Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ranking of Top 20 Translation Companies for 2005

Common Sense Advisory, has released a report ("Ranking of Top 20 Translation Companies for 2005") ranking the top 20 localization and translation companies in Europe and North America.

The top ranked company is Lionbridge, with revenues of 400 million US$, closely followed by L-3, and, at a distance, by SDL International.
Other interesting features of the report are a table listing the projected size of the language services market through 2010, and a summary of the LSP market in other regions.

An interesting report, and you may find other interesting information on their website (free registration required, and some reports are only available for sale).

(Source: Common Sense Advisory, Inc.)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Google Tip

Google has rapidly become essential to most translators, and when one uses this search engine dozens of times a day, even little things may make a difference.

I found that when looking for a specific sentence, instead of enclosing the search string within double quotes (like this "sample search"), one can omit the trailing double quote (like in this "sample search).

Not much of a saving, I know, but even little things sometime help.

"Official" Translations

From time to time people post questions on ProZ's KudoZ section to ask for the "official" translation of this or that bit of literature: a poem, a quote from a novel, or whatever.

I think that, as translators, we should be more careful how we use words: what these people are asking are probably "published", or even "previous" translations, not "official" ones: apart from such things as UE directives, International treaties, and some legal documents, I don't think there is such a thing as an "official" translation: the image that comes to mind is of some obscure office at the UN, UNESCO, or other suitably elephantine international red-tape factory, with someone wielding a big red stamp to be applied to "official translations": maybe something like


Translation Quality Techniques (1)

I shall be writing any entries about translation quality on a blog we have created for that very purpose, and reference those entries here.

To begin with, this simple technique for QC on bilingual files.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Three Spanish Translations of Sixth Harry Potter

(From Newsday.com)

The sixth Harry Potter book is finally going to be released in Spanish, and according to Newsday's article, it is coming out in three slightly different versions: one for the Spanish market, one for Argentina, and one for the rest of Latin America.

Although I question the wisdom of highlighting differences that really don't matter (would Mexican readers not be able to read the Spanish or Argentinean versions, or vice-versa?), no harm done, and after all the British and American editions also differ from each other.

However, I think that Latin American readers may get a bit confused for another reason: the dubbed versions of the Harry Potter films, at least in Mexico, are clearly dubbed by Spanish actors, so why provide a Latin American version of a book when the audience is already accustomed to 'hear' it with a Spanish accent?

By the way: my Mexican nephew and niece really preferred the English language version of the movie (with subtitles). Also, there is no question that the Harry Potter books bring kids to reading: they even bring them to read in a foreign language - my nephew wanted to see what happened in the sixth Harry Potter book so much that he managed to read it in English (not without difficulty), rather than tamely wait for the Spanish translation (though no doubt he is now going to re-read it all over again).

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Forthcoming Article about Machine Translation in Scientific American

In the March 2006 issue, Scientific American is going to have an article on "The Elusive Goal of Machine Translation".

The brief summary that appears on Scientific American.com doesn't reveal much: it starts with an example of bad machine translation (this seems to be almost de rigueur in such articles), but at least the subtitle holds promise, as it mentions statistical methods as a way of moving MT "out of the doldrums".

Touchy Translators and Know-it-alls

A recent discussion thread in the Italian forum of ProZ highlighted quite clearly two defects to which we translators seem to be particularly prone: knowing it all, and being extremely touchy.

A colleague opened the thread warning that negative comments posted on the Blue Board about Italian translation agencies could easily lead to being sued for libel. Other colleagues promptly voiced their disbelief, mostly saying that one could not succumb in libel suit if what he or she had written was the truth. The original poster started to take these comments as personal attacks, and the tone of those that had voiced their disbelief also started to degenerate towards sarcasm.

I don't want to rehash the discussion, which is still under way. What I found unpleasant, but typical of too many of us was:

  1. Freely jumping in with our opinions, certain of the truth of them, but without bothering to check first

  2. Immediately taking contrary opinions as personal attacks

  3. Rapidly escalating the discussion, with growing acrimony

The thread I mention above is only an example, but I could easily mention many others, unfortunately often.

Many of us seem to feel constantly unappreciated and under attack: from other colleagues or from translation agencies (many write of translation companies as enemies always out to swindle poor translators, and not as customers in good faith).

As translators we often know a lot of things, given the nature of our profession, and many of us are quite ready to impart the wealth of our vast knowledge unto others. (Unfortunately, most of us don't know nearly as much as we pretend, and not even as much as we think we do).

I sometimes wish we were better: that we more readily held our tempers, and checked our facts before speaking out.

By the way: Apparently according to Italian law the truth of a statement is often not a valid defense in a libel suit.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Excellent Blog on Court Interpreting

I have recently found a new, very well written, blog on court interpreting, the Court Interpreter.

The most recent article, The Hardest Cases, is a moving account of someone stumbling into misfortune.

Certainly worth reading.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"In the translation business, one size does not fit all"

In an article published today on HeraldToday.com, Dana Sanchez writes how "...some tourist organizations are translating their published materials into other languages."

It goes on to say that not only other languages should be considered, but also dialects, mentioning, among other things, how the material was made available in several different varieties of Spanish, because "Any business that wants to communicate effectively with the Spanish-speaking audience needs to take dialect into account[...]: 'One size does not fit all'".

Currently there seems to be a real fixation, especially in the US, about translating into regional varieties of Spanish (a customer of ours even asked about "Virginia Spanish", under the impression that the Hispanic population resident in Virginia spoke a distinct variety of the language, presumably different from North Carolina Spanish, Maryland Spanish, or whatever).

However, several excellent Spanish-speaking linguists, from different countries, have pointed out that such differences are mostly in the mind of customers that do not speak Spanish themselves, and that any educated person from a Spanish-speaking country would have no difficulty communicating with people from other Spanish-speaking countries.

An excellent presentation about this was given by Guillermo Cabanellas at last year's ATA Conference in Seattle.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


...Or at least the way I imagine heaven to be: an infinite library where, unlike in Borges' "Biblioteca de Babel" one can find, understand and enjoy all books (even those that were written in dead and long forgotten languages, and even those books hat never were written, but could have been).

Well this was a bit short of that: just a wonderful antiquarian bookshop in Mexico City (Librería Madero, in Avenida Madero 12), a few days ago: I'm buying a wonderful copy of the "Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España", which I had been seeking for a while.

Language Standards For Global Business

Interesting press release about the first language standards summit, which was held a few days ago in Berlin.

Practitioners, corporate planners, suppliers, and academics came together and actively shared their views on what they needed in language technology and process standards.

Among the issues tackled were language standards and translation quality.

The next summit is scheduled for May 29 and 30, in Barcelona.

Global Content Management

EContent published a few days ago an interesting article on Global Content Management. Among the highlights of the articles are sound suggestions such as

First and foremost, you must learn to write for translation, which means to write simply, clearly and, above all, to write for reuse.

There are also links to useful sites; for instance after suggesting the above, it links to the home page for Simplified Technical English, where one should be able to find help and guidelines for clear writing.

The article continues with more useful information on translation software (both TM and MT), XML, and other related products.

Although the article is clearly not aimed at translators, but at the users of translation, localization, and allied services, it should also be of interest to most translators.

Translation Industry Career Guide Online

Lingo24, a translation company, has launched on their website an online "Translation Industry Career Guide", apparently mostly aimed at raw beginners ("...[we] would like more graduates to enter translation and the language services industry...").

Currently the online career guide consists of only a few articles, which go from a "micro-glossary" (with definition of a minimal set of terms, such as "Interpreting", "Translation", or "Source language"), to a few case studies. Further articles are promised for the future.