Calendar of translation events – April 2016


International Conference on Interpretation National Association for Interpretation. Wellington, New Zealand.


Translating from the Margins: The Challenges, Opportunities and Responsibilities of Working with ‘Under-Represented’ Languages. The London Book Fair. London, UK.


LocWorld Tokyo. Localization World, Ltd. Tokyo, Japan.


bp16. Csaba Bán. Prague, Czech Republic.


TAUS Industry Leader’s Forum. TAUS. Tokyo, Japan.


Serge: Open Source Localization Platform from Evernote. The International Multilingual User Group (IMUG). Mountain View, California, USA.


ND Focus – Elia’s networking days for Executives. Elia (European Language Industry Association). Mallorca, Spain.

11th EUATC International Conference. European Union of Associations of Translation Companies. Budapest, Hungary.


6th Latin American Translation and Interpreting Congress. Colegio de Traductores Públicos de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (CTPCBA). Buenos Aires, Argentina.


AILIA Annual Conference. AILIA Language Industry Association. Montreal, Canada.


Wordfast Forward 2016. Wordfast. Nice, France.

29-May 1

2016 International Medical Interpreters Conference. International Medical Interpreters Association Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Практический семинар для начинающих переводчиков. Kharkov, UKR.

30-May 1

4th Durham Postgraduate Colloquium in Translation Studies. Durham University. Durham, UK.

What’s the difference between proofreading and editing?

You’ve thought up a spectacular story, your words flow with ease, you’ve finished your body of work, yet the process has just begun. Many people will argue that a written project has many layers. Dominick Dunne, an American writer and investigative journalist, once stated “even if you write it wrong, write and finish your first draft. Only then, when you have a flawed whole, do you know what you have to fix.”

proofreading and editing: differences

The process of fixing a draft is known as editing or proofreading. Although similar, these two terms are not the same. According to the Merriam-Webster, editing is “to prepare something written, filmed or recorded to be published or to make changes, corrections to mistakes, etc.” Whereas proofreading is “to read and correct mistakes in a written or printed piece of writing”.

From the dictionary definition, it is hard to differentiate the two; but there is a key difference.

Editing is going through and making grammatical changes such as grammatical errors and punctuation. Through this process, you are actually making changes physically to adjust the content. Editing takes a deeper look at how info is presented and can happen multiple times throughout the project.

Proofreading, on the other hand, happens towards the end of the process. Proofreading, in regards to the nature of the term, is reading for proof and credibility of the final product. Finding credible and cohesive content at large instead of commenting on minors errors in structure or grammar.

Although these terms are similar, they are not interchangeable. They are both equally crucial in the writing process. Without editing an author runs the risk of publishing a piece of work with errors in structure, tense, tone and grammar. And without proofreading it is possible to miss surface mistakes that were overlooked in the editing process. So make sure you’ve accomplished both steps of the process before your project is truly complete.


Is the comma on its way out?

comma use

It’s probably one of the most difficult forms of punctuation to get to grips with and, for some, it’s starting to be more and more unnecessary. The question is, will the comma will eventually die out completely in the future? Let’s take a look at the arguments…

Linguist and Columbia University professor John McWhorter is certainly in favor of putting commas to rest forever. His analysis of the subject falls into two broad categories. Firstly, according to McWhorter, it seems pretty fair to say that there’s no list of definitive rules that explain exactly when and why one should place a comma in a sentence.

William Strunk Jr.’s The Elements of Style is one of the most popular texts for comma use, still in use today. One of the rules laid down in this 100-year-old publication is that commas should “enclose parenthetic expressions” and come “before and or but” when introducing an independent clause.

Even so, as McWhorter quite rightly points out, Strunk was wandering around in a pair of spats when he wrote The Elements of Style and so little of what’s written in the publication needs to have very much to do with how we communicate today in our modern and highly technological society. With that in mind we can move on to the second category of analysis as laid out by McWhorter, that of the use of text messages, tweets and other kinds of conversational-style communications.

There’s simply no need for commas (indeed they take up valuable character space) in tweets. Even top-notch journalists who write for national and international publications choose to tweet without commas. It seems that there isn’t a need for the comma, because the essence of what one’s trying to communicate in 140 characters is conveyed with or without them.

For example, a couple of years back Gmail went down – shocking! – and the entire world began tweeting sarcastic comments about the issue. Many of the snarling remarks came from professional journalists and few of them felt the need to use a comma. They were all more interested in getting their tweet out there into cyberspace for all to read.

An editor at BuzzFeed tweeted “whoa whoa guys I can’t respond to all zero gmails at once.” Writer and biographer Rachel Syme published a joking jibe that read: “I rubbed my genie lamp and wished for one of those Freedom programs that keeps you from email but I wished TOO BIG sorry guys sorry.” And writer Jen Doll brought the entire Gmail nightmare to and end with: “I guess all those losers outside skiing or like at the movies or whatever missed out on this exciting adventure we just had.”

Did you see any commas? Did you need them to understand what you read? No!

This is exactly the point that McWhorter is trying to make when referring to the outdated nature of the comma in our super advanced technological world.

Having said all that, there are obviously a band of comma fanatics out there that continue to worry about what might happen when people start writing sentences like, “Let’s eat grandma” and not, “Let’s eat, grandma”, which are clearly two different things. But unless we all happen to be living in a version of Little Red Riding Hood, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll confuse the first sentence with the second anyway.

Comma fanatics are also worried that we won’t be able to distinguish the difference between style; that we won’t be able to produce content suitable for formal essays and articles as well as tweets and texting. The concern is that we’ll end up having to read articles in the New York Times without commas, but maybe the future’s not going to include long, formal articles in the NYT anyway. Let’s face it, tweets, texts and other digital publications have already started to turn print journalism into a thing of the past.

What do you think? Should the comma stay or should it go?

Translation events – March 2016

translation events webinars workshopsImage courtesy of bluebay at


Continuous Globalization from Startups to Enterprises. Lingoport, Inc. webinar


Languaging Diversity 2016. University of Macerata. Macerata, Italy.


Northern California Translators Association (NCTA). Workshop: Trados Studio for Intermediate UsersSan Francisco, CA USA


The Translation and Localization Conference 2016., TexteM. Warsaw, Poland

CHIA 16th Annual Education Conference. California Healthcare Interpreting Association
Long Beach, California USA

Interpreter and Translators Congress. Joint initiative. Hilversum, Netherlands


Game Jams, Hackathons and Game Creation Events. Global Game Jam, Inc. Berkeley, California USA


11th Medical English Seminar (SAM). Société francaise des traducteurs (SFT).  Lyon, France


LocJAM. GLOC, IGDA Loc Sig. worldwide


TAUS Roundtable. TAUS. Vienna, Austria


Unicode workshop. The International Multilingual User Group (IMUG). San Jose, California USA


NOTIS Workshop. Mexican Civil Procedure & “Hilando muy fino con el lenguaje jurídico”. Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society (NOTIS). Seattle, WA USA


Memsource User Meetup. Memsource. New York, New York USA

NOTIS Workshop. Dissecting French Contracts. Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society (NOTIS). Seattle, WA

NOTIS Workshop. Dissecting French Contracts. Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society (NOTIS). Seattle, WA


GALA 2016. Globalization and Localization Association (GALA). New York, New York USA

think! Interpreting. Globalization and Localization Association, InterpretAmerica. New York, New York USA


International Translation Conference. Translation and Interpreting Institute. Doha, Qatar

31-April 2

ATISA VIII. American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association. Monterey, California USA

Does the English Language lack beautiful phrases to describe positive emotions?

positive emotions english translation

Tim Lomas, a psychology lecturer from the University of East London, published an article in the Journal of Positive Psychology that lists 216 of the world’s astoundingly rich phrases for feelings of beauty, positivity, and well-being that simply cannot be translated into English.

As Lomas’ article illustrates, there are literally hundreds of terms and phrases used all over the world for which the English language doesn’t have an equivalent. For example, Volta is a Greek word used to describe a relaxing stroll down the street. Jugaad is a Hindi term that describes one’s ability to just get on with things. Gumusservi is a Turkish expression to describe the beautiful shimmery shine that the moonlight creates across the ocean.

The most interesting aspect of the article is that the phrases in question all relate to positive feelings of well-being. Lomas structures his paper in such a way as to consider terms that cover spirituality, character, pro-sociality, intimacy and feelings. Might Lomas’ findings conclude that the English language lacks passion and feeling? We hope not!

Whatever the outcome, if you have a true love for language, you’ll find his article quite fascinating. We’ve listed 22 of the 216 phrases presented by Lomas in his paper and included his translations of each to their nearest possible English equivalent. Have fun!…

  • Ah-un (Japanese): Unspoken communication between close friends
  • Að jenna (Icelandic): The ability to persevere through hard or boring tasks
  • Cafune (Portuguese): Tenderly running fingers through a loved one’s hair
  • Fargin (Yiddish): To glow with pride at the success of others
  • Gökotta (Swedish): Waking up early to hear the first birds sing
  • Gula (Spanish): The desire to eat simply for the taste
  • Iktsuarpok (Inuit): The anticipation felt when waiting for someone
  • Kreng-jai (Thai): The wish to not trouble someone by burdening them
  • Mbuki-mvuki (Bantu): To shed clothes to dance uninhibited
  • Querencia (Spanish): A secure place from which one draws strength
  • Santosha (Sanskrit): Contentment arising from personal interaction
  • Sarang (Korean): The wish to be with someone until death
  • Saudade (Portuguese): The feeling you get when you’re missing, longing or yearning for something that happened in the past (or for someone who is no longer around).
  • Schnapsidee (German): An ingenious plan hatched while drunk
  • Seijaku (Japanese): Serenity in the midst of chaos
  • Sobremesa (Spanish): When the food is gone but the conversation is still flowing
  • Tarab (Arabic): Musically-induced ecstasy or enchantment
  • Toska (Russian): A wistful longing for one’s homeland
  • Uitwaain (Dutch): Walking in the wind for fun
  • Waldeinsamskeit (German): A mysterious feeling of solitude in the woods
  • Yuan fen (Chinese): A binding force impelling a destined relationship
  • Yutta-hey (Cherokee): Leaving life at its zenith; departing in glory.


Have you got a phrase to add to Lomas’ list of “untranslatable” positive feelings? We’d love for you to share them!

Language Assistance for LEP Individuals

The term “limited English proficiency” (alternatively “English-language learner” or “English learner”) is used in the United States to refer to a person whose primary language is not English and who has a limited ability to speak, read, write or understand English. There are laws at the federal, state and local levels that protect these individuals’ rights, including access to governmentally funded programs and activities.

One of the most significant laws is Executive Order 13166, signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 11, 2000. Entitled “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency”, the Order requires Federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to persons with limited English proficiency, develop and implement a system to provide these services so that LEP persons have meaningful access to them. It also requires Federal agencies to work to ensure that recipients (agencies, nonprofits and other Federally funded organizations) provide meaningful access to their LEP applicants and beneficiaries. All recipients of federal funds and all federal agencies are thus required by law to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to limited English proficient persons. This means that, regardless of a state or local jurisdiction’s official English or “English only” laws, entities receiving Federal funding must comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Title VI regulations prohibiting discrimination based on national origin, including those applicable to the provision of federally assisted services to persons with limited English proficiency. Title VI applies to a funding recipient’s entire program or activity, even if only one part of the recipient receives the funding.

LEP - Languages Services

It is crucial to ensure that written materials routinely provided in English also are provided in regularly encountered languages other than English. It is particularly important to make sure that vital documents are translated into the non-English language of LEP groups eligible to be served or likely to be affected by the program or activity. Documents are considered vital if the information they contain is critical for obtaining federal services and/or benefits, or is required by law, e.g., applications, consent and complaint forms, notices of rights and disciplinary action, notices advising LEP persons of the availability of free language assistance, prison rulebooks, written tests that do not assess English language competency, but rather competency for a particular license, job, or skill for which English competency is not required, and letters or notices that require a response from the beneficiary or client.

The Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (also known as ACA or “Obamacare”) includes requirements for insurers and the healthcare industry to provide translation and interpreting services for limited English proficiency (LEP) individuals in order to increase healthcare access for all, and explicitly requires translation of specific documents, including the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) and the Uniform Glossary. However, translating other documents may be implied; for example, provision of claim and appeal notices most likely must be translated since they are to be presented in a linguistically and culturally appropriate manner. The provision of these documents in plain and translated languages applies to all insurance plans, whether they are bought through an employer or privately.

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act builds on both Title VI and Executive Order 13166 and furthers protection from discrimination by including any health program or activity any part of which receives Federal financial assistance, including insurance contracts, credit and subsidies. Section 1557 also extends non-discrimination protection to the Health Insurance Exchanges (as well as any other entity or Executive agency that administers a program or activity established under Title 1 of the ACA).

Translation events – January 2016

jan 2016 translation events


Evaluating Localization Providers: Results from a GALA Community Project
Globalization and Localization Association. Webinar.


Simultaneous Interpretation for Virtual Meetings The International Multilingual User Group (IMUG). San Jose, California USA


International Symposium: Bilingual Videoconferencing in Legal Settings. Criminal Justice Programme of the European Union. Paris, France.


Translation and Modernism: Twentieth-Century Crises and Traumas. University of Warwick. Coventry, UK.


Using Your Languages: Interpreting and Translation. University of Bath. Bath, UK


How does Modern Machine Translation Work? Globalization and Localization Association. Webinar



Boosting your productivity as a translator: Pomodoro apps

As we mentioned in our previous post, time management is a challenge faced by all freelance translators. Procrastination and distraction are the enemies of efficiency and productivity, but there are a number of ways that results-driven translators can increase productivity and still indulge themselves in checking social media and surfing the web.

One of the most popular is the Pomodoro Technique®, which was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and became the darling of business managers in the 1990s.

pomodoro technique for translators

The concept is simple: you break down a large task or series of tasks into easily doable timed bursts of 25 minutes of concentrated effort followed with a short break to prevent burnout and boost creativity. Although the inventor developed his system using a mechanical tomato-shaped timer (hence its name “pomodoro”, Italian for “tomato”) and a pencil and paper, modern technology has taken it a step further with a myriad of apps ranging from simple electronic versions of the original concept to highly complex systems that allow the length of work and rest periods to be adjusted, track users’ productivity by task, time and day of the week and even “reward” users as their productivity increases.

Over the next month, we’ll be testing the following three Android apps to find out more about their features and discover whether they are as effective as their reputation says.

Scheduler: Pomodoro Timer

Designed by Yaroslav Shevchuk, this system not only offers all the usual Pomodoro features, it also lets you create a task list, color-code your tasks and reorganize them. Highly customizable, it lets you set times for work and long and short breaks, choose display colors and alarms, offers statistics on work periods and results and displays a list of accomplished tasks. It’s also completely free and without ads.

Tomatina – Pomodor Timer

Produced by libtronics apps, this relatively simple system lets you configure your pomodoros and short and long breaks, offers vibration and sound on events along with statistics about your pomodoros that lets you measure your progress and compare it with past levels of productivity. It’s free of charge.

Pomodoro Challenge Timer

Produced by AXFN, this sytem features a Socialist realism esthetic that reveals the no-coddling attitude behind it: maximum productivity based on working harder, period. It tracks your productivity over days and weeks – including holidays and weekends – and you’ll earn or lose ranks based on your performance (you start out as an “unrepentant slacker”). It doesn’t offer to-do lists, and it doesn’t give you the option to interrupt a pomodoro. The basic version is free of charge.

Boosting your Productivity as a Translator

One of the benefits of working as a freelance translator is that you’re able to set your own schedule, but this can also be a drawback if you tend to procrastinate instead of tackling a job and organizing yourself to get it done by the deadline. In fact, procrastination – far from being the cause of deadline anxiety – is often a response to it. The reason is that challenging tasks (and translation is a challenging task) have both negative (e.g., fear that the project is too challenging) and positive (the sense of reward when you finish the project) psychological aspects. When the negative aspect outweighs the positive, we tend to procrastinate, which increases our anxiety as the deadline draws ever nearer, while we continue to make no progress. Even though no one likes to put a deadline on their creative process, deadlines are not only inevitable, but can actually be a motivating factor.

translator productivity

It’s all a matter of attitude, and that’s where the Pomodoro method comes in. Invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s as a personal system to get more studying done, the method came to the attention of business managers in the 1990s. The Pomodoro Technique® is a time management method that helps you transform time into a valuable ally by breaking down a large task or series of tasks into short, timed intervals. You become more productive because you accomplish the tasks that you set for yourself in timed bursts of concentrated effort – which boost productivity – rewarded with short breaks – which prevent burnout and distraction and refresh creativity – while at the same time allowing you to record your increasing productivity over time.

Learning the Pomodoro technique takes only minutes, and using it couldn’t be easier. All you really need is a timer, a pencil and a piece of paper. In fact, the technique’s name of Pomodoro (which means “tomato” in Italian) comes from the fact that the inventor used a tomato-shaped mechanical timer, but any kind of timer will do.

Here’s the method:

  1. Choose a task (or series of tasks) to be accomplished.
  2. Set the Pomodoro (your timer, and the name of the timed work unit) to 25 minutes.
  3. Focus on the task(s) and work without interruption until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your piece of paper.
  4. Take a short – e.g. – five-minute, break.
  5. Every four Pomodoros, take a longer break (e.g., 15 minutes to 25 minutes, or whatever you need to clear your mind and refresh your creativity).

Repeat throughout your workday. It’s important to note that each Pomodoro is an indivisible work unit. This is the key to the system: if you become distracted from your task for whatever reason (a phone call or email and so on), you must either end the Pomodoro then and there or postpone the distraction until the Pomodoro is finished.

It will come as no surprise that, when it comes to the Pomodoro method, “there’s an app for that”. In our next article, we’ll introduce some of the more popular apps that can help any translator to reduce procrastination and burnout, manage distractions, and increase their productivity and sense of accomplishment.

How Well Does Your Country Speak English?

Countries with best English

The EF English Proficiency Index is a yearly report card on the English proficiency level of adults across the globe produced by EF, a private education company. Because it is based on the scores of online tests (during 2014, for this report) taken by 910,000 adult and 70 countries, it does not reflect the entire population of the country.

Though the average level of adult English proficiency has risen, surprisingly, not all countries are improving and some are even getting worse. The research also indicates that higher English language proficiency correlates with higher income and a better quality of life. With just a few exceptions, women have stronger English language skills than men in all countries surveyed.

The results, by region:

Middle East and North Africa

The downward trend in English language proficiency was seen in the Middle East and North Africa. The United Arab Emirates – perhaps because of the large multinational workforce – Yemen and Morocco scored highest in the region, with Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Libya at the bottom of the ranking. Only the UAE earned a “low” score (50.87); the rest earned a “very low”, with Libya trailing with a score of 37.86.


The level of English language proficiency in Asia varies widely from very high proficiency to very low proficiency. Singapore (61.08), Malaysia and India have the region’s highest proficiency scores. Former British colonies, these countries have a long tradition of using English, especially in higher education institutions. Though China’s trend continues to be positive (49.41), it fell 10 places compared to last year partly due to the addition of three countries, but also because seven Latin American countries have shown more improvement than China. Thailand, Mongolia and Cambodia (39.15) scored the lowest.


While the level of English language proficiency in Europe also varies from very high to very low, with only four exceptions – France, Russia (both low), Turkey and Azerbaijan (both very low) – proficiency scores vary from moderate to very high, with the Nordic countries of Sweden (70.94), Netherlands and Denmark at the top of the list, hardly surprising, given their strong investment in education and the similarity between the structures of their languages and that of English. France is the only country in Western Europe to score very low in English language proficiency. Not only is it behind in comparison to its geographical neighbors, it also ranks below the less-developed countries Indonesia, Ukraine and Peru. The report mentioned a possible “cultural version” to English as the cause. Turkey is the only European country to fall in the ranking since the 2012 report.

Latin America

While the overall adult English proficiency level is still low, Latin America has shown slow improvement over the last eight years, chiefly among young people. Argentina (60.26) is the only Latin American country to score in the “high proficiency” range, and it is followed by Dominican Republic and Peru, while Colombia, Venezuela and El Salvador (45.52) are at the bottom of the ranking.