Month: April 2018

AI Interpreter Fail at China Summit Sparks Debate about Future of Profession

AI Interpreter Fail at China Summit Sparks Debate about Future of Profession

Tencent’s AI powered translation engine, which was supposed to perform simultaneous transcribing and interpreting at China’s Boao Forum for Asia last week, faltered badly and became the brunt of jokes on social media. It even made headlines on the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s main English newspaper – which, incidentally, is owned by Tencent’s key rival Alibaba.

The Boao Forum, held in Hainan Province on April 8-11, 2018, is an annual nonprofit event that was started in 2001. Supported by the region’s governments, its purpose is to further progress and economic integration in Asia by bringing together leaders in politics, business and academia for high-end dialogs and networking.

Tencent is one of the tech giants of China, often dubbed the “B.A.T.” (for Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent; sometimes BATX if one includes Xiaomi). Its most well known products include the instant messenger WeChat as well as microblogging site Sina Weibo. Both are everyday apps used by just about all Chinese citizens as well as other ethnic Chinese around the world.

WeChat in China is pretty much an all-round, full service lifestyle mobile app in its local Chinese version. You could do just about anything in it these days – from buying train and movie tickets to making mutual fund investments to ordering groceries or an hourly maid from the neighbourhood.

In 2017, Tencent rolled out an AI powered translation engine called “Fanyijun”, which literally translates to “Mr. Translate”, since the Chinese character for “jun” is a polite, literary term for a male person.

What went Wrong?

Fanyijun is already in use powering the in-app translator in WeChat as well as available online as a free online service. However, it was supposed to have made a high-profile debut at the Boao Forum together with the Tencents “Zhiling” or literally translated, “Smart Listening” speech recognition engine, showcasing the company’s ability to do real-time transcription and interpreting. In retrospect, it seems the publicity effort has backfired on Tencent.

To be sure, human interpreters were still on hand to do the bulk of the interpreting work during the forum. However, Tencent used its AI engine to power the live translation and broadcast of some of the side conferences to screens next to the stage and for followers of the event within WeChat.

This resulted in many users making screenshots of the embarrassing errors made when the engine frequently went haywire and generated certain words needlessly and repeatedly, as well as getting confused when some speakers spoke in an unstructured manner or used certain terminology wrongly.

Chinese media cited a Tencent’s spokesperson who admitted that their system “did make errors” and “answered a few questions wrongly”. But he also said in their defense that the Boao Forum was a high-level, multi-faceted, multi-speaker, multi-lingual, discussion based event. That and the fact that the environment was sometimes filled with echo and noise, added to the challenges their system faced.

“They still need humans…”

The gloating hit a crescendo when someone circulated this screenshot from a WeChat group composed of freelance interpreters. It was an urgent request for English simultaneous interpreters to do a live webcast later that day for the Boao Forum.

One group member replied, “They still need humans…” Another said, “Don’t they have an interpreter device?” A third sarcastically added, “Where’s the AI?”

Tencent later clarified that this request was meant for engaging interpreters for their professional news team doing live reporting in Beijing, and not for the simultaneous interpreting team located onsite at the Boao Forum.

Tencent reportedly beat other heavyweight contenders such as Sogou and iFlytek to secure this prestigious demo opportunity at the Boao Forum after a 3-month long process. Sogou is the 2nd largest search engine in China, which also provides a free online translator, built in part through leveraging its investment in China startup UTH International, which provides translation data and NMT engines. iFlytek is a listed natural language processing (NLP) company worth about USD 13 billion in market capitalization. Its speech recognition software is reportedly used daily by half a billion Chinese users and it also sells a popular pocket translation device targeted at Chinese tourists going abroad.

But given what went down at the Boao Forum for “Mr. Translator”, Tencent’s competitors are probably seeing their ‘loss’ as a gain now. The social media gloating aside, this incident has sparked off an active online debate on the ‘what and when’ of AI replacing human jobs.

One netizen said on Sina Weibo, “A lot of people who casually say that AI can replace this or that job, are those who do not really understand or know what those jobs entail; translation included.”

However, Sogou news quoted a veteran interpreter who often accompanied government leaders on overseas visits. She said, “As an interpreter for 20 years, I believe AI will replace human translators sooner or later, at least in most day to day translation and the majority of conference interpreting. The former probably in 3-5 years, the latter in 10 years.”

She added that her opinions were informed by the fact that she frequently did translation work for IT companies. As such she was well aware of the speed at which AI and processor chips were advancing at, and hence did not encourage young people to view translation and interpreting as a lifelong career, which she considers to be a sunset industry.

Reference: https://bit.ly/2qGLhxu

XTM International Announces XTM Cloud v11.1

XTM International Announces XTM Cloud v11.1

London, April 16, 2018 — XTM International has released a new version of XTM Cloud. Building on the success of XTM v11, the new version adds many new features requested by users.

The integration with Google Sheets is a breakthrough achievement. XTM Connect for Google Sheets is intuitive and collaborative. Localization managers can push content for translation directly from the chosen columns or entire sheets. Completed translations are delivered into specified cells, and can be instantly shared with the rest of the teams. The process is fully automated and does not involve copy/pasting nor file exports. Translation takes less time as an outcome, and there are no version conflicts between the localized documents and their newer versions updated by copy writers.

Projects in XTM can now be assigned to language leads or in-house translators. The new user role has the rights to view and manage projects for their specified target languages. By doing so, in-house translators can translate texts in person or outsource them depending on the needs and the workload. In effect, they can reduce the turnaround time and gain extra flexibility to manage source text overflow.

“Our development strategy is focused on enhancing XTM with features that provide maximum value to our Enterprise and LSP users. We are delighted to release XTM Cloud v11.1, as it delivers a very useful set of enhancements to our growing customer base.” – said Bob Willans, CEO of XTM International.

Other main features include a new connector for Kentico, support for markdown (.md) source files, options to color or penalize language variant matches, and new REST and SOAP API methods.

For additional information about XTM and its new features, please visit https://xtm.cloud/release-notes/11.1/.

Reference: https://bit.ly/2HvnQS7

BOUTIQUE TRANSLATION AGENCIES: THE NEW GENERATION

BOUTIQUE TRANSLATION AGENCIES: THE NEW GENERATION

There was a time when dinosaurs dominated the world of translation: huge great lumbering beasts of companies with offices in every major world city and thousands of contractors at their fingertips. They offered every language pair, every specialism and every service under the sun, all overseen by huge teams of project managers in vast offices filled with piles of paperwork. But things don’t stay the same forever, and with the rise of the internet and a new focus on niche services a very different kind of professional translation service is on the rise: the boutique translation agency.

They may be small, but don’t underestimate their appeal to translators and clients alike.

What are boutique translation agencies?

LIGHT ON THEIR FEET

Boutique translation agencies take their cue from boutique advertising companies, the new form of PR that aimed to offer something different to the behemoths of the ad world. Just like their marketing forerunners, boutique translation agencies are small, nimble and fast-paced. Unlike the larger firms that worry so much about economies of scale, boutique agencies offer specialised services with a high degree of personalisation and flexibility.

Boutique firms have staff that can react quickly and flexibly to any new challenge, because they aren’t spending their time churning out huge amounts of repetitive work. They’re free to follow opportunities, evolve and change rapidly through time, leaving big global corporations in their dust. They don’t have a vast translation team of unknown and untested contractors, but rather they work with a small and trusted group of contacts, so the relationships within the agency tend to be closer. This means that quality control is not a matter of ticking boxes as it is with larger companies, but rather comes down to close working relationships where managers have in-depth, detailed knowledge of all their staff’s skills and strengths, and can draw together the perfect team for each project.

 EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED

Specialisation is also one of the biggest strengths of these new and nimble agencies. Unlike massive international companies, they aren’t Jacks of all trades and masters of none. No one can truly specialise in everything, and larger companies run the risk of spreading themselves too thin at the expense of quality. Boutique agencies are at the other end of the scale, offering very specific niche services. They know their strengths and they know their target market’s needs, as well as having a comprehensive understanding of the language, culture or industry they specialise in.

Different firms have different ways of narrowing down to a specialisation. Some focus on a particular subject area or industry, for example legal, marketing or technical translations. These agencies focus on hiring translators who are experts within that industry, many of whom will have had a previous career elsewhere before becoming translators. Other agencies specialise in particular languages, amassing a team of native Russian translators, for example, but with a wide range of interests, knowledge and skills. These teams offer particular advantages because they can combine the different subject specialisms of their translators in line with the client’s needs. Many of these agencies also offer specialised services such as localisation, DTP or web services like SEO and web marketing, all in combination with translation. This allows a team of different professionals, all with a comprehensive understanding of your language pair or industry, to work together fluidly and produce an excellent finished product exactly to your specifications.

THE PERSONAL TOUCH

In line with the fantastic opportunities for specialisation that boutique agencies offer, clients and staff alike tend to find these firms are much more personal than the big multinationals.

Smaller agencies can offer a highly tailored and personalised service built around your needs rather than the company’s ‘way of doing things’. Instead of forcing you to fit their box, they will shape their work to suit your needs. You’re likely to experience less bureaucracy and paper pushing, because a smaller team can find common sense solutions instead of having to rely on endless protocols. And you’ll have access to the people that matter. Often a smaller translation company will be directly managed by the CEO, who isn’t a fat cat investor sitting in a board meeting or playing golf, but is more likely to be a translator him/herself. At the very least you’ll have a regular, designated contact person within the company over time, so you’ll have an opportunity to build a good working relationship with your own project manager. And with a smaller company the team that wins your business is the exact one that will work on your project; unlike some of the less scrupulous bigger companies they won’t impress you with the CVs of excellent translators and then farm your work out to untrained, poorly qualified individuals.

A by-product of all this is that boutique agencies tend to be more detail-oriented and creative than their larger cousins. Unbound by pointless rules and procedures they’re free to offer the kind of personalised service that has clients returning year after year.

THE CLIENT IS KING

Whereas big multinational corporations are bound by the bottom line, long-term relationships, reputation and old-fashioned business values mean everything to smaller companies. As they thrive by word-of-mouth and often keep their client list short, boutique agencies are heavily focused on client satisfaction and building trust. For smaller companies no account is too small to warrant their care and attention, and communication tends to be personal, efficient and meaningful.

Boutique agencies aren’t staffed by managers from other sectors with no real understanding of translation, and they don’t take on new translators with little evidence as to their skills and abilities. They tend to be run by passionate linguists who view their business as a vocation, not just a moneymaking exercise. That’s why you’ll often spot all kinds of added extra value when working with a boutique agency, along with a willingness to source additional services or skills in accordance with your needs. In short, they will go the extra mile for your business, because they know that’s how to win and keep custom.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Finally, you’ll get more bang for your buck with a boutique translation agency, as many of these companies offer outstanding value for money with no compromise on quality – in fact, often providing a more specialised and personalised service than a big provider of ‘off the peg’ translation solutions. They will be able to offer flexibility over rates and often have much lower overheads than multinationals. Some are based in countries with low tax rates and rents, while others save by managing their team online instead of assembling them in an office. Bearing all this in mind, a small budget to a global firm can often be quite a substantial one to a small agency, meaning you can get more for your money.

What aren’t boutique translation agencies?

EXCLUSIVE SERVICE, EVERYDAY PRICES

Boutique translation agencies needn’t be expensive. Although the term conjures an exclusive tailor-made experience, owing to the nature of these smaller companies you needn’t pay through the nose for it. For a start, they are less profit-oriented and more concerned with providing an excellent service, which is, after all, their unique selling point. Low overheads and innovative working practices also mean that if money is tight in your office a boutique agency might be just the right service provider for you.

FOCUSED, NOT LIMITED

Boutique translation agencies needn’t be limited in scope. Don’t confuse their emphasis on specialisation with a narrow focus. Any good small agency will have a network of highly skilled individuals on call, and can put together teams to tackle any text. The difference between these smaller translation agencies and the corporate giants is that boutique agencies know their limits and will not take on work on spec without knowing they can deliver. They also don’t keep huge numbers of staff on their permanent payroll just to cover any eventuality, so they can really save you money.

MIDDLEMEN BEGONE!

Small translation firms know that you want to pay for fantastic translation, not layer upon layer of middle management. You’ll have a project manager, whose role is to know the team inside out and be able to pick out the best individuals for your project. Good project managers are indispensable after all – but you won’t be paying for heads of business development, corporate strategists, marketing gurus, IT departments or any other of the staff members so indispensable to bigger clients. Instead you’ll find your team is flexible and diverse enough to tackle any of the challenges that come their way.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

Boutique translation agencies are the very opposite of corporate. You’re not just a number on a spreadsheet and you won’t receive formulaic service – rather the whole experience will be shaped around you. These firms don’t tend to be concerned with growth at any cost, but rather they prioritise building and maintaining a cast-iron reputation in a specific field. There are no economies of scale, which means every client matters, and customer service is by nature at the very heart of everything they do.

It easy to see why these agencies are becoming more and more popular, and in some sectors are now starting to corner the translation market. Bigger companies are running scared and looking to find ways to streamline their service offerings, but savvy clients are still abandoning impersonal companies in their droves, looking for something different. In the battle of David and Goliath you’d be forgiven for betting on the big guy, but don’t rule out the underdog. Putting meaning and value back at the heart of the translation process, it looks like these plucky contenders are here to stay.

Reference: https://bit.ly/2og0aWS

Uberization of Translation by Jonckers

Uberization of Translation by Jonckers

WordsOnline Cloud Based Platform Explained…

Just over a year ago, Jonckers announced the launch of its unique Cloud based management platform WordsOnline. The concept evolved from working in partnership with eCommerce customers, processing over 30 million words each month. Jonckers knew that faster time to market is key for sectors such as retail to get products and messages to their audience. They needed to keep up with this demand and build on their speedy solutions.

Jonckers identified that when dealing with higher volumes, the traditional batch and project methodology for processing translation was not as effective. Waiting weeks for large volume deliveries, arranging thousands of files to allocate to multiple linguists and keeping trackers up to date was taking its toll! Quality Assurance checks were also risking on time deliveries – the allocated batches to linguists were simply too large and timescales too long to manage QA within the timeframes.

It was clear a paradigm shift was needed. Jonckers conclusion: to develop a technology powered continuous delivery solution.

What is WordsOnline?

It’s a state of the art, cloud based TMS (Translation Management System) accommodating both the traditional localization workflow (project based) and the continuous delivery model.

What is a continuous delivery model?

It is a model without handoffs or handbacks. Through API, WordsOnline can sync with the customers’ system and downloads the content to be translated into the Jonckers powered database. That content is then split into small set of strings (defined on a case per case basis), made immediately available to edit and translate online. It is based on the Uber business model of fast, efficient supply and demand.
Jonckers’ resourcing team ensures premium resource capacity to guarantee content is continuously processed.

What type of content does WordsOnline process?

The purpose of the WordsOnline platform is fast-turnaround. The content processed so far by this impressive system is mostly large scale documentation, product descriptions, MT training material. However, the platform has been designed to process and deliver on all file and content types. Its non-discriminate programming has been developed specifically to be adaptable to any volume, language, time-frame and file format.

What are the key advantages of using WordsOnline?

• Faster turn-around time – Jonckers are able to process massive amounts of data that after translation will be pushed to review and back to the customer, in a continuous cycle.

• Price – WordsOnline applies TM, then Jonckers’ NMT engine or the customer’s engine if preferred. The volumes processed allow a more attractive and cost effective price point.

• Control –Project Managers can monitor the volume of words being processed, translated, reviewed and pushed back to the customer’s system. There are several other features which also allow rating of resource and analytics for a comprehensive overview of every job.

What are the key features of WordsOnline?

WordOnline linguist database interface includes a ratings platform so clients can monitor the delivery and quality of resources:

The live Dashboard interface allows clients to follow the progress of the content, performance of the MT engine, stats etc…

In short, the process is completely ‘Uberized’, Jonckers is making translation as simple as upload your files… track the progress… receive final translation delivery! Its as simple as that.

Reference: https://bit.ly/2HnoGjF

Exclusive Look Inside MemoQ Zen

Exclusive Look Inside MemoQ Zen



MemoQ launched a beta version for MemoQ Zen, a new online CAT tool. MemoQ Zen brings you the joy of translation, without the hassle. Experience the benefits of an advanced CAT tool, delivered to your browser in a simple and clean interface. You can get the early access through this link and adding your email address. Then, MemoQ’s team will activate your email address.

Note: preferably to use gmail account.  

These are exclusive screenshots from inside MemoQ Zen, as our blog got an early access:

Once the user logs in, this home page appears:

Clicking on adding new job will lead to these details:

You can upload documents from your computer or adding files from your Google Drive. The second option needs access to your drive. After choosing files to be uploaded, you’ll complete the required details for adding new jobs.

In working days field, MemoQ Zen excludes Sundays and Saturdays from the total workdays. This option helps in planing the actual days required to get the task done. After uploading the files and adding the details, a new job will be created in your job board.

Clicking on view statistics will lead to viewing the analysis report. Unfortunately, it can’t be saved.

Clicking on translate will lead to opening an online editor for the CAT tool.

TM and TB matches will be viewed on the right pane. Other regular options such as copying tags, join segments, and concordance search are there. Previewing mode can be enabled as well. Unfortunately, copying source to target isn’t available.

QA errors alerts appear after confirming each segments. After clicking on the alert, the error will appear like this. You can check ignore, in case it is a false error.

While translating, the progress is updating in the main view.

Clicking on fetch will download the target file (clean) to your computer. TMs and TBs aren’t available to upload, add, create or even download yet.

Clicking on done will mark the job as completed.

That’s it! Easy tool and to the point with clean UI and direct options. Although it still need development to meet the industry requirements i.e adding TMs and TBs, etc. But, it’s a good start, and as MemoQ Zen website states it:

We created memoQ Zen to prove that an advanced CAT tool doesn’t need to be complicated. It is built on the same memoQ technology that is used by hundreds of companies and thousands of translators every day.

We are releasing it as a limited beta because we want to listen to you from day one. As a gesture, it will also stay free as long as the beta phase lasts.

Localizing Slogans: When Language Translation Gets Tricky

Localizing Slogans: When Language Translation Gets Tricky

A slogan. It seems pretty straightforward. Translating a few words, or even a sentence, shouldn’t be all that complicated, right?
And yet we’ve seen countless examples of when localizing slogans has gone awry—from big global brands—illustrating just how tricky translating slogans can be.
Anybody recall Pepsi’s “Come alive with the Pepsi generation” tagline being translated into “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave” in Chinese?
While humorous, this language translation misfortune can be costly—and not just in a monetary sense. We’re talking time-to-market and brand reputation costs, too.

Why slogans pose language translation difficulties

The very nature of slogans makes them challenging to translate. Many times slogans are very creative, playing on cultural idioms and puns.
There often isn’t a direct translation that can take on the exact meaning of your slogan. And, in fact, linguists may experience translation difficulties in attempting to complete the translation word for word.
Local nuances come into play as well. Some words may have entirely different meanings than your source language and can be misinterpreted. Just think of product names that are often used in slogans. The Chevy Nova name was criticized in Latin America because “Nova” directly translates into “doesn’t go.”
Also, different cultures have unique emotional reactions to given words. Take McDonald’s and its famous slogan “I’m lovin’ it.” The fast food mogul localized this slogan to “Me encanta” or “I really like it,” so the mantra was more culturally appropriate for Spanish-speaking countries, where love is a strong word and only used in certain situations.
Because of the language translation difficulties involved, you may need a more specialized form of translation to ensure that your slogan makes a positive impact in your international markets.

How to approach localizing slogans

First and foremost, communication is vital throughout the entire localization process. When approaching slogans, we’ll collaborate with your marketing experts—whether internal or outside creative agencies—as well as your in-country linguists with marketing expertise.

Having in-country linguists’ work on your slogan is absolutely critical. These language translation experts are fully immersed in the target culture. They are cognizant of cultural nuances, slang and idioms, which ensures that your slogan will make sense—and go over well—in your target locales.

We’ll review the concepts in the tagline or slogan as a team and identify any challenging words or phrases and assess how to approach it. Oftentimes, a direct translation won’t work. We may need to localize it in a way that’s more appropriate, such as the McDonald’s “Me encanta” example above.

If it poses much difficulty, then we may need to turn to transcreation services.

Transcreation process and your slogan

The transcreation process is a specialized version of language translation that’s a highly involved and creative process.

Copywriter linguists will identify your brand qualities and portray those in a way that perfectly resonates with your target audience. Think of it as a mix of “translation” and “creation.” It’s not a word-for-word translation, but rather re-creating an idea or message so it fosters an emotional connection in a different culture.

Looking at a quick example, Nike’s celebrated slogan “Just do it” had no meaningful translation in Chinese. So instead, the message was transcreated to mean “Use sports” or “Have sport,” which had a more prominent impact in that culture.

Localizing slogans, or more specifically, your slogan, correctly can mean a stronger global brand reputation—driving revenue and increased market share worldwide. Taking a hasty, nonchalant approach can mean just the opposite. And you may find yourself having to spend time and resources rectifying what comes with a language translation error.

 Reference: https://bit.ly/2GSx36x