Not quite…

This one is for all my (conference) interpretation colleagues out there.

We interpreters (translators who deliver spoken translations either simultaneously using interpretation equipment or consecutively, i.e. after the speaker has spoken) know, why ‘computer translation’ of speech doesn’t work properly and why.

Take a look at this video next time you need to remind someone why it pays to hire a professional interpreter.

The tech folks at an American news station tested a translation device with earbuds to be used instead of an interpreter a few days ago and this is what happened:

Trilingual chat with pixel buds goes awry

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Denglish

My colleagues and I often talk about the fact that speaking English has almost come to be expected from many European non-native speakers, especially from the Dutch and the Germans. Not sure why, though, since we don’t expect North Americans to speak fluent German, Dutch or Spanish. As a matter of fact, we don’t even count on every Canadian to speak French fluently, although French is one of two official languages in Canada (the other being English).

Coupled with the mistaken assumption that being (almost) fluent in two (or more) languages also means that you can translate (written) or interpret (spoken) from one language to the other, we regularly stumble across more or less awkward mistranslations.

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On the occasion of International Translation Day I just have to state the obvious: These minor and major errors could be avoided by hiring a qualified and experienced translator or (conference) interpreter. Professional language service providers are members of provincial/ state and/or national professional bodies. Each professional association has an online directory to easily find someone by language combination. In North America they usually have a designation like “Certified Translator” or “Certified Conference Interpreter.” They can help you communicate more effectively in the foreign language, because they “know their stuff.”

So to all my qualified colleagues out there: Happy translating and/or interpreting!

May all your clients value what you do!

 

Forest bathing…

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Hello, fellow friends and travelers,

A recent article in a German magazine has me thinking about great words that do not exist in the English language.

Here are a few of my favorites:

For the tree hugger:  Shinrin-yoku – Japanese, for “forest bathing,” the “practice of taking a short leisurely visit to a forest for health benefits” (Wikipedia: forest bathing)

For Santa and his helpers, a unit of measurement: Poronkusema – Finnish for “the distance a reindeer could travel before stopping to urinate” (Wikipedia: poronkusema)

For the currently stationary traveler: Fernweh – German for the ache / longing to travel or get far away.

For the budget-conscious: Prozvonit – Czech for initiating a cell phone call and only letting it ring once, so the other person has to call back and you can save on minutes. (See Wiktionary).

And finally, for the art lover: Duende -Spanish for “having soul, a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity” (Wikpedia: duende), i.e. the power that a work of art can have to deeply move a person.

Happy travels!

 

 

 

Fountains

Hello, fellow travelers and friends,

Fellow blogger Polianthus inspired me to partake in his monthly fountain challenge. After all, what’s not to love about fountains? I even have one in my backyard. Although it doesn’t look anything like this…

 

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Fountain in Rome

 

… it has become a gathering place for all types of birds and a “watering spot” for cats and racoons.  While I enjoy the sounds of water falling, I return to the fountains of Rome.

Ciao – TT

 

 

Lost in translation

Hi everyone,

It’s a new year! Hopefully, you also started yours with renewed energy and insights gained from a relaxing break. Recent talk about Google’s latest “neural machine translation,” and A.I. (artificial intelligence) had me reading up on some of the advances and issues that may impact my profession.

Doom and gloom talk of translators (written texts) and interpreters (spoken language) being replaced by computers/machines has abounded for decades. Early on in my career, over 25 years ago, some people advised me against taking this path, arguing that in the near future computers would be able to translate. Well, I didn’t believe it back then, and I still don’t.

Granted, we have come a long way with machine translation (MT) and other language-related computerized systems such as voice recognition. These days, many translators and interpreters benefit from using various computer technologies to assist in translation processes. These technologies do help us to translate more quickly and accurately. But in the final analysis, can machine translation really replace human translation? The simple answer is still “no,”  and here is why: Computers cannot truly grasp meaning, because they lack consciousness. Since they are unable to understand or be conscious of themselves and others in the world, they cannot fully grasp the meaning of written or spoken language.

Good! I for one am looking forward to a productive and interesting year!

For more on this, I recommend this Economist Technology Quarterly article: http://www.economist.com/technology-quarterly/2017-05-01/language

and this December article in the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/14/magazine/the-great-ai-awakening.html?_r=0

Happy New Year! Your Traveling Translator

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