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Manage your very first translation project like a pro: Where to begin?

If you are new in a company and are suddenly assigned with also handling translations in your role as product manager, office manager, marketing manager, documentation manager, etc., or you are simply the type whom everyone turn to for help when they are stuck, this blog is a must-read.

The material to be translated is not so important. You could end up having to find someone to translate a data sheet, a press release of a new product, brochure or even a web site. Based on our experience, it's not that uncommon that companies have no workflow or protocol in place when it comes to the occasional need for translation, especially for new languages or exotic ones. Imagine having to find someone to translate your company’s English company intro into Maltese or Hebrew…

It is a fact that all translated content published by a company speaks to potential customers in new international markets and therefore should be considered as “weapons” to gain new ground. And because of this it's quite surprising how often companies lack a conceptual approach to their documentation and translation management. Often this area involves unwritten know-how that leaves the company with the person who has been used to handle these tasks. 

If you are the lucky one assigned to manage, say, translation of an annual product catalog, and you have never managed any translation project before, here are some important tips how to deal with it like a pro:

  1. Search for translation resources. You could save a lot of effort.
  2. Map the suppliers thoroughly. The difference is night and day.
  3. Document your company's language management.
    4. Establish a translation management workflow in your company.

Let's break it down a bit more, point by point.

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1. Make a search for translation resources. If none are available, create them for the future.

'Translation resources' doesn't refer to the actual document you need to translate. But what’s important is that when translating content that is similar or basically an update of something already translated (e.g. a catalog in this case), there is a good chance some or even a lot of the volume has already been translated and saved in the form of a translation memory, preferably together with a glossary – most likely at your previous translation supplier. So you don't need to translate that again.
Translation resources and the knowledge of them are important and make up a valuable resource:

  • If you have no translation resources at all, you will pay the full price for translation. This is a cost issue. And here's the deal: Having access to already pre-translated content reduces both the translation cost and delivery time.
    Creating and preparing translation resources for future savings on translation expenses is a common service included in the price of translation by professional agencies that work with special translation tools and software.
  • If you have translation resources in your hand, your company has most likely already cooperated with a language service provider (LSP) at some point in the past. Try to find out the details of this cooperation, and if you gain positive feedback, you have a hot candidate for translation supplier.
    More importantly, if you do not have the resources, but know an agency has built them, your company is the legal owner of the resources, and you can request if from your agency any time.

And here we get to the next point – mapping and choosing a translation supplier – explained in our next blog --->

Emoji translation: New field in the localization industry?

What an emoji translator does for a living

Businesses who target younger consumers obviously tend to customize their content to the likes of their potential buyers. The increasing business usage of emojis is visible mainly on social media, delivered by administrators of an age similar to the targeted customers. Emojis are, after all, very simple and straightforward pictures used to express non-verbally in written communication, so what's there to translate, you ask? 

idioma emoji string

One level of the occupation is to actually transform regular human speech into attractive emoji strings. It's not always easy to express the original meaning correctly and mainly to invoke a certain type of "feeling" to the text. 

The other level is that not all the devices where the communication is viewed are the same. Different smart devices and different operating systems do not have a common protocol for how an emoji displays, which lays ground to a number of unforeseen faux pas when it comes to brand communication on social media. The job of an emoji translator is also to customize the content for the devices first, in order to convey the correct meaning and desired emotion to the reader. Emojis do not display the same way across different devices, and the developers tend to upgrade the looks and design of their emojis, sometimes to an extent that even changes the nuance and contextual meaning of the emoji (e.g. when Apple changed the regular gun emoji to one with a water pistol). 

unicode emoji comparison

Your emoji use can show your background

Cultural differences and social development are also a huge factor here. Emojis of gestures common in the West, such as a thumb-up, might be considered offensive in the Middle East, while another common Western OK-hand gesture translates offensively in Latin America. Similarly, certain emojis have gained alternative meanings while being around online, which makes their business usage rather unfeasible (e.g. such as the emojis of an eggplant or a peach, which according to Emojipedia research conducted in December 2016 on a sample of over 570 tweets referred to the actual fruit only in 7% of cases).
Another research conducted by Swiftkey suggests really interesting cultural differences in the use of different types of emojis as well. For example, Arabic speakers tend to use much more heat and sun-related emojis than any other language. French overuse the heart emoji, using it four times more than any other speakers. In Australia, the usage of alcohol-related emojis is twice the average, while drug-related emojis rate 65% over the average. The most used emoji overall is, however, still a set of smiley faces (44.8 % of all usage).

With the revolution in communication around and behind us, it is really fascinating to watch seemingly unrelated factors to combine and create new job opportunities and trends, also in the translation industry. Looking to the future, let's hope people won't forget to use the actual written words.  :)

*Emojis are sets of different icons or images that display certain emotions, ideas, objects, etc. The first set of emojis was developed in 1999 in Japan and contained 176 icons. Nowadays there are over 2,000 available icons (taking skin color and gender variants into account).

Language facts: Flemish

Flemish, or Vlaams in Dutch, is the standard Dutch variant spoken in the Belgian region of Flanders by around 6.1 million speakers, sometimes also referred to as Southern Dutch. It includes several dialects, all of which (depending on who you ask) are interrelated with the southwestern dialects of Dutch. 

Differences between Flemish and Dutch

Flemish, or Vlaams, is actually highly similar to the Dutch language used in the Netherlands. The official language in Belgium's Flemish region is indeed Dutch, and along with German and French you then have the country's three official languages. In essence, the Dutch languages are the same, and the only main differences are in pronunciation and frequency of some words. Because certain expressions (around 3-4,000) are more frequent in Belgian Dutch, many people refer to the language as Flemish, however, the words are really part of standard Dutch. There are no spelling differences between Dutch in Belgium and Dutch in the Netherlands.

Dutch pride

However, in actual practice, many Dutch nationals often question Dutch text content when they find it 'suspicious' or slightly off. This is probably a natural reaction and similar to what Germans things of Austrian and Swiss German: it simply sounds wrong.

Loan words in Dutch

In case of loan words, interestingly, Flemish speakers tend to apply Dutch pronunciation, whereas speakers in Netherlands maintain the original foreign pronunciation. Compared to Dutch, Flemish has also adopted many more loan words from French. The main difference between the languages is exposed in informal usage though. The pronunciation, slang expressions, and also common phrases can be very different, so different that Dutch television programs are sometimes even subtitled in Belgium and vice versa.

Alphabet

The Flemish alphabet is identical to the Dutch alphabet. The most frequently used letter is "e". Also, notice the unique IJ character.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y IJ Z

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y ij z

Staff from the idioma Tokyo office attended the 28th Design Engineering & Manufacturing Solutions Expo at the Tokyo Big Sight venue as one of the exhibitors for 3 days from June 21 through June 23rd.

In the three days, the total number of visitors reached 88,000 where 2,454 exhibitors participated concurrently with other exhibitions such as the Japan Manufacturing World. 

The weather was wonderful for the three days and there was a very inspirational and productive atmosphere at the site.

Exhibitors from different fields conducted hands-on demonstrations of products, held live presentations on the spot, and the venue was packed with visitors from all over Japan.

In this midst of this manufacturer-oriented atmosphere, idioma was right there to offer high quality technical translation services and its 37 years of expertise on multilingual technical documentation. 

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Many interested visitors stopped by at the idioma booth with an interest in effective overseas development. Quite a few admitted they had experienced difficulties in translation and localization. idioma representatives were happy to help potential buyers with our tailor-made solutions. 

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All in all, idioma’s presence at DMS Tokyo 2017 was a big success, which motivated us to participate again next year, hopefully with new services and technologies to come.

For anyone who is interested in the Japanese market and its need for multilingual documentation, do not hesitate to contact us at Dit e-mailadres wordt beveiligd tegen spambots. JavaScript dient ingeschakeld te zijn om het te bekijken..

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Translating Trump: Why is it so hard?

Since the boundaries-breaking presidential campaign in 2016, through the inauguration, up to the elephant-in-china-store-style international politics, President Trump has surely achieved one thing: the historically "unpresidented" media coverage of the U.S. commander-in-chief all over the globe. 

The reality show of Trump's presidency is a challenging experience for the entire planet, including translators, who struggle to translate Mr. Trump's rather originally structured language. It's a "thing" of such proportions that there are now about 570 thousand search results on "Translating Trump" on Google.

As each language has its specifics, translators from different cultures need to polish the president's message into many different shapes, not only to try to convey the content of the message but also to make it digestible to a local audience. Both of these tasks, however, sometimes prove close to impossible (especially for simultaneous interpreters).  

Why is Trump so hard to translate?

First of all, the president's language is incoherent even for English speakers. He uses a very limited elementary-level vocabulary full of synonyms to describe any sentiment (wonderful, beautiful, incredible / sad, bad, crooked, etc.) that makes the translation result fall flat. And it's no better when Trump chooses to enrich his vocabulary because he tends to fashion up new words, without apparent reason or meaning. Remember "covfefe"?

Carnegie Mellon University's Language Technologies Institute (LTI) research that analysed Mr. Trump's campaign speeches concluded his lexical richness was at the 7th-grade level, being the lowest of all past U.S. presidents and rival candidates in the 2016 race. His grammatical level is a bit better – only the second worst after George W. Bush who hardly reached the 5th-grade level.

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Unless sticking to the scripts carefully prepared by others, Mr.Trump displays little attention to sentence structure or coherence, and he disregards grammar (or spelling for that matter). And when he slips off the script, he tends to use "street-origin" Americanism (nut job, showboat, tippy-top, etc.), which often are too culture-specific to be comprehensible without broader explanation, and/or are culturally incompatible due to its vulgar subtext. 

Trump cannot be translated literally in Japan

Speaking of cultural incompatibility, covering and translating Trump's speeches regarding firing the FBI director James Comey was a big test for Japanese translators. Being from a culture of extreme social politeness, where words are chosen carefully, Japanese translators simply couldn't cope with the president calling someone of such high standing as the former FBI director a "nut job" and broadcast the words in their original meaning. Instead of opting for the Japanese alternative for "stupid" (politely atama ga warui), the term eventually used was henjin – which describes someone odd or eccentric, so not really what the president said. An even harder cultural challenge was to translate the now-notorious Access Hollywood grabbing recordings into Japanese, as the very fact of having to translate such a phrase made the Japanese translators rather uncomfortable (although they eventually chose to go for a non-vulgar, safe description of the problematic term).

Japanese translators even joked that Trump is so overconfident and logically unconvincing that if he should be translated as he actually speaks, the translators would make themselves sound stupid. The Trumpian era actually brought an interesting dispute within Japanese translator circles as to whether it is proper to polish the president's language and neutralize it, or to translate it exactly as he expresses himself in English. 

The problem is that going with the latter produces results that hardly make any sense in translation.

Japanese language is generally very polite with few words that explicitly belittle the listener or others. Foul language is probably only found inside the Japanese mafia – the yakuza – while the very large majority of the Japanese population expect decent, respectful language in speech, writing and all other kinds of communication.

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