Attitude …

of Gratitude … 

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Stein am Rhein – SWITZERLAND

 

Happy International Translation Day…

 

InterpretationA shout-out to all my fellow interpreter and translator friends:

“International Translation Day is meant as an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of language professionals, which plays an important role in bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, understanding and cooperation, contributing to development and strengthening world peace and security. ” (un.org)

 

 

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!

 

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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Craftsmanship …

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Hello, friends, colleagues and fellow adventurers,

I hope you are also having an amazing start to your day! My almost new laptop is holding up well, as you can see, and proving very inspirational, too.  Recently the concept of craftsmanship has been on my mind, and not just because memories of glass on Murano in the summer …

Whether as a glass blower or as a translator, good craftsmanship provides a solid foundation for your work and allows you to build a good reputation. Taking pride in one’s craft implies looking beyond and thinking longterm. That doesn’t mean that the result should be the only or main factor, even if it is important. I work on maintaining a focus on process, with a view to longterm outcome and effects.

For example: A translation is likely to be of higher quality, if a qualified translator and a qualified translation editor work as a team to ensure a high standard. Although it means that the business (or the freelance translator) may earn less, since you have to remain competitive. However, longterm, this approach will lead to repeat clients, word-of-mouth recommendations and therefore to more contracts.

On that note, I better take a look at my inbox … I am waiting for my editor corrections of a patent translation…

Signing off for today,

Your Traveling Translator