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inforMATIon Blog

The MATI blog features articles pertaining to translation and interpretation. Subject matter includes issues pertaining to the field in the form of explorations into language, methodology and technology, book reviews, biographies, notes on presenters and meeting summaries. The views, opinions and statements expressed within each posting do not necessarily reflect the position of MATI as a whole.
  • 02/05/2015 6:31 PM | Alaina Brantner
    Finding and Keeping Direct Clients
    for Your Translation Services
    A Workshop by Janice Becker
    Reported by Silvia Fosslien

    This article, originally printed in the Summer 2004 edition of inforMATIon, recounts a presentation given at MATI's First Annual Conference, held in July of 2004 at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.

    At the end of a long day filled with workshops, participants sometimes suffer from an overflow of information, and audience attention begins to wane. However, this was not true of our MATI conference. The last presentation of the day, “Finding and Keeping Direct Clients for Your Translations Services; Developing lasting relationships with direct clients” by Janice Becker was so lively and informative that everybody stayed focused until the very end.

    Janice started out by defining three types of translators: in-house translators (the smallest percentage), translators who work for translation agencies, and translators who have direct clients, i.e. who deal directly with the end-user of a translation. Janice explained why direct clients are a useful part of any translator’s client mix. The biggest advantage of having direct clients is the opportunity to build a long-term relationship. The translator can find out about client needs by asking specific questions: For whom and for what is the translation, what is the time frame, are there alternatives? This is particularly helpful for client companies that are just starting to enter a new market. By consulting with the client, you are offering translation as a service which goes beyond the mere counting of words.

    What made the presentation so realistic were the examples Janice quoted from her own personal experience. After several years of in-house work with two law firms in Germany, she had returned to Chicago and needed to build a client base from scratch. Here are a few highlights of what worked for her:

    1. Seek out people in your field of specialization. Check the calendar of events in business papers, go to trade shows, promotional meetings, business breakfasts, SBA events, etc. You can find out who is doing business where, what companies were awarded new contracts, who is planning to go international. As an added benefit, you also become more knowledgeable about the industry in which you specialize. Janice pointed out that this strategy is particularly helpful in the early stages of your marketing efforts when you usually have a lot more time than money.

    Another possibility is finding a group that is a good fit for you and becoming involved. Janice, whose major fields are legal and business, attended meetings of Women in Trade, career nights of Women Employed, events sponsored by the German American Chamber of Commerce, as well as breakfast meetings on legal topics. When appropriate, you can hand out your business card or give a short (3 to 4 sentences) description about yourself and your services at these events. Janice advises against giving out resumes since you are not looking for a job but are offering a service instead.

    2. Write articles. An article about a translation-related topic in a trade journal can be an effective marketing tool. Also, whenever you read an article in which translation is misunderstood, use the opportunity and write a letter to the editor. This helps educate readers about our profession and establishes you as a translation expert.

    3. Learn from your earliest clients. Ask them what they read, how they heard about you, where else they would look for translation services.

    4. Solicit recommendations from clients. When satisfied clients send you an email thanking you and commending you for your work, ask whether they would put it on their letterhead so that you can use it as a reference for potential clients.

    5. Treat all clients equally well. Do not look down on small jobs. If you do not want to do them, pass them on to someone who will. Janice told about a client who was a refugee and needed to have his birth certificate translated. A few years later, he worked in a big company that needed translation services. He remembered her, and that contact a few years back brought her a major new client.

    6. Participate in continuing education courses. For her fields of specialization, Janice mentioned courses offered by the Chicago Board of Trade and the banking industry as examples. Continuous education will improve your skills, and you never know whether the person sitting next to you just might not become a client one day. This actually happened to Janice when she took an English writing course at the University of Chicago.

    7. Say thank you. When someone refers a client to you, never forget to thank the person who referred you. If you omit this courtesy, you may never get a second referral.

    The presentation was interspersed with lively discussion. Participants asked questions and shared their experiences and success stories throughout the workshop, so everyone went away with new ideas.

    Silvia Fosslien is a free-lance translator and interpreter for German and English. She holds degrees as a certified translator and interpreter from the University of Heidelberg and a Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literature from the University of Chicago. Silvia is ATA accredited from English into German.


  • 02/02/2015 7:27 PM | Alaina Brantner

    MATI's 11th Annual Conference: Interpreting in Pediatrics


    At MATI’s 11th Annual Conference in Madison, Wisconsin in September, Jennifer Flamboe gave the presentation “Interpreting in Pediatrics: Building Blocks for Success.” Flamboe began her presentation by defining pediatric medicine, or the branch of medicine geared toward the physical, emotional and social health of individuals between the ages of 0 and 21.

    Flamboe noted that pediatrics encompasses a wide range of subspecialties, including pediatric critical care medicine, neonatal-perinatal medicine, and developmental-behavioral pediatrics, among others. The age group and wide range of specialties associated with pediatrics require a special awareness and knowledge base on the part of the interpreter.

    According to Flamboe, pediatric interpreters must continuously reassess their environment in order to fulfill their roles as facilitators of communication. This continual reassessment allows the interpreter to make adjustments as necessary in such areas as register (i.e. more simplified language for children) and in the mode of interpretation (i.e. switching between consecutive and simultaneous interpretation).

    Along with fulfilling the role of advocate for the patient and her family plus the role of cultural broker for all parties, the pediatric interpreter must also establish a rapport with both patients and their families. Taking a moment to extend ritual greetings at the onset sets the tone for the entire experience, according to Flamboe, and goes a long way toward building the trust necessary for navigating the medical encounter.


    Flamboe emphasized the importance of understanding that child health decision-making is family-centered decision-making, and that families and children are more likely to adhere to treatment plans when the child is included in the establishment of that plan. Successfully including the child requires medical personnel to adjust their communication based on the age of their patient.

    Flamboe noted that children communicate before they can even use words, so for infants (ages 0-1 year old), crying might convey anxiety at being around strangers. When working with early childhood aged children (1-5 years old), personnel need to allow for a “warm up” of sorts, by using simplified words and giving the child the opportunity to handle basic equipment. For school-aged children (ages 6-11 years old), practitioners will respond to children’s curiosity, sharing explanations, asking for patients help, and encouraging expression of feelings. Finally, for adolescents (12-17 years old), doctors and nurses will consider such issues as privacy and the influence of peers, while avoiding judgments or criticisms.

    For Flamboe, pediatric interpreting is also about controlling the flow of communication. She noted that decisions on the child’s health must include family members and providers and that it’s the interpreter’s job to facilitate the discussion among those individuals. That facilitation requires assertiveness, as the interpreter mitigates family power dynamics, cultural behaviors, understanding children’s speech patterns and ensuring they are allowed the time to interpret. At the same time, interpreters must also learn to deal with their own feelings, which can be especially difficult when experiencing a natural protectiveness and desire to nurture their child patients. Overall, Flamboe encourages the pediatric interpreter to maintain her professional boundaries and neutrality.

    Jennifer Flamboe is Chair of the World Languages department at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wis., where she is also assistant professor of Spanish and director of the Spanish/English Healthcare Interpretation program. She holds an M.A. in Foreign Languages and Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with concentrations in Spanish linguistics and translation and is a nationally-certified Spanish interpreter through the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI).


  • 01/29/2015 12:00 PM | Alaina Brantner
    The article posted here was originally published by MATI in the Summer 2005 issue of information. MATI members can access PDFs of previously published newsletters by navigating to the Members Only section of the website.

    MATI Member Publishes Spanish-English Law Dictionary

    From the Editor: Cuauhtemoc Gallegos (known to friends and colleagues as Temo) is a familiar and respected figure among interpreters and translators in the Chicago area, where he has worked in and promoted the profession for years. In fact, Temo was one of the earliest supporters of our efforts to form MATI. Now we learn that his long-awaited Spanish-English legal dictionary is available. Of course we wanted to give inforMATIon readers a behind-the scenes look at the making of a dictionary by one of our own, so we asked Temo a few questions about his project and the outcome.

    What gave you the idea to compile a dictionary in the first place?

    I work as a bilingual lawyer and professional translator and interpreter myself and I always wanted a bilingual dictionary constructed so it would list the target language single or multiple equivalents, while also offering the tools needed to choose the most appropriate ones for the task. Since most bilingual legal dictionaries don’t follow this approach and typically limit themselves to listing equivalents, I felt a need existed for a compilation of legal terms, in English and Spanish, in a format that makes them more accessible to the user and also provides the necessary tools to be able to choose the most fitting. Following such a design, Merl Bilingual Law Dictionary offers a multifaceted navigational structure and a wealth of contextual information that make it unique and extremely practical.

    What do you mean by a “multifaceted navigational structure”?

    Yes, adopting cyber language, this refers to the multiple options available to the user to find a particular word, concept or phrase. For example, the term lawyer is considered the equivalent of abogado, as are attorney at law and legal counsel in English and licenciado en derecho in Spanish. But are they really? You would want this clarified and discussed. And what about the terms jurist and jurisconsultus? Ideally you would want to have all these terms linked and at your fingertips. Simply listing cross-references is usually not sufficient to develop the necessary understanding of the connotation and legal import of these and most entries. A more complex organization of entries is necessary, one based on the structural nature of legal institutions and legal culture.

    And “wealth of contextual information”?

    You need information to understand the meaning and determine the appropriate usage of legal terms, but not just any kind of information. It has to be contextual, that is, directly relevant and describing the various possible uses of the term or concept involved. The term estate, for example, appears with four distinct and identifiable legal meanings in this book, and so does the word carga. You want to get a clear and precise distinction in each case so you are in a position to determine the equivalent or term you need. Merl Bilingual Law Dictionary does that using a variety of tools: lexical and legal comments, background comments, comparisons of same-language terms and target-language equivalents, synonyms, antonyms, lists of related and connected terms and specialized glossaries, all in addition to cross-references.

    How different is Merl Bilingual Legal Dictionary really from other works?

    On one level this book feels and looks like other bilingual dictionaries. It has been designed and printed to be portable and user-friendly. But the differences are many. A perfunctory review of a few of its 432 pages reveals that the text is tightly packed and includes many main entries rich in detail and many subentries that cover variations and combinations of the term in question. These features begin to show you that this book is and feels new and highly functional.

    If you’re looking for the target-language equivalent of attachment, for instance, you can start on page 24, where you see that embargo is the answer, but you also want to make sure you are using the appropriate equivalent and using it correctly. Besides, embargo is a broader term. You can verify the term by reviewing the information included in the entry: a definition of attachment, a comparison with sequestration and garnishment, an explanation of how embargo is broader, a list of sub-entries, and a list of related terms. Still in doubt? You may want to go to page 279 next and look up the entry at embargo, where other target-language equivalent alternatives are listed and discussed together with sub-entries, comments, related terms, and legal references from various countries.

    How long did it take to compile and write this dictionary?

    This dictionary was long in the making. Although compiling took perhaps a decade, the actual writing and final research was done over the last thee years. It took several visits to Mexico and Canada, and countless hours in libraries and courthouses in many places.

    What background do you bring to the undertaking?

    My professional training is as an attorney and as a translator and interpreter. In these capacities I have been immersed in legal terminology and in particular the interaction between common-law and civil-law traditions most of my professional career. So it is really not surprising that I decided to write about one of my favorite subjects.

    Did you consult with others in the process?

    A dictionary is traditionally a team effort. This work was no exception. Besides quoting leading scholars and experts on the subject, many others contributed directly or indirectly to this publication. I am indebted to all of them, and in particular to my contributing editors who introduced points of view and modifications that significantly changed and enriched important sections of this book.

    How is your dictionary being promoted?

    Merl Bilingual Law Dictionary’s official publication date is July, but books are already being sold, mostly through the Internet. At this point reviews are being sought and received, and promotion will start in earnest soon. Initial sales will be exclusively through direct mail and on-line, and the book will not be available through distributors or bookstores, at least during the first part of its promotion.

    Who is buying it?

    This book is especially attractive for translators, interpreters and other bilingual professionals, but I have been pleasantly surprised to learn that a few copies have been bought by English speakers with the intention of using the English language sections of the book.

    Temo, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, and thank you for your work to advance our profession.

    inforMATIon


  • 01/14/2015 7:50 PM | Alaina Brantner
    The Wisconsin Court Interpreter Newsletter for fall/winter 2014 features Jacqueline Jugenheimer, a German-certified court interpreter. Read about your fellow MATI member by clicking the image below!





  • 01/04/2015 1:38 PM | Alaina Brantner
    Machine Translation Technology and Internet Security

    by Joseph Wojowski


    An issue that seems to have been brought up once in the industry and never addressed again are the data collection methods used by Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, Skype, and Apple as well as the revelations of PRISM data collection from those same companies, thanks to Edward Snowden. More and more, it appears that the industry is moving closer and closer to full Machine Translation Integration and Usage, and with interesting, if alarming, findings being reported on Machine Translation’s usage when integrated into Translation Environments, the fact remains that Google Translate, Microsoft Bing Translator, and other publicly-available machine translation interfaces and APIs store every single word, phrase, segment, and sentence that is sent to them.

    Terms and Conditions

    What exactly are you agreeing to when you send translation segments through the Google Translate or Bing Translator website or API?

    1 – Google Terms and Conditions

    Essentially, in using Google’s services, you are agreeing to permit them to store the segment to be used for creating more accurate translations in the future, and they can also publish, display, and distribute the content.

    “When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.” (Google Terms of Service – 14 April 2014, accessed on 8 December 2014)

    Oh, and did I mention that in using the service, the user is bearing all liability for “LOST PROFITS, REVENUES, OR DATA, FINANCIAL LOSSES OR INDIRECT, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES.” (Google Terms of Service – 14 April 2014, accessed on 8 December 2014)

    So if it is discovered that a client’s confidential content is also located on Google’s servers because of a negligent translator, that translator is liable for losses and Google relinquishes liability for distributing what should have been kept confidential.

    Alright, that’s a lot of legal wording, not the best news, and a lot to take in if this is the first time you’re hearing about this. What about Microsoft Bing Translator?

    2 – Microsoft Services Agreement (correction made to content - see below)

    In writing their services agreement, Microsoft got very tricky. They start out positively by stating that you own your own content.

    “Except for material that we license to you that may be incorporated into your own content (such as clip art), we do not claim ownership of the content you provide on the services. Your content remains your content, and you are responsible for it. We do not control, verify, pay for, or endorse the content that you and others make available on the services.” (Microsoft Services Agreement – effective 19 October 2012, accessed on 8 December 2014)

    Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing! We have a winner! Right? Hold your horses, don’t install the Bing API yet. The agreement continues on in stating,

    “When you transmit or upload Content to the Services, you're giving Microsoft the worldwide right, without charge, to use Content as necessary: to provide the Services to you, to protect you, and to improve Microsoft products and services.” (Microsoft Services Agreement – effective 19 October 2012, accessed on 8 December 2014)

    So again with Bing, while they originally state that you own the content you submit to their services, they also state that in doing so, you are giving them the right to use the information as they see fit and (more specifically) to improve the translation engine.

    How do these terms affect the translation industry, then?

    The problem arises whenever translators are working with documents that contain confidential or restricted-access information. Aside from his/her use of webmail hosted by Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc. – which also poses a problem with confidentiality – contents of documents that are sent through free, public machine translation engines; whether through the website or API, are leaking the information the translator agreed to keep confidential in the Non-Disclosure Agreement (if established) with the LSP; a clear and blatant breach of confidentiality.

    But I’m a professional translator and have been for years, I don’t use MT and no self-respecting professional translator would.

    Well, yes and no; a conflict arises from that mode of thinking. In theory, yes, a professional translator should know better than to blindly use Machine Translation because of its inaccurate and often unusable output. A professional translator; however, should also recognize that with advancements in MT Technology, Machine Translation can be a very powerful tool in the translator’s toolbox and can, at times, greatly aid in the translation of certain documents.

    The current state of the use of MT more echoes the latter than the former. In 2013 research conducted by Common Sense Advisory, 64% of the 239 people who responded to the survey reported that colleagues frequently use free Machine Translation Engines; 62% of those sampled were concerned about free MT usage.

    In the November/December 2014 Issue of the ATA Chronicle, Jost Zetzsche relayed information on how users were using the cloud-based translation tool MemSource. Of particular interest are the Machine Translation numbers relayed to him by David Canek, Founder of MemSource. 46.2% of its around 30,000 users (about 13,860 translators) were using Machine Translation; of those, 98% were using Google Translate or a variant of the Bing Translator API. And of still greater alarm, a large percentage of users using Bing Translator chose to employ the “Microsoft with Feedback” option which sends the finalized target segment back to Microsoft (a financially appealing option since when selected, use of the API costs nothing).

    As you can imagine, while I was reading that article, I was yelling at all 13.9 thousand of them through the magazine. How many of them were using Google or Bing MT with documents that should not have been sent to either Google or Microsoft? How many of these users knew to shut off the API for such documents - how many did?

    There’s no way to be certain how much confidential information may have been leaked due to translator negligence, in the best scenario perhaps none, but it’s clear that the potential is very great.

    On the other hand, in creating a tool as dynamic and ever-changing as a machine translation engine, the only way to train it and make it better is to use it, a sentiment that is echoed throughout the industry by developers of MT tools and something that can be seen in the output of Google translate over the past several years.

    So what options are there for me to have an MT solution for my customers without risking a breach in confidentiality?

    There are numerous non-public MT engines available - including Apertium, a developing open-source MT platform - however, none of them are as widely used (and therefore, as well-trained) as Google Translate or Bing Translator (yes, I realize that I just spent over 1,000 words talking about the risk involved in using Google Translate or Bing Translator).

    So, is there another way? How can you gain the leverage of arguably the best-trained MT Engines available while keeping confidential information confidential?

    There are companies who have foreseen this problem and addressed it, without pitching their product. Here’s how it works. It acts as an MT API but before any segments are sent across your firewall to Google, it replaces all names, proper nouns, locations, positions, and numbers with an independent, anonymous token or placeholder. After the translated segment has returned from Google and is safely within the confines of your firewall, the potentially confidential material then replaces the tokens leaving you with the MT translated segment. On top of that, it also allows for customized tokenization rules to further anonymize sensitive data such as formulae, terminology, processes, etc.

    While the purpose of this article was not to prevent translators from using MT, it is intended to get translators thinking about its use and increase awareness of the inherent risks and solution options available.

    If you’d like more information about Machine Translation Solutions, please feel free to contact me, I’d be more than happy to discuss this topic at length.

    -- Correction --
    As I have been informed, the information in the original post is not as exact as it could be, there is a Microsoft Translator Privacy Agreement that more specifically addresses use of the Microsoft Translator. Apparently, with Translator, they take a sample of no more than 10% of "randomly selected, non-consecutive sentences from the text" submitted. Unused text is deleted within 48 hours after translation is provided.

    If the user subscribes to their data subscriptions with a maximum of 250 million characters per month (also available at levels of 500 million, 635 million, and one billion), he or she is then able to opt-out of logging.

    There is also Microsoft Translator Hub which allows the user to personalize the translation engine where "The Hub retains and uses submitted documents in full in order to provide your personalized translation system and to improve the Translator service." And it should be noted that, "After you remove a document from your Hub account we may continue to use it for improving the Translator service."

    ***

    So let's analyze this development. 10% of the full text submitted is sampled and unused text is deleted within 48 hours of its service to the user. The text is still potentially from a sensitive document and still warrants awareness of the issue.

    If you use The Translator Hub, it uses the full document to train the engine and even after you remove the document from your Hub, and they may also use it to continue improving the Translator service.

    Now break out the calculators and slide rules, kids, it's time to do some math.

    In order to opt-out of logging, you need to purchase a data subscription of 250 million characters per month or more (the 250 million character level costs $2,055.00/month). If every word were 50 characters each, that would be 5 million words per month (where a month is 31 days) and a post-editor would have to process 161,290 words per day (working every single day of this 31-day month). It's physically impossible for a post-editor to process 161,290 words in a day, let alone a month (working 8 hours a day for 20 days a month, 161,290 words per month would be 8,064.5 words per day). So we can safely assume that no freelance translator can afford to buy in at the 250 million character/month level especially when even in the busiest month, a single translator comes nowhere near being able to edit the amount of words necessary to make it a financially sound expense.

    In the end, I still come to the same conclusion, we need to be more cognizant of what we send through free, public, and semi-public Machine Translation engines and educate ourselves on the risks associated with their use and the safer, more secure solutions available when working with confidential or restricted-access information.

    -- bio --
    Joseph Wojowski is Director of Operations at Foreign Credits, Inc. in Des Plaines, IL, Chief Technology Officer at Morningstar Global Translations, and A Certified MemoQ Trainer. This article was originally posted on Wojowski's blog on December 9, 2014.

  • 11/19/2014 7:13 PM | Meghan McCallum

    11th MATI Annual Conference


    by Federico Vinas


    Federico Vinas is a Spanish Certified Healthcare Interpreter (CHI™) working with pediatric patients in southern Wisconsin. He does on-site, over-the-phone, and video interpreting.


    The 11th MATI Annual Conference, held on Saturday, September 20, 2014, was a successful event addressing relevant and important topics in the fields of interpretation and translation. The presentations were “Web 2.0, Mobile, and You,” “Interpreting in Pediatrics,” “Courtroom Dilemmas for the Court Interpreter” and “The State of the Language Service Industry,” presented by renowned members of our translation and interpretation communities.


    1.    Web 2.0, Mobile, and You: 21st Century Technology for Interpreters and Translators, by Katharine Allen, M.A., Co-President, InterpretAmerica.
    Ms. Allen presented one of the most vital topics for every interpreter and translator who wants to continue evolving in the profession. Technology is reaching into every aspect of the interpreter/translator’s work, including daily tasks, continuing education, advertisement, and resources, and we must stay current with new developments and opportunities, remain open to updates and offer the best service. This intricate technological world should be viewed as an advantage­–as a better way to communicate and improve ourselves, not as a challenge.


    Web 2.0 is enabling new forms of communication, collaboration and learning never seen before. These tools can help us create new venues for training, resources and education and access and share these from the comfort of our homes, offices or even around the globe.


    2.    Interpreting in Pediatrics: Building Blocks for Success, by Jennifer Flamboe, M.A., CHI, Chair, World Languages, and Director of Healthcare Interpretation, Alverno College.
    Ms. Flamboe presented the broad field of pediatrics, including topics such as physical, emotional and social development and the well-being of babies, children and adolescents. She said that the interpreter must prepare for many different subjects not only in primary care pediatrics but in every branch of medicine, such as cardiology and podiatry. She also addressed the proper utilization of techniques, modes and roles of interpretation and how these are crucial in pediatric environments. Additionally, she emphasized the importance of Standards of Practice and the Code of Ethics. The interpreter must always maintain register, tone and spirit in every encounter, respect everyone’s ideas and avoid judgmental thinking, all while promoting transparency. Pediatric encounters require specific communication techniques to promote successful communication with children at their developmental level and tend to look different from adult encounters.


    3.    Courtroom Dilemmas for the Court Interpreter, by Alexandra Wirth, M.A., Federally Certified Court Interpreter and Wisconsin Supreme Court Certified Interpreter.
    Ms. Wirth presented a complete and detailed list of the court interpreter’s role and the tenets by which a court interpreter should abide. She gave numerous examples of the appropriate solutions to common dilemmas that a court interpreter faces while performing his or her duties.


    The definition of a court/legal interpreter is not to represent the interest of any party involved. The definition is not translator, advocate, social worker, helper or tour guide, liaison, attorney, etc. The definition of a court interpreter is “a court employee who has the ability to render a complete and accurate interpretation of what is said in court from English into the target language, without altering, omitting or adding anything to what is stated or written and without explanation.”


    The interpreter is an honest, ethical, responsible professional who prepares, improves and cares for his/her profession. The interpreter should always promote the interpreter’s role, including scope and etiquette.


    Ms. Wirth also described the proper guidelines for interpreting in a court setting, including how to approach the judge, how to approach all other parties and how to work with a colleague or in a group. Teamwork is essential in the legal setting. Working with a colleague can create friction or conflict, but setting rules such as breaks, signals, terminology, preparedness and solving discrepancies beforehand may avert many potential disagreements.


    4.    The State of the Language Service Industry: 2014, by Hélène Pielmeier, M.A., Director of Industry Providers Services, Common Sense Advisory.

    Ms. Pielmeier presented key findings and answered questions related to the Common Sense Advisory’s Language Services Market report for 2014. She looked at where market trends can be expected to take the language service industry in the near future. For example, CSA’s analysis of major corporate websites showed that 12 languages now reach 80% of the online population, but the firm predicts that 20 languages will be needed in the future. Research also found that freelancers and LSPs hold sharply different views about the correlation between price and quality. And while Ms. Pielmeier said freelancers do not run the risk of being replaced by machines, she did say they may be replaced by people who are willing to do post-editing of machine translations.


    (More in-depth looks at each of the four presentations are forthcoming in the Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 issues of inforMATIon. They will also be posted to the MATI blog: http://www.matiata.org/blog.)


  • 11/19/2014 7:06 PM | Meghan McCallum

    Looking into the future of language services


    by Max Zalewski


    Max Zalewski is equal parts adventurer and logophile. He has been translating Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese into English for the last 7 years while living in Denver, Damascus, Barcelona, Aleppo, Madison, Cairo and Granada. Contact him at max.zalewski@gmail.com.


    Is the language service industry teetering on the precipice of obsoleteness or will it be at the forefront of an increasingly globalized world? On September 20th, 2014, Hélène Pielmeier, Director of Industry Provider Services for the market research firm, Common Sense Advisory, addressed the direction of the trade at the annual conference of the Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters. The presentation featured an abundance of data about the language service industry with which Pielmeier created a looking glass to peer into the future and predict trends in the market.


    Pielmeier commenced the presentation by introducing Common Sense Advisory and discussing the methodology it utilizes to collect data. CSA is the only firm dedicated to market research of the language service industry. One way CSA acquires its data is by surveying and conducting in-depth interviews with LSP’s, universities, and buyers of language services. There are two types of membership with CSA: buyer and LSP; at present, it does not cater to freelancers. CSA performs research from the perspective of both types of members. CSA defines language service providers (LSP’s) as companies that provide language services and have two or more employees. For LSP’s, they analyze management, strategic planning, profitability and growthundefinedspecifically, they observe the three pillars of growth: sales, account management and marketing. CSA also researches specialty services (transcreation, interpreting, etc.) and technology (translation management systems, machine translation) marketed by LSP’s. On behalf of the buyers, CSA monitors what they want, satisfaction, and their perception of the price versus quality ratio, among other variables.


    In addition to surveys, CSA conducts consumer panels, briefings, and feature reviews. The market research firm is a pioneer in the landscape of the language services industry. Despite being a $45 billion dollar per year industry, CSA is the only entity dedicated purely to researching it. In addition to collecting its own data, CSA also monitors public data and filings, participates in online communities, and attends conferences. Each year, CSA produces reports, webinars, and longitudinal studies about the general trends of the language service industry as a whole.


    At its essence, the language service industry aims to solve problems created by language. From the 7 billion people across 195 countries, CSA breaks them down into 687 locales, which it defines as geographic locations with “the minimum of unique combinations of economy, politics, culture, and languageundefinednot counting minority languages, individual states, etc.” Twenty-six of these locales are located within the top ten trading nations.


    One way to monitor trade is through online commerce. CSA analyzed 2,400 websites of major corporations and found that 12 languages reach 80% of the online population. Furthermore, 90% of the most economically active people online can be reached by just 13 languages. Ordered from most to least economic activity online, these languages are: English, Japanese, German, Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Korean, Arabic, Russian and Swedish. Interestingly, CSA does not expect the status quo to persist. On the contrary, it predicts that as a result of the overall online economy growing, more languages will be incorporated into websites. CSA forecasts that 20 languages will be required to cover 80% of online activity in the future. This represents an auspicious bit of news for the language service industry, both LSP’s and freelancers alike.


    Common Sense Advisory’s survey of consumers of translated products produced some expected and unexpected results. It is well known that consumers will not buy what they cannot read, but where do people start to make decisions based on their willingness to use their second language? According to the international average, 55% of online consumers prefer to make a purchase in their local language. However, this figure jumps to 74% when consumers were asked if they preferred to have post-sales support in their local language. CSA’s data shows that even if post-sales care is available in English, and consumers have a good command of English as their second language, they strongly prefer to have post-sales support in their local language. Generally post-sales support is for when a problem has arisen. The discrepancy in language preference correlates to the change in the consumer’s mindset.


    The demand for post-sales service in local languages is a microcosm of the overall trend that CSA foresees in the language service industry. CSA compiled data based on 831 responses to its annual survey that showed the industry generated $23.5 billion in revenue in 2009, and $33.05 billion in 2013. CSA anticipates the language services market will expand to $37.19 billion by 2018. Take a second to consider the magnanimity of those numbers. That figure means that the revenue generated in the language services industry is larger than the GDP of 40% of the world’s countries. 


    Based on these figures, the translation industry is growing at a rate of 6.23%, which is considerable, but below the past averages of double-digit growth. Pielmeier says that there are external and internal threats counteracting growth. External forces include economic recession, globalization of the work force, professional purchasing (big companies cracking down on rates). Internal forces consist of translation automation, changing nature of translation, and commoditization.


    As expected, the regional concentrations of translation buyers are not spread evenly across the world. The breakdown for percentage of market share by continent is as follows: Europe, 51.09%; North America, 37.81%; Asia, 9.96%; Latin America and Caribbean, 0.48%; Oceania, 0.41%; Africa, 0.24%. CSA calculates this data based on where the LSP is headquartered, not necessarily where the translation is produced.


    In addition to geographical location, sizes of the LSP’s vary as well. Sixty percent of LSP’s have only 2 to 5 employees. The final forty percent is divided as follows: 6-10 employees, 17%; 11-20 employees, 9%; 21-50 employees 7%; 51-100 employees, 3%; 101-500 employees, 2%; 501 or more employees, 1%. These numbers are based on 18,000 companies sampled. CSA used a larger sample size in the past but have since become stricter about separating freelancers from LSP’s. These figures demonstrate that the market is very fragmented and there are very few companies making large profits from translation.


    The services provided by LSP’s are dominated by translation and on-site interpreting, but there are also growing niche markets like video interpreting, phone interpreting, mobile app localization, machine translation post-editing, and transcreation. CSA performed a study in which they broke down language services into 18 different categories. Translation is by far the most widely sold service at 34% of the market share, followed by on-site interpreting at 10%, and software localization at 7%. Translation is sold by 83% of LSP’s; however, very few LSP’s are invested in smaller rising niche markets like interpreting technology and localization. These services represent a great opportunity for emerging LSP’s as well as freelancers. An LSP or freelancer that provides localization and translation has less competition and a larger market share. Interestingly, translation represents three quarters of revenue for the aforementioned 83% of LSP’s who sell translation; however, many of the fastest growing LSP’s in the world revolve around interpretation.


    Within the translation market, there is a discord between supply and demand in that the demand consists of many small projects, but suppliers want large projects. According to Pielmeier, smart companies are adapting to the small project market by creating retail portals for clients, thereby streamlining the overall process and foregoing quotes, signing contracts and explanations of the service. Clients can simply purchase translations online with a credit card and poof, it will magically appear on-time as promised. This industry is exploding thanks to the phenomena of convenient online purchasing. Language service professionals who want to fit into this changing world must use what Pielmeier calls the “agile adaptation methodology,” in which they get several small jobs throughout the day. On the side of LSP’s, technology is imperative in this market, demonstrated by the fact that companies that have adapted to technology have a much higher growth rate.


    Technology is changing every field. Even if language service professionals are unconcerned about losing their jobs to a machine, they might want to think about how to adapt technology into their business practices. Among other technological applications in the language services industry, machine translation is the most discussed. Some fields of translation are more susceptible to being replaced by machines. Literary translation, for instance, is unlikely to be affected by increasingly accurate machine translations, whereas engineering and legalese, which are more patterned forms of writing, are already translated using a synthesis of machine translation and human editing.


    What exactly is post-edited machine translation? In PEMT, the source text is analyzed by a translation memory, which has gathered patterns of past-translated material in both languages and creates a translation of it into the target language. Next, two types of post-editing can be applied: light editing and full editing. The light editing process only looks for lexical errors and syntax errors and mainly differs from the full edit in that it neglects the style of the texts and does not correct punctuation errors. The full editing process comes closest to human qualityundefinedideally equaling it. Pielmeier says that PEMT matching the quality of human translation is feasible, but it takes expert linguists trained to look for less obvious errors, match an appropriate style and still convey fluency.


    According to forecasts from CSA, both machine translation as a managed service and in-house machine translation service will increase nearly double from 2013 to 2016. With regard to the increased demand in machine translation, Pielmeier offered advice to freelancers: “You are not at risk of being replaced by machines. However, you are at risk of being replaced people who are willing to work with files that have gone through machine translation.” She also noted that on the LSP side, it is hard to find translators who are willing to work with machine-translated files and that “it is a fabulous opportunity for newcomers to the industry.” Pielmeier joked that given the mystery inherent in the nebulous nature of technology, any problems can be blamed on the machine, right?


    As mentioned earlier, machine translation is not likely to be used for all kinds of content, however online content in general is likely to be one of ways it is most used. Pielmeier stated that there simply aren’t enough human translators to account for the cornucopia of content uploaded to the Internet. The increase in the number of languages being used online will also lead to greater usage of machine translation because content can be translated into multiple languages at once. Lastly, another reason machine translation will be used more in the future is because the expansion of online content does not coincide with an increase in budgets. Some companies only budget enough to generate more and more content for their online profiles but do not necessarily increase their budgets enough compensate enough to pay human translators. The result is that they are willing to sacrifice style and opt for a faster and cheaper machine translation.


    The willingness to negotiate the style or accuracy of content brings up an interesting question about the relationship between price and quality. In a survey of 839 buyers of translation services, LSP’s and freelancers were asked whether or not there is a direct relationship between the price and the quality of a translation. All three agreed that there was a direct relationship. However, freelancers believe price and quality are directly related more than LSP’s, who both feel that price correlates with quality more than buyers. Quality is not necessarily the only value that consumers consider when making a purchase, and as a result the traditional process of translation, editing, and finally proofreading has been reduced to a less costly one or two step process.


    Pielmeier concluded her presentation with recommendations about how to best use this information. She suggested that no matter what your connection is to language services, you can use this information to understand how you want to fit into the overall puzzle. It is important to note that none of the data she presented directly represented freelancers; nevertheless, the data is still useful to freelancers in order to better understand those who ultimately purchase their services. As a business strategy for both LSP’s and freelancers, Pielmeier recommended identifying niche areas that will provide long-term work, such as localization. In general, being adaptable to technological advances is fundamental, for the best way to avoid becoming obsolete is to learn how to adjust the offer to what clients want.


  • 10/18/2014 11:52 AM | Alaina Brantner

    Keynote Address by Katherine Allen on Technology and You


    by Kathy Stokebrand


    Kathy Stokebrand is a Spanish to English linguist. She has a BA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Journalism and anticipates an MA in Language, Literature and Translation from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in December 2014. Stokebrand has been a MATI member since 2012.


    Mobility is the latest development in the evolution of technology, and Katharine Allen, professional interpreter and translator, reviewed some of the latest mobile tools for the industry at the MATI conference in September. Speaking in Madison at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, Allen led the program with her presentation, “Web 2.0, Mobile, and You: 21st Century Technology for Interpreters and Translators.”


    “Our profession is online,” declared Allen, who has a master's degree in translation and interpretation and is co-president of InterpretAmerica, an organization dedicated to raising the profile of the interpreting industry. Hers was an urgent plea for translators and interpreters to get involved with technology tools. Professionals in the industry need to try things, to see what they like and dislike because, according to Allen, if translators and interpreters are not involved, the tools won't be tailored to them.


    Technological advancement is nothing new, Allen noted, describing how tribes changed from a nomadic lifestyle to one based on agriculture. The industrial revolution followed that transition, taking about 100 years. Then, the digital revolution happened in the span of about 30 years, going from the typewriter to the computer.


    Allen observed that now, the mobile revolution is in progress, beginning with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, followed by the iPad in 2010 and Google glasses in 2013. The iWatch is set to be unveiled in 2015, she added.


    Web 2.0 is the second stage of development for the World Wide Web, characterized especially by the change from static web pages to dynamic or user-generated content and the growth of social media. Users communicate, share content, and make the web their own, Allen said. Technology has provided access to an incredible amount of information, and interpreters and translators have to figure out how to leverage it, according to Allen. They need to learn how to filter the information and the tools to determine which will be most helpful to them.


    Allen noted that this progress and the changes that have come with it have brought turmoil. Technological advances have sped up generational differences, she said, adding that adaptation is critical. There was a panic that translation would be taken over by software, as the industry has flipped to a digital-based model that some translators did not survive. Still, the Internet broke down barriers and borders, and after this period of transition, a new equilibrium has been achieved, she said.


    The good news is that industry continues to grow because there are so many consumers who use other languages. However, Web 2.0, the mobile age and translation and web-based video will continue to spur change, Allen predicted. “There will be a lot of disruption,” she warned. Among the changes she foresees is greater prioritization of localization and a downward pressure on wages. Interpreters want on-site or face-to-face work situations but language-service buyers want telephonic and video-remote interpreting. End users want all of the above and more.


    As Web 2.0 continues to evolve, Allen noted that she is starting to see a lot of hybrid products and situations, such as speech to text applications, voice-over subtitles, customer service chats and real-time emails. Technology has also changed the way in which translators and interpreters are found and are finding work, Allen said. She compared various online sites and directories, such a sProZ, LinkedIn and the American Translators Association. Some sites include more than 300,000 professionals, while others have fewer than 3,000.


    Then, there are smart phone, what Allen calls “the great equalizer” because of what they offer to anyone who owns one. Smartphones allow access to the Internet, as well as helpful apps. They also have recording capabilities, allowing interpreters to listen to themselves and thus providing a valuable opportunity for self-evaluation. Additionally, smartphones have cameras and document readers that allow instant translation, albeit machine translation. Podcasts, which are available in many languages, provide an audio show on demand, and the next generation of this technology is vodcasting, also called video podcasting, in which video is added to the audio download of a podcast.


    All and all, valuable resources are just a few clicks away. Allen recommends finding “favorites” to bookmark, such as high-quality glossaries and speech banks from, for example agencies of the United Nations, the US State Departments, the European Union and court systems. Allen noted that technology has also changed how translators and interpreters collaborate. Online groups, such as discussion forums, provide training and information, and while it's difficult to send a cold email asking for help or information, adding a post or ping on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter is much easier, providing almost instantaneous results.


    In an industry dominated by free-lance contractors who are not able, or at least less likely, to organize and advance priorities for rates and work environments, online collaboration is so important, according to Allen.

  • 09/03/2014 9:52 PM | Diane R. Grosklaus Whitty
    Here in Madison, WI, we have an informal group of interpreters and translators that gathers about once a month to talk shop and socialize. At our get-together the other night, I was asked if I thought it would be worthwhile to attend the MATI Annual Conference, which will take place in Madison this year.

    So I asked myself, why am I going?

    For the same reason I like to get together with my local colleagues at Panera (or Sardine, or wherever) every month -- but taken to the 10th power!

    As translators and interpreters, our work engages us to the exclusion of all else. Conferences like this present an unbeatable opportunity to exchange ideas, share experiences, learn new tricks of the trade, and broaden our network of contacts, in this case with attendees from WI, IL, and IN.

    (In fact, our monthly Madison gatherings were born out of a MATI Annual Conference, where I first met Sasha Carrillo and where she, Catherine Jagoe, and I discussed the idea of getting together on a regular basis with our colleagues in the Madison area.)

    It is also an opportunity to have direct, personal contact with language service agencies at their exhibitor tables, which they pay to have precisely because they are looking to extend their roster of qualified, reliable interpreters and translators. We all know that nothing beats a face-to-face encounter -- and these vendors take a special interest in the serious professionals who manifest their commitment to providing quality services by attending professional events.


    Oh yeah -- and there are also those continuing education points. This year, the ATA will award 7 points for attendance at the conference. Two of the sessions will likely be applicable towards Wisconsin's new CE requirements for Court Interpreters (not my area, so I'm not totally familiar with it), and one session should be eligible for CCHI credits. But that's not the bottom line for me. Much more important is the opportunity to grab one of the presenters during a coffee break and pick her brain for even more information, or wheedle her email from her for future queries of my own.

    This year the conference ends with a social networking hour -- and that will be the icing on the cake for me!


    I hope you decide to join me and other colleagues from the tri-state area!


    Event information and registration: http://www.matiata.org/event-884656


    Diane Grosklaus Whitty


  • 08/26/2014 9:03 AM | Diane R. Grosklaus Whitty

    (thanks to Ben Kearney, Madison-based Dutch>English translator, for this contribution)


    I admit to being a bit sceptical when I was invited to the t&t open mic. Like most translators living in the U.S., I am continually obliged to explain and somehow account for the work I do, and I’m accustomed to the obscurity that is assigned to translation. Even if they are passionate about reading or foreign places, non-translators (or non-interpreters) whom I encounter tend to view the profession as either exotic or imaginary, and I have reconciled myself to this state of (exalted?) exile in the minds of friends and family members – with no good prospects for repatriation. So though I looked forward to an evening of reading and listening fun, I expected the event to be attended solely by working or would-be translators.

     

    What struck me first was the organic coziness of the Lakeside Coffee House. What a welcoming space! I really felt transported. But the best part was the enthusiasm among those gathered to hear works in translation read aloud, regardless of the subject matter or literary form. The range of material (Beowulf? Really?) and the number of readers surprised me, as did the size and composition of the crowd that came to listen. There were any number of non-translators attending who were eager to hear something different for a change. And that’s really what it was: a unique and open platform to present the translated word, with no strings attached.

     

    It was so fun to take part in this experiment and see my preconceptions dissolve. If you have friends with their own preconceptions/non-conceptions about translation, then bring them to the next edition of t&t, and bring along something to read! I can’t wait to hear what people come up with next. Tasty bits indeed.

     

    (For more information on the t&t open mics, go to http://www.andwordplay.com/tt-open-mic/)

     

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