Developping for the translation industry RSS 2.0

 Wednesday, January 23, 2013
 Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A linguistics professor was lecturing his class the other day. "In English," he said, "a double negative forms a positive. However, in some languages, such as Russian, a double negative remains a negative. But there isn't a single language, not one, in which a double positive can express a negative."

A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."

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Historical Translation Blunder: President Carter Creeps Out a Nation

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012 11:07:13 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
 Monday, November 19, 2012

The story of how a badly chosen translation of the Japanese word mokusatsu led to the United States decision to drop the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima is well known to many linguists. But perhaps it would be interesting to tell it again just in case some of my readers are unfamiliar with the word and the story behind it.

By July 1945, the Allies were ready to put an end on the war with Japan. They issued the Potsdam Declaration, demanding the unconditional surrender of Japan. The terms had included a statement to the effect that any negative answer would invite "prompt and utter destruction." Truman, Churchill, Stalin, and Chiang Kai-Shek stated that they hoped that Japan would agree to surrender unconditionally and thus prevent devastation of the Japanese homeland.

Japanese reporters were pretty eager to find out what the official government response was going to be, and they bugged Japanese Premier Kantaro Suzuki nonstop for a statement. Eventually, Suzuki called a news conference. Since no formal decision had been reached at the time, Suzuki, fell back on the one-size-fits-all answer to reporters and replied that he was withholding comment. He used the Japanese word mokusatsu, derived from the word for "silence."

However, the word has other meanings quite different from that intended by Suzuki. Alas, international news agencies saw fit to tell the world that in the eyes of the Japanese government the ultimatum was "not worthy of any comment", that they were “ignoring it in contempt”. U. S. officials, angered by the tone of Suzuki's statement decided on drastic measures. Within ten days the decision was made to drop the atomic bomb, the bomb was dropped, and Hiroshima was leveled.


What’s the morale of this story? As I said earlier, translation is NOT a commodity. A bag of rice is more or less the same no matter where you get it. But this is not the case with translations.

Almost every day, we are told by a company or client that another translation provider offers much lower fees. Everyone should note that, if a translation service company can offer far lower rates than its competitors, it is worth inquiring why. If a translation provider offers lower rates by skimping on proofreading, relying on sub-par translators, or by abusing machine translation, then the money saved could easily be canceled out by costs related to revising or even re-doing the translation from scratch.

It’s all about the risks you’re willing to take. The mokusatsu story is the extreme case, but always remember that a bad translation, especially when displayed to your own clients/partners, can have the effect of a bomb on your bottom line. If your brand image is important for you in your own language, it should be equally important when translated for foreign markets.

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Do you treat translation like a commodity?

Challenge: Einstein's Riddle

Historical Translation Blunder: President Carter Creeps Out a Nation

Funny cross cultural mistakes and blunders and part 2

Monday, November 19, 2012 8:25:42 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Language | Language Industry
 Thursday, November 15, 2012

walkme logoWalkMe is an online tool that allows you to create step-by-step guides that show your customer, or really any website visitor, how to do what you want them to do. It inserts little instruction bubbles that guide your user to the next task. This is a very nice tool for building walkthrough and tutorials for a website.

From their site:

WalkMe enables website owners and app developers to easily create multiple interactive on-screen Walk-Thrus that help users to quickly and easily complete even the most complex tasks.

Users receive clear and error-proof on-screen instructions, displayed as sequential balloon hints within the website or app, while they perform the actual process from start to finish.

Have a look on their site.

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Free SQL Server Tools

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Tool of the day: SharpKeys

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Thursday, November 15, 2012 9:33:02 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
 Monday, November 12, 2012

What’s a commodity? The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a commodity as a mass-produced unspecialized product. The translation of any document, however, is not a commodity. There are many elements which make translations services diverse from commodities. Here are a few of the factors that translators must take into account for any translation, which means that translation is, in fact, a very specialized and customized service:

  • The type of document being translated will modify the kind of terminology necessary in the translation. The intended target audience for the document will dictate the vocabulary that needs to be used.
  • Another thing to consider is the level of expertise required by the translator which is based on the document’s subject matter. For instance, a translator may be committed to financial terminology while another has a natural knack for business reports and correspondence, while a third one specialize in pharmaceutical documents.
  • Often overlooked, the reason someone needs a document translated in the first has a big effect on the kind of translation they might require. For example, a personal document such as a driver’s license or birth record needs to be an exact word for word translation, because these details are standard and important. However a tagline for a product ad needs to be localized to the local culture where the ad will be displayed and should never be word-for-word translation (which may give you questionnable results like “Nothing sucks like an electrolux”).
  • Does the translation require certain Certifications? This can be a very specialized area, whereby certain government agencies require translations to become performed by certified translators or certified translation agencies. Sometimes documents have to be notarized with a lawyer.

It is important to remember is that there isn’t a bouquet of rules and practices that may encompass every translation project. Unlike commodities, the translation associated with a document is a very specialized service. There are even specific qualité standards for the translation industry (These are equivalent to the ISO standards and certifications). In Canada, it’s the CGSB131.10 2008, and for the EU, there's 15038:2006.

The primary objectives of CAN-CGSB-131-10-2008 and 15038:2006 are:

  • To guarantee the use of professional translators
  • To ensure the consistent management of each supplier’s human and technical resources, as well as its quality standards
  • To ensure documentation of and full compliance with all language, managerial and administrative processes
  • To ensure that these processes are adapted to the particular requirements of the language industry
  • To safeguard clients’ interests by establishing a framework for client/supplier relations

These standards are not legally required to work in the translation industry (as of today, they may be in the future). However, they can help a translation services customer to pinpoint real translation services provider that respect a documented quality standard.

Firms that send bids or RFP and just consider the lowest cost without thinking about quality are often surprised at the outcomes. Remember that, if your business model is even marginally dependent on brand image, you should think twice about going down the road of cheap translation providers. The old adage that you get what you pay for is extremely applicable to translation services industry.

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Google Docs Translations Don’t Make Sense?

Origin of some punctuation marks we use everyday

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Monday, November 12, 2012 1:49:19 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Business | Language | Language Industry
 Tuesday, November 06, 2012

SDL's chief executive officer John Hunter is leaving the company “to pursue other business interests”. He spent less than two years in the top job, having previously been SDL’s finance chief. Chairman and founder Mark Lancaster, who was chief executive before Mr Hunter took the reins in February last year, has taken over as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is found.

Canaccord Genuity saw the move as a buying opportunity, arguing that Mr Hunter’s departure would act as an “immediate catalyst for a rebound in the share price”. The shares had tumbled since the group said on October 15 that ongoing litigation could cost the company up to $3m (£1.9m). The group also worried analysts by confirming that technology revenues remained “suppressed”.

Source: The Telegraph

For those of you who are not aware of the “ongoing litigation” that SDL faces, here’s a quick recap:

On October 15th SDL noted that it has a minor ongoing litigation with a former Trados shareholder, claiming breaches of fiduciary duty by former Trados directors on the sale of Trados to SDL in 2005. The company estimates the potential exposure to be between $1 million and $3 million, which if required, will be funded as part of the company's operational cash flow in 2013.

The SDL board believes the case to be completely without merit and expects that it will progress to a court hearing in 2013.

In its Interim Management Statement for the period from July 1 to September 30, the company said most of the growth in the quarter predominantly came from language services, whilst technology revenues remained suppressed.

Source: RTT News

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Informations On Rhe Canadian Translation Standard

Google Translator Hacked

Tuesday, November 06, 2012 11:04:19 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Business | Language Industry | News
 Monday, November 05, 2012

As seen on TechCrunch today:

You could call it a massive social media mistake by social media itself. I think it was an admirable moment of honesty between Facebook and the world. Maybe it’s both. But this week Facebook’s official Facebook Page shared this: “Birthday cakes are made for people to be together. They give friends a place to gather and celebrate. But too much cake probably isn’t healthy. So birthday cake is a lot like Facebook.

Facebook seems to have had a moment of clarity. Years ago its official stats page touted how much time users spent on the site. The last official statement before it IPO’d was 10.5 billion total minutes per day in January. But it eventually realized that’s not necessarily a good thing. Now Facebook prefers to describe itself by how many things people share on the site rather than the hours spent there.

Great products are efficient. It should take the minimum amount of time to get the maximum value. Trying to simply increase the amount of time spent on site can lead to poor design decisions. It can also lead to unhappiness and unhealthiness.

The fact is that we find information addictive. We love to seek, to learn. It’s an evolutionary trait. The more we know, the more likely we are to survive. But with such vast amounts of information at our fingertips thanks to the Internet, that addiction can really hurt us.  I know I’ve been late to get-togethers with friends, or grabbed a seat in the corner at a party because I couldn’t help but browse Facebook, Twitter, news, and other web content.

I truly believe there are benefits to the ambient intimacy of the Facebook news feed. It lets us stay in touch with distant acquaintances we might have drifted away from, gives us a support network, makes us more open and tolerant, and can help us organize real-world interactions.

But it can also alienate us, pulling us out of the present to read about the past of others. And it can erode our relationships if we use it for a substitute for a hug, a handshake, or a hearty laugh in person. Some studies link Facebook use to unhappiness because it makes us think everyone else is more beautiful, out having more fun, and are more popular than us.

Most of these negative consequences come from excessive usage. We’d probably feel better after a good phone call with one friend than browsing the news feed stories of one hundred.

Perhaps the Facebook Page’s status update was the work of a single employee who didn’t think it through. But even still, it indicates a sense of sympathy at Mark Zuckerberg’s company.

One day maybe Facebook will directly confront the issue of Internet addiction that it’s certainly a part of. But for now, Facebook has confessed that it can hurt us. That may show that the people behind it feel a touch of guilt about the excessive time the service has sucked away from us. That’s better than it cruelly cackling about the 200 lifetimes it swallows up each day.

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Historical Translation Blunder: President Carter Creeps Out a Nation

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Quick Challenge: Einstein's Riddle

Nice brain-teaser

Monday, November 05, 2012 11:52:13 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -
 Thursday, November 01, 2012



There are no tricks, just pure logic, so good luck and don't give up.

1. In a street there are five houses, painted five different colours.
2. In each house lives a person of different nationality
3. These five homeowners each drink a different kind of beverage, smoke different brand of cigar and keep a different pet.



1. The Brit lives in a red house.
2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
3. The Dane drinks tea.
4. The Green house is next to, and on the left of the White house.
5. The owner of the Green house drinks coffee.
6. The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
7. The owner of the Yellow house smokes Dunhill.
8. The man living in the centre house drinks milk.
9. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
10. The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
11. The man who keeps horses lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
12. The man who smokes Blue Master drinks beer.
13. The German smokes Prince.
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
15. The man who smokes Blends has a neighbour who drinks water.

Albert Einstein wrote this riddle early during the 19th century. He said that 98% of the world’s population would not be able to solve it. Can you?

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Historical Translation Blunder: President Carter Creeps Out a Nation

Nice brain-teaser

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Thursday, November 01, 2012 3:10:05 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] -

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