Google Translation Center Announced to Online Community

The online translation community is abuzz with the news that Google has announced the start of a Google Translation Center.  The discussion revolves around two main questions: how exactly the service will work and how having an Internet giant like Google providing a platform for translation services will affect freelance translators’ business.

How Will Google’s Service Work?

Clients will be able to upload the documents they need translated and then choose from the price quotes that individual translators will provide.  Translators will use Google’s web-based tools to create and review translations and the “Translator’s Workbench” will provide translators with tools such as a revision history, a glossary, or a history of previous translations. Google, at least as currently explained, will simply serve as a middleman, coordinating services and providing the platform and tools for clients and translators alike.

Throughout the preliminary discussions, one topic on which everyone still seems unclear is that of Translation Memory (refer to previous Transpanish posts for an intro to TM here and here) and how Google will implement it.  It seems that Google wants to create a meta-TM through which individual translators will have access to all similar translations previously inputted into the system.  This raises the question of ownership (clients usually own the rights to translations input into TM, as they’ve paid for the translations) and quality of what is uploaded into the global TM (Google states that individual translators will be solely responsible for quality control of what they produce).

How Will the Service Affect Freelance Translators?

Since Google has not yet unrolled its Beta version, professional translators can only speculate on the effect that Google Translation Center will have on their business.  On the Proz Forum discussion of this topic, translators are understandably concerned about the quality of the output, especially since creating a solid, accurate TM takes time as texts are translated and fed into the system.

Google Blogoscoped offers a preliminary analysis of the service’s features and included screenshots of the tools that GTC will offer to the translator.  Access to these free tools (questions about the TM aside) could be very good news for freelancers and GTC may very well open up a world of freelance gigs to professional translators.  However, freelancers are concerned about whether potential clients will be willing to pay market rates for translations when looking for a translator on GTC.

Of course, the online translation community can only speculate on GTC’s effects on the translation industry until the service is actually rolled out.

To read more commentary on the service, read Brian McConnell’s blog post, “GTC: The World’s Largest Translation Memory.”

Spanglish in the United States

There’s language as it appears in grammar books and there’s language as it’s truly spoken every day. The way that bilingual Spanish and English speakers in the United States combine the two languages is a perfect example of this phenomenon. In every day vernacular, people use the term Spanglish to describe the mixing of the two languages. But from a linguistic perspective, the term Spanglish lumps together several different ways of using the two languages under this umbrella.

Below are brief descriptions of a few terms linguists use to describe the linguistic phenomena many understand to be hallmarks of Spanglish:

1. Code-switching: when bilinguals use elements of both languages in conversation, either between sentences or within a single sentence.
2. Loanword: a word directly taken from another language with little or no translation.
3. Language contact: borrowing vocabulary and other language features from another language.

While Spanglish is not yet considered a separate language as Haitian Creole or Cape Verdean Creole is, scholars are beginning to take its use more seriously as the number of bilingual Latinos in the U.S. grows. Many continue to distrust Spanglish because of its status of not quite English and not quite Spanish.

But Ilan Stevens, author of Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language, speaks to the value of Spanglish:

“Latinos are learning English,” he says. “That doesn’t mean that they should sacrifice their original language or that they should give up this in-betweeness that is Spanglish. Spanglish is a creative way also of saying, ‘I am an American and I have my own style, my own taste, my own tongue.'”
(from: Spanglish, A New American Language : NPR)

For more online resources about Spanglish:

Don Quixote de La Mancha: Spanglish version
NPR interview with Ilan Stevens

Examples of Spanglish

Spanglish Spanish English
breaka frenos brakes
carpeta alfombra carpet
chequear verificar to check
glasso vaso glass
ganga pandilla gang
likear gotear to leak
mailear enviar coreo to mail
marketa mercado market
norsa enfermera nurse
puchar empujar to push
ruffo techo roof
signear firmar to sign

Analyzing files in Trados

If you use Trados to translate your documents, one of the most important steps is to analyze your files. Analyzing files allows you to identify how much text can be leveraged from an existing Translation Memory (TM), or if you do not have an existing TM it allows you to analyze the source files. Example:

  1. You have two files to translate:

a.       DOCUMENT_1

b.      DOCUMENT_2

  1. You want to analyze them against the empty memory to find out the total word count and whether or not there are repetitions.
  2. To analyze a file, select Tools, and then Analyze. Click Add and browse for the two files you want to analyze.
  3. Once the files are located click Open to add them. (You can also drag files from Windows Explorer into the Files to analyze dialogue box.)

a.       Remember if you want to analyze the files against an existing TM, you must have the applicable TM open.

  1. Be sure to save your log file to the correct place so that you can easily access it.
  2. Click Analyze

a.       A summary of the log file appears in the dialogue box. The .txt and .csv log file have also been saved to the folder you selected for the log.

 

Sample of a log file:

Analyze Total (2 files):

 Match Types  Segments    Words    Percent     Placeables

 Context TM          0            0              0          0

 Repetitions          111         561           2          3

 100%                   35           61            0          0

 95% – 99%           0            0              0          0

 85% – 94%           2            4              0          0

 75% – 84%           3           31             0          0

 50% – 74%          18           68            0          0

 No Match        1,593       31,104      98          1

 Total               1,762       31,829     100          4

 

 Chars/Word       5.18

 Chars Total   165,170

Opening a Word 2007 files (docx) in an earlier version of Word.

“.docx” is the new file extension that Microsoft Word 2007 uses when it saves documents in the new default format.

To open Microsoft Office Word 2007 .docx or .docm files with Microsoft Office Word 2003, Word 2002, or Word 2000, you need to install the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for 2007 Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint File Formats and any necessary Office updates. By using the Compatibility Pack for the 2007 Office system, you can open, edit some items, and save Office Word 2007 documents in previous versions of Word.

Although you can open Office Word 2007 files in previous versions of Word, you may not be able to change some items that were created by using the new or enhanced features in Office Word 2007. For example, equations will become images that cannot be changed. You will find a list of document elements that are changed when they are opened in a previous version of Word here.

How do I create a Translation Memory (TM) in Trados?

When we are beginning a new project, we will need to create a new memory. You can also import memories that clients or other translators provide. Even if you already have a TM of your own you should always ask the client to supply the TM at the start of all projects because other people may have made updates to the TM.

1. From TRADOS Freelance, open Translator’s Workbench

2. To create a New (Empty) Memory, Select file, new and then choose the source and target language from the Create Translation Memory dialogue box. Click Create. If your translation is from English to Spanish, you should select English as your Source Language and Spanish as your Target Language.

3. Name your Translation Memory file, navigate to where you want to save your TM and click Save

A Translation Memory consists of five files:

TM is saved as a .tmw file, but in order to run it must have four supporting files. For instance, if you named your Translation Memory “Legal”, your files will be as follows:

  • Legal.iix
  • Legal.mdf
  • Legal.mtf
  • Legal.mwf

For more info on Translation Memory (TM) Tools, we suggest that you read our article Lowering Translation Costs: What a Translation Memory Can Do for You

Tools for Translators

Translators use a multitude of tools to make their work easier and more efficient. However, many are quite costly so it’ll take time to acquire all of the resources necessary to make your work as fast and accurate as possible. Most translators use a combination of computer-based and hard copy resources. Of course, it depends on preference as to whether you primarily use computer or paper resources.Below you’ll find a brief description of certain tools that you should have on your wish list.

Dictionaries and Glossaries

I like the Gran Diccionario Oxford: Español-Ingles, Ingles-Español as a general, comprehensive dictionary.

Of course, a general Spanish-English dictionary can only get you so far when you are doing specialized translations in your field of expertise. In these cases, you will need a dictionary with specific entries for your field. There are many dictionaries which cover technical, engineering, and scientific terms.

A hot topic on the Proz Translators’ Resources forum is glossaries. While the forum covers all language pairs, translators can find links to extensive glossaries for specific language pairs and post a query if they can’t find information about the glossary they need.

But both dictionaries and glossaries fall short when a translator needs to know how to translate a colloquial phrase. Word Reference has an active forum that you can visit if you are working with a phrase whose translation eludes you. The search function will lead you to not only a translation of the word, but links to previous forum discussions about related phrases. If you don’t find the answer you need, a posted question will be answered by an active community of translators and linguaphiles.

If you prefer to store your tools on your computer, many dictionaries have a CD ROM version for you to purchase.

Targeting different Spanish-Speaking Audiences Through Translation

Last month, Transpanish posted an article about using Neutral Spanish to reach the widest possible Spanish-speaking audience. Those who translate documents into neutral or standard Spanish strive to remove any vocabulary or markers that would identify the text with a specific region where Spanish is spoken. Using neutral Spanish is useful when your document will get distributed in more than one country.

But if your goal is to market a product or spread your message in the U.S., you may want to consider a more tightly targeted translation. Rather than trying to reach all Spanish-speakers in the U.S., you should work with your translation agency to define the demographic you want to reach so as to make your message more potent.
Are you selling real estate to educated immigrants in Florida? Promoting a new cell phone plan to young urban Puerto Ricans in New York? Or informing first-generation Mexican immigrants in the Southwest of the importance of prenatal care?

All of these groups speak Spanish with a different vocabulary, different idioms, and slightly different speech patterns. The short, snappy sentences that will sell a cell phone plan to young Puerto Ricans may turn off older immigrants from South America. The tone that gets your business new customers looking to retire will be too stuffy for the younger crowd.

Of course, attention to your audience is always important in any kind of writing. When you’re not only trying to target your intended audience, but also trying to make sure that the target text is faithful to the source, the expertise of your translation agency becomes even more critical. This is especially true if you don’t speak or understand Spanish, as you have to completely trust that the contracted agency has the knowledge necessary to create a translation that targets your specific demographic.

Related Articles
Researching Neutral Spanish Terms and Dialect-Specific Terms
Reaching Your Spanish-Speaking Audience with Global Translations
The Use of Neutral Spanish for the U.S. Hispanic Market

Words with the letter eñe (ñ)

In our last post we discussed the importance of the use of the letter eñe. Below are some words with “ñ”. One tip: If your keyboard doesn´t have the Spanish layout, you may type the eñe by pressing and holding ALT and 164.

España                                

señor                                    

señora                                  

señorita

señal   

compañero 

daño                                

rebaño     

baño

migraña

muñeca                        

riña                                       

puño

niño                                      

niña                                      

estaño                                  

paño

año                                       

tamaño                                 

sueño                                   

mañana

montaña

cariñoso

buñuelo

caña

piñas

The Contested Eñe: “Pure” and “Impure” Spanish

While written Spanish is rife with diacritical marks (a.k.a. accent marks), there is none as sexy and symbolic as the eñe. Take for example, the commonly used word, año (year). Remove the eñe, and you’re left with ano, which is the Spanish word for anus. In most cases, leaving out the accent won’t result in possible embarrassment, but there is currently a movement which posits that the use of accents online is critical to maintaining the integrity and purity of written Spanish.

The movement was borne out of the initiative of the Real Academia Española, which finds that with the spread of Internet use, online communications should be held to the same standards as written Spanish. La Academia Argentina de Letras and the Instituto Cervantes also back the campaign.

To this end, Internet domains originating in Spain can now be registered with Spanish’s beloved and emblematic ñ. Internet addresses registered in Spain will thus be more descriptive and possibly less misleading. For example, if one wants to register an organization called Campaña Para los Derechos Humanos (Campaign for Human Rights), they can now do so and keep their Internet domain faithful to the organization’s name. Previously, they’d have to omit the ñ from the address, and would be left with the potentially confusing campanaparalosderechoshumanos.com, which means “The Bell of Human Rights.” In examples such as this, one sees how critical the correct use of ñ becomes, as campana means bell and campaña means campaign or movement.

You may wonder: why is using accent marks so critical? Realize that this is mostly an academic movement of language purists. They maintain that the integrity of correctly written Spanish must be kept across all forms of written Spanish, even in the often informal and fast-paced medium of the Internet. Furthermore, the Campaña Pro-Eñe reminds us that accents in Spanish are not extra flourishes that we can choose to use or leave out as we wish, but are in fact necessary components of a correctly spelled word.

If accent marks are so critical in written Spanish, why are they often left out? Some reasons for their omission are:

• Efficiency, as inserting accent marks takes an extra moment and extra key strokes.

• Keyboards not specifically set up for writing in Spanish often make it difficult to quickly insert accents.

• Use of increasingly informal written Spanish, especially in online communications.

• Lack of knowledge about which words include accent marks, even for those educated in Spanish.

• Inability to adapt the Internet as a primarily English-speaking medium to the written conventions of Spanish.

• The different educational levels of Internet users, as many do not have the educational background to feel at ease with accent usage.

The movement to encourage correct accent mark usage on the Internet serves to combat the abovementioned reasons. However, only time will tell if this movement has the support and general interest to win over regular Internet users as well as academics.

Reaching Your Spanish-Speaking Audience with Global Translations

Your business wants to target Spanish-speakers residing in the United States, and the best way to do this is to have your materials translated into Spanish. So you contract a translation agency to provide you with an effective translation. Simple, right? But your publicity materials and product descriptions are meant to be read by Spanish-speakers all over the country. You want your message to be understood by educated Cubans in Miami, bicultural and bilingual New York Puerto Ricans, and first-generation Mexican immigrants. Each of these groups has a distinct accent, vocabulary, and set of regional phrases.

How can one translation impact all of these groups? Some translation agencies provide translations into what the industry calls neutral, standard, or universal Spanish translations. Put into simple terms, these translations are meant to be understood by the widest range of Spanish speakers possible, and are mostly free of regionalisms and any marker that distinguishes word usage as being from a specific country.

Some caveats about “neutral” or “standard” Spanish:

• Many translators argue that there is no truly neutral Spanish, but rather only an attempt to make written material as widely understood as possible.

• By trying to reach every segment of the Hispanic demographic, you may end up with a diluted message (a conversation with your translation agency about whether to use a global versus local translation would avoid this situation).

• Because Spanish-speakers are so linguistically diverse, there are some English words that have no universally understood Spanish equivalent (again, a good translation agency will be able to produce a document that will be understood by most Spanish speakers).

• Neutral Spanish is better suited for certain types of translations such as technical or industry-specific ones in which the vocabulary is more uniform.

• Neutral Spanish may not be suited for a message involving jokes or double-entendres. A quip that would get a chuckle from a Colombian businessperson may leave a Mexican farm worker scratching his head, thus possibly alienating a potential customer.

A good translation agency will be able to guide you through the process of deciding whether a neutral translation is the most effective way to transmit your message. If your target audience is US, the best option is to translate into Neutral Spanish.