Tag Archives: professional translator

New InterpreTravel App Has its Flaws

For the most part, everyone knows that human translation is far superior to automated or computerized translation services. Humans are able to find out what context the original words are in, and they can use that content to more accurately determine what information is being relayed. Many people and businesses around the world fall victim to the convenience of computerized translation services without realizing how inaccurate and possibly offensive the translations can turn out. However, there are drawbacks to some human translation services, and those drawbacks are clearly portrayed in the new translation app by InterpreTravel.

Translation App has Lag Time

InterpreTravel’s app is specifically designed with travelers in mind. Instead of fumbling with their phones and using Google translate to communicate with people speaking a foreign language, users can use the app to connect with a live translator over the phone. While the professional translator will certainly be able to help them over the phone, there is down time while the service connects to a live person. As with any phone call, the user must wait until the translator on the other end picks up the phone, and then they’ll have to wait again once they are making their translation. If you are a traveler quickly hopping into a cab or trying to figure out what someone is saying in an urgent situation, this lag time is unacceptable.

App Can’t Translate Text

In addition to taking a moment to connect, the InterpreTravel app also can only translate the spoken word. Since the translators are helping users over the phone, the users (or the angry cab drivers waiting for their fare) must speak the language into the phone. For people who have no experience with the foreign language, this can be extremely difficult. Though computerized translator services are not always accurate, at least you can copy and paste a body of text without having to say it out loud.

Human translators are most definitely superior to computer ones, and the InterpreTravel app is on the right track. However, there are flaws with any human professional translation service that don’t make it the ideal travel companion. If you need professional translation abroad, you should consider hiring a service that you can call upon at any time for a translation. That way, you don’t need to go through the third party app, and calling directly could save you time in urgent situations.

The Perils of Translating a Speech on Live TV

Usually, professional translators have a few days or at least a few hours to translate important information for the general masses. However, a recent speech by Aung San Suu Kyi was broadcasted in an arena in Indiana, and the entire speech was in Burmese. The speech was translated in real time so that captions were presented on the arena’s screen, which proved to be a serious feat of technology and translation. To translate the speech in real time on the arena screens, a team of camera operators, transcribers and a translator needed to work together from different locations. Overall, the translation of the speech went off without a hitch. But the entire event showed just how complex the task of translation could become.


The Translator had an Especially Challenging Task

The speech’s translator, linguist Aye-Nu Duerksen, was picked by the Burmese politician’s welcoming committee. She was chosen for her language abilities in both Burmese and English, which would prove necessary talents for the translation. Duerksen sat at the arena and translated the speech as it was happening over the phone to a transcription team in Boston. Though the speech would air in Indiana, Boston’s PBS station was tasked with creating quality subtitles, since they are known for their work in that area. Duerksen could not simply translate each sentence word for word. Instead, she had to wait until each sentence was complete, and then quickly state the phrase before the next began. One of her of colleagues described the translation as mental gymnastics. Real-time professional translation, especially when the language is vastly different, can be extremely complex.


The Only Mistake was a Technological Error

Amazingly, Duerksen’s translation was fast and accurate. The only problem arose when her phone was disconnected from the offices in Boston. This error goes to show that translation on its own is a complex task, and when technology is added to the mix, it becomes downright demanding. Her phone was disconnected, so she was unable to tell the team in Boston what was being said, and they were unable to broadcast the captions to the team at the arena, which was unable to display the captions on the live feed. The translation services provided that night were more like a 007 mission.

Sometimes, translator services must go above and beyond the call of duty to help people cross language barriers and understand each other on the same level.

Finnegan’s Wake Soon to be Available in Chinese

Finnegan’s Wake, a novel by James Joyce, is considered one of the most difficult literary works in the English language. People find it difficult to read for a myriad of reasons, including a straying plot, idiosyncratic language, and strange portmanteaus. Some critics believe Joyce’s unique style for the work is supposed to imitate sleep and a dream-like state. Despite the difficulties to even read the work in its original language, a dedicated translator has completed a Chinese translation, and it will be available this month. Dai Congrong will release the translation of the first of five volumes through Shanghai People’s Publishing House.

Dai Offers Multiple Interpretations

Dai, an experienced Chinese translator, explained that she knew it would be an extremely difficult translation from the beginning, but that she also wanted to give Chinese people the opportunity to read such an incredible piece of literature. The translation took a full ten years, which is only seven years less than the length of time it took Joyce to write the original. At a seminar, Dai explained that she directly translated approximately half of the book, but offers multiple translations and footnotes for the other half. She hopes that these alternative options for translation will give readers a more open understanding instead of relying solely on Dai’s interpretation. For a book that Joyce said would take readers 300 years to understand, much is up to interpretation. The translation was in part so difficult because of the large number of portmanteaus. Joyce combined many words in the piece to make one new word, which cannot be found in any dictionary, or even in any other piece of literature. Dai had to dissect these portmanteaus one by one.

The Chinese Translation was Completed Faster than Others

Though ten years sounds like a long time to work on a single volume of a book series, Dai actually completed the translation in record time. The French translation of the complex fictional work took thirty years, and the German translation took nineteen. All things considered, Dai was actually speedy in her decade-long project.

Sometimes, sharing outstanding pieces of literature between two different cultures is difficult because the translation is daunting. Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake is certainly one of those daunting pieces. Luckily, there are dedicated professional translators like Dai all over the world willing to dedicate years of their life to better the cultural understanding of their society.

The Popularity of ‘Gangnam Style’ Needed No Translation

Popular music can reach beyond the bounds of language barriers and affect people around the world with no translation at all. This phenomenon is exactly why a YouTube sensation named PSY became popular around the world, especially in the United States, for his hit “Gangnam Style.” Though his song is entirely in Korean, PSY has made appearances on the MTV Video Music Awards, the Today Show, Ellen, and Good Morning America to name a few. People have loved the song and the crazy video that accompanies it for months with no official English translation. However, the professional translation has just been released, and it sheds some light on both the song and the video.

The Meaning of the Song is Deeper than You Might Have Expected

Though the song is outrageously synthesized and clubby, it actually sheds light on a part of Korea that many Americans might not have known about. Essentially, the song is a tribute to the wealthy city of Gangnam in Seoul, Korea. Thanks to the professional translator who took the on the song, we learn that it implies that the ladies of Gangnam are much like the city itself. They are noble and respectable during the daytime, but crazy and exciting at night. While the song is admittedly a musical satire, many people know more about Gangnam now after reading the translation, or even the description of the translation.

The Translation Proves that Any Piece of Culture is Valuable

After reading the translation and learning a little bit more about Korea, we see that even the translation of a simple pop song can give us valuable insight into another country’s culture. This idea proves the importance of translation. Whether a German reality TV show is translated into Spanish or a Portuguese translation comes out for a popular Canadian book, small pieces of culture can be windows into other sectors of society. For example, we might not want to allow translations of Jersey Shore to hit the airwaves, but it is a piece of an American culture, whether we like it or not.

‘Gangnam Style’ could just be regarded as a silly viral song from Korea, but it can also be a considered a fun way to learn about a piece of Koran culture. PSY might not have had a learning experience in mind when he wrote his hit, but translation services have turned it into just that.

Children’s Literature Themes Come Across in Any Language

Adults are picky about the books they read. Often, translations of popular books in other countries don’t become popular in the United States because readers find it difficult to connect with the characters. The English translation of a story about a woman’s strife in Africa to keep her family healthy is interesting to many people, but it is not going to fly off the shelves. Those themes are difficult for a busy professional woman to relate to between picking her kids up from school and making steak for dinner. Children on the other hand can relate to each other easily from anywhere across the globe. Whether a kid is reading the German translation of a Spanish children’s book or the Chinese translation of a book from Portugal, he or she will likely understand the themes and relate to them well.

“Scaredy Squirrel” to be Released in Iran

Though the United States and Iran certainly have their differences, there will be a professional translation of a children’s book from English to Iranian. The book is called “Scaredy Squirrel,” and it’s the first in a series of books about a squirrel seeking courage to take on events in his daily life. Though adults from the two countries disagree on many points, children in both places can all innocently relate to the universal themes of courage and friendship.  So far, only the first book has been translated, but other books in the series have been released in the United States. These include, “Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend” and “Scaredy Squirrel at Night.” The books were written by Melanie Watt and have received numerous awards.

Translator Known for Her Children’s Books

The translator responsible for the release of “Scaredy Squirrel” is known in Iran for the many translations of children’s books that she’s completed. Her name is Mahboubeh Najaf-Khani and she was born in Tehran in 1956. She studied at the Supreme Translation School and is now a professional translator of English.

It’s easy to forget about children’s literature when examining the importance of translation from a global perspective, but in many ways it’s just as important as business, legal or technical translation. It gives children the opportunity to connect with each other from across oceans through books. Kids can learn that, even though they are miles away, people in other countries are just like them and sometimes they struggle with the same problems but in different ways.

Translation of Bulgarian Play to Premiere in New York

While his play is the first Bulgarian play ever to premiere at a major theater in New York, Ivan Dimitrov was only making his first attempt at drama. His first Bulgarian play ended up winning a contest in Shumen, Bulgaria. He took his prize money and put it towards creating an English translation of the play. While the decision to translate the play was just a realistic step in case anyone wanted to read it from the states, he ended up with an offer to produce the play in New York. He worked with a professional translator on “The Eyes of Others,” and it is now the first play originally written in Bulgaria to land a New York opening.

The Play Translates Well

It might be hard to believe that a play written entirely in Bulgarian would translate well on the American stage. Surprisingly, it does. While Dimitrov is shocked to have his play produced on a coveted New York stage, he did expect the themes to be highly relatable in the states. The play is about mass consumerism and the increasing level of anonymity in the age of digital communication. It touches on themes with references to Facebook and celebrity gossip. With a description like that, it sounds as though an American wrote it. Even the locations in the play were vague enough to remain unchanged in the professional translation. Some food items were changed in the translation so as not to distract the audience. For example, a traditional Bulgarian pastry became a donut.

Dimitrov Worked to Keep the Play From Becoming Too American

While working on the English translation for his play, Ivan Dimitrov actually struggled to keep its Bulgarian identity in tact. It translated to English so smoothly that he worried it would start to feel like an American sitcom. However, he also didn’t want it to sound like he ran it through some soulless translation services to get a literal translation that lacked personality. The play’s themes are understandable to an American audience but also mystical enough to be European or simply foreign in general.

The New York opening of “The Eyes of Others” will prove to be historically significant, and Dimitrov is the first Bulgarian playwright ever to accomplish such a feat. Many Spanish and German translations of plays have hit the New York stage before, but Bulgarian to English translations are less common.

New Service Combines Live Translators and Technology

While many people agree that having a live translator on hand is preferable over using a computerized translation service, it’s not easy or cheap to drag a professional translator along every time you go abroad. Services such as Google translate and pocket translators work when you need a single word translated, but they’re far from perfect when you’re trying to have a professional communication in a different language. With this in mind, a new company called Babelverse took the initiative to combine the value of live translation with the convenience of technology to create a mobile app for serious translation needs.

Translators are On Call 24/7

When you use the Babelverse app, you are tapping into a network of translators from around the world. In its development, the creators organized the app to separate these translators by their language abilities and their availability. So, if you need a Spanish translator at 11:00pm on a Sunday, the app will find one for you and connect you so that you can talk over the phone. In the promotional video for the app, a German man is depicted walking into a pharmacy. Since the pharmacist only speaks English, he uses Babelverse to communicate with the pharmacist flawlessly. Obviously, this situation could be a dangerous one without accurate translation.

Babelverse has Already Been Put to the Ultimate Test

Helping people in their daily lives is certainly a major goal of Babelverse, but it has already been used to help people in a national emergency. During the tsunami in Japan, Babelverse assembled a network of volunteer translators. These translators helped emergency crews, medical teams and even reporters understand what the victims and local news crews were saying. No other translator services could have assembled so quickly to help. Clearly, the ability for the service to be used in such dire times of need speaks to its accuracy and usability.

There are benefits and drawbacks to live translation and computerized translation. While live translation is certainly more accurate and emotional than computerized translation, computerized translation services are easier to access in a hurry. Babelverse has combined the best of both worlds with their new translation service. Since you don’t know which translator you’re being connected to, quality control might be an issue. If your business needs a translator, hiring a professional service might be better, but Babelverse is ideal for travelers in a pinch.

Two Mistakes You Should Avoid on your Chinese Translation

Creating a Chinese translation version of your company’s website is a brilliant idea. By creating a Chinese version, you are making your site accessibly to the most populous culture in the world. Of course, the reason that many businesses don’t go through with this process is that it’s not easy. There are many versions of the Chinese language and deciding which one to translate to is difficult in and of itself. If you do translate to Chinese, you need to be careful not to make regional errors, as they could offend your visitors. You should also make sure certain phrases and concepts don’t get lost in translation. In addition to these common mistakes, there are two huge errors that many websites make when they are translating from English to Chinese, so you should try to avoid them.

Don’t Rely on PayPal

If your company is based in the United States and your site has an e-commerce option, you probably have a PayPal option. Many people use PayPal or simply upload their credit card information to the website’s shopping cart. If you’re having a Chinese translator redo your site, you’re probably expecting people from China to visit it. Keep in mind that PayPal is not popular in China. China’s economy is more cash-based, and they use local payment services such as Alipay. If you don’t offer such a service, you could lose out on sales and your translation could be for naught.

Don’t Rely on Google

Many of your website’s visitors in the United States probably come from a search engine such as Google. If you translate your site into Chinese and expect people in China to visit it, Google won’t be nearly as effective, as barely anyone uses it. Baidu is the major search engine there, and 80% of people on the Internet use it. If you’re interested in listing your site on Baidu, make sure you know the rules of search engine optimization, as they differ slightly from Google’s. The translation services you paid for probably won’t be seen by anyone in China if you don’t list your site on a search engine.

The first step in optimizing your website for Chinese visitors is hiring a professional translator to ensure there are no errors in the translation. However, this is not the final step, as you need to make sure site can be accessed and used by Chinese customers.

Chinese Literature Translations Provide Inaccurate Representations

When you read a new literary translation from another country, you can only assume that the piece is an accurate representation of culture in that society. For example, if someone from another culture were to read The Catcher in the Rye or The Great Gatsby, they’d get a relatively good idea about what our culture is like, and what it was like when those books were written. For example, the Chinese translation of both would be a window into our culture for the people of China. However, the converse is not true for Chinese literature. For a myriad of reasons, the translated Chinese works that we read in the United States are extremely inaccurate representations of the culture.

Censorship Prevents us from Accessing Questionable Material

Compared to China, the censorship requirements in the United States are lenient. Seeing Snooki’s butt on Jersey Shore or reading about detailed intercourse in a top-selling book are commonplace in this country. Unfortunately, these are some of the cultural representations we put out. Censorship in China has greatly limited such output, so it’s difficult to see what the culture is really like through literature. Translation services aside, many writers are hesitant to write about their life in the country because they are worried that they’ll be punished.

Translation of the Literature is Scant

Unfortunately, when depictions of life in China are published, many professional translation services that focus on literature do not bother picking them up. This is because such depictions don’t sell well in the United States. Instead, these translators tend to focus on novels that were written by Chinese authors with a western flair, often ones that were actually born in the U.S. Such novels are more relatable for American readers. While they’re entertaining, many ignore the realities and changes happening in modern China.

If you’re looking to get an accurate representation of the culture in modern day China, don’t rely on the literary translations that are available in the United States. They ignore many of the aspects of the culture, both because of censorship and scarce translation. Relying on such works for a cultural understanding would be like someone watching only Disney films to get an idea of American culture. To get an idea of modern Chinese culture, you just might have to visit with a professional translator by your side, or at least hire one to translate a less marketable book.

McDonalds’ Failed Attempt at Foreign Outreach

For companies that are nationally recognized, every move they make is in the public eye. McDonald’s especially is constantly under scrutiny in the United States as it fights against backlash from health professionals and organizations such as PETA. For that reason, their most recent billboard translation blunder is all over the news. You’d think that a company as large and powerful as McDonald’s could afford a higher quality professional translation service, but instead all they got was a botched billboard and public outrage. The billboard was put up in St. Paul, Minnesota, where there is the largest Hmong community in the United States.

Hmong Message Lost in Translation

Hmong are people from the mountainous regions of Vietnam, China, Laos, and Thailand. They are a sub-group of the Miao ethnicity, and there are many of them in St. Paul who still speak their native language.  The billboard, which appears in English all over the country, was supposed to say “coffee gets you up, breakfast gets you going.” Hmong people in the area said that whatever professional translator assigned to the job clearly did not speak the language, as the message barely even made sense. It would be the equivalent of trying to read a sentence on a sign in English with no spaces between the words.

Message Was Not Offensive in Nature

While the Hmong community is offended that McDonald’s carelessly printed the incorrect translation, the message itself is not actually offensive. Lucky for McDonald’s, there were no bad words or symbols in the failed translation. However, you can’t blame the Hmong people in the area for feeling like McDonald’s must have skimped on their plan to reach out to the large but minority community and might have hired a Chinese translator with little knowledge of the Hmong dialect. McDonald’s officials released an apology for the blunder, announcing that they’ll repost the billboards with the correct translation within a week.

Even if you own a company that is on a smaller scale than McDonald’s, it is important that you get your translation right the first time when tailoring a special message. While you’re trying to make a certain community feel important by reaching out to them personally, you might end up offending them by proving you didn’t do your research. Even when communicating one-on-one with clients or business partners, make sure you hire a reputable business translation service to avoid any errors.