-cultural marketing course geared at young-airheads.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Website Translation for Business - what is involved?

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever for the smallest of home-built businesses to network and trade on the international arena. But the first step towards doing so is to build a fully localized presence in your key target markets– and the process begins with adapting your company website for each country you plan to tap into.

(1) Prepare properly and allocate enough budget to sustain your multilingual marketing campaign - it is costly. Have an international marketing strategy that looks at understanding the consumers themselves it looks at the behavior and psychology of people from the country or market. When marketing internationally, the words ‘language’ and ‘local’ should always go hand-in-hand. Failing to do so can lead to a very costly global venture for businesses where funds may be limited.

(2) When understanding multilingual advertising you need to be aware of key terms, internationalization and localization and the different approaches:

(a) Internationalization - getting the websites designed with a macro view then localizing these websites at a later date.

(b) Localization - translating your original websites content and then putting it into a style which appeals to the target audience. English cannot be used for all international internet marketing activities. By creating localized content you can actually reduce costs whilst expanding business relationships with consumers and employees all around the world. By presenting websites in native languages you are making people four times as likely to buy products from you, also this will double the chances of people reading your website.

(3) Contrary to what many people think, fluency in a particular language doesn’t qualify someone to translate into it. To provide convincing translations, the translator requires first-hand knowledge of the culture of that language which is why most translators will only ever work INTO their native tongue from another language in which they are fluent. Furthermore, many linguists will specialize in a particular subject – such as marketing, engineering or agriculture. If your company’s products or services involve highly technical terminology, you will probably want to consider checking with the translation company that they have suitable candidates with the right level of experience. The important thing to remember when translating your website or any other marketing material is that what works in one country, might not translate the way you want it to in another. What’s clever and witty in one country, might be offensive in another. This is something only a native-speaking translator will know. It’s also important to be wary of dialects within languages. If you translate your website into Arabic, it doesn’t mean you can use it for all Arabic-speaking countries.

Results include a easy way to assess a new product or service in a new market before launching an offline marketing campaign, a significantly higher rate of return on investment, access to international best practices and technology, increased revenue, developing a global brand name and a larger customer base.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Social Media As the Universal Translator

Two very interesting blogs last week - the first "Bloggers from Non English Speaking Backgrounds – Share Your Tips and Stories Here" addresses the problems faced by bloggers from non-English speaking backgrounds. According to the blog, they have two main issues:

Not knowing which language that they should blog in – should they blog in their own first language and have a smaller potential readership or blog in English where their readership could be larger but where they had challenges in writing as well?

Feeling isolated from other bloggers – a number reflected that at times they felt that they were not taken as seriously by bloggers in other parts of the world and found networking difficult.

Whereas the blog posting itself is short, the 179 comments (as of 13:30 Sunday) are a serious eye-opener into the hegemony of English in the business world. Reading through some of them, I would agree with the first of the two issues - some of the "Englishes" are so painful to read that it might turn potential audiences off.

To which the second blog entry, titled "Can Social Media become a Universal Translator?", albeit interesting, does not provide any tangible solutions. Automated internet based translations give the gist (sometimes) of what is said, but blogging is not about merely saying things. It is about showcasing how smart you are, your expertise, your marketing abilities. So to me, writing poorly in English, or writing in your own language and letting fishes or microbes or any other such animals translate for you into poor English is one and the same thing.

Is there a market for translators here?

I am very tempted to blog in two languages, having parallel translations of what I write in both English and Arabic. The only problem I have is finding the time to do so, coupled with the lack of any statistical data on how many Arabic-speaking readers are into blogging about translation, language and business.

Then there would be the problem of localising, as not everything acceptable in English would be culturally acceptable in Arabic. Localising, of course, could open a can of worms, with some bilingual readers wanting to know why the translations are localised (i.e. slightly different from the original) or - even worse - attempting to do their own translation of the source English. Maybe starting a brand new blog would provide a solution, but then you are losing your optimisation share (the search engines see it as two blogs, instead of a massive and continually updated single one).

I am open to suggestions.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Pee Phone

From the Globalization Group..

A few years ago, International Systems Research (ISR) released a softphone in Japan called the PPPhone (pronounced "pee pee phone"). Unfortunately, that name does not pass what some people call "the snicker test" in English and many other languages where "pee pee" is understood to mean something else. ISR had some good reasoning for using the PP acronym - they already had a product called PPPush (pronounced "pee pee push") and the two P's referred to other relevant acronyms that began with P and described the function of the product. If they had stayed exclusively in Japan, they might have continued to develop additional pee pee products. However, you will see that ISR has an office in the US and a website in English.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Engrish Resources for Blooper Collectors

The term “Engrish” widely refers to the incorrect usage of the English language – usually in written form – by people in East Asian countries, including Japan, Korea and China. “Chinglish” is the term used to describe incorrect usage of the English language in China or by Chinese people.

Things associated with the west, including English, are wildly popular in East Asian countries because they are seen as exotic. So the Chinese, for example, slap English sayings on anything from t-shirts to pencil cases to bubble gum wrappers. Sometimes the translations are done by professionals and checked for quality- but often they are done using raw machine translation, a dictionary or a person who knows very little English, producing the “Chinglish” phrases that we all love so much.

Now you can watch a slide show on Flickr over 1,300 photos of Chinglish, or visit Engrish.com to read about Engrish and see hundreds of hilarious photos of objects with Engrish texts written on them.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

If you've Got Issues, Blame the Translators

Had to smile, although this is rather pathetic.

The Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission is under fire for blaming the distribution ban on an English-language book covering the nation's modern history on poor English translation. Translators plan to file a suit against Lee Young-jo, the new head of the commission, for libel.

Last month, the commission ordered an end to the distribution of "Historical Background of Korea's Past Settlement," written by former chief commissioner Ahn Byung-ook, perceived a liberal, for its allegedly poor translation.

The suspension was made right after Lee, who was a key member of an affiliate of conservative group New Right Union, took office.

The book says that many of the killings of civilians were conducted by the Korean army, police and right wing organizations. It also says the Park Chung-hee military junta introduced an extreme right-wing fascist regime to Korean society.

One of the translators, named Kim, claimed that the former New Right member found the "truth" uncomfortable. "While the New Right focuses on the economic fruits of the past administrations, the commission has highlighted the human rights infringements," he said. "Citing the translational errors is a mere stunt to gloss over the ideological war. However, that has hurt our dignity and pride as professional translators."

Kim, who works both as a translator and interpreter, was invited to help in the commission's seminars and events after the book's release. "They shouldn't have hired me if I had problems with English proficiency," he said. The book was released last March, translated by three experts and proofread by three English-speaking foreigners. The commission has printed 2,000 copies and distributed 1,200 of them.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Slanging It in the UK

The BBC last week had an interesting article on what public is saying about slang in the UK.

"Paul Kerswill, professor of sociolinguistics at Lancaster University, is studying street language in London. He says an entirely new dialect is emerging. "Young people are growing up with a new form of composite language. It's a bit cockney, a bit West Indian, a bit West African, with some Bangladeshi and Kuwaiti - and it seems to be replacing traditional cockney."

KUWAITI??? Hold on. They speak Arabic. Is the BBC writer a bit hard of hearing, or has Prof. Kerswill become a professor without knowing which language is spoken where. What is West African? Is that English as spoken in "west Africa" (which is what, exactly?)And Bangladeshi? That's,I assume, Bengali? Because if it is English as spoken in the subcontinent, then the Indians, Pakistanis, and Sri Lankans all speak the same way to my ears.

This "multicultural English" is now the ordinary way of speaking for many young people, he says. Instead of just using it to be cool or to fit in with peers, they use it when they speak to everyone. And those who use it are losing any sense of "appropriacy" - the important skill of turning it on and off in different situations.

"Appropriacy simply means using the right variety of language for the right context - using business jargon in business meetings, formal English in exams or slang in school playground," says slang expert Tony Thorne. "Language isn't just about communication, there is a strong social, political and emotional charge to it."

If that does not sound like attempts to impose middle class lifestyle on the lumpen proletariat, then I don't know what does :-D But then, I am a fair dinkum Aussie. But let us look at this from the causes point of view, not the symptoms. Why are these kids speaking like this? And what are schools doing? And if both schools and society have failed to improve this, then maybe it is time for businesses to start speaking slang, too? After all, these kids will be the managers in 20 years, whether we like it or not, and this "slang" will become the new English.

"It was clear many students found it difficult to get through a sentence without saying 'innit' or 'do you know what I mean'," says Maria Nightingale, principal for operations at the Manchester Academy.

Amazing. Here we are preaching multi-tasking and working at the speed of light, and when the kids come up with an immaginative way of squeezing 6 words into 1, we complain?

"We're a business and enterprise academy. It is really important our youngsters go into the world equipped with the appropriate use of language so they are not disadvantaged."

Disadvantaged only for as long as the 50+ middle-class, public service dinosaurs are in the seats of power. And they have no one to blame but their educational policies - no grammar, everything goes, englishes versus English, lets revamp spelling, and "studgesRus" mentality. Play games instead of reading. Multimedia experience instead of learning, and who needs a brain when you can plagiarise and when your 1T hard drive costs less than a monthly train ticket. Polite, classy language comes with lots of class baggage, and we want to do away with class, politeness, decorum, etc. So why are we whining now?

One school even goes as far as to enshrine this new form of English:

"A-level students learn where slang comes from," says Dan Clayton, a teacher at St Francis Xavier in Clapham. "They analyse it linguistically and think about what function it serves in conversations, as well as its links to identity." Not bad. They will become the intermediaries of the future, the new interpreters and translators from and into Slangish.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

New Internet Slang Resources

For those struggling with the new Internet slang, the site NetLingo helps you to demystify the technobabble by providing definitions for terms, acronyms and text message shorthand. Another site known as Twictionary defines itself as “a repository for the meanings and manglings of words and language on Twitter.” Users can contribute new words to the site as the Twitter vocabulary evolves.

These sites are quite useful, as traditional dictionary sources like Merriam Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary simply can’t keep up with the pace of change when it comes to techie buzzwords. For example, last year Merriam Webster added the term “vlog” to its Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition; however, this word has commonly been in use since 2005. Despite the fact that they’re a bit behind the times, the most authoritative dictionaries of the English language are making an effort to include social media and tech-inspired words like 2009’s Word of the Year “unfriend.”

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Free TM software reviews


A CAT tool which some of its features include user-customisable segmentation using regular expressions, translation memory, fuzzy matching, match propagation, glossary matching, context searching in translation memories and keyword search in reference materials.

OmegaT uses international standard TMX (Translation Memory eXchange) as its native translation memory format which most CAT tools are able to import and export. TMX is an open XML standard which allows easier exchange of translation memory among translators with different application tools.

Although it lacks of features in comparison with other CAT tools, OmegaT is fast in segmenting a source file, compiling target files (known as ‘clean up’), and its fuzzy matching. In its earlier version, OmegaT segments the source file by paragraph, rather than sentences. Now, you can select paragraph or sentence-level segmentation. By using the function called Editing Behavior under Options, you can have the selection of displaying in source text or best fuzzy match. This is a CAT tool that is worth trying out.

OmegaT includes the following features: – Fuzzy matching – Match propagation – Simultaneous processing of multiple-file projects – Simultaneous use of multiple translation memories – External glossaries – Document file formats include:

- XHTML and HTML Microsoft Office 2007 XML OpenOffice.org/StarOffice XLIFF (Okapi) MediaWiki (Wikipedia) Plain text

- Unicode (UTF-8) support: can be used with non-Latin alphabets – Support for right-to-left languages – Compatible with other translation memory applications (TMX)

Some third-party software that can be used with OmegaT are OpenOffice.org, Rainbow, bitext2tmx, and Samuel Murray’s scripts and procedures.


Anaphraseus :

ACAT tool for creating, managing and using bilingual Translation Memories. Some of its main features Include text segmentation, terminology Recognition, plain-text TM (Unicode UTF-16), fuzzy search in TM, UTF-16 TMX export/import, user glossary and OpenOffice. org extension.

Anaphraseus works in OpenOffice.org as an extension and work seamlessly with TM created in Wordfast. You can install it using Extension Manager under Tools in OpenOffice.org. During the translation process, Anaphraseus divides the translated text into segments or sentences. When a segment is selected, Anaphraseus displays the closest match found in the TM.

As an OpenOffice.org extension, it allows you to use all the features of the word processor “on the fly”. When it comes to performance, it is slower than Wordfast, especially when handling large files. Anaphraseus works with translation memory in TMX format, which allows you to work with most CAT tools in the market.

Anaphraseus includes the following features:

- Text segmentation – Terminology recognition – Plain-text TM (Unicode UTF-16) – Fuzzy search in Translation Memory – Unicode UTF-16 TMX export/import – User glossary

Since Anaphraseus is still in beta test, it currently works only with unformatted text, skipping all formulas, pictures and similar objects. If you need a CAT tool that won’t cost you anything and works with OpenOffice.org, Anaphraseus is worth a try.


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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

From 2.0 to 3.0

Dr. Gege Gatt, founder and director of ICON, writes about the six trends that define the new generation of web services:

(1) Mobile applications have long been aimed at giving subscribers information specific to their whereabouts, but now we’re seeing even more intelligent ideas.

(2) Maps: Google street map hit the news early this year with its controversial drive-by views of people’s front doors and people themselves.

(3) Personal organisers: There’s no shortage of web services aimed at helping us organize our lives. But however digital our way of living, a lot of us still print out paper when we travel, particularly on business.

(4) Collaboration: Slideshare.net is a useful resource for anyone in business seeking latest thinking on an area of interest and reading it in succinct, generally well-put-together PowerPoint slideshows that are rated and commented on by users. 280slides.com operates in the same field, but is a ‘Cloud’ computing application at its best. It lets you create, collaborate on, share and store a slidedeck on the Cloud (their remote server), so you can access it anywhere in the world. You’ll never be caught short again on a business trip without your slidedeck to hand.

(5) Audio: We love audio-visual on the web, so it’s little wonder that this area is seeing new applications each day.

(6) Social media Intermediaries: There’s now an ever-growing range of tools to help us make sense of, filter and manage our Twitter and Facebook world.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

More on website localisation..

In the past, there were only two user interfaces in many corporations' cross country websites, that is, a native language website and an English language website. However, because of constant development of international business and increasing number of country-differentiated clients, misunderstanding appears in a lot of aspects and of course, client loss increases. But multilingual websites could effectively help solve such kind of problems.

The basic rule of website translation is not to change the original structure of the original website. Under the rule, the translated website is almost the same as the original one unless clients have some special requirements. Such kind of translation could help clients save cost, but it might not fit the local market culture, habits or other aspects.

Website translation and localization is different from usual document translation. Many other factors besides pure text translation will be involved in the process, such as:

(1) color option or culture consideration - calendars, for example, can differ for different countries.

(2) The code issue must be solved in the translation procedure. UTF-8 is a general code accepted by browsers of most countries and areas, so messy codes hardly appear if you use this code. But there are still some countries' browsers incompatible with this code.

(3) The letters sizes in the website need to be adjusted accordingly. Most western website languages' words are around 8pt in measurement because that size letter makes the whole websites look beautiful. However, characters in Arabic websites are usually more than 12px; if not, viewers couldn't see what the character is clearly. The words in Asian-language websites also need to be a little bigger. Once the words were adjusted, the structure of the websites was necessary to make some adjustment too for maintaining original appearance of the website.

(4) Website optimization is a value-added service. This job includes keyword arrangement in the web page, keyword density management, keyword translation of the webpage code, and the translation and the adjustment of relevant description. After the website go on line, it need to be submitted to important local search engines.

(5) A full-set service is not just confined to text translation, it also contains flash, picture and other elements. If clients are unable to provide such code, translation companies might spent more time on translating and localizing websites.

Website localisation is not easy, but it is worth the effort and the cost if you are serious about expanding beyond the parish green.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

It is still Greek to me..

..or rather, it is still Gibberish. Greek, provided it is correct, is fine.

The Oregon Department of Administrative Services announced Friday that the state’s official Web sites have added Google Translate, giving users the ability to view those sites in 25 languages in addition to English.

A product of Google, the feature is available on Oregon.gov.

“By adding this feature to our Web sites, we can make important government information available to more people who need it,” said Wally Rogers, Oregon’s e-government manager. “We are able to offer Google’s page translation service for over 40,000 pages without spending a dollar. Here in Oregon we have many residents who speak languages other than English, and we have increased our ability to reach out to them through Oregon.gov.”

Visitors to Oregon.gov will now find a “drop-down” box in the upper right corner of every state Web site for which the address ends in Oregon.gov. The label on the box is “Select Language.” The user simply activates the box by clicking on it and selecting any one of the 25 available languages. The page then quickly appears in the selected language.

The following languages are now available on the state Web sites, in addition to English: Arabic, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

Yikes! I would hate to live in Oregon and have to deal in legal issues through a Google translation..

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Translating The Book of Shapur

Julie Schwietert tells of how Leigh Shulman translated a novella written by one of her friends, an Iranian writer in exile, from Farsi into English - without knowing Farsi. Well, ok, the Iranian writer knew a fair bit of English..

Leigh Shulman is a traveler, writer, and translator currently living in Salta, Argentina, where she is developing an educational project to teach English through photography and technology. She is also editor of Matador Life. You can read more about Leigh and her travels on her blog, The Future Is Red.

An excerpt of their joint effort can be found here.

"First rule of translation, though, is the translator does not need the same level of fluency in the original language as the target language. We take the language, culture, ideology and thought process and pour it into the mold of the language we know best (...) The first step was to create a very raw and literal word-for-word translation of the piece. I sat in front of the computer typing out exactly what Ali told me. The product of that first step was completely incomprehensible, impossible to read.

Then step two. We smoothed the rough English into a real working English. Again, Ali and I sat side by side in his apartment in New York City. As we went through the sentences, I used my western United States view of the world to ask for specifics and clarification.

Language takes its culture along with it, so where ever possible we remain faithful to the original. Punctuation and sentence structure – which you’ll notice are often incorrect and misleading — follow the exact pattern of the Farsi. Alimorad designed the text this way intentionally to confuse and distract you as a reader, mimicking the way an exile feels while navigating a new land. (oh, postmodern deconstruction of our mental comfort zones).

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Love in Other Languages

A very touching posting from Jed Wolpaw at University of California, SF, on whether we feel the same thing when we say it in a different language. Just a quote here:

"This reminded me of how it felt to live in Costa Rica for a year during college and speak only Spanish. I went by a different name (they called me Jaime), lived with a different family, and spoke a different language. I was still me, obviously, but in some subtle but very real ways I felt like a different person.

Sure enough, the language of love was different in a different language. In Spanish, there are two ways to say, “I love you.” You can say, “te quiero” or “te amo.” Te amo is much stronger than te quiero, though that brief description hardly does justice to the language and I’m sure it would take chapters to tease out all of the nuanced differences.

But to me, as I was learning the language, I translated them both the same way in my head. They both meant I love you. Would it, then, be possible for me to really express my feelings correctly if I ever chose to use those phrases? Choosing one or the other would express very different meaning, yet they were equivalent in my mind.

I don’t mean to say that people can never learn to feel fully in another language. But it takes time and experience. You have to live the language in order to build up the meaning. You can’t have someone explain the difference between te amo and te quiero. You have to live the difference to truly understand it."

And the advice? If someone tells you they love you ONLY in your language but not theirs, look for an alternative partner!

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Too Many Words, Too Short a Deadline - a solution?

This was proposed by Oxford Translation Ltd in "Content for Reprint" (we are talking about 600 pages of a technical report needed in 48 hrs):

"If the translator cannot produce the best possible full translation within the time available, then an "optimal" solution should be agreed upon. Such translations could fall into one of the following categories: - "a translation that provides what is needed for the stated purpose" - "as good as possible in view of the customer's requirements" (...) Due to the obvious time limitations, a summary could be proposed as an alternative. This could have the additional advantage in that key bullet points raised for discussion in the international meeting would be more easily accessible in a summary. Of course, production of the summary would itself involve the translator reading all 600 pages of the report and that alone could probably take more than the two days available. So from a practical point of view, it might be that the person who is asking for the translation could provide a summary in his or her own language - after all that one person is most likely the one person who is fully aware of the salient points in the report (...) One of the ways in which an experienced translator can produce a long translation in a short space of time is by dictating the translation into a digital recorder and then emailing the translation to one or more typists who in turn type out the translation and send it back to the originating translator for correction before delivery to the customer. Using this technique, a translator can produce upwards of 10,000 words per day. Almost everyone can speak faster than they can type. [Sure, but can the typist type as fast as you talk? And do you "sight translate" at the same speed as you talk to your friends about the latest fishing trip??]...A similar technique uses one of the computer speech recognition programs, which have seen a great deal of improvement over the last few years. Using one of these systems, the translator can dictate the translation into a small microphone while at the same time his or her computer types the translation directly onto the computer screen. When completed, it can then be corrected, proof-read and sent to the customer. Of course a translation agency is always pleased to accept a long translation (as long as the deadline for completing the translation leaves enough time for the translation itself and proof-reading, etc.). [Unreal. My Dragon Speaks Badly was ditched after producing French text when I was talking in English to it. I don't speak French, and I don't have a French accent! As for proof-reading 600 pages, that needs a bit more than just 48 hrs, right?]If the original text is a technical document, translation memory systems can be used and this ensures that repeated expressions are translated automatically by the memory system. The reader is then reassured by repetition of the same phrase for the same action and vocabulary is standardized by the system, avoiding any ambiguity to the reader. The same word is always used for the same object. Lower costs can result from this, which can be passed on to the translation agency's customer. [Provided, of course, you are already in possession of such a TM and glossaries].

No further comments. I am a craftsman. I do not encourage clients to believe in myths. It would make much more sense to actually educate the client as to the need to include possible language needs into the business process from the very start.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

The Tough Condition of Literary Translation in the USA

Why is it so hard for foreign authors to get published in the US? It’s clear to anyone working in international rights that the sophisticated marketplace involving scouts, rights sellers and foreign publishers that exists to get American books out into the world does not exist to the same degree in the other direction.

There are a number of explanations for this phenomenon, very few of which have to do with stereotypes of American readers as being culturally insulated or lacking curiosity about the outside world.

(a) First, there are the unforgiving economic calculations that publishers face in taking a translation to market.

(b) Apart from economics, the often cited reason for the difficult of placing translations with American publishers is the limited number of US editors who speak a foreign language. It costs a lot to have something translated and get it gussied up and ready for the American market. They have to decide, is it really a book that’s likely to find a US publisher anyway?

(c) There is no mature translation market for any one language in the English speaking world, and the fact that books coming into the American market come from many different countries and languages makes it harder for editors here to develop the expertise in what any market has to offer, and which books from that country have the best shot of appealing to American readers. The books that are sold for translation here are more likely to come through the handful of US agents with close ties to one region or another, who are themselves usually working through professional relationships with particular agents or publishers abroad. What books by foreign authors that end up crossing an American editor’s desk, then, depends in no small part on chance and good connections.

(d) The "commercial mindset" versus "cultural mission mindset" that is progressively seeing the later outbeat the first. This difficulty restricts the number of translations Weil is able to take on, while he struggles with the fact that this leaves American readers without access to some excellent writers.

To read this article in full go 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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Advertising in Arabic-speaking Media? Read This!

From The National (UAE)

by Hassan Hassan

ABU DHABI // Arabic-language online media outlets are burgeoning, but still have little advertising revenue compared with their print counterparts, says a report by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR).

The report, published in the latest issue of the centre’s Future Horizons magazine, argued that Arabic-language print media lacked quality, but continued to thrive because advertising buyers had not been persuaded of the value of online ads.

Most print media persisted because in addition to advertising, many publications also received funding from individuals, businesses or governments, it said.

If advertising buyers turned to online media, print media would be in “great danger”.

“Print media is suffering a crisis with their readers for failing to adapt to the constant developments,” said Othman al Umair, the owner of Elaph, one of the first Arabic-language electronic newspapers, which was established in May 2001.

Mr al Umair said the print sector was “trying hard to produce good-looking papers, yet with [poor-quality] news or information, while [electronic media] is succeeding in bringing high-quality news and information directly to the reader”.

The Arab Media Outlook from the Dubai Press Club and the consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers said that internet advertising revenue in the UAE was expected to grow by 9 per cent a year between 2006 and 2012, while advertising was expected to grow 13 per cent a year at magazines and 16 per cent a year for newspapers in the Emirates.

Online advertising in the Middle East comprised less than 1 per cent of total advertising spending in 2007, the outlook said. In the UAE, print media accounted for 88 per cent of total advertising spending in 2007.

The ECSSR report noted that the continued publication of some Arabic-language newspapers was not an indication of their profitability. When an Arabic-language newspaper stopped publishing, it said, it often did so for political reasons rather than financial ones.

Ghassan Habbal, a researcher at the ECSSR and one of the authors of the report, offered the example of Al Safir, a Lebanese newspaper. The paper’s peak sales are about 10,000 copies, but it attracts about four times the advertising revenue of a website with more than 50,000 readers.
In general, a high-traffic website can expect to recoup about 2 per cent of its costs through advertising, the report said.

Muaffaq Harb, a media expert, said the value of the internet for the advertising community was demographics. Websites can easily collect data on readers, which are valuable for advertisers who want to make sure that their messages reach a specific group.

“Advertising is a decisive factor that would make up for the lack of subscription fees,” he said. “Fees are necessary for specialised websites and newspapers, not the general ones.”

Mr al Umair said the challenges to print media included a greater tolerance for free speech online compared to print.

Mr Harb agreed that the future of electronic media versus print depended on two issues: freedom of expression and advertising. “There’s no doubt electronic media is safeguarding freedom of expression for any individual who tries to express his or her views.”

He said, however, that the ease of online publishing often chipped away at journalism standards, a fact that was difficult for the public to recognise.

“People would lose the ability to differentiate between good and bad and here lies the problem with the internet,” he said. “The way to avoid that is to comply with highest journalism standards.”

The growth of electronic media would not lead to the disappearance of print media, he said. “It is too soon to speak of the destruction of newspapers.”

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Speaking Together in Healthcare

The US Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has published a very good toolkit for healthcare professionals explaining the need for proper language services in hospitals. The publication aims to improve the quality and availability of health care language services for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP). Ten hospitals with racially and ethnically diverse patients worked together for 18-months to study and improve their language services. This video highlights the achievements of the Speaking Together program and the important role that language services can play in eliminating disparities and improving quality in America’s health care system.

The whole toolkit, plus a videoclip, are online.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Japanese SF in Translation - Interview

Nick Mamatas is the editor of the new Haikasoru line of Japanese SF in English translation. Here's what he has to say on the process of selecting which SF novels get the honour to be translated into English:

"Haikasoru’s editor-in-chief Masumi Washington reads Japanese SF (both magazines and books) widely and keeps an eye out for good titles. Then we commission quick translations of chapters and get synopses of, say, eight or ten books, and from there we’ll have some formal or informal discussions and pick three or four. We like to try a mix, so we try to be sure that we have a variety with each month of release."

And on the role of translators and editors?

"[Collaboration between the translator and the editor is] Certainly as integral as the editorial process is in a book published in an original language. A translation though, is a bit different because languages are conceptually different—English has much stricter rules as to what comprises a sentence for example—and tone can be a challenge. Natsuhiko Kyogoku, for example, uses a large number of very short sentences and sentence fragments in his work, creating haiku-like tonal effects over the course of hundreds of pages. In Japan, he even has a hand in the production of his own books, and tries to make sure that every page ends with a complete sentence, so that readers can stop if they wish to. Capturing all that in an utterly different language for readers with very different expectations as to pacing, characterization, the sorts and amount of information a narrator should give, etc. is very tricky. And the translator, unlike the author, cannot simply do wholesale rewrites to make something work. We’re playing a hand that has already been dealt. Then there’s the issue of translator skill; few have the ear of a novelist. That’s when I come in. I’ve managed to find some excellent creative translators, but can also nudge and pull and yank and tug at the work. So far I haven’t had to put in any footnotes to explain this or that untranslatable term or cultural reference, though part of my luck there has been the immense cultural exchange between Japan and the English-speaking world over the past two decades thanks to video games, manga, and anime."

(He endorses glossing and intervening in the text, I see.. I assume that is motivated by the fact that a brainier translation would not sell to no-brainers, and thus limit the market niche.)

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Two Years Later, Kalima Delivers Words in German

Good to see the project has not folded and is spreading into languages other than English. Here is an update from ME Online:

A workshop on the translation of poetry was held in the German city of Germersheim by Kalima, the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage translation project. The event was organized jointly with Department of German Language and Literature of the School of Translation, Languages and Cultures, Johannes Gutenberg University and the German Academy for Language and Literature.

The first day of the workshop, attended by the Director of Kalima, Dr Ali bin Tamim, witnessed heated discussions between elite group of Arab and German poets, critics, and translators. The issue was the translation of poetry in general, and German Poetry in particular.

A book exhibition was also held for the works translated jointly by Kalima and Johannes Gutenberg University.

"This workshop is only the beginning of a series of collaborative work conducted under the supervision of Mustapha Al Sulaiman, Professor of Interpretation at the Johannes Gutenberg University," said bin Tamim.

"The School of Translation, Languages and Cultures and Kalima are continuing their joint efforts to translate prose, poetry, children and youth literature, and books of thoughts from German in to Arabic," he added.

The scholars discussed various theoretical and practical subjects during the workshop, especially the important role played by translation as a bridge between cultures, the integration and differences in human creativity, and the relations between social values, culture and translation.

They highlighted the association of translation with the cultural needs, human creativity, and mutual recognition. They affirmed that translation is a cultural project by its own merits, a tool for cultures to complement each others, and an aim to form a humanity culture with creativity and mutual respect as its bases.

The workshop was attended by many poetesses and poets: Emiratis Nujoom Al Ghanem and Ahmed Rashed Thani; German Daniela Danz, Alreka Dresna, Ilma Rakuza, the German Academy for Language and Literature Chairman Klaus Reichert, Berlin Festival Director Joachim Sartorius, Kathryn Schmidt, Jan and Wagner; Syrian-German poet Adel Qarshuli; Moroccan poet Mohammed Benis, and Dr Faisal Darraj.

Writers, critics and translators participating in the workshop discussed the translation of poetry to be published by Kalima within its Modern German Poetry Anthology. The workshop concluded with a 'poetry night' with Arab and German poets reading verses of their poems on Arabic and German background music.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Germersheim Dieter Hänlein received Kalima Director Dr Ali bin Tamim and the Cultural Attache of the UAE Embassy in Berlin along with the Dean of the School of Translation and the Chairman of the German Academy for Language and Literature. Hänlein emphasized the importance of the role played by Kalima in support of the translation movement in the Arab World, while he Chairman of the German Academy for Language and Literature highlighted the gains the German authors received by having their works translated and presented to the Arab-speaking audience.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"You Don't Know What You Don't Know"

A bit about cultural competence in the business sector today from Wall Street Journal. I'll just quote the fun bits..

"Tom Bonkenburg, director of European operations for St. Onge Company Inc., a small supply-chain consulting firm in York, Pa., headed to Moscow in 2008 to develop a partnership with a large firm there.

But when he met the company's Russian branch director, "I gave my best smile, handshake and friendly joke... only to be met with a dreary and unhappy look," says Mr. Bonkenburg, who had already helped St. Onge land clients in 30 countries. It got worse, Mr. Bonkenburg says: The more he turned on the charm, the gloomier his counterpart became. The potentially lucrative partnership, he figured, was surely blown. Later, however, Mr. Bonkenburg received an email from the Russian, thanking him for a great meeting. Mr. Bonkenburg later learned that Russian culture fosters smiling in private settings and seriousness in business settings. "He was working as hard to impress me as I was to impress him," Mr. Bonkenburg says. Fortunately for St. Onge, the Russian was prepared for American business joviality."

Some were lucky to use a local talent..

"Last Spring, Dakar Sushi-owner George Ajjan wrote to a Senegalese government official—using the French language but in an American English tone—to request a business license for the restaurant. "I'm direct and I shoot to kill," Mr. Ajjan says of his usual correspondence. To proofread his French grammar, Mr. Ajjan gave the letter to a Senegal native who noticed that the tone was too jarring. If not rewritten in a more deferential voice, the request would likely get denied, his friend explained. "It wasn't just about translating, but about adapting phrasing to make sure you are in line with what people expect," says Mr. Ajjan.

Some were miffed, even in their native English..

"After Ron Gonen expanded his New-York based company, RecycleBank, into England last year, he encountered an unexpected language barrier. The company, which sets up rewards programs for individuals based on the amount they recycle, was offended when the press called the program a "scheme." "I would try to tell them that it was not a scheme, that it was a service," says Mr. Gonen, the firm's co-founder and CEO. "But then they'd turn around and say, 'Right, so it's a scheme.'" Because the press coverage was otherwise positive, Mr. Gonen soon pinpointed the miscommunication: The word "scheme" holds no connotation of deceit in Britain, as it does in America.

Some were outright unlucky..

"The price tag hit seven figures at Toronto-based AlertDriving, a firm that provides online driving training courses to companies with vehicle fleets. Between 2005 and 2007, AlertDriving, incorporated as Sonic e-Learning Inc., expanded into more than 20 countries before realizing that the product had cultural flaws. The dialogue in the lessons had been poorly-translated and the driving instruction failed to address geographic nuances. For example, AlertDriving teaches that the center lane is the safest on a multi-lane highway, but that is untrue in Dubai, where the center lane is used exclusively for passing. According to Gerry Martin, AlertDriving's chief executive, it took years to realize that the foreign clients were unsatisfied because "in some cultures, like Japan, criticism is considered disrespectful." Once the company got the negative feedback, it "had to redo what already was in the market," says Matthew Latreille, AlertDriving's director of global content development. The company spent about $1 million over 18 months revamping its existing product line, honing language dialects and local driving habits."

Thank G-d no one got "killed in translation".

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

The Divine Controversy in Malaysia

I don't know how many of you have been following the right-wing show of muscle in Malaysia over the use of the term "Allah" by Christian Malay to describe G-d. What should have been the domain of linguists, theologians and historians, has become a church bombing exercise, despite the High Court ruling.

I have come across an article today by a progressive Muslim thinker whose writings I have been following for a while. Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer is a reformist-writer and activist who advocates a culture of peace, non-violence and communal harmony, and has lectured all over world. He has been awarded several awards, including the Dalmia Award for communal harmony in 1990, honorary D.Litt. by the University of Calcutta in 1993, the 'Communal Harmony Award' in 1997 and the Right Livelihood Award in 2004 (with Swami Agnivesh) for his 'strong commitment to promote values of co-existence and tolerance'.

So of course, bombing houses of worship for linguistic reasons is not something Dr. Ashgar aproves of. His article in today's Malaysian Insider is common sense, and for me at the explanation level of a 5 year old listener, but obviously facts and bombs don't go together, and Ashgar knows about it.

So who exactly is Allah?

"The word ‘Allah’ in Arabic was in use before Islam appeared on the scene in Mecca. As Maulana Azad points out in his Tarjuman al-Qur’an, the word ‘Allah’ is derived linguistically from pre-Islamic ‘eel’ as in Jibrail or Israfil etc. The word is Hebrew was also iloh or ilah and by adding ‘al’ (which in English is used for ‘the’), al-ilah (the God) thus became ‘Allah’ in Arabic and was used for supreme God.

In fact, Muslims should welcome if non-Muslims too use the word Allah for God or Ishwar etc. How can one object to use of ‘Allah’ by others? Anyone who learns Arabic and talks about God will have to use the word Allah.

All Christian Arabs freely use word ‘Allah’ in countries like Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon etc. No one objects to the use of the word. At least I do not know whether any Muslim Arab ever objected to such use.

(I happen to know a slightly different version of the etymology of the term, but I don't want to be controversial).

"As I always maintain, any language exists prior to any religion and not otherwise. A religion uses a language which pre-exists it. More than one religious community can use the same language and terminology of both the religions would appear very similar," says Ashgar. True. We need language to explain and visualise the divine. You also need language to create one.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Which Second Language??

A few weeks ago, a Brit told the Bahraini press that the Bahrainis need to learn English if they want to get work in Bahrain..

Pakistanis, of course, already speak English as well as Urdu. But it looks like they are not getting enough work with that English. To remedy this, the Parliament is pushing for compulsory teaching of Arabic (plus the Koran, etc.) in schools. Possibly with the view of landing good jobs in the Gulf?


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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Phonics Are Good for You, Kids!

The introduction of phonics study in Scotland and England since 1997 seems to have delivered some 17% rise in the number of children who can read functionally, but that has not silenced critics. The Guardian of 19/01 has an interesting article on the debate..

Basically, (a) phonics is a good approach provided it is coupled with encouragement, not imposed from the top. Duh? I thought schools were for encouraging kids to reach their full potential.

(b) No amount of phonics will help kids become good English language readers if they don't have access to books. Lack of access to books in English is not - in my humble opinion - just a matter of socio-economic disadvantage. It can be a matter of socialisation, of "protecting" the child from "outside" influences, of parents not seeing books as something good and enriching, etc. etc. Lets not be simplistic, ok?

(c) What happened to grammar?

(d) Teaching kids needs special people with special gifts. Such people are rare. In UK (and Australia), those who end up doing a BEd are usually those who didn't get anywhere else. They have been taught rubbish at school, and so will pass rubbish on. Sorry if I sound dismissive, but I speak from sad experience.

So.. back to basics. Buy kids books and educational toys. Send the parents back to school. Divide time spent between games on the computer and real hard-copy books. Expose the kids to various things, grow their vocabulary, couple hands-on stuff with theory. Kids are NEVER dumb. We are.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Linguistic Zeal

From Gulf Daily News

A BILL which MPs said would have reinforced Arabic as Bahraini's official language was blocked by the Shura Council yesterday.

They said it would cause legal and practical problems, particularly if there were errors in the translation of documents, though the vote against was swung by just four votes.

Parliament had approved a bill which would have obliged all ministries and government organisations to produce their official letters and other documents in Arabic, with a second language as an option.

All official (such as road names) and commercial signs would have had to be in Arabic, with an option to put the name of franchises in another language, in smaller size.

The bill also stipulated that foreign and local companies have to present their products in the market mainly in the Arabic language, while Bahraini products sold abroad should only have the tag "Made in Bahrain" in Arabic.

It proposed fines of BD50 and BD200 for violators, while government employees would be punished according to the Civil Service laws.

Council services committee chairman Dr Bahiya Al Jishi was in favour, saying that Bahrain's Constitution stipulated that the country's official language was Arabic.

"In reality Arabic is second to English, which shouldn't be the case," she said.

"We have nothing against other languages, but they should be secondary, with Arabic being the country's main language, whether in official letters or signs."

"The bill doesn't speak about medical prescriptions or studies, considering that we know that it is very difficult to implement."

But council public utilities and environment affairs committee vice-chairman Abdulrahman Jawahery said that the bill would be very difficult to implement as a whole.

"Most of the experts in the government - whether consultants or engineers - are expatriates and having them present their letters in Arabic would be a waste of time and money, as translators must be hired," he said.

"Having people sign documents that they cannot understand is against the law and in translation words could be omitted or misinterpreted and this could harm the person signing it."

Council foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman Abdulrahman Jamsheer said that it would be ridiculous to have the names of franchises translated into Arabic. "For example, if a brand name is Global then it would be illogical to have 'Alami' as the main sign, because everyone knows the company by its original brand name," he said.


Ok, the zeal misfired because it was poorly thought through. But the Arabists will continue pushing for it, for two reasons:

(a) because Arabic is the language of the Koran - forget about nationalism, that's not really the issue

(b) because they see that the standard of Arabic in their country is deteriorating, and that is bad for their cultural heritage.

If they manage to think it through so that it does not adversely affect overseas business, and if they - like Saudi Arabia - start seeing the light and educate their own instead of depending on expats, then that might create a minor renaissance for translators into English. I might even change bases :-)

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MRI, Your Brain and Words

Brain imaging research has progressed to the point where researchers can detect regularities in the activation of the human brain when we ponder such words as "hammer" and "dresser."

At Carnegie Mellon University, Marcel Just and his colleagues have done just that, and have described it in an intriguing article in the journal PLoS One out on Tuesday. Just, a psychology professor and director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon, tried to pinpoint what our brains do when we think of the words that represent commonplace items--building parts such as door, window and chimney, body parts such as arm, leg and eye, different types of tools, vehicles, vegetables, animals or pieces of clothing.

Just and his colleagues put 11 right-handed volunteers into an fMRI machine and had them read a list of 60 commonplace nouns six times over in varying random order, taking a moment to reflect upon each. As the subjects did so, the researchers documented the precise coordinates of the brain's activity in response. They sifted out the brain activity that was common to all the words--say, activation of visual processing areas that play a central role in reading--and looked for patterns of varying brain activation that would reveal regularities in the way we "think" about common things.

Not surprisingly, thinking about a single noun like "truck" or "butterfly" sparked activity in many different places in the brain. That's just more evidence that the brain is a far-flung network of regions and specialized cells that exchange information and coordinate efforts in even the simplest task. But four dominant patterns of brain activation seemed to emerge--clusters of brain activity that were so regular, Just and his colleagues were later able to identify what word a subject was pondering just by looking at its "fMRI activation signature."

Those activation patterns suggested that subjects were sorting commonplace nouns into four lines: things that are manipulated; things that are eaten; things that represent shelter, or an entryway into shelter; and finally, words that are long. Some of the brain regions lighted up when a "manipulation" noun was read were areas that typically activate when we imagine grasping something. When a "shelter" noun was read, brain areas that have been associated in past research with looking at, recognizing and identifying buildings and structures became activated. "Eating" nouns typically energized a region of the brain associated with the coordination and movement of the lower facial muscles.

What's more, Just and colleagues showed that when it comes to thinking about everyday objects, we don't each have unique patterns of brain activation: On the whole, the regular patterns of brain activation that distinguished, say, "arm" from "airplane," or "telephone" from "shirt" were similar across all 11 subjects.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Got website? Globalising?

According to Common Sense Advisory, more than 50 percent of Web users who purchased online buy only at Web sites where the information is presented in their language. (Going from Simple Translation to Successful Transactions on Global Websites, Common Sense Advisory, March 2007).

Here are the top tips to consider for translating Web content from Mark Tapling of the Language Weaver:

1. Pay attention to the content type

Every content type has an audience, a value that it serves for the business, and a value that it serves for the audience. Because of this, different content has different requirements for translation.

  • Some types of content – like advertising material – are highly influential and need to be perfect, thereby requiring human translation.
  • Other types of content - like documentation - need to be near perfect but don’t require the same nuance as other types of content; this type of content can be served up with translation software and post-edited by a human reviewer. (Maybe!)
  • Some content - like knowledge bases and FAQs - simply needs to convey facts (but needs to do so quickly); automated translation software from Language Weaver can be effectively leveraged for this type of content. (Oooops! Can't judge the leverage.)

When looking to start or add additional translation, take a look at the content in your organization and consider other translation options to cost-effectively translate the information while still meeting the needs of the business and the audience.

2. Match the translation cycle to the business need

Some types of content only need to be updated and translated every time a new product or service is introduced, such as product documentation, marketing material and product oriented Web content. Other types of content should be translated as soon as they are written, such as bug fixes, FAQs and knowledge base articles, in order to save on ongoing support costs for known issues.

3. Don’t forget about search

When updating Web content, think about how users will find that information if they speak another language. Search is how most people will find information, so keep in mind that content needs to be translated to make it searchable in a visitor’s native language. Some sites pre-publish all translated content to make it visible to search engines, others don’t. Companies that don’t translate content up front are subjecting their site to an unreliable user experience delivered by a free translation plug-in. In theory, this can work, but remember that free translation sites aren’t trained to understand your brand voice and terminology so there is risk built in when putting translation in the hands of free translation.

4. Maintain control of your brand

Whether you use human translation, post-edit output from translation software or use automated translation, brand and term management is something that is crucial for a growing business. Your company has likely spent a lot of money on its brand, so you don’t want it to be at risk when expanding into new regions. For example, what should your product name be in Chinese or Japanese? How should you describe a particular experience with your product or service in another language?

Identify the brand voice you want to maintain, key product names and references, and company terminology up front so that you know how they should be represented in other languages. Working this out ahead of time also helps any translation project go smoothly and lets you maintain more control of your brand across languages.

5. Use the "NOTRANSLATE" tag

A site owner can control content by ensuring proper tagging of the information. While there are several page-level tags available to exercise this control, the most exciting one was recently added by Google. At the page level, site owners can now add a tag called “NOTRANSLATE.” This tag is interpreted by the crawler as a “do not translate” instruction. By setting the “NOTRANSLATE” tag, you ensure that Google’s automatic translation is not offered as an automatic option to anyone performing a search – especially for those pages or parts of your site where you want to make sure YOU, the site and brand owner, decide what the translation should look like without handing over control of the translation to Google’s algorithms. (My favourite tag of the year, that one!)

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

10 Tips On How to Come Across Polite in a Business Email

Here we go, thanks to One Hour Translations

1.Use the recipient’s correct title.

2. Use the correct greeting.

3. Introduce your company and yourself.

4. Write short, simple sentences. (This could backfire, though. Not all cultures respect simplicity as clarity)

5. Avoid idioms and slang language.

6. Do not refuse requests directly, and avoid criticism in emails or letters.

7. End your letters and emails properly.

8. Where possible, send the letter or email in the recipient’s native language. This shows that you respect and care for their language and culture. Using the recipient’s native language will usually be accepted very positively and will usually reduce cultural gaps or potential misunderstandings.

9. Use only native-speaking translators. The recipient will know immediately if the translator is not a native speaker of his or her target language. Avoid using machine translation (like Google Translate or Yahoo’s Babel Fish): automatic translation is still very far from producing an acceptable result. In many cases, it can completely distort the original meaning. (Sorry, had to copy this in its entirety)

10. If possible, use an independent proofreader who is also a native speaker of the target language: two pairs of eyes are always better than one. The proofreader can review the style, fix any typos and ensure the translation is perfect.

8-10 will cost you money. But it will cost you more if you offend your client.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Philadelphia Loves It

Republishing this here so as not to be accussed of bias against the whole of the US - here comes the wobbly health care from Philadelphia, and they are getting their priorities right (although the comments under the article are the same old "must speak English or die" variety).

"Methodist Healthcare System is dismantling the language barrier with a new translation system. A state-of-the-art interpretation service makes communication with anyone from any country easier.
When you are in the hospital, time is of the essence. The last thing you want to worry about is whether the health care professionals can understand you.

“It’s very frustrating if you are trying to take care of a patient and you can’t ascertain the information that you need to make the appropriate choices in their care,” said Pam Dwyer, RN, director of nursing operations.

Methodist is the first hospital system in the southern U.S. to offer this service, a connection to interpreters within 15 seconds of dialing the phone. Hospital personnel dial up an office in Philadelphia where thousands of certified medical interpreters are available to help speed up the question and answer process.

Patients are happy for the help. “They are surprised. They are happy. They feel relief,” explained Tatiana Sultzbach, manager of diversity and inclusion. “And what better way than to be able to communicate your health care issues in the language you prefer.”

Web cams enable deaf interpretation on the spot. Where there used to be delays of an hour or two for language help, that aid is now immediate.

“We love it. We absolutely love it,” stated Dwyer. “It is essential to taking care of our patients in a timely manner.”

“We’re here not only to service the people who speak English, but everybody who needs it,” added Sultzbach.

The top five languages used by Methodist so far are Spanish, Burmese, American Sign Language, Arabic and Swahili."

Funny how the comments on the article do not demand that the deaf become hearing or leave the country. Funny how people born native speakers don't see language deficiency as a disability, but as a national issue to be dealt with. And interesting, too, that when they start griping it is almost always about the Spanish-speakers.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Ressurection of Ajami

Not a surname, no. It is a script. A few thousand years old. Looks like Arabic, but isn't. Writing in West Africa in Ajami began in the 17th century, increased in the 18th and 19th centuries and continued into the 20th. Since the languages involved have phonetic systems different from Arabic, there has often been modification of the Arabic script to transcribe them (a process not unlike what has been done with the Arabic script in non-Arabic speaking countries of the Middle East and with the Latin alphabet also in Africa.

This traditional Ajami script never died out although it has become greatly overshadowed by Romanized script. It suffered at the hands of zelous missionaries who saw in Romanization the path of "Mohammedan progress" (a bit like Ataturk, minus the nationalist sympathies).

Now the Senegal-born linguistics professor Fallou Ngom, director of the African Languages Program at Boston University, is is training the first generation of American scholars capable of reading Ajami.

Ngom is aware that Ajami script had been widely used across Africa for day-to-day writing in a dozen languages, and those writings had been largely overlooked in the official story of the continent - in part because so few historians could read them. What Ngom hopes is nothing less than to lay the groundwork for a reinterpretation of much of African history, using this widespread but little understood writing system to unearth new information about the daily life of Africans, the spread of Islam, the continent’s literary traditions, the Atlantic slave trade, and who knows what else.

This despite objections from other African scholars that the script was used primarily to record everyday, local concerns such as business deals and cultural practices, and is unlikely to be the source of significant new revelations.

The study of Africa’s history, particularly the region below the Sahara Desert, has traditionally reflected not only the biases of its historians, but also the limits of the written sources available to them. Official African documents tend to be in the languages of the outsiders who held power - either the Arab invaders who began arriving on the continent in the seventh century, or the Europeans who colonized it starting about a millennium later. These outsiders were there to convert the locals, trade them as slaves, and mine their natural resources, and colonial writings helped justify those commercial and religious interests, portraying sub-Sahara Africa as lacking literacy, history, and civilization. What little is known about Ajami texts is reason enough to push deeper. To study Ajami, as Ngom sees it, is to open the door to a different side of Africa, unlocking an oral tradition widely assumed to have vanished with its speakers, and offering an important corrective to the way Africa’s story has been told.

More information can be found 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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Translation Prizes Go to Titles, Not Translators

The British Times article on the 10th talks about the August Schlegel and Ludwig Tieck prizes for Translation, presented by the Times Literary Supplement’s Translation Prizes:

"The translators of seven books published in English last year, each out of a different language, will be honoured. The paradox of their work is that successful translators pass unnoticed. A good English translation will read as if the book were written in English in the first place. A translation that is clumsy or stilted will scream its presence."

"Among this year’s award-winners, The Accordionist’s Son by Bernardo Atxaga, translated from Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa, dramatises the Basque country after the Spanish Civil War. The novella Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig, translated from the German by Anthea Bell, is one in a series of recent translations of the work of an outstanding 20th-century writer. An Austrian Jew who committed suicide in exile in 1942, his library in Salzburg having been razed by the Nazis, Zweig is revered in France as well as Germany and Austria. Yet he is unjustly barely known among English readers."

Well, well.. Many excellent writers are unjustly barely known in the English world, because the English world is not interested of poking its nose into the realms of others, whereas it pushes its own literary and not so literary works (Why is Stephen King translated??) into any other language where the populace is silly enough to want to fork money for it.

This weekend, Brisbane is hosting yet another Bookfest - the world's largest fundraising second-hand book sale. It has been my habit to attend each and every and look for books translated into English from other languages. They open a more interesting world to me than reading the local same-thing, same-thing porridge. The reason why it is quite easy to find them is that local libraries get rid of them very quickly on the basis that they are not being borrowed by the public. Suits 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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

.. and why should you learn English?

Just as an addendum to the previous post on the need to master Arabic before you attempt English (if you are an Arab, that is), here we go - this time from Bahrain:

"Give me job. I am graduate." Probably the shortest job application I have ever received. It arrived on my desk at the GDN some years ago, on a torn piece of paper. The applicant remembered to put a stamp on the envelope, but forgot to include his own address - not that we would have been interested anyway in interviewing someone so devoid of the basics.

This may be an extreme example, but it was no surprise to me to read that 60 per cent of graduate job-seekers in Bahrain emerge from university with poor English language skills.

Why should Bahrainis have to learn English to get a job in their own country, you may ask and I would have to agree that it is galling - but it is also a reality. The Arab language may be complex and its script beautiful, but it is not an international language and in this global village businesses must be able to communicate at home and abroad. The most commonly used language in international communications, certainly in business and banking, is English. Some may resent this but it is also an inescapable reality. Bahrain is also a cosmopolitan community, home to people of many nationalities and, once again, the common language between them is English.

So for Bahrainis looking for work, whether it is serving petrol at the pumps, or making and breaking fortunes in the dealing room, a good command of the English language is not just an advantage, it is a necessity. The government has recognised this and has introduced the teaching of English at a much earlier stage in its national schools, to give children a better start and to improve their chances of good careers later in life. That so many university graduates are emerging with only their own language at their command is a serious flaw, in a country seeking to propagate a knowledge-based economy.

It may not be fair, but this is a small country and those who speak only its native language will have limited futures ahead of them. That does not mean that the Arabic language should be sacrificed, far from it. It embodies the national character and heritage and should remain in everyday use.

But a business that cannot communicate with the outside world will fail and they know that, which is why young Bahrainis who can speak, read and write English will always be at the front in the jobs queue.

The writer? A certain Mr. Horton. Yes, you guessed right - a monolingual. English. Yes, yes, I know...The sad thing is that they actually published this in an English Gulf daily :-(

Appaling this patronising prescription that the Arabic should "embodies the national character and heritage and should remain in everyday use", while English "should be used for business and academic endevour". It is a prescription for the death of Arabic, which - unless it becomes involved in business and academia, will atrophy and stop evolving. We are already having problems in translating science, with many of the newer generation opting simply to transliterate from English, while the Arabic Language Forum in Egypt is asleep. Arabic was once rich in scientific language, richer than Latin and Greek, but these "archaic" terms are forgotten by the Internet and SMS generation of Arabs bred and raised on ART and Haifa Wahbe. So the blame is not totally on Horton Bek. He is just socialised into neo-colonialism :-D The real blame is on those who allow their language and culture to be relegated, in their own countries, to "everyday use".

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Mastering Native Tongue Helps Mastering Others

English monolinguists, sit up and hear:

“When Arab students do not learn proper Arabic grammar, their English will suffer because they lack a strong linguistic foundation in their mother tongue. By improving their Arabic skills, students will be able to improve their English as well”, says a language expert.

As parents in the Arab world seek bilingual education for their children, they are increasingly opting for schools that educate them in languages such as English or French.

This has resulted in an increase in the number of Arab students fluent in the regional dialect. Such students are becoming less proficient in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), the accepted form of Arabic used in writing and formal speech. Abbas Al Tonsi, an Arabic professor and expert at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Qatar), is building an innovative solution to this incongruity.

Al Tonsi and his team were recently awarded a grant by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) to study Arabic language instruction in Qatari schools, and to help identify some of the current shortcomings. The team has proposed a study to explore ways in which the demand for English education is affecting the Arabic language skills of Qatar’s youth, and address the challenge of maintaining strong linguistic skills of native Arabic speakers who spend many of their formative school years in English language schools. Their research will focus on addressing the needs of heritage learners, native Arab students raised in Arab countries who lack formal instruction of MSA.

The first six months of the project will be dedicated to conducting a large field study of the different Arabic language curricula used within Qatar’s school system.


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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Texas So Poor It Can't Afford Interpreters?

"Police officers arriving at a murder scene at a north side apartment complex could not speak Spanish to the residents, so a cameraman from a local TV station translated until bilingual officers arrived hours later. It is a situation that plays out across Houston several times a week as officers who speak only English rely on wrecker drivers, bystanders or victims' children to act as translators if bilingual officers are not available."

This is not a report from a third world country, or some war-torn conflict zone in the Middle Chaos. This is, ladies and gentlemen, Houston, TX. The state of the guy who was known for being less than mono-lingual, a bit oily, and into world conflicts.


Makes you wonder if the recession is really so bad in the USA that the Houston Police Department cannot afford hiring professional interpreters (something the Australian Government provides for free in such cases) or whether they are so backwards that they just don't get it. The comments underneath the rather shameful article make me think it is the second.. "Why can't they learn English?" Hey, why can't you learn Vietnamese, Mr. Cowhide?

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.

Google Legal Dictionary Available

From the Law Librarian Blog

Google has invaded the legal world in yet one more way. It now offers a dictionary which includes legal terms. It's not exactly going to challenge Black's for authority or definitions, but it seems to have some value. Search for res ipsa loquitur and there will be a set of results that define and link to further information. Random comparisons with Black's entries show nothing for fettering of property, and feorme, but definitions for terms such as feoffment, food safety and inspection service, and Hatch Act certainly appear.

As for the Anglo-Saxon term feorme, which is a portion of the land's produce owed by the grantee to the terms according to the terms of the charter (Do I owe West any money for reproducing that?), a general Google search will bring up some results in context. The site also features and English to 28 language term translator, and language to English service. The page is not linked from any of the Google Menus, but can be found here or by searching Google dictionary in the main search page.

Be aware, all of the examples in the addendum are not actually from Google's new dictionary. Instead, they are a different view of the same information you would see if you put the phrase [define: removal action] in the regular google search box. They are just "web definitions" available from reputable or obscure websites alike. To see what Google's new dictionary looks like, try a non-law word, like ennui . Compare that with removal action. With ennui, we see the parts of speech, definition, etc., with web definitions below and removal action is only web definitions.

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 http://www.arabic.com.au/.