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Monday, September 25, 2017

The chasm between top management and the trenches



TMs, augmented translation, and machine translation—they all have the same goal: replace humans, who are an expense, with an automatic solution which can reduce or even eliminate the need to pay people.

Interestingly enough, these economic concerns are the same reasons companies try to replace experienced project managers with interns.

This is the flow of the industry. TM tools, after all, are meant to enable a company to discount linguists’ work. Linguists even have to pay for this discount by buying the TM tool (in most cases).

Underpinning this is the idea that technology can replicate the work of a specialist linguist so that they can be replaced with a cheaper (or free) generalist. It means one can swap one linguist for another because this technology assists their word choices (although “correct” translation is a lot more than proper word choices and the assist from technology often does not lead to better translation—we pointed this out and coined the “over reverence phenomenon” years ago).

The possible savings are a tempting thing for the C-level folk in localization companies—imagine the cost reduction—and profit increase—if one did not have to pay so much to those pesky translators!

However, the clarion call from production is the same—the need for individual experts and individual subject specialists. Only these human beings can adapt the style and substance to a certain client.

The needs from clients also are clear. They need competent project managers to sort out the mid-project changes that are inevitably part of any project. Harried interns are rarely about rise above hectoring in their efforts to force linguists to adhere to tightened deadlines or other changes.

So this demonstrates the long-standing chasm between top management and the trenches where the work is done. More and more systems with little to show for it, but more bureaucracy…

Monday, July 10, 2017

Admerix is hard at work in July and August!

Admerix is open and hard at work during July and August. This is a period when traditionally localization work is slowed by business holidays in both Europe and the U.S. It often becomes difficult to source translation work during this time and many companies and linguist teams take time off.

During this time Admerix is continuing to handle projects so our clients can leave the office on time and be certain that we are solving all issues while they are asleep.

Also: Our audio studios will also be open as well, providing commercial-grade audio localization in all the languages Admerix specializes in: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Thai, Khmer, Burmese, Lao, Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Dari, Hebrew, Hindi, Punjabi, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil, Nepali, Armenian, and Turkish

Why not allow us to quote on your next project? I am sure we came help you reach your sales goals this year.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Translating Rhythm, Tone, and Slang

We usually handle corporate/commercial translation.

Even in that subject-matter area, which a layman would think is very literal, we often have editors and reviewers who argue over issues of style and tone--even in a rice-cooker manual.
 

Thus it is mind boggling to imagine the issues that come up in literary translation...

The Trick to Translating Rhythm, Tone, and Slang

Monday, May 15, 2017

Just how bad is neural machine translation?

Hearing that Google's neural machine translation quality has been over-hyped sounds strangely familiar. It brought to mind the claims made about a fantastic new approach called "statistical machine translation" made by dozens of players over the last decade.

Not to say that machine translation of whatever stripe does not have its place. Every day we are seeing the creative use of these tools. However, developers cannot seem to resist making the claim that their results are "as good – or almost as good – as human translation." Such claims in the past have proven to be nonsense--and are usually the verbalization of fantasies of developers and those who had to justify the amount of money they threw at the process.

For the translation community, the fact that translation done by a computer is still not much better is good reason to relax a bit. These latest claims will always get a lot of attention when initially made because, such a development, if true, can impact the lives and livelihoods of many linguists all over the world. They fulfill the dream of the large localization companies that spend their days trying to eliminate translators from the translation process. However, professional translators see their work as a creative art form, not something that can replaced by a machine.

Showing graphs of how good machine translation results are is like telling people how beautiful your sister is, but not letting anyone see her. Show us the actual results of the machine translation output without any tinkering or "adjustments" afterwards, and we can then see for ourselves how good it really is. And start with marketing texts for fashion products into Japanese!

In the meantime, don't waste our time. We are busy providing top quality real translation work that our customers can rely on for accuracy. This means they have confidence it will be fit for the purpose for their target audience... And we do it within a reasonable budget and bring the projects in on schedule... every time. And when it is done, the customers can ask a real live linguist why they made a choice of terminology, or style, or tone, or any one of the other facets of final translation work that must be taken into account during the process.

Can neural machine translation really take any text and instantly spew out an "almost as good" translation? Even work by top-notch linguists is often rejected by other linguists. It is likely that the claims of "almost as good" translation still won't stand up in the real world where translation has to be created for real people to read and understand.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Localization Trends That Never Arrived: Translators will get smart and start working directly with end clients

Over the years there have been many exuberant predictions of change that would fundamentally alter the localization business. However, most of these dreams of the industry have never come to pass.

Trends that never arrived: Maybe not said, but suspected: Translators will get smart and start working directly with end clients and cut out the middleman

After all, programs like Trados passively provide each linguist’s contact email right in the TM. If one really believes project managers and engineers are only a cost to a project, then why not work cut them out and work directly with the linguist?

The reality is that translators do not seem to be able to deal with the incessant (and sometimes crazy) demands of end clients that often do not follow any reasonable demands one would make of a contractor. These clients tend to treat linguists as salaried workers who have sold their time to be on call for company improvement meetings and Skype calls.

Even worse are the big MLVs and their frazzled intern (“working for free”) project managers. The treatment these interns mete out to freelancers means they can use each linguist once and they will be lucky if the linguist does not disappear halfway through the project.

The idea that linguists could start working with end clients totally ignores the critical role project managers and engineers with localization-industry experience contribute to the ultimate success of projects. Project management is important in addressing the mid-project twists and turns that seem to be a part of every project of value.

It also takes a lot of work to train and nurture linguists. Over time, the working relationships and expertise developed, especially with regards to specialty subject matter, become an invaluable resource that cannot be replicated by a random freelancer trying to solve every problem of a contemptuous end client.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Localization Trends That Never Arrived: Trados will become the standard TM tool

Over the years there have been many exuberant predictions of change that would fundamentally alter the localization business. However, most of these dreams of the industry have never come to pass.

Trends that never arrived: Trados will become the standard TM tool

This myth has already crumbled before our eyes. Everyone in an SLV or MLV has long felt trepidation that they have to purchase Trados from a very large competing translation company. Fears over the ramifications of this has likely fueled the spectacular rise of alternative tools such as memoQ which now has many fervent followers in Europe.

Still, Trados was once dominate and the move away to other tools has many repercussions for the industry.

The bottom line for linguists who have already have invested in Trados (as well as expensive training) is complicated. They have little incentive to invest in every new Trados-killing tool that appears. But when companies insist on their own tool, these linguists risk their livelihood if they cannot quickly move to the new tool.

When a company insists on a particular tool that is not Trados, it instantly limits the pool of qualified and reasonably priced linguists they can call on. I cannot tell you how many times we encounter dejected and shell-shocked project managers who simply cannot find the right translators because their upper management declared that using an obscure TM tool would solve everyone’s problems.

NEXT: Trends that never arrived: Maybe not said, but suspected: Translators will get smart and start working directly with end clients and cut out the middleman

Monday, February 20, 2017

Localization Trends That Never Arrived: Linguists will work for a cut rate to edit machine translation

Over the years there have been many exuberant predictions of change that would fundamentally alter the localization business. However, most of these dreams of the industry have never come to pass.

Trends that never arrived: All translation will just be editing of machine translation
Most linguists simply will not work for a cut rate to edit substandard machine translation. 

Linguists see it this way—first they have to spend thousands on translation tools so they can get paid a lower rate for repetitions. Now MT means an even greater fragmentation of the rate.

It seems even more unlikely that MT (even edited) would end up being as satisfying to an end client as work completed by professional linguists. For instance, translation in Japanese, Vietnamese, or Thai by expert linguists is regularly knocked back for being “completely wrong.” This is due to style, tone and other factors specific to each tongue, and it takes nothing less than trained, experienced linguists working with client feedback to get it sounding correct to the client’s ear.

NEXT: Trends that never arrived: Trados will become the standard TM tool

Friday, January 20, 2017

Localization Trends That Never Arrived: All translation will be done online, for free

Over the years there have been many exuberant predictions of change that would fundamentally alter the localization business. However, most of these dreams of the industry have never come to pass.

Trends that never arrived: All translation will be done online, for free

This is Wikipedia-style translation, done “in the cloud” by volunteers—either for free or with micropayments. This is really the holy grail in the industry. It is the dream that translators can be removed from translation process while still charging clients nearly the same rates. This is the driving of profits through increased margins.

Online translation platforms are already boasting huge savings and professional levels of translation work and service by tens of thousands of “linguists.”

This concept suffers from a misunderstanding of the most basic tenants of the art of translation—that not everyone who speaks two languages is naturally a translator. The idea that every person with English as a second language can log on and competently complete translation work (or edit MT) is wishful thinking. Just because a person is reasonably competent in a second language does not mean they have the knowledge, dedication, skill and ear for the language to handle translation.

It is also hard also to understand why proponents of such a system would believe that casual contributors to the process would ever take the work seriously, respect deadlines, or bother to make themselves available to cover the client queries--let alone the inevitable client complaints.

NEXT: Trends that never arrived: All translation will just be editing of machine translation