Language facts: Czech

With our production center based in Prague, Czech is after English and Japanese one of the most used "in-house" languages at idioma. 

More popular as appears 

Czech is a West Slavic language with about 12 million native speakers. "Čeština" (= Czech), is the name derived from a Slavic tribe of Czechs that inhabited Central Bohemia in former days. Today it is the official and main language in the Czech Republic and spoken by Czechs worldwide (especially by immigrants in the USA, Canada, and Ukraine). Czech is similar to and mutually intelligible with Slovak, due to mutual history and decades of being a common republic: Czechoslovakia. Even today, many books or films distributed in Slovakia come with Czech, rather than Slovak translation or dubbing. 

Various internationally significant artworks in literature and music (especially opera) were originally written in Czech – Dvořák's Rusalka, the works of Alois Jirásek, Bohumil Hrabal and many more.

Since the integration of the Czech Republic into the European Union, Czech has also become an official EU language.

"Strč prst skrz krk!" (stick a finger through a neck)

Czech is considered one of the hardest languages for foreigners to actively master, due to overcomplicated grammar, as well as tricky pronunciation. Some words, for instance, do not have vowels, such as zmrzl (froze solid), ztvrdl (hardened), scvrkl (shrunk), vlk (wolf), krk (neck), prst (finger) or smrt (death) and more. There are actually tongue-twisters based on consonant-only words, such as "strč prst skrz krk", frequently used by Czech wives late in the evening to check their husbands' alcohol intake.  :)

Czech also features the consonant ř, a phoneme that is said to be unique to the Czech language and that is problematic to articulate even to some native Czechs. 

Alphabet:

A Á B C Č D Ď E É Ě F G H Ch I Í J K L M N Ň O Ó P Q R Ř S Š T Ť U Ú Ů V W X Y Ý Z Ž a á b c č d ď e é ě f g h ch i í j k l m n ň o ó p q r ř s š t ť u ú ů v w x y ý z ž

Quality in translation is not only a matter of presenting a correct translation free from spelling mistakes and other linguistic errors. It is also about using correct terminology from glossaries, making sure text in the document is unified and that rules and customs for the language have been respected.

Quality can suffer in many ways. Short deadlines, for example, affect the outcome of quality in translation especially with large volume projects. How can we speed up delivery without compromising the quality of translation? This became our mission years ago.

Check record volumes in record time

An obvious solution is to check documents more than once, however, when humans check text, they have limited capacity, get tired and make mistakes. We wanted to find a different, complementary and automatic solution, so we could check more languages and bigger volumes in less time. It should detect mistakes like wrong numbers, untranslated text, misspelled words, unification issues, etc. So we put many brains together and with the help of our in-house programmers we developed a unique QA (Quality Assurance) concept that checks bilingual files for errors in record time. The main tool is CrossCheck™, a cornerstone in a comprehensive concept forming a framework of quality that all translations must adhere to. 

Quality assurance at a whole new level

CrossCheck™ departs from the need to develop glossaries, e.g. from existing translated bilingual data such as PDF files, website text, etc., and prepare language-dependent style guides for translators and verifiers working on projects. 

CrossCheck™ checks documents according to detailed client-specific criteria and resources that can include client glossaries and customized style sheets. This way, we create a standard that everyone must respect to enable us to produce unified and consistent translations with a clearly defined level of quality. If glossaries and style guides do not exist, we will be happy to help prepare them, and we also assist with client preferences, such as forbidden words and other issues. These contents prepared for the QA concept are automatically integrated in our production system. This QA concept has taken quality assurance to a new level, especially thanks to inclusion of morphology and locale settings. With CrossCheck™, terminology and language rules become compulsory ingredients in the translation and verification process. 

FREE QA for everyone!

idioma’s QA service is, however, not limited only to the projects we translate. We also offer it as an aid to our clients and anyone else wanting to assure the quality level in translated documents. 

Visit www.idioma.com today to test it yourself.

For more information about the QA service, please contact your project manager.

06idioma started out on a small scale in 1980. The company was set up by a Swedish entrepreneur, Joel Brynte. Our first office space consisted of two modest rooms in then Sweden Center in Tokyo, Japan. I recall we were a core of 7-8 people, mostly translators. Our first clients were in the AV industry, which at the time was taking off with export of all kinds of VCRs, tape recorders, Walkmen, etc. All products needed manuals, promotional material, etc. and the main export markets at the time were the United States and West Europe. This has of course changed. Now the entire world is the market for Japan’s consumer products.

Typewriters and one very lonely fax

04But at the time, things were different. There was no Internet, there were no mobile phones, and fax machines were just around the corner. 35 years ago, translation was done on typewriters writing on tracing paper – we had a few machines in the office, while freelance translators in those days had to invest in expensive electric typewriters that cost more than what you pay for a decent laptop today. Some of the better typewriters had a correction feature where you could easily “lift off” a typo with correction tape, although it was time consuming. When electronic typewriters saw the light of day, it was actually possible to type a full line on a green display, you could then correct typos easily by stepping back, then print the full line by hitting Enter. What a productivity boost!

I think we got our first fax, a Ricoh G3 unit about a year or so later. It was as big as a fridge, had heavy paper rolls and sticky toner you literally had to pour into a container in the machine. Handling toner was a dirty job. That first fax sat unproductive for a very long time in the beginning. Since hardly anyone else had a fax, we had almost no one to communicate with. When we finally did receive faxes, the black toner somehow got glued to the paper more or less in the right place, later when the received fax documents got too old, the toner tended to fall off making the documents close to illegible.

Who needs internet when you have motorcycles!

05Because there was no Internet or other easy ways of communication, to serve clients better we created our own motorcycle messenger service. This sped up deliveries and instead of waiting for a letter in the mail, clients in the metropolitan area of Tokyo and Yokohama could now get deliveries within a few hours. Like our sales people, the messengers also had pagers, small units you could call with a phone. They would beep, and the paged person would then look for a public phone and call back.

We continued to expand from day one, the office still in Sweden Center in the Roppongi district of Tokyo got bigger, translation volumes increased and the need for more languages also increased. In the 80’s, technology also started to take off. To help communication, we witnessed the advent of computers. We invested in bulky CPM computers with green CRT monitors, but no hard disk drives. Translation was done using the WordStar word processor application (the spellchecking feature was a godsend!), data was saved on floppy disks, and soon it became possible to use acoustic couplers to send data over telephone lines, but the line had to be noise-free.

AcousticCouplerAK2000Tel
An acoustic coupler – everyone had to 
be quiet for transmission to succeed
source: Wikipedia.org

By the mid 80’s, idioma was indeed a very hi-tech operation and with an acute need for more translators. That’s when we set up our first office in Europe, but that’s a story for another time.

Our Tokyo staff had lunch together on their last day of work at Toranomon before the New year and here's a little photo report! 

After lunch we were very close to the famous Atago Shrine http://www.atago-jinja.com/

So we had a visit to thank you for a good 2014 and wish a prosperous New year. 

image2

Atago Shrine, on top of Atago Mountain - the tallest mountain in Tokyo, has one of the most steepest Tokyo stairs. 

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You can actually see the steepness of the stairs so you can also imagine that the climb was quite tiring after lunch.

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You may not believe it but these stairs have been climbed on horseback 3 times. There are also stairs made for women and children which are not that steep.

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The Shrine is in the middle of metropolitan area so you can witness the contrast between Shrine and the city.

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There are many little shrines in Atago area, as well as unique Japanese yard with shrine in water.

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Fortune papers are tied all around to wish good luck (O-mikuji). It's kind of like a horoscope, or better said like throwing a coin into a wishing well or fountain. The tradition was supposely started by Ryogen (warrior monk). 

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There are even small wooden fortune plaques (Ema) where people write their wishes and hang them for good luck. It can vary from wanting to pass a test, to get married, to have a healthy child, etc. . 

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For us, it says "All the best in 2015!" :)

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