There are nearly 15,000 freelance translators in the United States alone. If you’re one of them, then you’ll need to continuously work on your craft to maintain a thriving career in this industry.
One of the best ways to do that is by reading books written about the art of translation. We’ve included 10 of the best of them below to get you started.
#1 Translation as a Profession – Roger Chriss
Translation as a profession is all about the business of translation. It teaches language professionals how to find new job opportunities, maintain client loyalty, and carve out a long and thriving career in the tough freelance translation industry.
#2 The Prosperous Translator – Chris Durban
This book focuses on breaking down real-world challenges that professional translators struggle with daily.
It’s a handbook for moving past the toughest parts of being a freelance translator and includes many insightful tips that should help you become a more well-rounded professional.
#3 Translation: A Multidisciplinary Approach – Juliane House
This book by Juliane House will help you think about the work you do as a translator in new ways. It takes a look at the art of translation from many unique perspectives and across many different industries.
It also focuses on the impact that new media and technology are having on the translation industry, among other topics.
#4 Becoming a Translator – Douglas Robinson
Becoming a Translator is a wonderful book for aspiring freelance translators to read. But early-career translators should still be able to get a lot of it.
The book covers everything you need to know about the translation industry and how it works. It’s full of actionable information that can help you become a better translator through specific changes to your daily practices.
#5 Confessions of a Freelance Translator – Gary Smith
Confessions of a Freelance Translator is a fun read that’s also full of great information. It offers a ton of advice for boosting productivity, marketing yourself, and staying organized, among other topics. But it talks about all of these things through real-life stories, which helps to make it a better read than most.
#6 Exploring Translation Theories – Anthony Pym
This book on translation theories is great for background information. It covers the science behind translation and talks about some of the most prominent theories regarding translation.
Read Exploring Translation Theories if you’re interested in learning more about the different mindsets and language goals that can be helpful to maintain as a working translator.
#7 Falsos Amigos/False Friends – Larousse
Falsos Amigos/False Friends is a book that’s all about the linguistic concept of false friends. These are words that look the same across languages but mean different things – for example, magazine in English and magasin in French, meaning shop.
This book is a good one to read if you encounter issues with these words on a fairly frequent basis and want to make sure that you avoid confusing the reader in your target language moving forward.
#8 Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World – Ella Frances Sanders
This illustrated book is a fun one that covers a collection of words that have no equivalent in English. It provides actionable advice for getting as close as possible to true meaning while translating these words.
The specific words covered may not be immediately relevant to your daily work as a translator. But the process the book outlines for translating words without direct translations can be replicated whenever you encounter this problem.
#9 Mox’s Illustrated Guide to Freelance Translation – Alejandro Moreno-Ramos
This illustrated book provides a new way to think about the challenges that translators face. Mox is a cartoon character who goes through the same struggles that freelance translators do.
The result is a humorous exploration of what it means to be a modern translator. You’ll learn a lot, and reading this book won’t feel like a chore.
#10 The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation – Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner
This book is a great analysis of what it takes to build a successful business as a freelance translator. It covers all of the different strategies that you can use to establish stronger relationships with clients, build a network, and market your services.
Read this one if you’re interested in establishing yourself as an authority in a specific field of translation.
How Reading Translation Books Helps Translators
Reading these kinds of books can help translators in many different ways and regardless of where they’re at in their translation career.
For example, you might be a new translator who needs to familiarize yourself with the business of translation. There are books on our list that will take you from 0 to 100 in that area of knowledge.
Or, maybe you’ve worked as a successful translator for a while now. Reading some of these books could help you approach your work from a new angle or pick up new strategies to deliver more value to clients.
Machine translation has never been better. As major tech companies like Meta continue investing in it, there’s every reason to believe that machine translation will only become increasingly accurate as time moves forward.
But they’re still not perfect. And one cognitive scientist, Douglas Hofstadter, has devised a comical experiment to prove it.
A Silly Experiment
Hofstadter is a faculty member at Indiana University who has had a lifelong passion for the Swedish language. After years of formal and informal studies with friends and teachers, he’s developed the ability to speak at a reasonably high level.
Given his love of language and learning, Hofstadter says that he’s enjoyed discovering the weaknesses of machine translation technologies as they’ve improved over the past few years.
That led him to wonder, what would happen if you fed a sophisticated machine translation service a paragraph of complete gibberish? He set out to find out.
The idea was to write a paragraph in Swedish that was total nonsense, yet coherent enough from a grammatical perspective to make sense to a machine translation algorithm.
There were two purposes for this little experiment. Hofstadter wanted to see what would happen. In other words, how would the machine translation tool deal with the fact that the content was gibberish but it made grammatical sense?
Additionally, he wanted to see whether different machine translation tools would produce different results. That is if he fed the same paragraph of gibberish into Google Translate, would the English translation be the same if he fed it into other translation technologies?
Hofstadter put his paragraph of Swedish gibberish into Google Translate, Baidu, DeepL, and several other translation tools. He found that all of the tools translated the paragraph as if it made real sense, even though it had no meaning.
This is what Hofstadter himself had to say about the results:
Of course, none of the three machine-produced paragraphs has any meaning whatsoever, but the systems aren’t aware of that flagrant lack. This is because they have no notion of what meaningfulness and meaninglessness are. They are not thinking while translating; they are just doing very complicated but knee-jerk reflex operations with pieces of text.
What’s the Point
Amusement aside, you may be wondering what the point of all this is. There are two things we can learn from Hofstadter’s experiment.
First, it’s a reminder that machine translation algorithms only follow a set of complicated rules when performing translations. They don’t actually seek to understand or generate meaning from whatever is inputted into them.
Second, Hofstadter found that the English translation of his Swedish gibberish differed based on the machine translation technology that he used. This shows that – at least in edge cases like this – machine translation tools aren’t as uniform as you might expect.
It’s a reminder that, although machine translation can be quite helpful in minor situations, it’s still not perfect. Relying on it too much could create strange scenarios like the one we’ve covered in this article.
Novelty T-shirts are one of the world’s favorite souvenirs. But if you’re visiting somewhere you don’t speak the language and want to buy one of them, you better be careful. Because as the designs below show, mistranslated t-shirts can be hilariously nonsensical.
Here are 12 examples of mistranslated English t-shirts that are sure to get you laughing.
Although you may agree with the sentiment, this one probably isn’t a t-shirt that you’ll want to put on unless you’re around people you know will find it funny.
Leg So Hot
Here’s another strange English mistranslation that made us chuckle. Maybe the poem makes more sense in another language. But if you wore this in an English-speaking country, someone might ask you if you need help.
Oof. If you’re going to make a fake t-shirt to appeal to fans of a major TV show, at least make sure you know the name of the show next time.
This isn’t exactly the kind of thing you want to wear on a shirt. I mean, sure, all of us have to go someday, and it’s a nice sentiment, but it may be just a touch too dark for an average day in town.
The Little Fat Man
This one actually sort of makes sense if you think about it. He’s a fat guy, and she looks delicious. It may be the strangest possible way to say I love you, and it probably sounds better in its original language. But we can at least understand the sentiment, unlike some of the other shirts on our list.
Crumble and Disappear
Speaking of shirts that don’t make any sense, here’s a prime example. We’re not even going to try to describe this one. We just wouldn’t be able to do it justice.
Buy a Man
So close, yet so far. You can see where they were going with it, and if it made sense, it would be a profound, thought-provoking statement. But it’s a reminder that close isn’t good enough in the world of translation.
I didn’t Do It
This shirt starts strange and gets stranger. (Talk about Thinger Strangs). What didn’t the wearer do? Why do they want to speak to their grandma about it? And why is the whole thing an ad for San Antonio? I guess we’ll never know.
No More Trust
You can feel the pain in this one. They trusted “u”. But no more. That’s something we can all relate to. (Side note: did they not have spell check?).
This one is a work of art. From addressing it to “my boss” to asking for confirmation and signing off as “Challenger” there’s a lot going on here.
The setup is excellent, but the follow-through is lacking. For the record, we do think you can do it.
“Where I Went, Tere I was.” It’s factually accurate, at least. And isn’t that the real goal of every novelty T-shirt? Also, we’re not sure why she’s drinking or what it’s in the glass, so just use your imagination.
The phrase “fake news” came to prominence during the 2016 presidential elections when Donald Trump used it to describe his opposition’s criticisms. But the phrase isn’t just a talking point.
During the run-up to the 2016 election and after it, platforms like Facebook, Youtube, and even TikTok were being bombarded with political posts that either stretched the truth disingenuously or threw it out altogether.
Most of these posts are now taken down quickly before they have the chance to spread their misinformation to a wide audience. But now, “fake news” is expanding into other languages. And major tech platforms are struggling to keep up.
Platforms like Facebook (now Meta), Youtube, and Twitter have robust policies in place for dealing with fake news posts in English. But when that content is translated into Spanish, Vietnamese, Filipino, and other languages, these platforms are starting to realize that they can’t keep up.
Spreaders of misinformation are beginning to target immigrant communities in the United States. They’re doing so with politically-motivated fake news campaigns that involve dishonest translations, manipulated images, and outright lies.
Some of these posts start out on fringe American social media platforms like Truth Social and Gab. Then perpetrators will grab those misleading statements, translate them into another language, and present them as facts in major foreign-language news outlets.
The problem is that some members of immigration communities don’t get their news from major English-language publications. They might form their political opinion based on the posts they see in their native language on social platforms or major publications from their country.
This creates a situation in which large groups of people may vote based on political beliefs that have been formed by fake news posts.
There are over 20 million immigrant voters in the United States. If large groups of them are misled by inaccurate information, it could have a significant impact on the upcoming November 2022 elections.
The good news is that there are many groups devoted to fighting back against these non-English political misinformation campaigns.
For example, Viet Fact Check gives Vietnamese speakers an easy way to verify the posts that they’ve seen online. Factchequeado is doing the same thing for Spanish speakers.
Groups like these pay close attention to the political posts in their native language that are trending on social media platforms. When they identify misinformation, they explain why the post is inaccurate on their websites.
Will This Be Fixed By the Election?
Although there are groups fighting back against these dishonest posts, many members of their target audience simply aren’t aware of them. This means that fake news stories may still influence meaningful segments of the U.S. immigration population despite the good work that these groups are doing.
Ultimately, it comes down to families, friends, and social networks. Members of these groups will need to take a stand against fake news stories in their language and explain to their people why they are incorrect.
If enough foreign language speakers do this in their communities, non-English misinformation campaigns may have only a minimal impact on the upcoming elections. But we’ll have to wait and see what happens to find out for sure.
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An estimated 1 billion people use iPhones worldwide. This encompasses speakers of many different languages and travelers to all corners of the globe.
If you have an iPhone and you’re in a foreign country, you may find yourself wanting to translate a menu, road sign, set of instructions, or something else. But you may not know how to do it with just your iPhone’s camera.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll tell you how to translate text from a photo or video on your iPhone in the sections below.
What You Need to Get Started
First off, you’ll want to make sure that your iPhone is actually capable of doing what we describe below. The only requirements are that you have at least iOS 15 for photos and at least iOS 16 for videos.
If your iPhone’s operating system meets those requirements, you’re all set. Keep reading to learn more.
If your iPhone doesn’t have a new enough operating system, don’t worry. You can just upgrade it to fix the problem. Simply tap on Settings -> General -> Software Update. Once the download finishes, you’ll be ready to proceed.
Translating Text From a Photo
Apple has made it super simple to translate text from an image with its newest operating system upgrades. Here are step-by-step instructions for doing it:
- Snap a picture of the thing that you want to translate
- Press down on the text to select it
- Drag the corners of the box to highlight all of the text you need to translate
- Tap the right arrow on the menu box that pops up to find the translate option
- Tap on translate
That’s it! Once you hit translate it should automatically pop up with the English language version of whatever you’re trying to understand.
Translating Text From a Video
The process for translating text from a video on your iPhone is almost exactly identical to what you’d do if you were translating text from a photo.
The only difference is that you need to pause your video on the frame where the text that you want to translate appears. For example, if your video shows a sign that you want to translate at the 10-second mark, you would need to pause at 10 seconds.
Once you’ve done that, you can follow the instructions from the picture section. Simply highlight the text and choose the Translate option and you’ll be all set.
Translating Text From a Live Image
(Image Courtesy of Apple)
You can also use this trick without taking a picture or video at all. The only thing you need to do is point your camera at whatever you want to be translated and wait until the live text button appears near the lower right corner of the frame.
How Accurate Are These Translations?
Apple’s iPhone translation app is good enough for basic use. If you want to translate a menu, a sign, or a simple set of instructions, it should be fine.
But if you’re looking to translate something more serious, like immigration papers or documents for work, you’re better off hiring a professional translator who can guarantee 100% accuracy for you.
It’s official – Google Translate is no longer available in Mainland China. That means if you’re an English speaker who plans on visiting the country soon, you’re going to need to find a new way to engage with the locals.
This article will tell you why Google Translate has been canceled in Mainland China and evaluate what it means moving forward. Let’s get started.
Google’s Tense Relationship with China
Google has had a tense relationship with the Chinese market for some time. In 2010, it discontinued its search engine in China due to the nation’s strict government censorship of online activities.
Other popular Google products, like Maps and Gmail, haven’t been officially banned from the country. But the Chinese government has effectively banned them in practice by making them impossible – or at least highly difficult – to use.
Now, one of Google’s last remaining functional products in Mainland China – Translate – is leaving the country as well.
Why Google Translate is No Longer Available in China
The official reason why Google Translate is leaving Mainland China is its low usage. The company says that its Translate tool isn’t getting enough engagement from users in China, so it doesn’t make sense to maintain and improve it from a developer allocation perspective.
Conspiracy theorists may suggest that there’s something else behind this decision that isn’t being talked about. However, the simplest explanation is often the right one, and that seems to be the case here.
The Chinese internet is dominated by large Chinese companies like Baidu and Tencent. These businesses (and others like them) account for the vast majority of Chinese internet usage in fields like search and translation.
Google’s presence in China is very limited nowadays. The company doesn’t have the same larger-than-life presence in Mainland China that it does in the United States, and so it’s rare for a Chinese citizen to choose Google Translate over a comparable service on a platform they’re already using on a daily basis.
What This Means for Google and China Moving Forward
Google Translate leaving Mainland China is another step towards Google leaving the country entirely. Some of the company’s phones are still made in China, but the company is shifting much of this production to places like Vietnam. That’s about all that the company has going for it in China – for at least the time being.
If a user in China attempts to access Google Translate, then they will be redirected to the company’s Hong Kong Translate tool. However, this is barred from use in Mainland China. So it’s effectively impossible to use Google Translate in China without circumventing the law.
China has clearly shown a preference for using Chinese-made products by companies from China. That means Google and many other tech giants in America may no longer have a role to play in the Chinese market.
The future is never 100% predictable. This could change if, for example, there is a change in the Chinese economy or government. But for now, it’s another step away from tech integration between China and the West.
When Queen Elizabeth passed in September, the entire world went into a period of mourning. She ruled for an astonishing 70 years and 214 days, making her the longest-ruling British monarch by a sizeable margin.
Now that her son Charles has taken the throne, countries across the planet are having to figure out what they should call the new head of the British royal family in their own languages. This has led to some confusion, which has delivered some interesting insights into how foreign countries translate the name of foreign rulers.
We’ll dive into it below.
There are three main approaches that a country can use when translating the name of a foreign ruler.
- Translate both the royal title and the ruler’s name
- Translate just the royal title
- Translate just the name
Every country does things differently. For example, the Germans called Queen Elizabeth Die Queen while the Czechs called her Elizabeth Alžběta.
You would think that each language has its own rules that it follows every time regardless of the king or queen in question. For example, since the Germans called Elizabeth Die Queen, you might imagine them calling King Charles Der King.
But we’re seeing in real-time just how non-uniform languages can be in their application of various rules of translation – which has frustrated countless language learners and translators across the globe.
The King Charles Translation Dilemma
Language speakers across the planet seem to be figuring out what to call King Charles in real-time. Their various approaches to this have been rather interesting to track.
For example, we’ve seen King Charles be called Karel, Karl, and Karol by the Czechs, Russians, and Poles, respectively. But the Bulgarians (who also speak a Slavish language) are calling him Charles – without translating the name at all.
Some members of the Czech media have been calling him král Karel III, while others have called him král Charles III. The country’s language institute recommends calling him Karel III but also acknowledges that some people are using Charles III.
What This Says About the World of Translation
The reason why this confusion is noteworthy is that it offers some interesting insights into how language groups assimilate foreign names and titles into their own cultures.
What seems to have happened is that media members and everyday speakers began using whatever translation for King Charles felt most natural to them in the immediate aftermath of his mother, Queen Elizabeth’s death.
In the early stages of this, several translations were often used interchangeably with one another, as shown by the Czech example we gave above. Then, over time, a favored translation tends to emerge and this becomes the standard moving forward.
It all shows just how messy the concept of translation can be. Even when a historical precedent for a type of translation is in place, it doesn’t always mean that it will be followed in the future.
It’s a major reason why companies, organizations, and people need to stay up-to-date with a culture’s evolving language practices if they wish to translate documents and materials in that language.
A recent article in Slate highlighted some of the largely unspoken risks associated with the rise of machine translation tools. They cite experts who talk about how machine translation can still lead to disastrous situations if used in the wrong contexts.
This article will highlight some of the concerns that experts have, talk about alternatives to machine translation, and think about what comes next for this field.
Let’s get started.
What are the risks of machine translation?
Machine translation tools are more widespread than ever. It’s never been easier to download one onto your phone and use it to order a cup of coffee or buy a book in a foreign country.
At the same time, companies like Meta and Google are investing millions into creating more powerful machine translation tools that can accurately account for the minute differences in languages and cultures.
But experts say that casual use cases like ordering in a restaurant are still all that machine translation tools should be used for. They warn of what could happen if these are relied on in more critical situations, such as with doctors and patients who don’t speak the same language or firefighters and policemen who are interacting with a person or family who doesn’t speak the language.
In these kinds of serious situations, every word matters. Even a slight miscommunication has the potential to lead to a disastrous outcome when machine translations are relied on in official contexts.
There was a 2014 UK-led study that brought some of these concerns to light when machine translation devices were used to communicate with sick children who didn’t speak English.
The results were often fine. But there were serious miscommunications in certain instances. For example, “Your child is fitting” in English was translated to “Your child is dead” in Swahili. This is just a sampling of the kinds of serious communication lapses that can occur with this technology.
When machine translation doesn’t work, what’s the alternative?
The ideal situation is to always use a professional translation service. A native translator can take the context and human intention into account to create a translation that is as accurate as possible.
But of course, hiring a dedicated translator won’t always be feasible. In those situations, it could make sense to employ a translation company that is able to quickly translate key documents and phrases into your target language with 100% accuracy.
Will machine translation ever become good enough for every use case?
Experts say that machine translation tools aren’t good enough for every use case just yet. But that doesn’t mean it will always be this way.
Companies are investing massive amounts of money into creating machine translation tools that are as accurate as possible. It’s certainly possible that one day, they will succeed in creating translation tools that are accurate enough to be used in every situation.
But until that day arrives, if you’ve got a serious situation in which you need a translation, you’ll be risking a lot of if you rely on machine translation.
At a recent event, Google announced that it will begin offering immediate translations of press articles from foreign countries. The update may have a larger impact on the world than initially appears.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about Google Search’s upcoming change, including when to expect it. Keep reading to learn more.
What Will This Change Look Like?
When this update from the Google Search team arrives, it will become much easier for people to engage with news articles in foreign publications.
For example, say there was an earthquake in Mexico and you wanted to hear how it’s impacting people directly from those involved. With this change, you would be able to read articles directly from La Prensa in the English language (one of the largest publications in Mexico).
This has the potential to help us connect with people in foreign countries in more direct ways than were previously possible.
Sure, you can copy and paste a full news article into a translation tool already. But many people don’t do that. This simplifies the process considerably. All that you’ll need to do is click a single button and you’ll be able to get a highly accurate translation of the news that matters.
When Will the Update Take Place?
Google hasn’t released an exact date for when the update will take place yet. But the company says that we should expect the changes to occur sometime early in 2023.
However, this new feature isn’t going to be available for all of the different languages that Google Search will translate – at least not at first. The tech company is going to roll it out for French, German, and Spanish into the English language.
After the change comes out for these languages, Google will likely sit back and see what the reception looks like. If they think it’s good, they’ll almost definitely expand the list of included languages in the near future.
How Will It Impact Companies?
This is a great change for people who enjoy checking on news stories from other countries. But it could also have a pretty significant impact on some companies.
First, it’s great for news organizations based in France, Mexico, Spain, Austria, and Germany. These companies can now expect their news articles to reach beyond the confines of their native languages and into the English-speaking world. That could be a huge source of new ad revenue for these businesses.
Additionally, it could have an impact on how some companies decide to use Google Ads. For example, businesses that place ads on news sites in foreign countries may want to start targeting English-speaking users with some of those ads.
This could present a new avenue for some brands that are based in one of the countries that this impacts to go international. But, of course, they’ll need to translate their advertisements into English if they want to connect with this new target audience.
Meta Translation ToolMeta is one of the largest technology companies in the world, with products in several different industries. It’s recently released a new AI translation tool that it says is better than anything on the market – by far.
But is that really true? Or is it just another case of a company talking itself up? We put together this article to help you figure it out.
Let’s get started.
No Language Left Behind
No Language Left Behind (NLLB) is what Meta is calling its new AI translation tool. Here are the main features:
- Translation options for over 200 languages (more than every competitor)
- Higher quality translations (accuracy improvements by an average of 44%)
- Especially useful for fringe languages in Africa and India that lack solid translation tools currently
- Designed to be used online and across the metaverse
How They Did It
Some of the biggest names in technology (Google and Microsoft) are involved in AI-based translations. So you might be wondering how Meta was able to create something that was vastly superior to what its competitors have done in the past.
The answer, it seems, is twofold.
First, Meta is a huge investor in AI research. The company is on the cutting edge of technology and has an incredible internal understanding of the latest and greatest practices in artificial intelligence. They’ve leveraged that internal know-how and applied it to translations to create a really powerful tool.
Second, Meta has made translations for rarer languages a priority like no company has before.
The hard part about these languages is that researchers don’t have as many samples to train them with as they do for more popular languages, like English. So Meta actually sought out people who spoke the languages to have them build out a database and confirm translations.
The result is a translation app that’s up to 70% more effective at translating rarer languages than some of the main competitors.
Meta has made a great product. So what are they going to do with it?
Well, first they’re going to start applying the AI translation tool across their suite of products, including Facebook and Instagram. This should make it much easier for people across the globe to participate on these platforms in their native languages.
But Meta isn’t keeping this technology exclusive. They want to get it into as many hands as possible, so they’re making it available on Github for anyone and everyone to build with. Keep an eye out for that in the near future.
Is NLLB Good Enough to Replace a Translation Firm?
No Language Left Behind may be the most advanced AI translation tool yet. But that doesn’t mean you can use it for all of your translation needs.
If you’ve got a company that does business abroad, then your translations need to be absolutely precise. Otherwise, those deals you agree to may end up meaning different things to you and your counterparty.
The Translation Company can help you with all of your professional translation needs, as we offer high-quality, precise translations across more than 200 languages.
Get in touch to learn more about how we can help.