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Is English still the world’s lingua franca?

As the ever-expanding translation industry brings people more content in their native language, and on the eve of talks aiming to set out Britain’s exit from the European Union, it has been suggested that English is starting to diminish as the world’s lingua franca. This blog post seeks to establish if there’s any truth to this idea. It all starts with school Once Britain leaves the EU, English will be the official language of just two member states: the Republic of Ireland and Malta. So will its use decrease in Europe? The working languages of the EU are French, German and English. In day-to-day operations, officials usually choose a language to work in; this largely depends on the preferences of those present. Non-native speakers of the three working languages would probably prefer to work in the language they are most confident in, and for those from countries where English is the primary foreign language on the school curriculum, the choice […]

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Plural patterns

In English, we say 1 pig, 2 pigs, 3 pigs and so on. So, does it follow that in another language it should be 1 [insert translated word for pig], 2 [insert translated plural of pig], 3 [same again] and so on? Nope! Earlier this month we worked on a project for one of our clients, a customer review network, which reinforced the fact that plural usage can vary greatly between languages. For this particular project, the translation source text included two snippets of text, one of which had a variable: 1 review Showing {{number}} reviews As the translation was into 27 languages, we saw many different patterns. We found this really interesting, and wanted to share them with you. In Hungarian and Turkish, numbers are followed by singular nouns: 1 review, 2 review, 5 review. However, when not following a number, the plural for reviews is used. In Russian, the plural forms of review depend on the number before the […]

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How to sell the benefits of yourself as a human translator

Reports last week claimed that 40% of jobs would be replaced by machines by 2030, and that they will be able to ‘translate and interpret text quicker than humans’. Many companies already use machine translation to provide quick and free translations of their websites and other materials, so it is down to us as language service providers along with our team of trusty translators to explain the added value of human translation. But where do we start explaining to a company with their eye on the bottom line why they should invest in professional translation? Here are a few of our suggestions: 1. Machines don’t understand puns, idioms, colloquialisms and double entendres Take the Spanish idiom ‘Estar más sano que una manzana’, for example. Google Translate tells us that this means ‘Being healthier than an apple’. While this is literally correct, the equivalent English idiom would be ‘to be as fit as a fiddle’. Only a human can have the required […]

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Translation agency fees: what are you paying for?

In a world where machine translation (MT) is on the increase, it’s no surprise that someone might wonder whether they could save some money by having their text translated automatically. A performance comparison of machines vs humans is one factor in the debate, and is something we’ll touch upon soon. For this week however we’d like our clients to consider: what are you paying for when you hire a professional translation agency? Or to phrase this differently: what do you forgo when you choose to put your translation into a machine? A dedicated Project Team When using Machine Translation, the text goes in, and the translation comes out, without you having any control over the process. With an agency, you become head of a dedicated Translation Project Team that also includes the Project Manager, Translator(s) and Proofreader(s). With the help of the Project Manager, you’ll remain in touch with the linguists indirectly, ensuring that you retain ultimate creative control. Project […]

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Translating mqxliff files in Trados Studio

Have you been sent a MemoQ .mqxliff file to translate, but you work with Trados Studio instead? Don’t worry, we can help you work with the .mqxliff file in Trados. Start by setting up Trados Studio to recognise that a .mqxliff is a type of .xliff file: 1. Click File>Options>File Types>XLIFF 2. In the File dialog wildcard expression field, type a semicolon after the last file type and then add *mqxliff 3. Click OK Now, you can open .mqxliff files in Trados 1. In Projects view, click Open Document/Translate Single Document… 2. Select the file/s and click Open 3. A menu will appear automatically with the source and target languages, and the opportunity to add or create a TM. Please follow the on-screen instructions 4. The file should automatically open for translation. If not, double click on the project in Projects view, right click on the file and select Open For Translation. Translate the file and, when finished, make sure […]

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Would your SMS be over the limit?

Ever contemplated a multilingual marketing campaign that uses SMS messaging to contact your customers? Or simply wanted to practise a bit of French with your latest foreign speaking acquaintance? Then you may want to have a serious think about size. Because when it comes to texting, it really does matter. As English speakers, we are lucky enough to be given a grand total of 160 characters per text message. These days, our mobile providers generally allow us to exceed these limits and will concatenate multiple messages into one long message, billing us for the equivalent number of messages. UK mobile networks use GSM encoding, which supports a character set consisting of the Latin alphabet, numbers, many other symbols, and some support for non-English accented characters. ‘Extended’ GSM character sets are also provided in some countries and offer additional characters, but this can vary depending on the mobile provider and handset. Often, using these characters will also subtract more than one character […]

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LSP insights: getting hired as a freelance translator

Job applications can be daunting in any profession; not least in the language service industry, with most agencies operating a rolling recruitment process for new talent across various languages and specialisms. What does it take to stand out in a crowded inbox? The Web-Translations Projects Team weigh in on what they look for when hiring new translators. A relevant qualification and/or experience It’s a commonly held belief that anyone with a good grasp of a foreign language can be a translator. Take a look at the ‘Careers’ section of any serious translation agency and you’ll soon see that that is not the case; all will ask for native-speaker level language skills and experience in translation or writing; many will also ask for a translation qualification, or at the very least a higher education certificate in the source language. If this information isn’t on your CV, you’re unlikely to be given a second thought. A clear specialism Ever heard the expression […]

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Guidelines for writing for translation

In the translation world, we talk a lot about quality.  The first building block of a top-quality translation is a quality source text. Writing source content with translation in mind is critical.  In addition to the standard rules for well-written English, there are specific guidelines to follow when creating source content for translation. Keep reading to find our Top 10 Guidelines for writing for translation. Short sentences Not only do sentences aid comprehension, thereby reducing the risk of errors, it creates smaller pieces for the translator to fit together.  It is easier to fit smaller text segments  together in different ways to create a flow that is more natural in the target language. Grammar/punctuation: check the basics Proofreading your own work prevents errors from being replicated in the translation, and limits opportunities for misunderstandings. Also, if it seems like you haven’t bothered much with your own content, a translator is less likely to see a polished, top-quality translation as imperative… […]

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Writing for translation

The London-based author Kazuo Ishiguro writes with translation in mind. ‘I want my words to survive translation,’ he says. ‘I know when I write a book now I will have to go and spend three days being intensely interrogated by journalists in Denmark or wherever. That fact, I believe, informs the way I write – with those Danish journalists leaning over my shoulder.’ Ishiguro concedes that the process of globalisation, of appealing to and ensuring that one is understood by audiences around the world, may lead to a ‘greyness’ of language: ‘There are a lot of things I don’t write now. I stop myself writing certain things because I think, for instance, that it wouldn’t work once it’s translated out of English. You can think of a line that’s brilliant in English — with a pun or two, you know — but of course it becomes nonsense once translated into a different language, so I don’t use it.’ Keeping the […]

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New government grants for exporters

DIT funding worth £6.7 million is now available to businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber The Department for International Trade (DIT), known as UK Trade & Investment until it was rebranded last September, has 9 English regional DIT branches, as well as Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish branches. The DIT Yorkshire and the Humber will deliver a programme of £6.7 million of funding for its Enterprise for Growth programme. Funding for the programme comes from the EU to strengthen the region’s businesses. Targeting both first time exporters as well as businesses already exporting, companies can access matched financial support to develop exports and create jobs. To qualify for the funding, companies in the Yorkshire and the Humber region must work with the DIT, who will help them to develop their international trade plans. Funding provided will support a company’s export strategy, which may include translation of marketing collateral for international visits, website localisation to improve positioning in target markets, translation […]

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